Re-thinking your dreams

In the past year or so, in times of pandemic and forced introspection, those are the best times to re-think your dreams. I meet many down here in rural southern Colorado, who ended up here because in their 50s or 60s they spent some time reviewing their life, and decided that they were finished with cities.

I have found this place to be a magical alternative to city life.

My husband Mike had been dreaming about just such an existence for decades when we moved here in 2014. I was a bit further behind him in dreaming big enough. I couldn’t visualize it like he could. I worried about the isolation. I had never lived so far out of town in my past. It was a new experience for me. But it didn’t take me long to appreciate the morning silence, the birds, the plants, the beautiful weather, the snow…

Only certain types of people appreciate these qualities, mostly the quiet types who find it easy to entertain themselves with numerous avocations. I was never a big shopper. I didn’t go to bars or restaurants much. I have always found my own mind fairly entertaining with the assistance of books, movies, etc. And we are total weather watchers.

Watching the ever-changing clouds and weather over the Spanish Peaks is a lovely pastime.

So you see, the kind of people who move here and stay are very self-selected. They have chosen to check out of “normal” American life, where buying the next cool thing is their goal.

Not that we aren’t always re-thinking our dreams, and we know we have the freedom to follow new ones here.

Racism is the Pandemic

A “race” is a grouping of people based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as different. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term “race” began to refer to physical human traits. Modern science regards race as a social construct, created to assign identity based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race has no inherent physical or biological meaning.

”Race is a social concept, not a scientific one,” said Dr. J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation in Rockville, Md. ”We all evolved in the last 100,000 years from the same small number of tribes that migrated out of Africa and colonized the world.”

Dr. Venter and scientists at the National Institutes of Health recently announced that they had put together a draft of the entire sequence of the human genome. Researchers then unanimously declared,

there is only one race — the human race.

Isn’t it amazing that this concept, which truly has no basis in biology or reality, continues to cause so much distress in American culture? And what about our history as a country? First the Europeans who came here did their best to exterminate the natives, setting them apart as “savages” and unclean by European standards. Then they brought in African natives to do the dirty work of planting, raising and harvesting crops, and so many other jobs they didn’t want to do, all based on “racial” differences.

“Race” has been used since the beginning of human existence to ostracize, hate and dominate others.

I wonder how many European-Americans have experienced racism themselves. When I lived in Thailand, during the Vietnam War, and Taipei Taiwan, I learned what it feels like to look different. In Bangkok, a field full of Thai soccer players rushed over as I walked by to yell, “Yankee GO Home!” In Taipei I knew enough Chinese language to understand when people were talking about me on the bus, calling me a “foreign devil” or “ghost.” Kids would yell at me in the alleys… Yes, I understand their dislike of American imperialism. I also didn’t enjoy being picked out in a crowd and blamed for everything they didn’t like about America.

My point is, all aspects of identification by appearance are inherently wrong, and don’t get me started on eugenics and the “master race.” We are all human and we look different. So what. Can any stereotype be seen as always dependable? No. Are any of us without shortcomings? No. In our country today and always, assumptions made about a person based on their appearance have killed far too many of us either by physical violence or emotional violence.

Why not just call it what it is: poor education & upbringing, hatefulness and boundless insecurity on the part of the racist.

What does “new age” even mean?

I enjoy listening to a music channel on Direct TV named “New Age.” That got me thinking, what does “new age” even mean? The first person to coin the term was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, cofounder of the Theosophical Society, in the late 19th century. She announced a coming New Age as a form of Western esotericism, but the term “New Age” has antecedents that stretch back to southern Europe in Late Antiquity. Following the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century Europe, new esoteric ideas developed in response to the development of scientific rationality. What is “esotericism”?

Esotericism is the state or quality of being esoteric—obscure and only understood or intended to be understood by a small number of people with special (and perhaps secret) knowledge.

Skipping forward to the Baby Boomers, the “New Age” burst into public consciousness in a buzz of media attention around crystals, chakras, reincarnation, and channeling in the 1980s, but had its immediate roots in the 1960s counterculture. “New age spirituality” is actually a descriptive category in religious studies, appropriated by practitioners of a kind of spirituality that sprang up in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the USA and Britain.

So then, what is spirituality? One definition is that it involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than yourself, something more to being human than pure sensory experience. That greater whole is cosmic or divine in nature. An opening of the heart is an essential aspect of being spirituality.

An open heart is a state of being where you feel open, accepting and expansive. Love flows through you without obstruction. Many long to experience an open heart, but at times we may feel too scared and vulnerable to reveal ourselves in this way, especially to ourselves.

This reminds me of a special meditation taught at Naropa Institute (now University) in Boulder Colorado, where I studied for my masters in Transpersonal Psychology and Counseling. At that time, meditation was an important part of my training, and one meditation was to open your heart to all of the pain in this world at this minute. Quite the challenge. Feeling compassion for the entire world of suffering is life changing, so is feeling complete compassion for your Self in this moment. If you were raised like me, to feel no compassion for your own struggles, but simply demand more from yourself forever, compassion is the medicine you need right now.

To me, New Age means a new way of seeing and experiencing the world in contrast to our parents and grandparents. It is a unique opportunity to see and love the world and your Self wholeheartedly. Your upbringing will determine how difficult that may be for you.

“Here’s what is truly at the heart of WHOLEHEARTEDNESS: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.” — Brene Brown

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

“…we all know how this ends, so rushing through life is senseless. As our inner life grows ever more luminous, the chatter of the speed-and-greed world slowly fades, leaving us with greater peace, tranquility, quiet and contentment.”  — Arthur Rosenfeld

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

Shadowlands, one of the best!

Shadowlands is a film from 1993 about the relationship between academic C.S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, and how she challenged how he saw himseIf and his entire way of life. I just watched “Shadowlands” for the fifth time after quite a few years. Watching it this time I understood much more deeply and clearly why this is one of my most favorite movies of all time. To summarize:

The triumph of emotions over logic!

I was raises to be seriously logical and intellectual. My father, the academic, took great pride in his transition from the son of a railroad man to a college professor. He attributed that success within himself to discipline and reason, and so he taught his children to restrain from emotions in favor of rational thought and science. In the film, Joy’s introduction to the grand age-old traditions of British academia at Cambridge represent to me that world, the comfortable, safe rule of rational thought.

Enter Joy Davidson, with her refreshingly straightforward honesty in the face of Mr. Lewis’s pomp and circumstance. This was me. I played that role in my father’s life. I would challenge his beliefs all the time. I was threatening because in his world, where everyone was younger, weaker and looked up to him, I was direct and honest in challenging those things that made no sense to me. For example, his praise of emotionlessness. He once said that the word love made no sense. There was no clear definition for love, so in a way, it does not exist. This needed to be challenged! His whole life I challenged him and he didn’t like it.

In contrast, in Shadowlands, Professor Lewis comes to appreciate Joy’s candor and deeply loved her for it. She brings him back to life. She was a bright spark with her passion for honesty and saying-it-like-it is. My father never became very comfortable with me or his emotions. He only acknowledged deep feelings when he was overcome by them.

I have learned that I was raised with far too many rules about everything from both my mother and father, and I have been breaking them ever since. Mike has been instrumental in pointing this out to me and I so appreciate that aspect of our relationship!

I have learned that there is no proper way to see and live your life, only the way you choose. By setting your own rules, you learn who you really are inside, for better or worse. That can be quite satisfying. It is a major part of your own uniqueness. And if you don’t, you may discover when it’s time to die, you have not lived.

Why get a colonoscopy?

Mike is 66 and had 13 polyps removed yesterday and I had my own anxiety attack waiting for them to come out and tell me what was going on. They said it would only take about a half hour and they still hadn’t said anything to me in over an hour. He has a very bad family history with cancer in general and specifically colon cancer. His Mom died of it at age 53. Hopefully we saved his life yesterday. Still waiting for the microscopic report on those polyps, but the doc was very thorough and he said he saw no cancer. I’m freaked. Every time he makes any noise in the next room I go to see if he’s OK.

Is this enough to convince you to get that colonoscopy? Yes the prep sucks, without a doubt, but compared to colon cancer, not so much…