Saturday, March 12, 2011


I’ve been watching film clips of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.  From high in the air it’s like watching a rainstorm runoff overcome an anthill.  We are so influenced by perspective that physical distance equates to emotional distance.  But then the reality of those objects floating inland begins to register in the mind.  They are ships, warehouses, large transport trucks, houses and the broken beams of great buildings floating like sticks over airports, residences and fields of growing crops.  I watch this safely from the other side of the world.  But we are all connected.  I’m watching this disaster unfold on YouTube with my Toshiba laptop.  I drive a Japanese car and the big screen Sony TV is an important part of our household.  Japan is actually very near.  The global village is a reality that most of us haven’t yet got our heads around.

We can squash a bug easily because it is so small and thus emotionally distant. We are calibrated emotionally relative to physical size.  Are we like insects when viewed from 1,000 feet in the air?  On the other side of this ball in space, very, very tiny on the cosmic scale, huge traumatic changes have overcome many of our fellow humans and the many creatures that share their island.  We humans create a world within our larger world that seems so real and solid that we are shocked when it is destroyed in the blink of an eye. I’m reflecting on what it will feel like when the coast of California is suddenly obliterated.  Everyone knows this is on Mother Earth’s schedule but because we don’t know the date we can live in slightly edgy denial until it actually occurs.

Science and history tell us that our planet is in constant change but our small life span deceives us emotionally.  Most of us can remember a time as children when our world seemed stable.  I was born during World War II.  The world was involved in a cataclysm even though one instigated by humans.  But are we not part of the natural world also?  Perhaps some of our problems are brought about by the perception of ourselves as outside of the natural world observing it from a deceptively safe place.  It is a form of denial. Our cataclysms ripple out much like a tsunami to envelop the planet in ways we may not comprehend during the obvious events.  My family was in turmoil at this time.  Of course I didn’t know it then.  Life was just so and I had nothing to compare it with.

My father worked on a naval shipyard repairing ships wounded by the Japanese.  My mother had one brother in the army and another in the navy.  We were lucky because they returned physically unharmed but I know now that there were wounds that didn’t show.  I can see in hindsight that our family never lost the imprint of the war.  I can only imagine how it affected those who were literally in the line of fire. Even though I was a toddler I remember my nightmares from this time.  I saw earthquakes with cracks opening up to swallow those who were standing nearby.  Buildings and cars were aflame and people were running, screaming and collapsing in fear. We lived near San Francisco at the time and yet no one had mentioned the San Andreas Fault or even the history of earthquakes in the area.  The war consumed everyone’s attention. I had visions and fears in the daytime as well.  I was afraid to go outside sometimes because I believed a huge bird would come and snatch me.  At other times I feared railroad tracks and trains because I thought they would run off their tracks and come rampaging into homes and shops. A menacing animal, perhaps a bear, would come into my room at night. I could see its dark outline moving around the room. No one listened to these fears, they had too many “real” problems to deal with, but in retrospect I can see that my child mind processed the world events on another track.

How can it be that our viewpoint is so narcissistic and the reality so global and increasingly cosmic.  Human evolution lags far behind the reality we exist within.  We see this world through our human eyes and measure it by our physical size and life span.  Japan will recover, though with lingering scars, because the creatures of this planet are also remarkably resilient.  Ultimately we change to fit the environment we occupy but it hasn’t yet penetrated us that we are co-creators of the world we live in, and this life extends far beyond the physical body and a specific location.  Events beyond our control are great and terrible teachers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Life is streaming by. I look forward to each day because it is closer to something I’m waiting for. Not that I know what it is I'm waiting for. In the meantime life is exiting the hourglass a few grains each day. Why am I at a loss for what to do with this moment? More to the point, what do I not like about this moment?

I’m old enough to think about my death. How will it come? Will I die of sickness or accident? Will it be sudden or drawn out? Will my partner die before me? I would prefer to go first, but this is probably a purely selfish desire. About seven years ago the consciousness that accompanies the final lap on this journey entered my personal world. After 55, the reality of time begins breaking through the defenses of youth. When my grandparents died I was shocked out of the youthful assumption that nothing really changes.

When my father died it changed my identity in relationship to time and family, and when my mother passed I realized the dangers wrought by development and time that are out of sync. She was still very young inside. Her soul was a pink rose not fully opened, and had chosen the best way to leave an old body before it didn’t serve her anymore. It caught us by surprise. It haunts me in a way that my father’s death did not. His personality and his body matched in age, and he needed a new start on both. But mom had just begun to find her way out into the sunlight from a cramped space and then run into the time limits imposed by the physical world.

I was always aware that I would not die young. But I was driven by a fierce desire to make the best of my time on earth, and was very aware that I had become lost in a flood pool somewhere and after the storm the main river sloshed by without me. Again and again I have reviewed my life trying to find the place in time where I was caught. But the larger me is aware that this was not just an accident and that that place will never be found. The circumstances of life may or may not be accidental but the individual purpose is up to each of us to sort out. The Trickster shows us where we are fools but also how little it matters because the meaning of life doesn’t show itself in merely external results. There are things to experience and learn in a flood pool as well as in a river.

Expectations and assumptions are the cause of impatience. Why assume that there is more to life on the big river, and then again is there even a river? Life expectations so easily dissolve when scrutinized. This may be the Trickster’s main accomplishment. By sending us on the proverbial “wild goose chase,” we gradually learn that chasing is useless. We already have whatever we need and time is a canvas not a clock. You will paint your portrait whether or not you intend to do so.

Monday, March 7, 2011


It’s winter gray outside today.  February has always seemed like I-40 between Gallup and Flagstaff, an endless flat expanse of dirty blue and tan.  Even the chemtrails are a welcome design break.  I’m waiting but I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I haven’t successfully fixed anything in my life of late.  Nothing in my world is allowing itself to be fixed. Each time I make an attempt to cut back on expenses or save money something unexpected comes up to undo my efforts.  Last week I broke the TV when two cables collided while I was trying to hook the laptop up to download movies.  I have an extended warranty, thankfully but as usual my attempt to save on DVD rentals turned into an extra expense. For awhile PQ will have to watch his movies on a little computer monitor.

 I’m beginning to believe the message from the universe is to quit trying to fix things.  Or perhaps I’m trying for the wrong reasons even though my motivation was a desire to be realistic. I'm beginning to doubt that realism works for me. Usually I do well with electronics but lately even mechanical and electronic things I've tried to fix turn out worse than they were and I have to struggle just to get back to the situation I started with. It’s a slow accent up a muddy slope, and then a slide back to the beginning. I’m attempting to take control of my life and find my way back to the main trail, but I’m lost. I suspect that there is something out of my normal range of consciousness that is trying to grab my attention with these tricks but my ego is struggling to set things right while making a bigger mess out of everything it takes on. 

So here I am broken down on a boring expanse of road between a start and a destination. However this analogy falters because the location of the destination is unknown. Now I’m remembering the Maybe story:
 “There once were two old farmers who had a fence between their property.  Every morning farmer A would meet farmer B at the fence and they would exchange news and gossip, as neighbors do.  One day farmer B’s best horse jumped the fence and ran away in pursuit of a band of wild horses. Upon hearing the news, farmer A came to visit. “Such bad luck,” he said sympathetically. “Maybe,” farmer B replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbor exclaimed, now you have four horses and they look young and strong.  “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son decided to train one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.  Knowing that farmer B was getting old and needed his son’s help, the neighbor came to offer his sympathy on this misfortune. “I’m so sorry those wild horses were bad luck after all”, he exclaimed. “Maybe,” answered farmer B.  Very soon after this misfortune, two military officials came to the village looking for young men to draft into the army. Seeing that the old farmer’s son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. Farmer A congratulated farmer B on how well things had turned out after all. “Your son would be drafted and you’d never have any help on your farm if his leg had not been broken,” said farmer A.  “Maybe,” said farmer B. An so the story continues…

This story has been attributed to Sufis, Taoists and sometimes Zen Buddhists but the vagueness of its origins fit its gist quite well. Every time I find life seemingly stuck or wonderful I remember this story.

Some people see this in a fatalistic way but each unpredictable event has both a positive and negative side. Who is to say which is the most important in our life path.  It happens on a universal level as well.  With all the horrible things people have inflicted on each other and their fellow creatures and the disasters that nature surprises us with there are both positive and negative effects.  I’m not downplaying the suffering and destruction that all creatures experience in their journey through time, but it is not the only side to any reality. Since we experience our life sequentially through time rather than as a whole we can only take it as it comes to us. It’s important not to make an absolute judgment on individual events until the whole story is told, and the secret is, the whole story is never told.