Category: Inner Peace (page 1 of 14)

Losing power. Again.

Day 3 of no electricity due to a recent storm.

Day 3 of no internet (without driving to another location).  Day 3 of no unlimited life on the phone (without driving elsewhere to charge).  Day 3 of no television, radio, CD player, Netflix and other entertainment choices powered by electricity.

Day 3 of no way to straighten or curl hair.  To flip a switch and see your face well enough to “fix it”, as my mother used to say.

Day 3 of thinking about all the food in your refrigerator that had to be thrown away.  And realizing how dependent you are on electricity when mealtime comes around.

Day 3 of realizing you should have done the laundry…because you’re almost out of underwear.

Day 3 of your long-haired dog panting and looking at you with imploring eyes.

Day (and night) 3 of getting candles set up in the right places so when the sun goes down, you can walk through your residence without crashing into anything.  And of sitting still on the couch and listening to the occasional traffic, or hearing neighborhood children outside playing, or a mockingbird serenading its top 40 bird songs.

Day 3 of just being.  Other than the stress of having to figure out when you need to be somewhere to receive work emails, you are for all practical purposes, truly without power.

As in powerless.

Of course, we are always powerless.  But we don’t know that.  With so many gadgets and plug-ins and apps, we really are the masters of our universe most of the time, at least in our den.

At least in our minds.

Yet let one good 100 mph microburst show up, and everything suddenly gets very dark.

Very quiet.

For some, it’s truly the first time they have ever really just had to be.  And it makes them quite uneasy.

Just sitting, listening to the sounds of the evening, thinking, meditating, breathing.  Or, fidgeting, fretting and letting frustration win.

What if life was always like this?  If you finished your work, had your dinner (which came only from what you had grown or raised), and now spent your evening by candlelight, with no external stimulation?

it’s interesting that we have come so far in so many ways, obtained so much knowledge, learned about so many wonderful cultural opportunities, expanded our minds as never before, and yet, when we can’t “turn something on”, something that it outside of us, that does not directly engage with us, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Withdrawal can be very hard.

I confess it’s illuminating (even in the dark) to realize just how dependent I am on white noise…on an electronic presence in the room that seems to “connect” me to other people and feels safe and familiar.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying that.  But I wonder, does it keep me from a little too comfortable?

As baby boomers and beyond, we’ve had so many different experiences, and we’ve more than earned the right to enjoy sitting on the couch and watching movies, or listening to music, or just enjoying being inside the air-conditioning.  But maybe very once in a while, we should pretend we don’t have electricity, and power ourselves down.

And sit in the dark.  And hear the symphony that is the night:  a breeze, laughter, the hoot of an owl, gentle rain.

It might help us remember just how powerless we really are.   I”m okay with that.

But I confess…I’d rather do it when it’s 60 degrees.

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Words From The Wise

What is life?

Listen to what these men and women had to say about it, after a life of pain, love, work, disappointment, triumph, and everyday struggle.

“Life is a play that does not allow testing. So, sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no Applause.” – Charlie Chaplin

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  it goes on.”  William James

“All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.”  Humbert Humphrey

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you handle it.”   Lou Holtz

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep you balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein

“I have a new philosophy.  I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”  Charlie Brown

 

Life can be hard.  Frustrating.  Exhausting.  But it can also be wonderful.  Amazing.  Healing.  As boomers we’ve most likely seen it all, yet we want more.  When I think of the places I still want to see, the books I want to read, the experiences I still want to have…I’m thankful I’m still here.  Even with all the pinheads that pop up during the day, I want tomorrow to come.

So we get out there.  We try it again.  And we hope for the best.

 

“Life is like a movie:  write your own ending   Keep believing; keep pretending.”

      Jim Henson

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Power of the Labyrinth

Life can take us in many directions, and often on paths we never thought we’d choose.  Sometimes the way ahead is clear.  Other times, (and for me, more often than not,) the path ahead is a bit hazy…I can’t quite see the images…and when I get to that intersection I am really not sure where I’m supposed to go.

It’s like hiking, which has always been my favorite thing though these days my feet don’t want to cooperate.  I hike a trail. I can tell where it’s going.  Then I come to a point where it seems to split into many options.  Obviously only one is “really” the trail.  But the others look kind of okay…are they options?

If I choose one I’ve never done before, will it bring me back to where I am right now?

 Or will I get lost and never find my way back? 

The movies want you to think that it’s easy to figure out moments like this.  There’s a sudden vision.  Or the music changes and the sun comes out and you just know.  More likely is you are tired, distracted and you’d just like someone to come along and tell you which way is which.

file000143069688That whole fantasy about how things get easier as you get older…hmmm…how’s that working for you?  I agree we have more wisdom as we age.  But I’m not sure it always makes things easier.

When my mind won’t settle enough for me to figure out what’s next, or there’s just no peace because it feels like I’ve backtracked and messed up and soon I’ll even up living under a bridge, I try to find experiences that quiet it all.  Meditation is good.  Tai chi is restorative.  Nature is always a balm.

And then there’s the labyrinth.

According to The Labyrinth Society, a “labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological or spiritual transformation.  Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.”    Labyrinths are considered walking meditations, where your psyche meets your spirit.

Labyrinth enthusiasts believe that as you enter the labyrinth, you release.  When you enter the center, you receive.  Then as you leave, you give back to the world what you have received.

One of the most famous labyrinths is that found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  This labyrinth is 42 feet in diameter and is thought to have been constructed in the early 13th century, though no one is sure.  What is known is that up to 1,000 people have walked the path and the numbers continue to grow.

What is it that pulls so many people to walk this design?  Does it really have a power all its own?

Many years ago I was at a point in my life where I could not figure out what was my inner self giving me direction, or what were the messages I’d absorbed for years from well-meaning but negative people I was around.  I just wanted to clear my mind and get a feel for what my path should be.  I had heard of a large labyrinth laid out at a church near me, and I decided to try it.  A friend had suggested that before I walk the labyrinth, I say a prayer or meditation of what I hoped to find…what answer I was looking for.  And be sure to enter the design with as clear a mind as possible.

Easier said than done, but I followed her advice.  And it was, for me, an amazing feeling.  As I entered the labyrinth, I felt what I can best describe as a force field…an energy that seemed very real and very strong.  I took my time and let thoughts come and go.  What most impressed me was how just as you think you’re about to reach the center, the labyrinth takes you back out to the outer edges, slowing you down, making you revisit where you have come from, not allowing you to just quickly find that golden egg.

In other words, you can’t get where you going without circling back to where you’ve been. 

I find that to be a huge lesson.  We don’t just come out of the rodeo shoot and never look back.  We make progress, we accomplish things, we lead our lives…but we’re always calling upon where we’ve come from.

Some reject this idea, as they have come from places or environments that were abusive or so negative they never want to look back.  I understand that.  But I think even that pain has something to teach us and if we boomers ignore it, it’s just going to keep popping up and block our forward motion.

dioI also noted how once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I felt peace.  I could just breathe and be for a bit.  (How often do we do that??)  Then as I was ready to leave the center, I once again had to follow a path that picked up speed, then slowed, and again, took me literally full circle…to the outer edges and back.

Maybe this all sounds weird.  But lately, I’m in a place again where my inner self is a bit off-balance, where it is easy to give in to the notion that because I’ve returned to an earlier address, I’ve failed or walked backwards.  Yet my conscious mind knows that’s not the case; I’ve just taken one of those spur trails to see where it will take me.

I’ll still get where I was going, but I will take an unexpected route.  And it might be one that for a while doesn’t feel quite right, like putting on shoes that don’t fit or a sweater that itches.  But if I trust a higher force to get me through the dark parts, then surely there’s a vista at the end of this trail that’s far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I let go.  I receive.  I give back.  And maybe in the process, I return to who I am so I can be even more.

“Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”     

       Henry David Thoreau

 

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What’s truly dear to your heart?

We get so bombarded with so much STUFF….so many messages…so many gadgets and apps and channels and offers and more until we often can’t remember what really truly matters to us.  Much less who matters most to us.

I am inclined to think that many of us baby boomers never really know what our short list is, because we’re never really put to the test.  We never have to consider what it would be like not to have that person in our lives.  We grow up, we go to work, we might go off to school but then many of us come back and resume things.  Same surroundings.  Pretty much the same social circle.

It all gets comfortable.  Easy.  Our world stays pretty steady.

Until a disease comes along, and a few of those people you thought would show up don’t.  Or divorce comes along, and those people who used to sit down the pew from you now look at you differently.  Or your lose your job, and you can’t do that regular monthly dinner out and no one calls the other three weeks.It’s interesting to really learn not only who and what matters most to you, but who you matter most to.  (Bad English maybe, but you get it.)  It’s scary.  Yet maybe it’s incredibly freeing as well.

I never understood how I could go to another job, maybe just a few miles away, and my “friends” from my previous job just dropped me.  Having moved a few times as a child to different schools in different states, I learned how friendship is something that shouldn’t depend on geography.  Yet as an adult, it seems there are those who don’t feel that way.

Then I moved across the country.  Having so many miles between me and my previous life really was instructive in terms of who I missed most, and who missed me enough to stay in contact.  I had an even deeper appreciation of their friendship and love because I felt it as well.  I could also look back at my former city and love the good parts about it.  Taking a big step out of your comfort zone definitely changes you, forces you to grow in ways you can’t otherwise, and in some ways, simplifies a lot of things.

I’ve been told when you make a major life change, you often bring up other people’s fears.  They don’t want you to do it because it changes things.  Maybe it makes them consider if they are happy.  Maybe it tests their relationships.  I don’t know.

But then my life got a little stranger.  I moved again, back to my old home grounds.  (Economics, family, etc…kind of like hitting the re-set button for a few years, then we’ll see where I land.)  But I came back thinking I could reconnect with a few of the people who I had considered friends before.  What happened was and is surprising.

My true, live-in-my-heart friends, were glad I was back and we have picked up where we left off, which makes me eternally grateful because I never let go of them and they did not let go of me even when I was very far away.

But a few others…people I used to work with, or hang out with, or in many cases treat to an occasional lunch or dinner when they were down a bit…they have been a no-show.  A few don’t even answer emails or voice messages. My late mother would probably say well maybe they never were my friends anyway.  But it didn’t feel that way.

I’ve checked my breath and personal hygiene.  That’s not it either.

Times change.  People change.  Maybe Mother was right.

What has been fascinating is doing all this full-circle.  Being in one place for many years, moving to a new place for a decade, then moving back…and seeing what is still true, what never was true, and how you have to always find your own bliss, own peace of mind, and own strength.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to be surrounded by a lot of people.  I don’t have 300 “friends” on Facebook (no judgment if you do, it’s just not me).  I’m very okay with solitary moments and I can dine, see a movie or travel solo without missing a beat.  I feel more fulfilled in nature than in any other situation, and if you’re going to blast music while walking down a mountain trail, please go on ahead of me so I don’t have to hear it.

And maybe those of us who actually step past the safety zone…who take risks and do things other deem as scary…without a net…who follow their inner voice and are willing to feel the fear, loneliness and confusion that can come with that…maybe we actually do have more strength.

And maybe in the long run, our rewards are greater.

Not more money.  Not the coolest people at our table.  Not necessarily the smoothest road.

But the one that takes us inward, where our real treasures lie.

So if you’re considering going forward, or going back, take care.

Bundle up.

Grab a snack.

Stick to the trail.

Cause it’s not easy…but it’s also not near as hard as never taking that step.

 

“Pursue some path, rather narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

        Henry David Thoreau

 

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