Thursday, February 08, 2007

Defining Death

I've opened an unmarked box, dusty and clearly untouched for decades. No sticky-back paper, no marker scrawls, no indication whatsoever about it's content. Is it something to be tossed in the garbage? Antiques to be retained or sold? Junk whose only purpose in existing is to remind someone of some long ago occasion that is dear only to that individual?

You would think I'd know all considered.... but I don't.

Time seems to have stopped... or at least slowed down enough that each micro-second is super charged and packed with too many thoughts and emotions to comprehend. There is something here... something hidden away and secreted deep into the subconscious; so unfamiliar that it's just as good as new. The stiff, crumbly texture of the cardboard and the thick layer of gritty filth indicates otherwise, however. This has been here for a very long time.

It's too dark to see it's content once the flaps have been unsealed and flipped open. I drag the nasty piece of crushed tree into what little light exists. More than yesterday, but still far from what one could call "well lit". I don't want to just blindly reach into the thing... it's been here and unmoved long enough .. who knows what may have taken up residence inside, aside from what was intentionally placed in it.

Carefully, I sneak a hand in and feel around for something - I have no idea what. It's an oddly large box for the amount that has been placed inside. It's a miniscule thing, really... a concept.. a notion. Something that can only be perceived by each individual mind and no two are alike. Sort of like snowflakes. Only this has been preserved. Sort of. The awareness of the concept exists - but when pulled out, into the open and the light, I realize it's been broken. Shattered so long ago that the only place left for it was here, hidden away. Too valuable to toss out, but to broken to repair.

What I find is the death of a concept. An infant ideal that should have been kept in the finest condition, nourished, and exponentially increased in value. I can see by the stage of arrested development that this particular concept was quietly put to sleep; gone forever with only a memory of "should have beens". I recognize it now. Something I had set aside as a child, too anguished to fully comprehend what it's loss really meant. Too lost to mourn it's passing. After all, the physical presence in which this concept once resided in still exists.

At first, hope allowed the denial to persevere. After years of repeated beatings, hope disintegrated into indifference. This was a new wall... and a new burial for this death - but there was no ceremony, no mourning, no acknowledgement. The process was never fully followed through or completed.

The remenants crumble in my hands while I sit and stare at them, torn between numbness and renewed loss. I feel dizzy and heavy, everything blurring around me, tunnel vision settling in, honed on the newly formed pile of memory-dust, making a small mountain before me. Little dark spots start to appear, as though by some unknown conjurer, speckling the mound. My stomach hurts. There's a flash... I'm 3... I see it, still in-tact... FLASH! 7 - cracks and fissures start to form... FLASH! 10 - broken and snatched away.... forced from my hands. I didn't put it away... only in the context of denying the loss did I put it away. The reality is, it was taken.. killed... torn.... ripped from my grasping, clinging emotion-self. Dead. Concept murdered by reality; completely crushed before anything had a chance to mature.. including me. FLASH! Now.. FLASH! 3... FLASH! death...

I mourn.


30 years later.


Death takes many forms. It means change no matter how you look at it. Sometimes, it's the closing of one door and the opening of another.. but we can see the closing as a death.. the termination of an opportunity. There's physical death, which requires no definition. There's the death of a dream; something we want to have done or accomplished and never doing it or something happening to prevent us from fulfilling that desire. Sometimes, the dream is unrealistic and therefore, Life sees fit to remind us to stay within the context of reality. This is not the same as the death which I am speaking of above. There are different kinds of concepts... non-tangable things that are created within our mental realm, whether it's emotionally or psychologically driven. Sometimes, those concepts are so critical to our essential being that to have them prematurely terminated is just as detrimental as if a physical death had indeed taken place. Of course there are differences, but the big picture is that the sense of loss and the damage that stems from that loss is equivalent. Just as with any major traumatic experience, when we go through life in a state of denial, it has a global effect on us until we find the way to recognize and cope... the only path to healing, at least, as much as can be had in such circumstances. But it's more than what could be obtained without such a pursuit. A great deal more damage takes place as we travel through existence with a dark cloud sitting on the fringes of our souls, and the longer it takes to see it for what it is and deal with it, the stronger it becomes, the more damage it does and the more it pervades us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential. It is another ghost.. but this is one that can never be exorcised. The best you can hope for is to just stop the damage where it is and disallow any further injury to occur. What has already been done is there. The pain is there. The loss is there. They cannot be fixed, changed or removed. But we can learn to live with it, better than we did while it was still actively consuming us, without our knowledge. Mourning is a life-long process; and it doesn't HAVE TO be an obstacle. It can just be, as long as we don't give it more power than we have ourselves. It's an uncomfortable, but unchangeable, symbiosis. I will live my pain and therefore, live my life; to do otherwise is, ultimately, self-defeating and self-mutilating.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

>>>>>>THE PATH<<<<<<<

"Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits. Be even-tempered in success and failure, for it is this evenness of temper which is meant by yoga.

"Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results are miserable.

"In the calm of self-surrender you can free yourself from the bondage of virtue and vice during this very life. Devote yourself, therefore, to reaching union with Brahman. To unite the heart with Brahman and then to act: that is the secret of non-attached work. In the calm of self-surrender, the seers rounounce the fruits of their actions, and so reach enlightment. Then they are free from the bondage of rebirth, and pass to that state which is beyond all evil."

"The Song of God: Bhadavad-Gita" Translated by Swami Prabhavananada and Christopher Isherwood, 1972, the Vedanta Society. pp: 40-41

Upon reading this passage, I realize that it is so amazingly accurate - even if you are not Hindu or have any calling to understand any sect of the hindu beliefs and philosophies, the practical truth still exists. When dissected and reviewed, the simple terms suggest that we do our work as it needs to be done, to the best of our ability because it is our duty to do so.. and because we do it to the best of our ability, then we need only to be calm while said work is in process without concerning ourselves with the results of the task, the paycheck that comes as a result of doing our job (if that is indeed our work), or the types of decisions of others. We can only control ourselves, and therefore, it is better to move forward in peace and the only way to accomplish taht is to detach from the results of our actions. If we perform Right Action, then the results will be as they should be therefore require no concern. If a mistake is made, we are still human, but do not fret upon that mistake and simply do your duty to rectify it and go on.

In short, we try too hard to control everything else other than the one thing we have ultimate control over - ourselves. How much better off would we be as iindividuals, a society, a world if we sought our own innter peace and tranquility instead of harboring the stress that naturally comes forth when we focus so intently on outcome? I know that this is true for me.

Although I will continue my inward journey, seeking to clear the darkness and enter light into those regions of my past that I have for too long allowed to undermine my present and my future, I will simultaneously seek to know and become closer to my Atman. I had an epipheny several days that I focus too much on controlling those things that cannot be controlled and fearing that which I cannot grasp strongly enough to bend to my will.

Like every human being, every journey I take, every turn that leads to some new grain of knowledge, I seek internal peace; bliss if you will. Knowledge is only a part of the journey. Another part is taking the time to actively delve deep within ourselves, beyond the material; beyond the now; beyond the past; beyond the pain; beyond the joy; beyond ourselves in these contexts.

No matter what spiritual belief you hold, even if it's none at all, there is a place within each of us that holds the key to our own happiness. Happiness is a moment, a grain of sand in eternal time. However, even during times of sorrow, anger, passion, or joy, there is another source of peace that lies in wait - waiting for us to seek it out and bring it forth and overshadow all other superficial emotions.

Do not mistake the meaning of superficial... it does not mean that those emotions are not real. It means that they are more geared towards the surface of our being; they are the first "impression" emotions; our reactions vs. our internal control of our existence. Reactions are consequence; actions are not. Should we perpetually be beings of consequence or would it be preferable to be one of action?

My attic is one massive consequence. The consequence of superficial emotion because that inner peace has not been found and given the power to supercede. My goal, henceforth, is to continue my progress but to move forward with greater wisdom and less fear. To move beyond superficiality and consequence and into self-discipline and action. I may not find Atman in this life - I may not find pure bliss - but there will be greater satisfaction which stems from my spiritual as well as my psychological journey.

This is one of the gaping holes, a window that has been covered so thickly that I had all but completely forgotten it. I have paused in my other duties to relocate it and clean it off as best I can. Now, there is a little more light here. There is a little less fear. Hope has been given strength. I look in this Light, calm, yet anxious about my ability to maintain my committment to make it sparkle. It is a must, however. It is a spiritual requirement for me to increase the opportunity for the Light to enter into this cavernous arena in which fear, anxiety, unfulfilled dreams and heartbreak have all wrestled and intermingled - binding and writhing, pushing against the walls of my being and stretching my mentality to capacity.

It is time to embrace them and go beyond.... into the Light and as close to Atman as I can get in this lifetime.
Fade Darkness - Enter Light Stage Right

It has been well over a year - a year and a half almost exactly, since I've come to my own blog spot. I've re-read my prior postings and realize how much I still have to do. One spot in my attic is now clean. There are still bundles and boxes, but they are neatly stacked, covered, and set aside. No more dust, no more cobwebs - no more shadow.

I look at that corner often and as much as my ghosts haunted and pained my very being, I miss them now that they have been exorcised. There is more light there now, since the clutter and filth has been put in the trash and wiped clean. The warmth that embraces that little tiny spot is cause for a smile. A sense of accomplishment mingles with the loss, almost overwhelming me in their conflict. I allow them to take turns instead. I make the assumption that eventually, when those spectres have been vacated for long enough, I will cease to feel as though something were missing.

I am grateful for the accomplishments, but to deny my long time attachment to the dark would be a lie. It is a process. I've begun to tackle some other areas, ones far darker and far more sinister. The shadows that live in this place are old and so firmly ensconced in their habitat that mere exorcism will not suffice. This task will require an all out battle of wills; me against myself.

The demons of childhood are built upon year after year, gaining size, strength and determination. They hover in the corners of our very souls, taunting while slowly dissecting our most sacred being - our sense of self. They become enmeshed in our day to day lives, becoming inextricable and to attempt to rid ourselves of them means to amputate some larger portion of ourselves; or worse, soulful suicide. To become a walking dead; giving all appearances of being a living being working, walking, laughing, crying... but the inside bitterly cold and empty, no fulfillment to be had, an appetite that can never be satisiied. Physical death would be preferable.

There is no way to terminate these creatures, given birth to by experience and fed by our sorrow and self-pity. The most we can hope for is to weaken them and force them into submission, allowing us to make peace with that part of ourselves that has been so agonizingly haunted. There is only one way to force the hand of these monsters of the past however, and that is to face them head on and allow them full entry into our current being, to overwhelm them with the light and truth of the now. Sometimes, when something is stuck and you want to get it out, you have to push it in a little further before you can pull it free. This demon of suffering must be allowed access, with no hinderances or inhibitions. Barriers will only lend it strength - but the pain... the pain is so extreme that even knowing that the pain will render greater healing at the end of it, it is almost insufferable.

This is the place that I have chosen as my next project. It is a grand portion of this hole that must be cleaned. There are little monsters that haunt this place, having been given life by the larger, fed by my own hand. There is more depth here than anywhere else I will have to face after. Fortunately, I am not alone. I am the only one that can take on this task, but I can hear the voices of strength around me. There is energy here that mixes with mine and helps support me when I am about to crumble into dust, to join the rest of the bunnies that bounce around this cave.

I breath deeply, looking at the swipes I've already taken to decontaminate my soul. They are visible, but so small in comparison... there is so much work to do. I want to sit down and survey this project before I take the next step. I have doubts about my ability to really accomplish such a tremendous project. But I know me and I know that if I sit down and think instead of just jumping into the thick of it, I will hesitate moments too long and my opportunity will have passed.

I see a glimmer of something shiney here and there. I know those are moments of glory and joy. I don't know what those glimmers are exactly and they are too far back to try to fathom through the darkness as to their form. I will have to get through what seems like miles of muck to get to even the nearest one. The thing is.. these are only vague indicators... who knows what treasures may lie in wait ... but I have to get past the monsters and demons and dirt to find them.

I hate this job... but no one else can do it and if I don't, then I fear I will be stuck here, in the darkness, for eternity - alone, afraid, and harboring bitterness so foul it hangs in the air like a dense fog. I have no desire to be trapped like that. I've been here long enough as it is. It is time to turn my prison into a place of enlightenment, peace and hope.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shadows are funny things. They're very much like clouds in many ways. We can almost form them into anything we want just by sheer will and creative use of imagination. Monsters, demons, ghosts, goblins, spirits, bunnies, spiders or ducks; whatever we wish is there. Just as insubstantial as the mist above our heads, yet much more within reach. Perhaps that is why we fear them more than any brewing storm, no matter how dark and ominous it appears.

So what happens when we see the people we hold dearest as those very shadows? Lurking and looming before us? A familiar face, a comforting embrace surrounding us in that very darkness that we are trying to illuminate. These are the shadows that we seem least inclined to battle. The soft, gentle whisper "leave the light off".... consciousness rising and trying to scream through the muffling void of fear - only this time, not fear of dark, but fear of loss. Change. Death. Hence the phrase "go towards the light".

How is it that that which we seek is both our greatest enemy and yet our most freeing force? It loosens the bonds that holds us bound to that dark space, capitulating us into a life more able to entertain the notion of health, happiness, longevity and independence.

Yet I sit there, quivering before it, pleading with every ounce of my being for release - pleading with every painful tear and scar that is the patchwork of my emotions to stay. Too many of them, these shadows. I am confused by them. They are all so interconnected and entwined I can no longer tell which one is this one, which one is that one.... what is furniture, what is a dress, what is a mannequin, what is real, what is myth, what is truth, what is a lie.

I am crumbling somewhere inside. Is it the beginning of an end to which there will be a new beginning, with more fresh air to breathe instead of this staleness that has become repetative and redundant throughout my existence? Or will it be another trap, burying me alive within myself, deeper and further away from the humanity that I am so desperately attempting to uncover, rediscover?

Again I am tired. I peer at them from where I sit and contemplate. Is it worth all this energy? I think about leaving.... The fighter in me wants free, but I'm not sure anymore exactly what it is I'm fighting - other than myself.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

It's been a few days since I've posted. It's amazing what can happen in a few days.

I've taken the first steps towards what appears to be one of the darkest corners of the attic. Bravery is an odd thing; not at all what it's made out to be in movies and novels. A contradictory combination of fear and determination, a confusing desire to both jaggedly dawdle forward and bolt in immediate reverse.

The shadows loom before me growing and stretching - as shadows do when you move. Looking at them curiously, I wonder if there's truly anything to be afraid of. They're shadows after all, right?

Why is it those things that have so little substance, so little physical ability to sway us have so much power? Why do we give in to ghosts of past, efemoral beings of our subconscious? Hauntings from our childhood, altered reality from adolescence, vision marred in young adulthood - a lifetime of scars that open and ooze whenever we get too close.

Avoidance is so much easier. Yet here I stand, poking and prodding at my fears. I am weak. I tire and give in too easily. Who thought it was a good idea to put a brave heart with a weak mind? Or maybe it's a brave mind and a weak heart? I want to crumble where I am instead and leave this battle. I want no more scars. I want no more tears. I want no more shadows that I will have to face and clean out of this place before I die.

I want sunshine, yellow and bright streaming in through large windows; I want to smell flowers wafting in on the same breeze the shifts the gauzy curtains; I want to revel in the warmth of an embrace..... instead there is dust. There is damp. There is mildew and mold. The glass to the only window is smoked and nailed shut. Even in the brightest of sun, no light uncovers the mystery that lies here. Complete clean out and reconstruction is the only thing that will change the atmosphere of my mind.

I wish someone were here to hold my hand.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I like euphamisms and analogies. It's probably the creative writer in me.

Imagine, whether you've truly got a kookie old grandmother or aunt or you don't, what would it be like to go up into her attic and snoop around for all the old treasures that must be stored up there. I mean, come on - she's 80 or 90-something years old!! There's bound to be something interesting!!

She may even be an anal retentive old bat, having everything labeled and stored in a bunch of those new Space Bags. Doesn't leave much by way of mystery, does it? Even so, without the dankness, without the cobwebs, reading the descriptions on a little piece of gluey backed paper, the writing careful and spidery, more than making up for the critters lack of existence; there's an air of sobriety yet mounting excitement.

Attics are not typically well lit. Perhaps a solitary bulb to keep one from tripping over forgotten items moved to make way to access another. In the corners, where illumination barely has a grasp, shadows wrap around a box, a trunk, or some antiquated chest of drawers that was meant to be refinished - 50 years ago. Those same shadows breathe life into the inanimate. Adrenaline begins to pump, instinct causes a shyness away from the non-existent ghosts, but you must know.... what really lives - or lived - in those shadows? The mystery awaits while you stand there, gawking, weighing, deciding, fearing, and wanting. The wanting ... do you really want? Are the frights that await in those corners more powerful than the knowledge they guard? How long it seems to take to think it over......

Questions plague our minds and sometimes our lives. Do we dare truly seek the answers, or is it easier to stay in the light, avoiding for as long as possible those crevices which we have yet to venture into full of unknowns - real, imagined, causes and effects, created or made? I dare.. care to follow me?