Reality Shootings


It’s not surprising (to me anyway), that our society is crumbling under an opioid crisis, people suffering from mental illness or comfort eating and heart disease, plus all the many other myriad diseases and problems afflicting us nationally.

One answer seems obvious to me, part of it anyway. Many of us are suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt.

With all the horrible events that have been going on now for years, and I repeat, years—our brains are inundated from the media and our devices by the trauma of seeing the scenes of these events. Many years ago, we rarely would experience the raw horror that we do now–first hand (sometimes from a phone of someone right there): the noise, the blood, the screams, the carnage. And not just once, but over and over. How much can the brain  handle, day after day, year after year, without going over the edge? Mine is certainly on overload.

What is PTSD? It is caused by the triggering of traumatic events: disasters, abuse or any kind of trauma. It can happen when someone you love has been harmed also. Normally we don’t experience it ourselves unless we have been through the event, but what about now? Do you think it’s possible seeing footage from the phone of someone who was actually there during a shooting, would this do the same thing to us? How do these ‘pictures’ stay in our minds: people falling from buildings, human blood everywhere, kids running from a school or actually watching someone being shot…

Let’s face it people, if you are at all caring about your fellow human being, this can’t be good. We are pretty much experiencing these things as though we are there. It’s like reality shootings. Maybe they’ll make a new TV series. They might as well for as much as they play the stuff–and we watch.

What does all this watching do to us anyway?  How does it make you feel when you go out somewhere (or maybe you don’t even want to)? Do you check where the exits are now? Does your heart rate go up if you hear something weird? Are you simply numb to this stuff now? Are you mistrustful of others? Do you feel sad a lot?  Can you sleep at night or have your dreams changed? I know I have been greatly effected by the heinous crimes crushing our country.

Even if we weren’t at these places, we can’t help but feel: why these people? As we pour through their stories, it makes our story feel somewhat meaningless. When it’s a kid… there’s a collective: why so young and what if was my child? It’s so chilling.

And the roulette guilt of: I’m here, they’re not. I’m enjoying my life, those poor people aren’t anymore. My feelings of gratitude just get ruined by the extreme senselessness of it all. It’s just hard to hold those two feelings in the same space.

It’s all this nation wide secondary guilt because nothing is being done about it. We all just sit around waiting for the next one to happen, because we know it will, while law-makers tell us now isn’t the time to talk about any changes in the laws. It’s all so frustrating! So we just wait…holding our breath and wonder where will be next. What venue? How many? What city? Is there a person out there now contemplating it…?

How’s that for your health, while we think: will it be me next time or my kid? That makes my heart thump. This is why I don’t sleep. What about you?

So I ask: do we really need to see this stuff so much? Is it only me that thinks the perpetrators may sometimes do these things because they understand they will be glorified by the media? And all of us watching and watching and watching… Their sick moment of fame.

I’ve made a promise to myself: I will watch no more (or listen or read). What if none of us did? What if we heard about these awful things and said prayers for those dead (and their families), but didn’t pick up our phones, or look on our computers, or shut off our TV and radios? What if we refused? Could we demand from our media sources to stop flooding our minds with such gruesome images and sounds? Instead just report the facts and move on.

Sadly, I can’t seem to create change to laws by my vote, but I can do this one thing instead. It’s something that I do have control over: to reduce the bombardment of the grisly media show to my brain. And by doing this, allowing more space in there for good energy.

It’s ultimately up to us. I’m not saying we can stop people from killing, but maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming a more ill society than we already are, and if we do, maybe this in turn will help in the long run.

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Poem: On Waking


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Pinned

a butterfly plucked

from flight by a

4-eyed entomologist

tacked and hung forever

frozen

Limbs

askew and filled with lead

pumped dry from

sleepless climbs through endless starts

with dry breath and thick lips

Eyes

swollen marbles unseeing

remembering lilting dreams

un-blinking

tears dried from cracked blinks

Deep

beneath fathoms of murky sea

bubbles squeezed nitrogen pop

as spiny creatures swim

too close

Heart

chipped down to pebbles

swallowed by a bird

it beating too fast

in her chest

Hammered

to the slab

by the nightly joy ride

that crashed upside down

leaving the driver

Pinned

with the seat belt

still on

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Poem/Song: Moonbeam Bed


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Lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

while you toss among the nightmares

and the monsters in your head

 

In daylight hours the dreams

are hidden far away

We walk together tangled

the light will show the way

 

Lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

while you toss among the nightmares

and the monsters in your head

 

But as the dark veil grabs you

and fear pulls you down

I feel I cannot reach you

while you’re lost to midnight sounds

 

So lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

And fight your tortured dream world

kill the monsters in your head

 

Yes lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

For I will always be here

Singing away the dread

 

For I will always be here

Singing away the dread

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Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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What I Did Today


(Note: This is a political post and could be offensive to some readers)

While I have never thought of myself as very political or extremely patriotic, I do vote and care about what happens here in this country. That’s just because I’m a caring human being in general, most the decisions I make in life, big ones anyway that involve ethical decisions, are geared around trying to be kind and trying to think about the ‘bigger picture’ beyond just me.

Because of this I’ve made lifestyle choices that have often made me seem odd or have put me far from mainstream America. This is fine by me. Live and let live, as long as we are all respectful of each other.

Of course you guessed by now that my ‘politics’, if I have to label myself, is liberal. For many years I didn’t claim either party and simply considered myself Independent, but this just seemed, well, simply too non-committal to me. And I knew I would never affiliate with the Republican side, so one day I decided to become a Democrat. No surprise there, right?

I’m not an over the top Democrat though. Like I said: politics isn’t my schtick.  I’ve lived with Republican Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and all the decisions that they make too. I understand that being an American means: you vote and sometimes your ‘side’ doesn’t win. And then you deal as best you can. You continue to be the best person you can regardless.

But this time it’s different. This time the election has left me cold. It isn’t just a Republican that has won, but someone altogether different. Someone who so many of us simply can’t understand how our fellow Americans wanted as our President. It’s simply baffling….and scary.

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As reports come out now about his personality (narcissist) and his capabilities (turning democracy into kleptocracy), my years of being a side-line player in our political system is becoming harder to be. I am a pacifist at heart, so plunging into the heart of a heated protest is not my style, but I also am a strong believer in our right to be heard.

Today for the first time in my entire life, I wrote political leaders in my state. My Governor and my two Senators. I’m compelled to do something to bring attention to the freight train barreling toward our democracy. It subtly and over time, can be dismantled without anyone really being aware. Unless we are diligent and proactive. Standing by hoping it will ‘go away’ or just play itself out, is a dangerous thing to hope for against someone who is so full of himself as this president.

I’m sorry if I have offended those of you who support this person. I only ask that you look beyond your personal needs (and I know they are real!) to the man behind the words. Many men just like him spouted big words and went on to do horrible things. It’s about personality here, ethics, greed, morality, neediness, hate and ego to name a few. It’s not about political party. He doesn’t represent a political party, or me, or you. He represents himself, his family and his own desires.

This is a very dangerous thing for the head of any country!

So be aware, be kind to others (even if you don’t agree with them), think beyond yourself, read real news (not on Facebook) and notice what he does and doesn’t do, really listen to his words!

Everything important here is at stake. Truly. For ALL of us.

Walking


During my walk through my ‘village’, I am constantly struck by what an alien landscape it is to me. Even the name of the place reminds me of some sort of Sci Fi novel where you can’t be quite sure who is human and who might appear so, but is really a look-alike with highly functioning artificial intelligence.

The homes are all blazingly white, with only specifically allowed colored shutters and all laid out with the same floor plan–this giving the effect of some weird colony created by Big Brother (it was actually in the ’70’s, and BB was the usual group of condo types trying to create the ultimate paradise), but getting cookie cutter instead. It was a good thought and the prices were good, so the humans came…

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But as I stroll around a corner and am by myself, the southern sun shimmering off the dazzling white homes, I feel transported to decades into the future. Maybe I am the last ‘real’ human left here, wandering the streets, pretending to be one of ‘them’. They sit behind their curtains, with no honest food in their refrigerators (because they don’t eat) and their hollow laughs echoing in my mind. Who are they really?

I walk and wonder. Do they know who I am? Do they watch me from behind those standard colored shutters? Am I safe? My heart picks up a pace. The heat beats down.

Then I turn a corner. Music drifts from one of the identical homes. I listen: some 60’s tune I recall… And in the driveway next to this home, a car has a bumper sticker: COEXIST. You know the one: with each letter representing some spiritual symbol.

And I snap back: maybe they are really human after all? I remember now, it’s 2017 and it might be OK.

As I’m walking, I briefly look up at the empty blue sky above me. And just for a moment, I imagine a huge billowing mushroom cloud. I lower my head and keep walking…

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Awakening


Much of life can be spent in a dream like state–or sleep walking through it, appearing awake, but really unconscious. In looking back on my life, it feels as though I’ve lived it like this: half here, half somewhere else. Maybe my eyes were open , but I wasn’t really seeing what was around me.

Then I try to look back on this life, I have very few memories that I can latch onto. Friends of mine will often recall great details from the past. It amazes me when they pull minute details of a situation, place or conversation, and I have giant gaps from these times. It’s as though I wasn’t there: a dark figure, lurking in the background. Maybe I was really just a statue, a wax figure of the person that was me. Or I was dozing in another world, perched in a land where no-one could really reach me.

Or maybe I just have a bad memory?

It makes me sad sometimes that I can only grab glimpses from my past or put few pictures together of good times to weave the mosaic of my life. Here and there I see some if I think really, really hard, but they are distant and blurry.

But now I am waking up. I’ve begun to pour cold water in the recesses of my mind and slap myself the way doctors did years ago to get babies to take a first breath. I want to breathe. It’s time to breathe now the fresh desire of creation. To take footsteps forward in the land of the living, where one looks around and everything pulses with energy. That stone figure crouched in a corner has metamorphosed into a spirit. It has taken on life. Looking around it sees the beauty of the world, hears the humming of the planet and tastes the nectar of nature. It absorbs at a deeper level, tucking these senses within.

Aroused by the pulsating beat of the earth, my life is beginning to finally happen. The start was slow and messy, taking the circuitous route, but is coming back on itself to the now. It can take flight and the quickening of it all leaves me light. The weight falls away, and now I flutter open….

Yes, I am awake. I am awake.