Putting down roots

The tree in the Flammarion engravingI love spending time on Earth. The ephemeral nature of it reminds my soul of the precious fragilities of life. Earth shows us glory and wealth. Earth teaches us that everything has a role to play, that there’s purpose in all things and also that humans suffer most from their own making.

I love the way that all our ancestors that have ever been are right here, still with us. That there’s a little kink in our orientation so that as we spiral and circle and dance around the sun, beautiful repeating patterns are made for us to enjoy.

I mean this, not in some abstract, symbolic way, but in a literal, actual way each day, every year. The physical world of our lives, right here under our feet, is both the source and the destination.

I’m repeating this from last week because this is what is so liberating.

It is freeing to be humbled by the totality of the Earth and accept that the expectations we create, the measures we have chosen, the agreements we’ve made to live our lives the way we do, so many of the things that we crave or expect or demand are all of our own invention. Those things are superfluous. Seek them if you wish, but do so with the knowledge that you’ll be able to breathe anyway, that the sun will come up in the morning, and that the trees will fruit in season.

You have seasons too.

Wishing you were ripe in Spring is very hard to fulfil, creating tension for yourself and those who care about you. Likewise in Autumn to obsess about lost days in youth is so pointless. That’s not to say ‘don’t have them’. Create art with those longings, or seek a higher truth from the impetus to understand, work with what is possible inside the physical limits of our reality. That leaves a lot of room for emotional, spiritual and psychological maneuver, it leaves a lot of room for fun, and for the here and now. Sway with the breeze, drink from the rain, tingle with the fire in your sap. There’s freedom here. There’s liberation in knowing what is real, and what is a wish.

I love spending time on Earth with you. There’s nowhere I would rather be. We’re all in this together.

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Enough water

There’s a wonderful song that goes “Will there be enough water when my ship comes in? And when I set sail will there be enough wind?” (by The Dead Weather if you’re interested) and that two-line koan slips in and out of focus often for me as the bigger questions of life pose themselves to us. It has come to reveal both an anxiety and a truth at the base of our modern worry.

CRUSOE SETS SAIL ON HIS EVENTFUL VOYAGE

We ebb and flow in life. There are tides to our lives, to our internal feelings, to dreams and to the energy we have for others. At least half of our bodies are water. More than half. You don’t need to try to connect to the energy and power of water – you’re a fish swimming in it already. You just carry it around inside you. Miraculous. Yet somehow, we aren’t sure that we’re making the right choices. As though there’s some answer somewhere we should know. It can be hard to try something new because we don’t know that we’ll be successful. We have slipped into the illusion that it is possible to know, to control, to be right. Life is more fluid than that.

Physics tells us we’re living in an ocean of motion. All our atoms are buzzing so fast we can ignore that they’re mostly gap. The same way we ignore that our solid bodies are mostly gappy water. Maybe you’re having a weird day because you’re all quantumly entangled in someone else’s bizniz. Couldn’t say.

What we can say is that your emotional and intuitive self is certainly there talking to your busy, conscious self. Mostly, that conscious chatterbox self is the one asking the questions and putting off adventures until it feel sure everything’s under control, meanwhile your sloppy water bits are vibing away trying to get the message across , ‘Of course there’s enough water, it’s the ocean! Get into it, get underway, you are the boat, you are the waves!’ and chatterbox drowns it all out with doubts, or shopping or and getting distracted by shiny things. That’s how it tends to go in our house.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It costs nothing but a little bit of effort to tune into your own currents. Your depths are there, inviting you to swim into them. There are some weirdarse creatures in there for sure, but you know, that’s part of what makes it an adventure, right? Overall, it is magnificent, it is glorious, it is another world, and it is already yours.

You can set sail. Listen to your waters. There is enough wind for you to follow.

Image credit.

Burning in the wind

Flame clipart

A few years ago, I was ready to wrap things up. Maybe you’ve felt this way before. As far as I was concerned, there was no point to going on with a job I hated and with a personal life that had ground to a halt. I knew that my dog would be well looked after by my family and he’d forget about me after a while. I thought about it for a long time, it isn’t the kind of thing you want to rush into. I got an unexpected small windfall of money and so went to a friend’s wedding that was far away in a part of the country I’d never visited before. I took time off from work so I could look around while I was there and have a chance to experience a different perspective. I did a lot of bushwalking, exploring and walking.

One day, I had been walking for a long time along a hilly coastline. There was a dry cold wind blowing. I faced into it and closed my eyes. It felt like I was flying. It was a nice feeling. Up from the rocks came a warmth and as it travelled up my legs it became a fire. It was an amazing feeling. My blood was singing and I was alive again. I was burning in the wind. It wasn’t the only important experience I had on that trip, and out of it I was able to start looking for new choices to make.

Talking about a quest for release and following the wind took me right back into this experience.

Spring is itching inside those of us in the Southern Hemisphere and that ‘rising sap’ – the spark of new life – is our next checkpoint for personal liberation.

So much in modern culture suggests to us that there are correct answers to the challenges that life throws at us, but our own experience tells us otherwise. We know that no one is willing to give us these precious answers, because we’ve begged for them. We’ve found that the best we can do is make a choice based on who we are and what we believe in. Then just cross your fingers and hope the gods are smiling.

Spring helps us to remember that our beleaguered brain is not the only organ in our body that can guide us. There’s a fire in us too – so essential – that is a compass pointing only towards passion, only towards our true connection.

Don’t fret right now if you can’t feel it, it is still inside you. It is probably smothered. Fire needs air to breathe just like you do so you’ll need to get out and get some decent chunks of follow-the-wind time to create a space for the spark to catch again. Shelter that flame from the worst of the numbing, smothering, delusional elements of your day to day. It is your personal gem, a ruby of immense value that is your own private wealth.

When your spirit is aflame, you are rich beyond belief.

Follow the wind

Back in our nod to debt grief we asked a core question “Do we have power to release ourselves?”

We yearn for release, for freedom. People have done so through time, it just feels like there’s a stronger sense of entrapment in our wealthy modern world than there really should be. We are not politically oppressed, we are fed, can vote, we each enjoy a quality of life that surpasses that of even royalty just two generations ago. Why then are our quality of life surveys so constantly negative?

This is a haunting question. How can we release ourselves?

I’ve been looking for a choice for us to consider and I was told it would come from an unusual source. I looked and listened and scribbled notes and got nowhere waiting for a teacher to give a hint. Then, while down at the waterfront watching kites, a little toddler said “Follow the wind” and she faced into the breeze and closed her eyes in total bliss. A-HA!
Woodcut of Zephyrus from Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493In that moment she gave us all a reminder of what it is to be free. She reminded us that our shackles are mostly illusions. She saw through to the core of the situation and with her sharp sword of insight she sliced the knot in two.

Well that’s how it was for me, let’s unpack it together.

Freedom is not living in some vague, future utopia that will appear one day without any effort from us. It isn’t a ‘better’ that we can just buy. It is hard to say what it really is anymore because for most people freedom has begun to sound like an advertising slogan or an empty rhetorical stick that a politician uses to make a complicated important issue into a knee-jerk response. Our hearts are gummed up with this foul misuse. At best, we visualise a long holiday, but without the boredom.

But children know what it is. They don’t need to reference a dictionary meaning. They don’t fret about their own value or what curiosity will cost them. We know that freedom is not the same as being childish, but here’s a tantalising clue to lead us back into the right direction.

Our pets know what it is. They don’t even need human language to show us joy in the now and pure experience of whatever the moment is holding. Pets might be tame, but they stay free in a way we deeply envy. You’ve probably met someone who lives through their pet’s experience of the world. We know that freedom is not the same as being wild, but here’s a delicious scent of the juicy potential we used to have.

We know what it is not. We know somehow that these wage-slave lives where people worry about a 3 percent rise in interest rates, or how will they pay for getting any kind of sick that their insurance doesn’t cover aren’t it. Spending a year planning how to use a few weeks off to have a ‘decent break’ isn’t freedom, especially when no-one else does the work while you’re away. Triple jeopardy points if you paid for that ‘break’ on credit. That doesn’t feel like freedom.  We know that it isn’t really having two aisles of soft drink options in the supermarket or having more than 67 brands of cars to select from but somehow that’s what we agreed to accept somewhere along the line and now it is set in stone.

Well, that little girl reminds us that it is not set in stone. That many of the social conditions that we accept and treat as invincible are actually as fragile as a house made out of straw. There are a number of ways that if we huff and puff we could see them fall in. Do you remember how the global economy had a hiccup a few years back over some little ‘misunderstanding’? That was a good example of how things that we’re used to being bullied around by can actually turn out to be rotten or even simply a façade. We get to make a choice about how we participate in our society. We are actually in charge of how we participate.

We are actually in charge of how we participate.

We are actually in charge.

Those companies, those governments, those councils, banks and credit card companies, they all work for us. They’ve forgotten that and most importantly so have we, Everything can be different. They are not invincible. They are not the only way or the single answer. The wind blows the whole way around the earth. The wind blows into every home, every village, it blows across our faces and it whispers ideas into our ears. Welcome the wind and welcome the hope back into your heart. We are all in this together. Take a moment now and feel this, you have something in your hands that we’ve all been told not to notice, to ignore it, to treat it as a bother. It is a tiller. Feel it now. Can you feel that vibration in it? That is the wind of change, the zephyr of self-determination and if you want, the rudder it is connected to that you control, can set you on a new course. Where will you go? Ask some new questions.

That’s what I heard when she suggested we “follow the wind” and I can’t thank her enough.

Image credit: Woodcut of Zephyrus from Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493