Posts Tagged ‘Existence’

My Valhalla

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Forget The Museum of Natural History,
The Metropolitan or The Smithsonian.
The collection I want to wander in
I call the Valhalla of Lost Things.

The Venus de Milo’s arms are here,
she’s grown quite attached to them.
I circle Leonardo’s sixteen-foot-tall
equestrian statue, never cast, browse

all five-hundred-thousand volumes
of The Alexandrian Library, handle
artifacts of Atlantis. Here are all
the ballades and rondeaux of Villon,

the finished score of The Unfinished
Symphony, I read all of Edwin Drood
and Answered Prayers. I’ll screen ten
missing reels of Von Stroheim’s Greed,

hear the famous gap in Nixon’s tapes.
There are lost things here so lost,
no one knows they were lost—manuscripts
by the unknown Kafka, far greater

than Kafka’s; his best friend obeyed,
shredded every sheet. The cure for cancer
is here: The inventor didn’t recognize,
the potion went unpatented . . .

In my museum no guard shushes me
for talking, there are no closing times,
it’s always free. Here I can see
what no one living has seen, I satisy

that within me which is not whole.
Here I am curator not of what is,
but of what should have been,
and what should be.

~Robert Phillips~
what have you lost?
Poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Recently someone I consider to be a wise teacher in my life, Philip Golabuk, stated that we are too much with the world and not enough with the self.  I pondered what was the meaning of this statement.  What does it really mean?

I’ve come to see it means I am too much with trying to make things happen in the world.  Too much with believing there are an endless string of things to be worked through.  Too much with giving attention to what I don’t want.
Too much being reactive to the world.   Too much with shouldering burdens I am not meant to carry.
And too much with believing I am in control.

Too much with getting and not enough with letting.

Too much with reacting and not enough with Being.

Too much with the head and not enough with the heart

Stated another way, as Meister Eckhart said: The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge.

Who is this inner man and which self are we not enough with?

Perhaps it is the inner self that doesn’t die.  The inner self that lives in the deepest truth.  The inner self which, when unobstructed, freely finds its way to goodness and grace.  The inner self that rests in calm, still waters.

The self that reaches a turning point and lays down its arms, literally and figuratively.  Knowing now there are no more causes to be fought or won.  Our arms drop to our sides and then, perhaps only then, does the Field/Universe/God take up our cause.

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Anais Nin

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.

It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.

I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.

Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.

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Sophie’s Choice, as some of you may remember was an American film from the early 80s.  Since then the term “Sophie’s Choice” has come to symbolize a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” standard of choice.  It’s really the no-choice.  As in the movie, Sophie must make the choice between her son living or her daughter living, choose one and the other must die.

Often when we are wrestling with a problem, we don’t see outside of the paradigm of a Sophie’s Choice.  We might see two options and often apart from the framework of our current beliefs lies a third choice.  The one not yet visible to us.  To illustrate an example of this, often creative people, musicians, writers, artists, etc. want to make their livelihood doing what they love but they don’t see how that could happen.  In that case, following your passion may signify losing financial security.  We have even coined a term for it “the starving artist”.  Risk going for your passion and you risk everything or maintain the status quo, bang away at the passion-less job and have some measure of financial security.  That’s the either/or, the Sophie’s choice, the no choice at all.

Yet outside that system of beliefs, lies the third option.  The third choice is not the either/or posture for whenever you are contemplating – to have this, I must risk losing this – you can know instantly you are working within the framework of your own limiting beliefs.  While you may not know what the third option is you can remain open to knowing what it is.   In a world that spins planets, regulates the tides, raises the sun each day and orchestrates countless precise details happening behind the scenes of every living organism, we can begin to see this same Universe can work on our behalf to bring us all the resources that we would ever need and then some.  It requires one thing of us and it’s what we are willing to believe, what we are willing to give ourselves to and what we are willing to open ourselves to.  Okay, that’s three things it requires of us but who’s counting?!

Next time you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a dilemna that you can’t see your way out of, remember – there is a third option, you haven’t seen it yet, you may not know what it is, but you can remain open to knowing and you can begin by questioning any notion that says: to have this I must relinquish this.

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Yes, that was me – aspiring Spiritual Goody Two Shoes.  Just before I was about to receive my certification in Spiritual Goody Two Shoes, I had the sudden realization that I have a dark side.  Well, let’s be clear it wasn’t a sudden realization so much as a willingness to take a look in my own spiritual closets and acknowledge there was in fact a monster in there.  I’d closed that door on my monsters many a time.  I denied it and privately lived in shame.

Perhaps it’s the toughest door to open and yet, ironically requires an innocence of us.  An innocence of mind to open that door and be willing to look at whatever is in there.  Rummaging through my spiritual closets, illuminated a new meaning for the term “mercy and goodness”, taken from the 23rd Psalm.  It required of me a readiness to show myself that mercy and goodness even as I revealed my darker sides.  Now that I’ve opened that door, I’ve discovered I’m not unlike anything or anyone else, this Universe consists of shades of light and dark and I am not exempt from that.

I also learned there is a softness, a leaning into life when I cease to resist this dark side.  My world becomes a more welcoming one.  No more running from what’s behind that closet door.  The monster can come in bed with me now, we’ll read each other bed time stories.  We’ll talk, we’ll have our giggles and tears.  We’ll hug and sleep next to each other and in the morning we’ll step out into the full light of day and walk with an open hearted transparency about us because suddenly our world is a friendlier one and all the demons are no more.

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It was like this
we huddled around the fire
clutching what remained of our beliefs

they’d grown old and shabby
frayed at the edges from all that clinging

convinced they were so indispensable
we hadn’t risked laying them aside ’til now

give them to the fire on the count of three,
one said to the others

but I know words burn only if you let them

I want it new, I want to slide out doorways
and small cramped rooms into open spaces
full of light

we toss them and a wild blue smoke rises up
moonlight shines on new worlds

we walk towards the blazing light of infinity
with open emptied hands


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So this is it.  You missed the memo somehow.  The one that came with that elusive owner’s manual for This Being Human.  And now it seems there was a quota of thoughts you were given.  You are down to your last thought.  What shall it be?

Stop for a moment and take a deep breath and let that last thought come.  What is it?  How do you feel as you are thinking it?  Do you want to jump for joy?  Do you feel like sinking down into that thought?  Did your shoulders relax?  Did you breathe a little more freely?  However it felt in the body, remember it and then let it go.

This is the moment, the alpha and omega.  It’s a do over for your life, starting now.  Whatever that last thought was: now begin there and go forward carrying with you the memory of how it felt.  Remembering now that the thoughts you give yourself to are precious just like you, choose the ones that support and uplift you.  Choose the ones that sustain a warm and inviting self-rapport.  Practice this and your outer world will rise to meet your inner world.

What was my last thought?  Very simply – thank you.  How did it feel?  It felt as if a burst of energy surged through my body and I wanted to rush out the door and greet everything with those two words: thank you!  Now, this is where I begin.  And to my readers – thank *you* all so much.

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