Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We live with an alien....

She's seven now.  And, since we first laid eyes on her I have had moments when I thought, "Jeezum, she looks just like Alf."  You may recall the t-v series by that name, with a plucky alien who crashed his spaceship into a suburban garage and lived with a family at that address.  It has always been just an inkling in the back of my mind, that we're harboring an alien too.

Part of the reason for this is that she does some pretty unusual things, like moving the furniture around when we're not watching....or sometimes even when we are.  Then there's the fact that she seems to just 'know' stuff, like when it's 9:00 p.m. and time for her nightly cookie.....I mean, how does a golden retriever--without a watch, of course--know the time almost to the minute?

When we first got Emma--aka Boo, because she's so full of surprises--she just wanted to return to the mother-ship.  She escaped from the fenced backyard FOUR times, each of them unique.  Holly, our other golden, was the one who came to the door and let us know that Houdini had done it again.  Finally, an animal communicator had a conversation with her and explained that she needed to stop taking off....and it stopped.

She is completely addicted to affection.  Along with food, being scratched, petted and stroked is about all that she wants in life.  Although she really gets in my face if the morning walk is late, or not happening for some the rain we're having this morning.

I have always believed--with good reason--that dogs are wise, and that they know stuff we cannot.  I don't know if this means they're 'psychic', or if they are just really, REALLY sensitive and therefore tuned-in so well that they can tell when something will happen before it does.  But, most assuredly they can.  I have seen way too many instances of this to doubt it.

But, all of this being what it may....I was shocked when I photographed Boo up on a rock in the woods, with her sister, Binky, and saw this:

BTW: all photos in this blog are 'clikable' and you can see them at full size.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More fall images

I was sorting through images that I have made this fall and thought that a few of them are worth sharing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Going, going ......gone!!!!

What's not to like about fall, especially if you live in a place where the leaves become such vivid and harmonious colors that they defy description?  I look forward to it each year, never fail to notice the first tinge of color in some roadside maple, usually in the third week of August.  And, I am an avid watcher and recorder of the accelerating slide into the beginning of October when the leaves are in full riot here in Maine.  If I had the time and money to do it, I might start in northern New England and follow the color down through New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and into North Carolina.  Anywhere there are great hardwoods becomes luminous and spectacular.  I was in Colorado just a few days ago, and our daughter said, people there go up in the mountains to see the 'colors', and when a friend said she'd done so, she said, "You mean the color.".   You see compared to New England, there is only ONE color in the Rockies, the yellow of the aspens...which really just seem to be fancified poplars that we call 'popples'.  Talk to me of rock maple, ash, oak, white birch and beech trees....all of which also provide wood worthy of making heirlooms.

But, one of the things about the coming of fall that makes me a little wistful is the fact that it is so brief.  A strong breeze comes up some afternoon, and the air is filled with flying leaves...and the riot is suddenly just a 'civil disturbance'.  It's over....just that quickly.  It fills me with a low-level sense of dread as I realize this moment is upon us.  As it is now.  I will go from walking in a green hall of trees, with only scattered dappling of sunlight, to a golden walking under an open sky, with clouds wheeling overhead.  I will stop leaving my sunglasses in the car, and soon I will be making decisions about whether or not to wear gaiters, and then snowshoes.

But, I suppose fall in New England wouldn't be so powerful if it were a season that hung around the way winter or summer does.  Both of those 'destination' seasons are long enough to make me forget their opposite. Seriously, when it is high summer, I cannot for the life of me remember what walking in these same woods in deep snow is like.  And, when I am doing just that, summer seems such a distant memory that it becomes almost unreal.  But, fall--and to a lesser extent, spring--are so anticipated and so fleeting, that both of them carry this feeling of urgency, a desire to breathe them in, to see them in all their richness, to really FEEL them...because I know that any day now, it will be gone.

And, that is just the way it should be.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You may have noticed I've been gone......

In fact, I haven't felt like writing on this blog for almost six weeks.  I just began to feel that I was being soooo.....NEGATIVE.  My Sufi teacher, Samuel Lewis, once opined that, "There's no positive value in negativity."  He didn't say there is no value....just that there's no positive value.

Anybody who is paying attention already knows that these are trying times.  And I don't feel that it's my task to add to the general atmosphere of negativity that is so pervasive.  The other evening, Abby and I, along with a couple of friends, hauled out the good ol' I Ching.  I wanted to ask, "What is going on with all the stupidity that is becoming such a rage?"  I mean, everywhere you look another idiot has popped into the news.  I am speaking now of people like Rand Paul, Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnell....and, of course, we were already beset by such world-class wankers as Rush, Glenn, Sarah, Bill O.....the people who spend their time trying to convince us that our country has been stolen from us by the Obama gang...that we are going to hell in a kiddie-car, and we should be angry and fearful.   Sharon Angle has even suggested that her followers take up arms--pursue a "Second Amendment solution:"--if they don't get their way.  Eeeeeeeeeeha.  What the fu*k is happening here? 

After a while it all seems just too much.  A few weeks back, Jon Stewart dwelt on the idea of, "...I give up."  It was a suggestion that resonated with my wife and I.  You can take just so much of the idiocracy in action before it begins to feel like, "What's the point?"  If we're really so stupid--collectively speaking--that we're willing to believe our president is a: A foreigner, b: a Muslim, c: the Anti-Christ, intent on creating a socialist dictatorship,  and d: our own government planned and executed 9-11....then we are beyond help, so giving up, in the manner of throwing up one's hands and just shrugging, is about all an intelligent and sober person can manage that makes sense of it all. By loosening one's grip on the hope that we--as a nation--will begin to act in an intelligent and compassionate fashion, one is just quite possibly able to know something other than the fear and anger that we are marinating in. 

Enter the concept of karma.  Not only do individual souls have a karmic path they must walk, but, likewise, nations do also.  I have long thought of karma as a metaphor in which each soul has a burden of bundles. For some it might be a matched set of Gucci alligator leather.  Yet others may have only a hobo's 'bindle' on a stick.  Most of us are carrying something in between these extremes, perhaps a carry-on, and a roller-bag that is pretty heavy but which we can drag along behind us as we navigate the airports or train stations of life.  These containers have in them the sum total of our soul's experiences that remain unresolved.  Anything that carries guilt, for instance, or resentment, or yearning, or loathing will be found somewhere in our baggage.  And, we are doomed to drag it along until something happens--or we take action--to resolve it.

Of course, if we're unaware that a particular item--say, anger at someone who wronged you--even exists, it may reside with us for a very long time.  It is in the bag marked with a barely noticeable skull  on the tag....our Shadow-self.  That is the bag that Robert Bly referred to as, "....the long burlap bag we drag behind us."

An example of national karma is glaringly obvious in Germany's relationship to the Holocaust. In the 65 years since WWII ended, it has been handled in a variety of ways by the German people.  The generation on whose watch it happened decided--for the most part--to deny it.   When Allied troops overran each German town or city, they were told, "It was the SS.", "It was those people in the next town.", "The Nazis did it; we didn';t know anything about it."...and on and on.  One American reporter said that it was as if nobody either knew about it (despite the presence of a concentration camp right outside town, and the sickly, evil odor that emanated therefrom), or--God forbid--participated in it. My somewhat extensive reading on the subject, however, told me that any and all Germans knew beyond doubt that it was taking place.  They just didn't WANT to know.  Denial became like an escape hatch....way too easy to simply dive into. But, it didn't work in the long run. Denial doesn't resolve, it only delays.

As this national nightmare has been passed along from one generation to the next, the reaction has changed.  Now, there are many younger Germans who are incensed at the denial and the claims of ignorance.  They want it out in the glare of public consciousness where it can be first accepted and then dealt with in some manner that will allow the entire country to stop having to re-live it.  They want to make 'friends' with the Dragon that has been belching fire and biting them from behind.

We Americans have karma too.  Slavery, for starters, was a national shame and an acceptance of acts against fellow humans that still carries a fiery sting.  Don't think so?  Ask almost any black person how they feel about that part of our history.  Then there comes our treatment of Native American peoples.  I feel myself flush with shame when I see documentaries on the 'winning of the west'.  We didn't 'win' it, we conquered it, and we murdered, or trampled asunder a proud people who had been there for untold generations living in harmony with nature, if not each other.

Now, it seems that we are approaching another national crossroads, one that will be pivotal in deciding who we are as a people.  Some people are stepping forward to tell us, in loud and angry voices, that we need to start taking care of our own needs, that selfishness is the only way to do that, that self-sacrifice and service to others is out-dated and out-moded.  The new wave of thinkers are justifying this approach to life by hauling out Ayn Rand and her philosophy of 'Objectivism'.  In her novel, "Atlas Shrugged", she laid the foundation stones for the attitude that it is more than okay to want and to do what is necessary to get what you do want.  Egoism is not a bad thing; it is simply the path of those who will become dominant and have what they desire. Woe be unto those who cannot summon the will or the means to act in an aggressive manner.  They will become the 'have nots' and that is their lot in life.

Interestingly, when academic scholars of philosophy take a second look at Objectivism, what they find is not a philosophy of serious and durable substance, but the rant of a second-rate novelist who just wanted to say, "Hey, it's okay to be selfish."  Rand herself was a mess as a person.  Far from being a wise and thoughtful person, she was an obnoxious woman who discounted her detractors at any opportunity. At her funeral someone placed a six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar-sign near her casket. How fitting, then, for her to be singled-out as a prophetic influence on the new thinkers who embrace selfishness.

This tsunami of self-interest, in which there is little room for compassion, and no idea at all that integrity or Honor are important, is bearing down on us.....all of us.  We are all being asked to take stock of ourselves and to make decisions about who we are, as individuals and as a nation of souls.  If we take the path that is being espoused by such trenchant spokespeople as Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, we are consciously adopting the view that our society will become ever more adversarial and competitive.  If we decide that personal integrity, Truth (actual truth, not what we make-up), and a working, living concept of Honor are more important to us, then we will need to be prepared to stand-up to those who are now telling us to look the other way.

My intention is to keep on repeating--in every way possible--this same message.  We are at a point in our history where people who stay silent and do look away, are as guilty as those who preach the ideas of selfishness, dispassionate acquisition, disregard for Human Values in the highest sense, and who want us to become like them.

I will not look away.  I do not believe that what these apostles of Greed are preaching is an inevitability.  I believe that we are in the process of resolving our karma as a nation of souls....and that we CAN turn towards the values that resonate in the Human Heart as Goodness, Compassion and Love.

The alternative is to live in Hell.