Tag: humanity

Awakening from the Dream

Awakening from the Dream

View from Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC
View from Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC

It was a dark and cloudy night. I was riding my bicycle in the mountains and had followed a friend to a turning point. After he made it to his driveway, I turned to go but mistakenly took a wrong turn and ended up behind a fence and at the bottom of a very steep, winding road. I knew the road would take me home but the danger involved was too great in the darkness.

So I turned around and headed back beside the fence to the main road. But along the way saw huge, fresh bear tracks or scratches where a bear had claimed his territory. I got very frightened and as I pedaled faster, I passed a large, dark shape. I became even more frightened. Then something started chasing me and as I glanced down I saw it was a large coyote. I pedaled faster. Another large coyote appeared and both were attempting to drag me off my bicycle. I tried kicking them and launched my cat off the bed. He wasn’t impressed.

Coyote
Coyote

My legs actually ached and I was so shaken that I sat up and wrote notes on the dream and attempted to decipher it. What the heck had I eaten for dinner? 

When I went back to sleep I dreamed I helped people speak to large gatherings. In fact, I even helped Bill Moyers speak to a group of students. His chair, for the gathering, was beautifully colored in white with red and purple flowers.

Maybe the answer to my nightmare came in my final dream of the night–Bill Moyers. He worked with Joseph Campbell in a series entitled The Power of Myth. As I started researching on the internet I found an interview Moyers did with Campbell on the journey of the Hero archetype. Within this 51 minute recording I found answers.

Entrance to underwater cave in Akumal, Mexico
Entrance to underwater cave in Akumal, Mexico

Campbell  spoke of this journey we undertake–that of slaying the ego–to find our true nature. In this journey there must be courage as we face our darkest, deepest fears. The journey includes a theme of death and resurrection…a dying to a part of us that no longer serves us and being born into a greater version of ourselves.

The journey always begins by going into darkness, our unconscious.This triggered an experience I had in meditation last week where I journeyed into dark water, through a vortex and ended up connecting with a huge whale. Campbell spoke of the whale as being a symbol where all that is unconscious within us is held. He says the unconscious is the edge or interface between what can be known and what can never be discovered. We must learn to live life with knowledge of its Mystery and our own Mystery.

Pre-dawn Gulf of Mexico
Pre-dawn Gulf of Mexico

Life is an adventure of being alive. We journey into our own unknown in order to slay the ego so that we can follow the soul’s path. He said the journey to save the self actually saves the world. We bring the world to life by bringing life to the self.

“Follow your bliss,” he reminded as I listened intently. The ego tells us why we can’t follow our bliss, the path of the soul. It’s what keeps us small. The adventure of the Hero is having the courage to do it anyway.

There is within each of us a quiet center and from this center is where all action comes. Unless the center is found, we’re torn apart because we act from outside ourselves. This always leads to ruin in some form, he reminded.

Magnolia blossom
Magnolia blossom

The dream was a reminder for me that I am on a journey into my own life, my own unconscious. I choose this journey willingly and admit it is scary as hell at times. We all have darkness or unknown dragons or coyotes nipping at our heels. And it may indeed feel as if they want to slay us.

Campbell said that as the Hero leaves the realm of light and moves toward the threshold of the unconscious, the monster comes. The Hero is either resurrected after being torn to bits by the animal or kills the animal, tastes the blood and transcends.

I suppose we each have the choice of continuing our slumber or taking the journey of the Hero and risking everything to find our true nature. Ultimately it is a journey we do alone but made sweeter by those who have the courage to shine a light for us as we emerge from the dark waters to welcome us back home.

Sunrise in Akumal, Mexico
Sunrise in Akumal, Mexico
The Conscious Act of Letting Go

The Conscious Act of Letting Go

Hot air ballon at Foley Festival
Hot air ballon at Foley Festival

Attachment: “A feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal, or the like; devotion; regard: a fond attachment to his cousin; a profound attachment to the cause of peace” (dictionary.com).

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned is to let go of expectations. It started with my work as a state park naturalist many years ago. With deep love and passion for nature, it was difficult to watch as politics won over nature so many times. Environmental education was barely funded while other programs–the money-makers–were funded. I struggled with the question: How can you place a monetary value on environmental stewardship?

Then as a practicing psychotherapist I struggled with my attachment to clients understanding their issues and working to resolve them instead of expecting me to use a magic wand to make them feel better. (Draw circle on wall, bang head….).

Armondo, an artist in Akumal, Mexico, creates beauty on his property
Armondo, an artist in Akumal, Mexico, creates beauty on his property

And again, as a massage therapist and energy work practitioner, my attachment to clients taking responsibility for their health–physical, mental, emotional and spiritual–caused such turmoil that I invented a new kind of therapy. I called it Slap Therapy. And of course it was a joke that I shared with students and colleagues but in reality I was trying to work out my frustration through humor.

But it doesn’t stop there…no, this pattern continued. I want people to love the planet. I want them to feel their own value and worth. I want them to treasure themselves and the planet and place self-care and planetary care at the top of their to-do list. And so forth…until finally I realized that the only way to find peace within myself (and therefore model that which I am wanting to help create) was to end my attachment to anyone ever gaining understanding or waking up to their own beauty. If I base personal joy and contentment on other’s actions I’ve got some long, frustrating years ahead of me.

Mantee interacting with woman at Three Sister's Springs
Mantee interacting with woman at Three Sister’s Springs

Can I be detached and still have passion, feel love and continue on the path? Can I let go of ego and surrender to simply loving for the sake of loving?

Sunset at Gulf Shores, Alabama
Sunset at Gulf Shores, Alabama

Can I continue the work, the love, the expression of beauty I experience without knowing if it is received?

I recently discovered that all I have ever wanted (since childhood) was for the love I feel for others, animals and the planet to be received. And truly, the only way I know to experience that wish coming true is simply to keep loving, regardless. I will always love but I am no longer attached to knowing this love is received. (deep breath….heavy sigh). Perhaps the biggest magical transformation in life is to let go of all attachments to what we want the most and simply keep practicing, keep loving.

Orchid...their faces amaze me
Orchid…their faces amaze me

It is the flow of love itself that is my focus. It is not conditional. It is not a faucet that can be turned on and off. It is a state of being that I choose each day, every moment. No matter what. That’s all I’ve really ever wanted.

Heal the Planet, Heal Ourselves?

Heal the Planet, Heal Ourselves?

A beautiful documentary film, With One Voice, created a flurry of excitement as I grabbed paper and pen to take notes. It had some powerful reminders for us: 1) The condition of the world mirrors human consciousness; 2) Peace in the world will occur when we realize we all belong to each other; 3) Hate destroys.

The overwhelming thought I had after watching twice is this: Our destruction of nature is a direct result of our disconnect from our hearts–the spiritual nature of life– and the Earth–that from which our bodies are formed. To heal the planet we must heal ourselves…or is it to heal ourselves we must heal the planet? Or perhaps they are one and the same.

Below are some quotes presented by various persons interviewed in the film and photographs that hopefully illustrate their ideas.

You can tell someone about a rose but they won't really 'get it.' Give them a rose and they can smell it, feel the soft petals...and connect with it fully.
You can tell someone about a rose but they won’t really ‘get it.’ Give them a rose and they can smell it, feel the soft petals…and connect with it fully.
Stand in front of a very tall tree. Listen to the deep, deafening silence held within the tree. Wonder: why can't I be like that? Stand still and listen. Grow upward and downward. (Malidoma Patrice Some)
Stand in front of a very tall tree. Listen to the deep, deafening silence held within the tree. Wonder: why can’t I be like that? Stand still and listen. Grow upward and downward. (Malidoma Patrice Some)
Love only works by giving. It cannot be stored or banked. Love is an infinite ocean.
Love only works by giving. It cannot be stored or banked. Love is an infinite ocean.
See the gift of love everywhere. Convert frustration into compassion. Convert hatred into love. Turn all discourse to love. When you hate someone, send them a love poem. Transform hate into love. (Malidoma Patrice Some)
See the gift of love everywhere. Convert frustration into compassion. Convert hatred into love. Turn all discourse to love. When you hate someone, send them a love poem. Transform hate into love. (Malidoma Patrice Some)
When we realize the innerconnectedness of all life, hatred and all forms of aggression with cease. Peace in the world will occur when we realize we belong to each other.
When we realize the innerconnectedness of all life, hatred and all forms of aggression with cease. Peace in the world will occur when we realize we belong to each other.
Compassion is love made visible.
Compassion is love made visible.
We are coming home to a place we have never left. Our own inner peace brings peace to the world.
We are coming home to a place we have never left.
simonelipscomb (9)
Again…Compassion is love made visible.
simonelipscomb (11)
Wisdom says I am nothing. Love says I am everything. Between the two my life moves.
And just once more....Compassion is love made visible.
And just once more….Compassion is love made visible.
My Life as a Pelican

My Life as a Pelican

Ready for lift off!
Ready for lift off!

The past two days have been a crash course in how to be a pelican. I’ve learned how to preen using the oil gland at my tail to waterproof my feathers. I’ve noticed that I must pay careful attention to oiling and smoothing my many long feathers.

Popping my bill can be used as an aggressive kind of communication, to let others know I’m unhappy with their behavior and as a demonstration of contentment just before settling in for a little nap.

Down the hatch...head first please!
Down the hatch…head first please!

Fish have to be swallowed head first. If a fish is too big to eat I’ll show my displeasure by stepping on the head of said fish as I plop across the pier deck. If a fish gets stuck in my pouch I stretch my neck down and then up and shake my head. And I might have to do this while running from greedy pelicans who want to steal my treasured handout.

Sunning after dining
Sunning after dining

Nothing is more relaxing and pleasurable than snoozing in the sun, on a chilly, windy day, after my belly is full.

Check out my awesome diving eyelid...
Check out my awesome diving eyelid…

I have more than one set of eyelids and its fun to freak humans out by closing my diving eyelid.

Shit is not particularly offensive to me, especially pelican poop-shit but I really don’t like human shit like plastic and garbage, monofilament line and fish hooks carelessly left on the pier and beach.

Grooming
Grooming

As a pelican initiate, the past two days have taught me that some humans are kind and gentle, while others are aggressive and mean-spirited to my kind and get upset when we congregate in places where they feed us. Imagine that….angry at our poopy mess when they feed us the left-overs from their fish-cleaning. That seems crazy but unfortunately fits human unpredictability. Illogical beings, these humans.

My life as a pelican....
My life as a pelican….

Over the past two days in pelican training I mostly learned to be present, in the moment. What happened before is irrelevant, what happens tomorrow not worth the worry…but now. NOW! This is the moment where joy and peace exists.

Communion

Communion

Curious about the SUP board, the juvenile says hello.
Curious about the SUP board, the juvenile says hello.

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that my best friends are finned or flippered, feathered or furred. My heart is touched by an encounter with wild dolphins or a gentle nuzzle of a manatee in ways that surpass any human connection. Maybe that’s why men I’ve shared my life with have moved on…never content to come second after my love of wild animals. Connection with all creatures wild is my Communion, a way to rise above the mundane and connect deeper, more fully with beings more evolved than humans. (Personal bias).

Today I received an early-morning call from a friend and she tearfully expressed her love of the woods surrounding her home was about to be logged, destroyed so the landowner could purchase a vehicle for his son. How can you put a price like that on a sacred woodland? When will humans learn that the planet is not a commodity to be pillaged, a land to rape for spoils but rather a sacred cathedral?

The mentality of profit at any cost is not a luxury we can afford any longer.

Joanna Macy’s teachings come to mind. She explains the necessary evolution from a life-taking society to a life-sustaining society. We are in a time of moving from a profit-at-any-cost world to a life-sustaining world. We are in the middle of the dissolution of the old way and are awakening to the reality of the mess we’re in economically, socially, environmentally. And within the mess, within the reality of how we have treated the planet and each other, we find positive change occurring. Many, many people are choosing to act from a place of responsibility, a place of compassion and love. We are waking up to the idea that it is possible to live in balance with respect for all life.

simonelipscomb (5)Wildlife reminds me of the connection we have to the whole. The manatees scarred by propellers remind me that humans still have a huge impact on fragile species, that we have done great harm to our planet. And when I see volunteers paddling their kayaks, overseeing interactions with these gentle beings and acting as protectors, hope is refueled.

While snorkeling recently, a juvenile manatee came to me and demanded my attention. My goal is passive observation, in or out of the water, but while filming them, one insisted on connecting face-to-face and drew me out from behind the camera. He swam in front of me, stopped and I felt his gentle spirit guiding me to remove the camera from between us and commune, one wild heart to another. I gently placed my hand aside his face and channeled as much love as I could to him and his kind. And I listened in silence to him.

In those moments we were one with each other. There was no me, no him. In that neutral stillness was birthed understanding. Deep, profound understanding.

simonelipscomb (4)As we parted, sobs wracked my body and soul for the trust demonstrated by a species so abused and wounded by humans. The future of this planet is in our hands. That is both frightening and empowering. What will we do to create a better world?  Will we do anything?

It can start with daily communion with the natural world. Let it show us our next step each day.

He checked out my dry suit, my fins, my snorkel, my camera...always learning more about humans, these little ones.
He checked out my dry suit, my fins, my snorkel, my camera…always learning more about humans, these little ones.