One Hand

sunlight2

I was drowning in darkness.

Unable to move

Unable to breathe

So deep that nothing could penetrate.

And then, alone in the dark

I felt a hand slip into mine

And felt another heart beating in the dakness.

One hand.

One heart.

And a whisper in the dark;

A voice my soul recognized.

Two words

“Trust me.”

And for the first time in forever

I stopped struggling and let go

Trusting your arms to guide me;

To bring me to the surface once again

To the light and peace and hope

I thought I had lost forever.

No longer drowning in darkness

But swimming in sunlight

And now your heart a part of mine

For always.

 

~ SSHenry, December 1, 2013

A Perspective of Stars

How often have you stood there, out in the frosty air of an early autumn morning when the sun has not quite yet breached the horizon, and found your breath catch in your chest at the crisp clarity of the stars?

Maybe it’s just me, but they seem to hang lower in the cold air; shine brighter. They pull me in and make my head spin as I feel my perspective start to shift. Slowly it as if the world takes on its proper shape around me. The ground beneath my feet becomes a planet (not the grass of my front yard) even if I can’t see it I start to feel the curve of the sky as it wraps around the earth. It is then that everything shifts into place; planet, space, stars. The Earth finally slips into its niche in the nighttime sky; a sky that is suddenly more than just pretty pinpricks of light and becomes a vast web of life and possibilities.

Yes, I know, I wasn’t on some sort of cosmic quest when I stepped outside this morning. I wasn’t even in a philosophical let alone cosmic kind of mood. Heck, I hadn’t even had my first coffee of the day. I was just taking out the trash, but OH what an incredible feeling!

I’ve had friends, family members even who say that while they’ve had this sort of perspective shift that it depresses them instead of filling them with wonder. “It makes me feel insignificant” one told me. He said that it depressed him because it pulled him out of his place at the center of things and showed him just how little he really mattered in the grand scheme of things. But you know what? He couldn’t have been more wrong.

It isn’t that you are no longer at the center of your universe (you will always be at the center of your own universe; of your own perspective on the world), it is that you finally realize just how big of a part you DO play in the grand scheme of things. Because you see, there is no center to the universe. Are there centers of solar systems? Most certainly there are. Are there centers to galaxies? Of course there are. But the universe – being immeasurable – has no verifiable center. It is reliant instead on the interconnectedness of all of the systems – on each galaxy and solar system and planet and comet; every black hole and white hole and wormhole being precisely what it is and precisely where it is in order for the universe to be what it is.

So too are we a part of all that is. By being precisely who and what we are we become a part of the interconnected web that weaves the entire universe together; and without you in it the universe would be a different place entirely.

Yes, I understand that people and animals and plants and birds die every day and that the universe continues to exist. But we’re not just talking about physical bodies now are we? We’re talking about the energy that is YOU. No matter what shape you take – no matter what side of Einstein’s E=Mc2 you fall on, YOU are still a part of this universe and your place and importance in it are assured.

So don’t be intimidated by the stars. Don’t let societal expectations and definitions determine how significant (or insignificant) you think you are. Go ahead, walk outside tomorrow morning and let yourself fall into the stars; feel your perspective shift as everything falls into place and feel where you truly belong in the grand scheme of things. You may want to hold onto something though, because the shift in focus can make you dizzy with possibility.

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A Clear Blue Soul

Seeing beneath the surface of reality sounds like such a romantic concept.  The idea of seeing things as they really are; of experiencing the truth; of getting to the heart of the matter; all of it sounds so incredibly exotic and spiritual.  The reality of seeing what is really there instead of what you want or expected to be there is something else entirely.

The reality involves stripping away any illusions that you may have had; any preconceived notions as to what reality is supposed to be like.  This can be hard enough when dealing with circumstances and beliefs.  Beliefs alone can change your entire way of thinking, especially when something you have always believed to be true is proven otherwise.  When it comes to people however, seeing to the heart of things takes on an entirely different perspective, primarily because you are dealing with souls; that fundamental core of each of us that is the essence of who and what we really are.

Seeing beneath the surface of a person’s exterior to that clear blue soul that lies beneath; that can be an incredibly profound and disturbing thing. To see them for the first time as who and what they truly are instead of how you want to see them or how they project themselves; to see them in all of their perfection instead of with all of the human faults failures that you (or they) have attributed or ascribed to themselves or adopted as part of their worldview; it is definitely an experience that you will not soon forget.  In fact, it will definitely rock your world.

In a heartbeat every preconceived notion you had of whom and what this person is; what they are like; what they have done to you disappears.  In its place you find the clean, clear essence and purity that is at the heart of each of us.

So why is this so disturbing?  Why is it that when we catch a glimpse of the true nature of things and of people that it shocks us so profoundly?

Well, one of the primary reasons that most people find themselves so disturbed by seeing beneath the skin of reality is that it reminds them that nothing they see is actually real, that it is all an illusion.

If you will, it’s like what happens when you are watching a movie and suddenly the DVD freezes up.  In a heartbeat the moving images that you were so engrossed in a moment before turn into a blizzard of unrelated pixels and suddenly you are forcibly reminded that what you are seeing is just a recording.

We’ve built our world; our entire reality on a foundation of illusions.  From the illusion of the solidity of physical objects (electrons moving so fast and furiously that they give an object of being solid and dense when it really consists of more empty space than physical matter) to the illusion of separateness when it comes to consciousness, we’re working with illusions.

In order to experience physical existence; in order to interact with people and things around us, we have to act as if the illusion is real.  This is just one of the reasons that it is so disturbing when we see through the illusion, when, for a heartbeat, we see things as they really are and we are forcibly reminded of the fact that there is more to reality than the web of illusions we have created for ourselves.

But if we can get past that fear; if we can step beyond our need to view our reality from one preconceived notion of how things are supposed to be; into the heart of that clear blue soul, you will find yourself looking into the true nature of reality; into the heart of god.

Dancing in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain!”

There is nothing like a good thunderstorm to stir the soul

Seriously, there is just something about the power of an approaching storm that holds me in absolute awe.  Not terror; awe.  The pure majesty of it; the strength of it; the promise of release in the whipping of the wind and the scent of wonder and possibility that fills my head with its overpowering fragrance; what’s not to be amazed at?

When the dark clouds start rolling in and the pressure starts building and the leaves start turning themselves inside out and glinting silver against a darkening sky, most people head for cover after checking to make sure they’ve rolled up the car windows and brought in the dog.  I on the other hand (and much to my husband’s annoyance) go around throwing open the windows as far as they will go and then head out into the yard to welcome it.

I’ve done this since I was a little girl, and I can remember my grandmother (who was deathly afraid of thunderstorms) calling after me frantically as I’d dash out the back door as the first thunderclap rattled the clouds on the horizon in order to dance like a gypsy around the big blue spruce that grew behind our house.

I’d dance and dance in wild abandon, letting the percussion of the thunder serve as my rhythm and as the wind picked up I’d end up twirling through the tall grass and the lupines that grew on the hill beneath the blue spruce until I’d fall flat on my back and watch the towering clouds in their never-ending patterns take over the sky.

Eventually my gram would send one of my aunts or more often my grandfather out to collect me (he did not have the fear of storms she did) but even so I’d beg him to not to make me go in until the lightning was almost directly overhead, and it was he who taught me to count the spaces between thunderclaps in order to determine their distance and explained why it was that the leaves turned inside out.

Even once I was back inside I’d be glued to the window; staring in amazement at the streaks of lightning and the power of the whipping wind as it would throw the trees into complete disarray.  Of course once the storm front would pass by and it started to seriously rain, I’d lose all interest and wander off in search of other pursuits, but during the storm itself, you couldn’t tear me away.

Even once I started school and learned about weather systems and barometric pressure and electricity and Ben Franklin and his kite (yeah, they still taught that story when I went to school) I still couldn’t seem to shake my fascination with storms.  It didn’t matter how many statistics people would throw at me about the number of people to be hit by lightning every year; or the dangers of flash floods or how expensive it was to replace furniture that had been water damaged because I’d left the bedroom window open while it was raining, the power of storms has never lost their hold over me.

Of course part of the fascination that I had was in the building sensations inside of my own body; how my own energy would build in proportion to the storm itself, and how it would dissipate as the storm would break, with the tension and the excitement pouring out of me like a could burst.

And part of it was the underlying feeling that there was something else lying just beneath the surface of my mind; a bigger, stronger part of me; a knowing of myself that went far beyond the little girl in jeans and braids who was laughing manically while twirling around the spruce tree, because for just a minute I could feel that connection with everyone and everything.

I could feel myself as the wind whipping through the trees and through my hair and filling the sails of the boats on the harbor.  I could see myself as the lightning; as the skin tingling energy that filled the air and lit up the night sky; I could sense myself as everything from the grass between my toes to the huge towering clouds.

For just a moment I was part of something far greater than myself; my little individualistic and independent personhood was gone.  For just a moment I could feel the universe inside me; moving through me.  And maybe, at the heart of it, that is what most people are afraid of.

Perhaps they are not really afraid of the lightning or the flash floods or of losing power.  Maybe it’s not the rain that they are shutting out when they go around closing the windows.  Maybe what they are shutting out isn’t the lightning or the whipping wind or the furniture ruining rain.

Maybe what they are shutting out is the fear of experiencing what they have known (even if subconsciously) all along; that they are part of something far bigger than themselves; that at the fundamental heart of things we are all connected and that all of those things that we feel make us “special” and “different” are just the imaginations of a fevered ego that is trying desperately to justify its reason for being.

Maybe it’s time to stop fearing the storm and throw open the windows.  Or, better yet, perhaps it’s time to go dancing in the rain.

The First Day of Forever

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you’ve imagined.  

~ Thoreau

It’s going to happen.  One morning you are going to wake up and realize that today is the first day of forever.  It will happen when you are ready for it to; this first day of forever.

It will happen when you have decided to stop looking for happiness as you would an object you have lost and instead choose to be happy.

It will happen when you stop looking for wonder and mystery long enough to open your eyes and see the wondrous and mysterious things that surround you in every moment of the day.

It will happen when you stop looking for someone outside of yourself to blame for everything in your life that you have seen as evil or negative and finally realize that everything that happens to you is a result of decisions that you have made in the past.

It will happen when you finally realize that the only one who has the power to change your present circumstances – is you.

You see, there comes a point when it becomes clear that there is no one else that you can blame for the situations in which you find yourself.  I don’t care how dysfunctional your childhood family was or what negative circumstances you had to deal with as you were growing up or how many of your relationships have failed.  It’s still your fault. You brought this on yourself.  If you had been paying attention, you would never be in the situation that you are in now.

Oh, I’m sorry, is that too harsh?  Would you rather hear that it is all “their” fault?  That you can put the blame for the person that you have become on your parents or on the partners of failed relationships or on the seemingly random and chance events that have created the life that you are currently living? Or maybe you’d prefer the concept of a random and chance universe where bad things happen to good people for absolutely no reason.

It would be easier if I did that, wouldn’t it? It would be easier to be able to point fingers and place blame and sigh about how much better your life would be if only this or that hadn’t happened or if only this or that would.  Ah yes, much easier than actually getting out there and doing something about it.

You see it is your fault; all of it.  The circumstances you have found yourself in, the problems that you are being faced with, the seemingly random events that make no logical sense; they are all of them the result of your past focus and actions.  These are not tests by a divinity or temptations by an evil being.  You have drawn them to you by the focus of yesterday’s thoughts; the focus of yesterday’s energy.

And what about the seeming randomness of so many events and circumstances?  Well here’s the thing, chances are that you didn’t realize yesterday that your current attitude was going to have an effect on tomorrow’s events.  You probably weren’t paying attention to what you were thinking about; to the direction that your chaotic emotions were pointing you in.  You simply went with it.  You let your emotions control your thoughts and you let your thoughts control the focus of your energy.  And so it was that your energy was focused – unintentionally mind you – but focused nonetheless.  And what you were focused on is what you brought into your life today.

And yes, there are random circumstances that are not the result of your intentional (or unintentional) focus of energy but which are in fact the result of someone else’s intentional (or unintentional) focus of energy.  But here’s the thing, it is still up to you as to how you react or respond to these circumstances.

The random traffic accident that is not caused by anything you did wrong but rather by someone else being in too big of a hurry to stop at the light.  That accident may in no way be your fault, or even the result of your previous actions.  There may have been absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent it.  But first, that does not mean that you didn’t bring the event into your life.  Secondly, it does not mean that you have to allow your emotions to control how you react to that event.

You can choose to get upset and let it ruin your entire day, or you can calmly and coolly exchange insurance information and go on about your business knowing that while it may have seemed to be a random accident may instead have been your higher self’s way of ensuring that you’ve learned what you need to know about controlling your temper or about letting your emotions control your reactions.

And it doesn’t matter how big or small the circumstance.  It doesn’t matter how mundane an action or how life changing of an event you are faced with.  The truth of the matter still remains; you can control tomorrow’s reality by how you choose to react and respond to today’s events and circumstances.

You can stop letting your body-generated emotions dictate tomorrow’s reality and instead take the necessary steps to ensuring that tomorrow you will be living the life you always imagined.  And when you have done this for long enough there will come that morning when you wake up to realize that tomorrow is today, and that today is, finally, the first day of forever.

The Heart Cricket

There was a cricket in my basement last night. I know, because I heard him singing.

There are spiders in my basement too.  In fact, there are studies that have shown that you are never more than ten feet away from a spider (some studies say three feet).  Luckily I am normally able to go through my day without thinking about that too much, primarily because unlike crickets (and not including the enchanting Charlotte of E.B. White’s famous children’s story) spiders are not a loquacious lot, and they definitely don’t sing.  In fact, unless you stumble across on (or one stumbles across you), you probably won’t even realize that there is a spider in the immediate area. Crickets, on the other hand, are a different story.

Crickets are loud.

Now mind you, crickets can’t compete with even ordinary everyday sounds such as car engines, stereos and the clattering of the trash truck as it makes its rounds through the neighborhood, but let me tell you.   When there is one in your basement in the middle of the night – singing when the rest of the house is silent and asleep – unlike spiders, you know that a cricket is in residence.

And yes, I am aware of the fact that they are not really singing but rubbing their wings together; specifically thick hardened ridges of their wings which cause the more delicate membranes of the wings to vibrate; amplifying the sound.  I also understand that they are not singing for my benefit, but that they are doing so to attract a mate, but that doesn’t detract from the simple beauty and clarity of the sound although it DID have me wondering what on earth a cricket was doing in my basement – in January since the season for crickets (at least here where I live) is long gone.

In fact, I found myself smiling as I listened; remembering one of my favorite childhood storybooks; A Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon; a story where a young boy in New York City finds a lonely cricket in the discarded papers of the Times Square subway station.  He adopts the cricket as the mascot of his family’s struggling newsstand and Chester the cricket (who is from incidentally from Connecticut) repays the family by playing a concert at their newsstand every evening; bringing in crowds of admirers and providing the family with the business that they need to survive.

In the story, Chester plays one last heart-breaking concert before he leaves to go back to his beloved meadow, and for just that moment the never ending hustle and bustle of New York’s Times Square pauses with baited breath as Chester plays his goodbye.

Just like a cricket’s song; the truth – our truth – plays constantly in our hearts. We may not pay it any attention.  In fact, with so much going on in our lives; so much drama and fear; so much angst and anger; with such a mindless chattering of our thoughts, we may rarely hear it.  In fact, the only times that we may hear it clearly is when we purposefully stop our mind’s continual chattering of thoughts; or when circumstances force us to pause long enough to listen; or when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are just uncluttered enough and unfocused enough that the song of our heart cricket comes through loud and clear.

And if you lay there long enough; listening; you’ll stop wondering about why it is that you are now able to hear your cricket.  You’ll stop wondering about what it means that there has been a cricket singing away inside your heart this whole time and that you’re just now hearing it.

You’ll stop – and let the sound fill up your head; let it’s sweetly poignant melody fill up your entire existence.

And the truth of it; the beauty of it; will set you free.

In Pursuit of the Unobtainable

I am haunted by moths.

All summer and autumn long they find me.  Every time I enter my bedroom after sunset I am greeted by moths fluttering against the outside of my bedroom window; clinging to the screen; drawn by the promise of the warmth and light inside.  They fling themselves against my window pane casting lopsided shadows on my walls; their wings a perpetual thrumming against the glass.

Once my light gets turned off, most of them are leave; drawn off by the promise of other luminaries; real or imagined, but some remain.  Some continue to cling to the screen even with the absence of the light within.  They caught a glimpse of it; they know it’s there.  They’ll wait thank you very much, even if it means ignoring the greatest luminary of all that floats over their heads, turning a world of dark and shadow into a silvery fairyland.

Needless to say, with such a great gathering of moths at my bedroom window, the outside panes have become a favorite haunt of spiders and other nighttime predators for whom an energetic, single-minded moth would be a welcomed meal, and every so often morning will break to show a hapless specimen caught fast in a spider’s web; fluttering feebly as its lifeblood is drained to provide a meal for another creature.

Here where I live, January is one of the coldest times of the year.  The moths are long gone; the spiders have crept off in search of more hospitable climates (probably my basement, but I’d rather not think about that at the moment).  But last night I flipped on the bedroom light and was startled by a moth’s fluttering shadow against my wall.  On closer inspection I found that it was just the husk of a moth; what was left of its body and wings; caught in the tattered remnants of a long deserted spider’s web; the fluttering caused by the whipping of an unrelenting northern wind; wings still beating against the hard reality that kept the moth from its goal.  And without warning I found myself in tears.

This poor moth wanted nothing more than to reach the light.  For days; weeks maybe, it had gone from light to light; from window to window; searching for the answer to its driving question:  “Where is the light that was meant for me? Where is the light that will welcome me home?”  And yet, time after time, it was met with the solid reality of an impermeable barrier between itself and the light it had found itself drawn to; the artificial brightness that had blinded it to everything else; that promised the world, but would not – could not – follow through. Like thousands of others of its kind it had expended itself in a desperate attempt to reach its goal; even if that goal was unrealistic at best; an illusion of welcoming warmth; a mirage of belonging.

And all the time it had ignored that greatest of luminaries; the source of its instinct; a light source that gave freely and equally to all that turned their faces up to her; dispelling shadows and turning even the drabbest landscape into a silvery realm of enchantment.  Ignored her free gifts and giving up who they really were; their inheritance as children of the night; to pursue the starkly fake brightness of those artificial lights.

And I cry for the life she could have led; flying free in the open air, with the cool silvery light of the moon on her wingtips; the life she gave up in order to pursue a dream with no substance; a dream whose unobtainable promises blinded her to the beauty and meaning that was right before her eyes.

And so I opened up my window and swept the cobweb from the outside of my pane; letting the wind whip the remains of both web and moth out into the night; into the moonlit night of hope where what is, what was, and what will be have not yet been set in stone, and the dreams of another summer’s night with all its attendant possiblities, is  still waiting to be born.