The Amazon burns, things are far of hand,
too many world leaders well beyond their command,
our planet, this paradise, abundant with life is far
out of balance and cringing with strife; the elephants,
tigers and rhinos are game for the fat wealthy hunter
to target and maim, and the hands of the greedy
with grease in their palms are dictating the lives
of the simple and calm;
As we sit and observe, there is nothing but dread,
the visions explode in the heart and the head,
yet daydreams can change in the blink of an eye,
our minds are our own to redeem or deny;
a focus, when held, on the future we see,
can follow our hands as we nurture the tree
whose branches can hold all our dreams and our hopes,
yet we must take the actions our conscience invokes.
I believe I understand them now,
years into life, no going back
to mumble ‘Aha!’ or alter a quip,
an eye-roll, internal judgments
of the simply humans who brought me
into this life;
A child knows all, we wax wiser
than they, are meant to drive the world
forward, inception spinning threads,
moving eons of evolutionary spiral,
giving and taking our own progressions,
Product of our times as were they,
post-war (and aren’t we all?),
Beginnings of encumbering the collective
with awareness of itself, the most dire
among us, diving headlong
into fantasy strobes, dancing
until they dropped, Big Bands,
juxtaposition of light and a newly-found
affluence, the suburbs where we tottered,
innocent as lambs rambling freely
in our white-washed ‘hoods,
bright sidewalks, manicured shrubs,
nothing savage enough to pull mother noses
out of romance novels,
while fathers roamed freely,
new kings in a jungle of love;
I do not harken back, knew those times
were deadly, atom bombs and fallout shelters,
too much hidden in closets,
shadow boxing enemies just like us, inside
themselves afraid of a world growing larger,
power looming over them like the weight
of white supremists’ war of words
or of worlds;
Present-tense knee-jerk repulsion,
demeaning lyrics swallowed whole
into the beat, the beat driving generations
into oblivion of its own unmaking, rise
and fall of crises too numerous to court
before the next cycle consumes
momentary interest, all we can hold
in bleeding hearts bursting open
with empathic resonance,
We have been here before ringing,
burning in aging ears;
There was order then, or its illusion,
stuff made sense, it was possible
to contain evil, who were we kidding?
Crying consciousness, children
of the ‘sixties watching all coming
to fruition and wanting regression back
to what was familiar, blanketed blur
of memory, having initiated it all to begin
with and knowing it’s impossible,
get it out, out where it trembles, blinking
like the golem that it is, and it is I,
it is Us, it is Humanity’s Shadow,
and it never was a thing of beauty.
Years ago I read something that caused me to wonder if all of Creation – humans included – is God evolving Itself (as opposed to the puppet master God, pulling the strings in that great theatre in the sky). There may always be much we do not or cannot understand with our limited human overview, though some of us actually glimpse, from time to time, fragments of the nature of the cosmos. And we then believe, perhaps erroneously, that we have discovered The Truth. It’s my understanding that this truth, so called, is constantly revealing itself; is shifting, growing, expanding. The beauty of our species is its individuality, allowing for various colorful interpretations of profound as well as mundane discoveries.
Life on earth can be frightening at times, for we have no control over much of existence, up to and including our physical death. To comfort ourselves, we attempt to rein in something manageable with belief systems that help contain this fear. If we were to glimpse the actual nature of both our full potential as well as our utter helplessness, it could really blow some minds. Therefore if it were possible to somehow access all knowledge revealed to and by our species up to this point, countless repercussions would doubtlessly emerge.
Would we truly wish to avail ourselves of the totality of human knowledge and experience through something like mapping the human genome sequence, breaking it down into random bits then resequencing and feeding it back into the human brain via computer? Would we actually possess the capability to contain it in consciousness, or would we simply experience overload, similar to a computer hard drive that exceeds its capacity? Might what Jung terms the shadow elements of collective human nature propel us into worlds filled with terror too odious to bear?
Despite my understanding and a never-ending thirst for greater knowledge and awareness, I would still choose this small footprint on the planet, fraught with challenges and uncertainties though it might be. If offered a scientific induction into collective human awareness, I would yet embrace this quest on earth and finally back into the Unknown. Far from being afraid of death, my adventurous heart remains curious. And in my own time of living, I accept the need for a slower pace. Whatever is meant for me to understand will arrive in due course, through my own creative channels and my desire to know as much as I am capable of, in the time that exists for me in the ever-present Now.
My generation of boomers was born to mothers who, for the first time in recorded history, found themselves in decision making positions independent of their men. Suddenly lives no longer revolved around how children dressed for school that morning, who picked Timmy up from baseball practice or what to put on the table later that evening. Collectively our mothers began to wonder about fulfillment in their own lives. They began questioning subjectively in ways that were not even conceptualized by objectified generations of women before them, except in the most avant-garde conditions.
It is to these courageous women I owe a debt of gratitude, for they laid the bedrock of a foundation my generation needed in order to rivet the rouged faces of females everywhere – get them focused back on their own inner lives – the wisdom, intelligence, energy and heart required for their own healing and, ultimately, in order to change the status quo. In light of this renewed awareness, renewed because it can be quickly forgotten in the crush of corporate globalization, we are, then, perhaps the first generation of truly independent women since the advent of patriarchy itself over 2,000 years ago.
As women we have always been suited to the task of supervision, both as mothers and functionally intelligent human beings, yet due to a collective dearth of early imprinting, we often lacked the skills necessary for discernment and prioritizing. These Saturnian qualities were notably attributed to the male of the species, or certainly men had extensive experience in practicing them for thousands of years. Yet just as men in modern times have been learning to cultivate the qualities better developed in women – those of connection, emotional expression and communication – women likewise have found ourselves facing these underdeveloped characteristics of reduction and delegation.
Of course there are women who have found themselves, either in the field of academia or in the corporate world, in positions of leadership and management. How long it takes us to build the skills necessary to fill those professional shoes likely depends on the temperament and constitution of the woman, herself. Whether or not she finds herself in balance is another thing. For if we gain the world and yet lose our soul, one wonders if the tradeoff is entirely satisfactory. Some of us unknowingly forfeit our sense of connection and relatedness in the mix, which, when it happens, can engulf our tender heart. It may then be awhile before we reclaim the familiarity of trusting our own flesh, once again.
If practice makes perfect, practice serves to help us learn – especially if we have no role models before us – to face the fires of our doubts, fears and anxieties and accustom ourselves to sitting and sifting before we act. Often it seems easier to pick up the phone and get relational with someone, anyone, who might help relieve our feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. This search for answers or positive feedback outside the self might likewise be interpreted as a throwback plea for those broad shoulders of patriarchy to provide the structure we feel is lacking in our own inner lives. And we can fake it ‘til we make it, but if we are to learn, grow and finally develop a true sense of healthy autonomy, we must painstakingly walk before we can run.
There is no regressing in time, one can only forge ahead. Similar to the advent of new technology, we are developing fresh templates every day. We are imprinting new awarenesses onto subsequent generations. And it is splendid, it is lovely, it is unique and scary and necessary. Our world needs balance and we are tipping the scales. And so we proceed – now as elders in society – with love, patience and understanding. And we grant these first to ourselves.
It might as well be my shroud.
Confusion of tapestry woven daily
in knobbly hues – threads pulled
straight when ease marks the course –
twisted and frayed
How many acres of worries
it covers! Like prayer beads worn
shiny with use –
stitched string upon
string until, alarmed,
I buckle under its bulk.
I want to conceal every footpath,
leaving no trace –
a sandstorm scouring
undulating desert dunes.
Instead, tracks are buried –
into grey matter
waiting in my wings
on the thermals
of my liberation.
~ Bela Johnson
It’s all I can do these days to write, never mind read. I long for a few hours to catch up on reading posts from my little WordPress community. Meanwhile, a stack of nine books graces my night table, and I’ve not gotten through half the first in two months’ time. Life seems fast-tracked somehow, and it’s cold comfort to know I’m not alone. My daughter mentioned yesterday that most of the planets are in fire or air – not much earth or water to ground one. Though it might explain what follows:
Yesterday blasted over the horizon, urged into frantic through the simple act of attempting to Call Forward from my digital home phone to my Android. Suddenly four cell phones on two continents froze up and, three hours and a wiped system later, we were back online. That’s the short version. Meanwhile, the appointment an hour and a half’s drive from home was set back, not to mention an entire day, along with my sanity. I was actually reduced to asking the earnest young woman at the cell service to hold a moment while I screamed. Which I then commenced to do, feeling a bit foolish and not the least bit relieved.
Up until then, it felt as though my heart would burst, the stress was that intense – despite gulping air like a landed fish. Trying mightily to grab some ground and visualize my feet on Mother Earth, my efforts at moving forward seemed distorted, like wading through thick molasses. Meanwhile my husband, painting at the house we’re moving into in two days (our second major move in two months’ time), had no idea the gas company was fortuitously arriving anytime to set tanks and install service; had no concept of an overwrought partner attempting to reach him to inform him there was no way to confirm movers or communicate with customers. Enough. I’m sure you have your own version of the same story as pertains to your own life. Once again, I am sure I’m not alone in this.
A friend told me recently that, according to the Mayan calendar, this is the end of times – meaning, in part, that the earth – tilted ever so slightly on her axis since time’s inception, for all we know – will soon reach a maximum tilt, to oversimplify a theory. Then she will begin correcting course by tilting ‘back.’ Time feels crunched, as if we have not nearly enough of it. And it’s exciting to live in these days, for ends always fertilize the seeds of potential for new beginnings.
Does this mean that the increasing chaos of the past few years will begin to quell, leaving us room to breathe and stretch out mentally – to gather our wits and pace ourselves?
Currently my husband and I are in escrow on our lovely historic property and home we brought back from the dead in 2006-09. If I miss one of my two regular posts in the next week or three, please forgive me. I’ll be back on track very soon!
We are indeed fortunate to have discovered a wonderful retreat for rent almost directly up the hill from our current location until we can get our bearings and decide what the next move will be. The three dogs have three fenced acres in the trees, and we will again enjoy privacy. The house is a designer’s creation, though not entirely practical, as such structures can be. But it will be a fun place to live, tucked up in the ironwoods in the interim – with nice ocean and Maui views. Meanwhile I am reminded of the last time we were in an all-electric kitchen – and this is what I wrote back at that time:
I should bend to technology, thrill to the clink of a perfectly planed pot belly flopping onto glass surface illuminated by orange spirals of heat. Instead I long for blue fire, the sizzle of condensation kissing a living flame; yearn to heft cast iron onto burner grate – vessels requiring careful washing, swipe of olive oil – surfaces pitted like basalt from generations of honest service.
Who seeks to improve upon what is serviceable? If electricity were generated cleanly, I would understand and support such technology. But here in Hawaii, an over-reliance on oil is fortunately bringing this shortfall to the public’s attention, and the hope is that, instead of the truckloads of eucalpytus forest being leveled to ship to O’ahu for burning, we will continue developing the abundant natural and renewable resources of solar, wind, waves and geothermal energy available right here on the Big Island.
Dear readers, I’ve just entered a time warp – and it occurred to me to take you along for the ride. Our little library doesn’t have a great selection of books – you could certainly fail utterly in researching almost any thesis imaginable if you were dependent upon it. But what it does have is a shiny new building with complete reliance on solar energy (Hawaii’s first!) and a great magazine exchange cart, where one can either drop off or pick up free magazines. From time to time when my brain is completely baked, I like to read these slick mini-manuscripts. They usually don’t require much effort, as I can easily peruse tapas of thought or ogle at ad composition, then recycle them back as easily as they were obtained.
It is in this free-flowing spirit that I gathered my latest harvest of mastheads, chucking them into my chartreuse-green bicycle basket and pedaling the five mile journey home. Health, Nature, Audubon, Green Home. (Should be stuff in there Chris will like as well, I think with satisfaction.)
A couple of weeks go by. I’m busy reworking my website’s design, blogging, catching up on phone calls, social networking, taking long bike rides to clear October’s cobwebs from my head, walking the dogs, doing laundry and husband’s gofer errands – in short: not much downtime. Today, I rest. Today, after three hours of telephone time, I give myself permission to hit the sofa and kick back. Glass of cold filtered water in hand, I cycle through the big basket on the floor. Books, magazines, the odd copies of online articles printed for Chris to catch up on. Nature, I think, and Nature it is – or so it would appear …
Here’s what I encounter, and I haven’t even gotten to page seventeen. I don’t know that I’ll ever get past page seventeen, quite frankly – though the intrigue is further piqued by why on earth that particular page is numbered 158. Then again, it’s all part of the alternate universe bubble I have penetrated on this day …
Inside cover ad: BioAccess. Permanently knockout any human, house or rat gene with CompoZr Knockout Zinc Finger Nucleases. You cannot imagine how many times I read and re-read this short bit of text in the futile attempt to gain some sort of ground on which to prop my faltering intellect.
Next page: Ubiquitination. (See! I knew Word wouldn’t recognize it! It isn’t even in the dictionary!) And the image presented therein, well, let’s just say I thought it was a lot of colorful jewelry. I still don’t know what it is, quite – though I suspect it has something to do with cells. Innovative products from Cell Signaling Technology offer unsurpassed sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, and performance. (Seriously Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. Nowhere near a wheat field, a corn field, a mountain or the sea. Nowhere in nature, darling doggie, can we be …) Yes, it was at this point that I harkened back to the cover to cash my reality check: Nature (and then the subtitle in a much, much smaller font underneath): The International Weekly Journal of Science. Ah, suddenly consciousness dawns like the parting of the Red Sea or weighted maroon velvet theatre curtains, and it all begins to makes sense – or so it seems ….
I tried to leaf through a couple more pages, now curious as to how the publisher came up with the title Nature (being a writer myself and somewhat obsessed with the care and feeding of words in the English language). I discovered: RabMAbs. (PETA people look away – you don’t even want to know. That cute picture of the bunny may not be what you would hope.) Shakily, I turn – one. more. page: DNA Ligases from New England Biolabs. (Okay, I know DNA is the coding for living things, i.e. nature. And I lived in New England, and yes, I have heard of that place – blessed familiarity! Plus there’s a nice photo image of a yellow, white and black shiny caterpillar on a nice leafy green page…)
I summon all my courage to thumb through to page fifteen, just in case you’ve understandably lost count. And under the heading World View appears a genuine article: Marine protection in the Arctic cannot wait. Just as I begin to recover a little sanity, I turn one final leaf to discover a rare cancer eating the faces of Tasmanian devils – threatening their extinction.
I’ve got to say – Health magazine appeared a bit fluffy at first, but it sure looks pretty darned good, just now.
It’s easy to get miffed about seeming trifles, if you’re one of those kinds of people. If you’re one of those kinds of people, getting easily flummoxed may be in your nature. Some psychiatrists say it’s due to PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. This condition may have taken root as the result of a harrowing childhood, and thus supposedly endemic to the personality from early on. Others have experienced trauma in war or from a soul-rattling accident. No matter the origin, a sort of hyper-vigilance causes us to become easily overwhelmed, though I’m not sure if it’s because we are inherently more sensitive or because we lack a sensory deprivation button rendering our own private numb zone inaccessible.
Within the past twenty-four hours, I have experienced a significant technological episode. It concerns my Verizon MiFi, a personal wireless network device the size and appearance of a cell phone without a keypad. The slick black beast operates on available cellular frequencies with the help of an added window antenna and has jettisoned us into a modern age from the ancient spider webby cellar of dialup. No sooner had we purchased the device, committed ourselves to yet another two years of upwards of sixty dollars a month and taken this shiny new playing card home – not two months after we had become accustomed to opening up the laptop to spring online like the rest of the wired world – than a red and white screen popped into view, asking me to update “firmware.”
At times like this my thoughts promptly skew toward old people for whom such devices must inspire a mighty dread in the same way an African bushman of yore must have gaped open-mouthed, vexed beyond description, as the first airplane screamed by over his head. And it is with deep compassion that I suspect the same wizened folks, the ranks of which I am increasingly drawn into proximity and partnership, have as little understanding of maintaining such equipment, once purchased, than the Bushman does of jet engine repair. But I digress.
After agonizing for well over an hour trying to negotiate various non-operable links to pages I was apparently not authorized to access (as the message repeatedly stated); after downloading an instruction file and following it to the letter (where I discovered that my Verizon password is not indeed accepted over all Verizon platforms – in this case, I should be using the password admin – but who knew?), I still failed in my attempts to download drivers that would allow the update to take place via USB connection to my seven year old upgraded Macintosh. Suddenly an idea hit me like a bolt out of the blue. Backing into the previous screen, I noted the option to change my password, making it my own if you will. This was the key, though nowhere was it stated, to getting the download file, unzipping it and, well, downloading the folder. Ten minutes later, it had installed on my hard drive and, following directions again, I smiled slyly, my confidence soaring. First step, check. Second step, er, what’s that little circle with the line drawn diagonally throughit? It could not, it would not, complete. Apparently the needed function was not “supported on this architecture.”
Small wonder I lost sleep last night. Every time I attempted to access the internet, Verizon tried intercepting me with its damnable message: Update or wait. But if I chose to wait, each time I wanted to get online I had to click my way through two screens and restart the browser. Otherwise a Not Authorized To Access blank, non-connected, non-social networking, Siberia sort of winter white page appeared. It goes without saying that my instruction book did not address this quandary. After waiting ten minutes and speaking with tech support, where it was discovered the manufacturer’s support for Macintosh platforms left much to be desired, my only option was to wait three days until I could drive one hour to the Verizon store and have them update the device on one of their brand-spanking-new computers.
I am left to marvel and wonder not so much at the benefits of technology itself; rather its too-rapid advance which renders equipment obsolete before these devices have endured a reasonably useful life span. Then again, I’m over fifty and plodding steadily upward in years, challenged in ways my ancestors could not have envisioned in their loftiest dreams or most disturbing nightmares. It seems life ought to be getting easier somehow, but, as I’ve said before, so much for expectations.