Hope in the Ruins

He had a bad night’s sleep after the argument

Barely made it to the train on time

He only saw bad news in the headlines

And nearly tripped over a little boy on his way

He barked “watch out!”

 

He was nearly stepped on by a man on the train platform

Didn’t want to face his teacher

He was afraid he couldn’t pass the test today

He didn’t say hello to the new kid in school

Instead, he pretended not to see him

 

His new buddy didn’t even acknowledge him

So lonely in the new town

He hated new and missed old

He didn’t want to do this again

And cried when the teacher introduced him

 

Her heart broke for yet another troubled child

How could she reach this one

She felt so ineffective and ill-equipped

Should she quit before it got worse?

She couldn’t feign cheer for her perky teacher’s assistant

 

It was hard for her to work with someone so sad

This is what she wanted to escape

Her mother became more difficult each day

She felt such shame for resenting her disease

When the coach flirted with her at lunch, she looked down

 

He knew she was out of his league

But she was the most beautiful girl in the world

She was always smiling so sweetly

Until he flirted moronically just now

When the mechanic gave him his bill, his wound turned to anger

 

He wanted to be a lawyer

Days like this reminded him of that

He wished people understood that cars are not simple

But they don’t want to hear that

He didn’t want to burden his wife with his angst

 

She was so frustrated with his silence

Why wasn’t she good enough to confide in?

Would he ever trust her and did she make a mistake?

Browsing FaceBook, she sees yet another post that irritates her

She replies and goes to bed.

 

She read the curt post and was surprised

Her friend was so gentle

But married life had not agreed with her

She wrote a kind note and signed it with love

And slept peacefully

 

Perfectly Dysfunctional You

When I wasn’t sure you wanted to hear me, I questioned my value

I drifted off into an abyss of possibly and maybe

But probably not

I did not really know what it felt like to be heard

 

I don’t blame you for this, though I do recognize it is your fault

(That’s a strange twist of thought we unheard share)

You wouldn’t understand,

Please tell me you didn’t know and do it anyway

 

When I think of you, I hope to eventually remember only sun and snow

For now, I am still at a loss for joy

No words form in my mind

To describe my relationship with perfectly dysfunctional you

 

VISION QUEST 2011, Part I

Yes, I have been on a vision quest.  In fact, I’ve been on two, 2010 and 2011.  What exactly constitutes a “vision quest,” you may ask?  For me, it’s a nice, neat package of openness, opportunity and contemplation, all concentrated into a small lump of time and travel.

  • Be open to big changes in your life
  • Have a week to travel and no need to plan most of that time
  • Have enough money and/or creativity to take care of basic needs (eating,  sleeping and getting from A to B to C)
  • Bring at least one big question
  • Bring an open mind and willingness to let answers unfold over the next year or so
  • Bring a journal and write in it every day
  • Bring curiosity and high, but loosely defined expectations
  • Seek adventure and newness every day of the quest – pick up brochures, ask for recommendations and be willing to drive down the road just because it seems like the right thing to do at the moment
  • Talk to strangers with no expectations, but don’t be surprised if they reveal the secrets you’ve been looking for
  • Spend a lot of time alone – in nature if possible – appreciating your surroundings
  • If possible, begin the quest with loved ones who will cheer you on and ask questions about your upcoming days
  • If possible, end the quest with friends who will ask questions and listen – people who help you define the experience
  • Breathe – notice smells, sights, sounds and above all else, feelings

I began both of my vision quests with my darling nephew, Jason.  I ended each with my dear friends, Heather and Michael.  There are hundreds of miles and  a plethora of experiences between said nephew and friends.  This is the meat of the quest.  (but don’t get me wrong, the meat would be little without the dear, cheering and the defining bookends.)

Both of my quests initially centered on visits to a woman named Jo Carson and an art project she inspired.  I read a book of Jo’s and we eventually became acquaintances, and  later friends.   Both times I traveled at Jo’s request, but knew I would not travel that 1000 miles to spend a lot of time with her as she has been very ill and easily exhausted .  I basically traveled both times to spend a total of 8 hours with Jo (that’s another blog).  I appreciated the time I had with her, but also appreciated the time I spent with a waiter in a restaurant one night, a woman who sat next to me at the dining room table in a bed and breakfast one morning, a timber wolf who lazily stared at me through a chain link fence and a ghost named Lydia, with whom I spent two nights… just the two of us in a secluded bed and breakfast that was once her childhood home.

And here’s another piece of the quest: I have felt driven to take each trip, despite bad timing and the necessity for frugality.  I was  certain of the need to travel and circumstances unfolded to allow me to do so.

The first trip was initially invited in October of 2009, but circumstances in my life didn’t open up for that… it was delayed until May of 2010.  At that time, I KNEW the time was right and I went.

In August of 2011, similar circumstances drove me to begin readying for another quest.  Along the way, I had doubts.  While doubting, I stopped at a rest area to get something to eat (or perhaps more appropriately, I wanted to assuage my doubting heart with some Oreos).  I stood at a vending machine and reached into my purse for a bill.  My heart nearly stopped when I pulled out a bill that had my name very clearly written on it.  You see, when I began the trip, I had an empty wallet – I stopped for cash in my home town, then got change at a gas station somewhere in Indiana.  That is the origin of the bill.  The poignant moment in front of the vending machine is such a landmark because of the question in my mind as well as the answer… had I not gone on the trip, someone whose name probably wasn’t Donna would have gotten the $5 as change in the gas station somewhere in Indiana.  They probably wouldn’t have had a question of “am I where I should be” on their hearts and they most assuredly wouldn’t have been impressed by seeing my name of a $5 bill.

I suppose that $5 is a good thought to continue on at this point because it sums up all that anyone has to give to receive gain on a vision quest.  Be willing to see visions and ready to allow your heart AND your mind to interpret them.  Bring the journal so you can remember all that you’ve experienced.  Talk to strangers – even let them in on the story – but do not allow their opinions to define your experience.  Frankly,, they may be there specifically to teach you not to allow anyone else to define your world for you.

I don’t want to put to much definition on the rules of this experience.  After all, not having rules is what makes it so special.  On these quests, I have never planned more than thirty-six hours ahead.  Because of this, I’ve received lovely discounts on 4-star available rooms exactly when and where I needed them.  I have also used Priceline to find a good deal on your basic chain hotel.  I’ve written in my journal beside pools, in animal sanctuaries, at highway rest areas, in my nephew’s and friends’ homes, in several restaurants and coffee shops, mountain tops, along rivers and on park benches.  I’ve met people who had recovered from tragic loss, accomplished amazing 18-year journeys, were living their dreams and reaching almost as much as I was.  They all helped me.

That brings me to another type of person – and they helped me too – the people who are not searching, are not happy and don’t believe in hope.  They appear like neon lights above your bed during a lovely dream.  You notice them and they jar you from your peace.  Frankly, you probably jar them as well.  Let them affirm your quest and do not allow them to bring you down.

I once talked with a waiter who first  befriended me, then became cold and literally backed away from me – all while I didn’t say much.  I think the problem was that I was just so frickin’ happy.  I gave him a nice tip.  I remember that because my bill was $41 and I happily rounded it up to $50 to allow for a generous tip (I figured anyone who could turn so chilly and mistrustful to a happy stranger who asked for nothing other than items on the menu, needed a good tip).  When I returned home and sorted through my bank statement, I noted that said waiter refused the tip – I was only charged $41 that night.   I was in the business long enough to know something like that does not happen by accident.  I believe he recognized something only in retrospect.  He recognized something he couldn’t deal with at the time, but in retrospect, he couldn’t accept that gift from someone so foreign.

Okay, I’m wrapping this up now – too much definition of a vision quest is not a good thing.  As I work through my findings from VQ 2011, I’ll post them here.  I will benefit from the thought process behind writing more about it.  Perhaps someone will read and feel inspired to take a VQ of their own.

If you go in the right spirit of open expectation of vision, the time you spend on the quest will reward you hundreds of times over!

It’s just not that big a deal

Note to self:  whatever it is, whatever seems like a life and death situation… for you, your career, your relationship, etc… is probably just not that big a deal.  That monumentally important and earth shattering news/risk/error/whatever is probably the result of a conglomeration of unchecked assumptions and emotions that have cumulatively magnified into an emotional Godzilla, trouncing upon the reality of a simple bit of news/risk/error/whatever.

So take a deep breath and consider the larger picture.  Is anyone you love – including yourself – laying in the hospital or worse?  No?  That’s what I thought.

Whatever it is, it’s just not that big a deal.

Now go on about your business….

Wrought Feelings

More from Candace:  “Feelings are a bridge between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of manifestation, and must be felt and experienced if any kind of real and lasting result is going to come about.”

Okay, so if I don’t feel my emotions, nothing will ever be gained, changed or otherwise affected by what is going on in my head.  Ladies and gentlemen, that is an awful thing to say!  I don’t want to feel half of what is going on in my neurotransmitters on a good day!

Hmmm, have I mentioned I’m going through a lot of transition at this point in my life?  A LOT of transition.  I’m feeling a whole dynamic world of states of consciousness that change like one of those glass-filled kaleidoscopes you saw on well-dressed coffee tables everywhere in the early 90’s.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah…

When it really gets rough inside my head and the ligands are landing in the most unpleasant of ways, I look for ways to NOT feel.  I think I’m a little upset with Candace for telling me I’m not supposed to run away suppress or otherwise drown those feelings.

I admit it, I’m going through a huge phase of transition in my life (seriously – career, home, geographic region, relationship…).  I love the highs and don’t care at all for the lows.  I’ve spent enough time crying, eating and generally wanting to bang my head against the wall – do I really need more of those emotions?

Apparently, I do.  Perhaps if I feel them, I’ll actually learn to deal with them without the aforementioned behaviors.

Okay, fine, Candace.  If I’m going to make any change, I have to not just ride the shit-storm, but actually smell it.  Whatever.

A very wise friend of mine told me just yesterday that progress requires taking steps up in consciousness, then supporting/sustaining them until you’re ready for the next step up.  Meh, I suppose all of that requires awareness of all that each steps entails, including occasional [incessant] loneliness, mourning and grief…. not to mention the paralyzing questioning insecurity brings.

In moments when I’m most honest, I have to admit I’ve used the banal tool: alcohol, to mask my feelings, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Excessive sleep, movies, performance (read: adrenaline), physical and emotional risk (read: adrenaline) and even Facebook to escape for a little while.  Sometimes all of those things are happy and healthy little choices we make when deciding how to spend our time.  Sometimes, those are ways to divert attention and avoid feeling.

Okay, so now that brings me to another question: what is normal activity and what is escape?  Or the converse: what is sitting and feeling emotions and what is sitting and looking for trouble?  I don’t want to bask/wallow in my emotions to excess.  There’s got to be a good balance…

Don’t we have an entire two generations full of people who want everything now and really have no idea what it’s like to sit in a quiet room along with their feelings?  Oh pong, what hath though wrought?

… I’ll get around to thinking about – but not wallowing in – all of this, just as soon as I finish this drink while watching a movie and posting this very personal blog on the entire world wide web (read: adrenaline).

Jesus, where’s Pythagoras when you need him…