AUDIO FILE to listen while you read (with maybe one reading error):
So, it’s come to this?
I started a reading a piece based on a lecture based on book called, you got it: “Doing Nothing”
It had nothing to do with nothing. It was a ploy, a tease, a ruse, a lure to get me to read an article about the meanderings of a creative artist’s mind. I felt irritated – however the artist had some brilliant pieces of art she had photographed and a chuggingly slow river of tangential ideas, images and sensations. I suppose if one weren’t withdrawing from the intoxication of USA productivity and strung-out on random stuff it could seem like nothing relatively speaking. If it wasn’t titled “Doing Nothing” I might have liked it.
But I was anally attached to finding out how to do nothing, which, of course is an oxymoron. And I’m still attached aka stuck in the fucking past obsessing about not finding nothing. Go ahead – smile and feel embarrassed for me. And I’m being serious.
Let’s face it – no can do nothing at any time. But—
If we rule out autonomic functions such as blood pimping around in our arteries and veins or breathing then we have at least pretended we can make a space for maybe doing nothing.
Here’s the thing though – and I know I’m splitting hairs (very hard to do by the way) – as a nation of workers who eschew down-time and laziness the idea of doing nothing seems more Zen and cooler than acting lazy.
Maybe, the closest seemingly non-action state we can take is Za Zen Meditation. If it weren’t connected to the idea of mindfulness it would be an excellent cover for laziness. I mean sit and just “watch” all your thoughts and ideas et cetera coming and going. The one who watches is the mindfulness give-away so it’s not as close to doing nothing as I might imagine.
There’s lots of apps – one of which promotes “doing nothing” for a certain number of minutes – but in reality it’s listening to rain and sounds of nature as a mediation. Anyway, you get the idea.
The idea is that as workaholics who love to work, work, work – even if you love what you do and in your spare time you work and improve yourself – if you’re filling up all your time with stuff to do then you’re never celebrating laziness. Here’s what I think – Americans love to be busy, even when they’re in downtime. So, when some American says:
“I’ve been doing nothing,”
it really means they are doing something that seems like nothing in comparison to a super busy lifestyle. They need re-grooving in the cognitive think department – unless they are attempting to market “nothing”. Marketing “nothing” is got to be the perfect scam, because you can make up anything especially if its tangential, has no plan and seems like the positive side of laziness – though I don’t see how doing nothing is more positive than being lazy.
I grew up in a family that was emotionally constipated. The only permissible emotion was anger usually accompanied by yelling, shouting and SCREAMING.
Though I may have been kissed when I was a baby, it’s a time I never remembered. So – so what? Like mostly all mothers of that time they were constantly yelling.
Our mother was constantly criticizing my sister’s and mine every move, phrase, appearance and yelling when we didn’t fit her ideas of perfection, I guess. Our father was a picture of vitriolic rage of a beet exploding in a pressure cooker with an implicit threat of violence always there ready to strike. He’d exercise his rageful right arm and fist by shouting at those damn Democrats on the tv news.
He told me once: “I made a promise never to hit my kids, like my father did.” Well he broke that promise with me a few times. But did that phrase mean that he would never hit us or he wouldn’t do it exactly like his father hit him? Like so many things that never got answered.
The “highs” of emotion are temporary
My mother seemed to be sad and anxious about 70 percent of the time and mad the rest of the time. One time she burst into my room when I was 13 or 14 in her dramatic and explosive way. I was relatively happy and ensconced in building my plastic clipper ship model and I just burst into tears for no apparent reason.
“You’re such a cry-baby,” she told me. “Be a man.”
It took me many years to realize that I had been feeling her emotions and then acting them out.
Stoic Death Dealing in a fortress of, well… walls
In our family crying wasn’t tolerated. My cousin’s young daughter or five or six died and I shed some tears when I found out. My mother, father and sister looked at me and regarded me strangely.
In February 1973 a phone call came in and my father somberly announced that his sister, my Aunt Rosie had died. Nobody talked about it being good Catholics and all but she had died due to complications from suicide. I went into my bedroom and cried for 45 minutes. My parents didn’t cry. Nobody at the funeral cried either. It was all that stiff-upper-lip-New England, Connecticut Yankee kind of thing.
Full expression of grief is not permitted in some cultures. Much of the grief is rationalized, fragmented and suppressed, repressed and denied. Loss, grief and sadness goes “underground” and often becomes righteous anger as a defense against the “weaker” vulnerable feelings.
vitriolic rage of a beet exploding in a pressure cooker
In general, we as humans have a problem with loss of any kind. We hate being deprived of anything even if its detrimental to our health. When I stopped smoking cigarettes over 35 years ago I replaced it with breathing cleaner air.
When a person dies or spirit leaves their corporeal body we experience a loss that overwhelms the senses and is heartbreaking. Nothing is quite as impactful as the death of a loved one. Even if we experience them in the realms beyond the loss of the body it is often only briefly. Our attachment to the sensory world shapes our identity and its loss is a stunning and overwhelming event that can produce a variety of results.
Depending on how we were raised, how we express our grief, and the layers of grief that may be caught in our musculature, skeletal or organs for many years may be expressed in somatic pain. If raised in an emotionally constipated family like me, where the predominant emotions expressed were fear/anger based then we may be ensconced in an atmosphere of grief without realizing it. This could be characterized as a personality stance where security is sought by idealizations of the past projected on a present or future. This is a set-up bound to trigger feelings of loss and addictions to power-powerlessness dynamics that repeat in a variety of addictive cycles.
Living in the past where the rent is cheaper
Living in an environment where generations of fear producing anger suppresses the so-called “weaker” or vulnerable emotions produces cycles of denial, suppression and repression. This, in-turn, produces greater and more elaborate cycles of frustration within generational family systems keeping the expression of grief at “acceptable” levels and thus preventing its release in the moment.
Through many years studying and treating many people with mental / emotional health (illness) issues I realized that I was the stronger person in my family because of my willingness to display my vulnerability emotionally. I lived through it felt wounded and recovered from it. I learned that I was the “scapegoat” or “identified patient”. My mother, father and sister placed / projected their unexpressed feelings onto me. I acted it out for them and they blamed and shamed me for having done so.
Often wounded people unable or unwilling to express grief and sadness are seeking feelings of constant love either in a relationship, through an addiction and/or excessive physical activity. They may go from relationship to relationship, maybe marathon runners or be addicted to a substance or activity to feel full or feel at peace or feel happy to the exclusion of feeling empty, unloved, anxious, depressed etc.
Living in peace with a mess of emotions
Finding the equanimity of a neutral place inside, observing fleeting joys, happiness, sadness, grief and loss seems to make life, loss and grief bearable and allows for a kind of magic to emerge. From a tolerance of emptiness, stress, anxiety, loss and grief comes a tolerance to these feelings – that they are only temporary. The “highs” of emotion are temporary as well. From that in-between place where the compassionate neutral observer dwells comes a love that has no object and a realization / embodiment that the pursuit of happiness is an illusion. As I work to shed that illusion inner happiness is mine albeit temporary in a world of ego.
Here are a few mistakes where we betray ourselves:
– Trading in the idea that more money will make us feel safe (greed is good)
Using money to express love – that’s what my father did. I think many people are stuck in the “more money will make me feel good, safe – happy, satisfied etc.” The trouble with that is the “more” part is never ending. Addiction to money, when enough money is achieved then money is also power – do as I say not as I do and so on.
One day I decided that I had enough to live on and I allowed my feelings to change.
– Living in the past
This is especially true past the age of 50. Longing for the good old days. The use of memory to paint a better picture of the past rather than the full picture. Basing present decisions on premises that held together in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
One of the best techniques I learned along the way is the Socratic Method or asking questions and receiving answers. This method allows us to be connected to others in a forum of community to assist in solving problems – community problems when more than 2 people are involved in the method.
– Looking to a thing to make us happy
In short consumerism, we have been trained out of citizenship into buying stuff. (and throwing that stuff away into a dump that has become the nightmare of a world that will kill us aka the Climate Crisis.)
The real stuff is the love that binds us all together and tolerating the differences when love falters. I’ve been thinking about how to move my life into a greater sustainable place.
What does it mean to live sustainably?
And finally, at least for now
My father died on my birthday in 2006. He visited me three times around the time of his death and once about 6 months after his death. Since then he has been around a few times. I have a better relationship with him now than when he was in a body. I am able to celebrate my birthday without the sadness interfering with my happiness and joy.
I had wanted to find out what it would be like to live in a good future because living in America with Climate Deniers in power is terrifying and that’s just a start of a long list of what’s wrong. I’m done with the wrong list. I want to feel okay again. But it’s not so simple as that or is it?
Why does it always have to be the last mass extinction event?
I had read about people that had traveled to a future where things were very different and seemed better. I wanted something like that – a place I could wrap around myself to know that we, as humans, had survived the last mass extinction event.
Why does it always have to be the last mass extinction event? I think there is something violently suicidal and apocalyptic built into our evolutionary genetic structure associated with the ending of the corporeal life of our entire human species:
We don’t know how to change so
“to hell with it. Yeah there’s the cliff. Me and my horse are galloping towards it. I know I will die, let’s ride faster.”
The horse will stop at the last moment hurtling the rider to the death over the cliff.
a car running on the refined remains of dinosaurs
There was a recent poll from The Washington Post about Climate Change. Only 37% said they thought we would have to make major sacrifices to prevent climate change from destroying the human species. And yet major sacrifices may not be enough given the rapidity of the changes so far.
Back to the future
In a previous piece, “Is the future in the past and the past in the future?” this process of what could be next, began. I received a blessing of “stepping” into a future only to experience the future and the past in the present without content or context. After all we made up the concept of past and future so to travel to one of many possible futures is an illusion. In fact we use past memories to extrapolate a future we wish to create. True?
Living in a harmonious future where we are honoring our home on earth rather than defiling her as we do now is a desire. Desire is the tool of attachment. When I began my desire to escape this current reality of power-possessors who are also climate change deniers through consciousness time travel I protected my attachment to what I imagined as a better possible future. The experience of creating an arc / circle to experience future and past merging with me in the present created in me a great blessing. I was not aware of the blessing at first.
Due to a recent heat wave, joint and muscular pains in the night I had been having difficulty getting a good nights sleep. Waking up for a bathroom break for five contiguous nights helped set the stage for difficulty falling back to sleep. Over the weekend my mind was jumping about preventing “drift-off” into sleep. Then came frustrations… My mind was producing too much activity that when coupled with flashes of joint and muscular pain as well as skin itch from psoriasis so that sleep seemed impossible. Left side, right side switching further complicated matters even though I was following my own advice of watching my breath without trying to change it. I went to sleep at 11 pm approximately and woke at 4 am for the bathroom break. Speedy mind and jumping thoughts crashed into my consciousness after I slipped back into bed. Just about to drop off – PAIN, dealt with it. Then muscular pain. This went on for an hour. I was drifting again, about to drop off when itchy skin surfaced. My inner voice let me know not to scratch the itch. I saw myself surfing the waves of thoughts.
In the morning I figured I had 4 hours of straight sleep with 2 hours of restless wakefulness followed by 3 hours of solid sleep.
Letting go attachment was the trick; choosing to let go is an opportunity in every moment.
Same As It Ever Was?
The momentum of post-modern life proceeds without thought, yes I am asleep at the wheel most of the time, as are most folks. We fit in well with having to make money- to eek out a living to drive a car, make payments, buy stuff – make payments, pay bills try to live day to day.
I petition my representatives, sometimes repeatedly, to promote the right thing to do – in my opinion. Fortunately, as a California resident all my representatives are Democrats, nevertheless I petition them to do the right thing. I plan on voting for a progressive Presidential nominee and I hope there will be one elected as president.
Besides working to let go of my attachments in the moment to experience freedom and an expanded present moment I have not yet made fundamental changes to my lifestyle in the face of Climate Change. Oh sure, I don’t drive my car as much – now only 2 to 3 days a week, I recycle, I eat a mostly vegan diet, but I don’t consider these fundamental changes in my lifestyle. I still have a car with an exclusive internal combustion engine running on the refined remains of dinosaurs.
What did we all do when we didn’t see the negative, downside of thinking and communicating on Mercury Retrograde? I got a second-hand report that Mercury Retrograde starts affecting everyone 3 days before it actually goes retrograde. There is a phenomenon in astrology and astronomy where a planet appears to stand still in relation to Earth. This is called stationing. That three-day period has nothing to do with Mercury stationing. It has more to do with fueling the Chicken-Little hysteria and “The Blame Mercury Retrograde Game”. You too can play so you can go wild and crazy and up your stress levels. Sounds like fun, right? NOT! The three-day period before Mercury retrograde is usually less than half a day when stationing is in play.
Stationing Explained —– During the summer solstice the amount of daylight around June 21st only changes by seconds leading up to 6/21 and the same in the days following. It could be up to 20 days of only changes in seconds in the amount of daylight. This is an example of stationing in the Northern Hemisphere near or above the Tropic of Cancer in the continental US and other countries that fall near the Tropic of Cancer. Move further from Earth and stationing becomes longer and seconds moves to minutes and degrees.
Pluto (non-planet, though still considered a planet in astrology) takes a longer time to station than Mercury. Mercury going retrograde on July 7th took 10 hours 7 minutes of stationing before retrograding at 4:15 pm PDT. Pluto stations (appears to stand still beginning on 9/28/19 goes direct – out of retrograde on 10/2 and continues to station until 10/8/19 for eleven days of stationing.
Retrograde Mercury has gotten more bad press than any other retrograding planets. Mercury goes retrograde 3 times a year for 3 weeks.
Pluto and Mercury in retrograde —– Pluto an outer planet is the transformational planet. Pluto destroys in order to create something new from the ashes. When it transits a planet, a house – such as the ascendant read: personality presented to the world; or mid-heaven read: meaning of life and / or career – work, it wreaks havoc. But, since no one pays much attention this challenge is squandered by most. Pluto has been in retrograde since April 24 and will go direct on October 2, it will affect the greater population and world more intensely and those born in January, November, August and April in the most challenging ways on these dates: 10th through the 16th approximately. Pluto will have been retrograding 5 months, 1 week and 2 days. But, oh yeah, blame all of Pluto retrograding on Mercury. Just kidding.
Part of Being a Change Agent —– People who know a little folklore about Mercury Retrograde and not much about astrology or other retrograding planets load more importance on Mercury Retrograde rather than take responsibility for their feelings, behaviors and decisively act. Other Western Astrologers get into the fear game too, in my opinion, and many don’t as well. Many Western Astrologers talk about the shadow period after a planet retrogrades and goes direct it covers the degrees it went over while retrograding and this has significance. This is astrologers being influenced by predatory capitalism and sloppy thinking after all a retrograde “motion” is an optical illusion. The only “shadow” experience doesn’t have to do with a shadow at all. When a planet retrogrades, our experiences are one of increased intensity due to the planet’s proximity to Earth. Retrograde is indicative of two factors astronomically: 1. It “appears” to go backwards across the zodiac in relationship to our point of view on Earth (Animation Gif of Retrograding Mars); and 2. The retrograding planet is as close to Earth as it will be in the course of its orbit around our star, the Sun.
Retrogrades are About Intensity —–Vedic or Jyotish Astrologers interpret retrograde motion as an increase of intensity of the attributes of the retrograde planet due to its proximity to Earth (as close as it will be in its orbit). Western Astrologers believe that the energies of the planet are turned inward making life difficult and, in my opinion, setting up a victim mind-set. When it goes direct its orbit is farther away from earth, so less intense.
Taking Command during Mercury Retrogrades —– Once a belief has been created, perceptual filters formed where like-others and/or community shares a belief then free-floating fears and anxieties become attached to the belief and it is re-enforced. This can be said of any belief.
One example of a Change-Agent is a willingness to examine beliefs especially ones based on fears and anxieties even if they are mild.
Possible steps to overcoming beliefs that block our path towards personal truth:
Observing oneself dispassionately with regard to gathering information. If judgments arise suspend them, differ them and/or soften them. Don’t go into fix-it mode. Observing is the first step. You are gathering information about yourself. (see also Autogenic Training);
Once you have enough data – say for example 9 weeks of periodic observations you made during 3 weeks before, during and after a Mercury Retrograde period. During the next Mercury retrograde period (approximately every 4 months) put in an experiment with actions that counter your normal (9 weeks – 3weeks before, during and after) Mercury Retrograde behaviors with the rubric that the attributes of Mercury are more intense. (the next Mercury Retrograde period is October 31, 2019 and ends on November 20, 2019).
The object of the experiment isn’t necessarily to make your fears associated with Mercury Retrograde “go away”. It is to “test” that if a different way of thinking or acting has any overall effect on your state during Mercury Retrograde. One way of implementing this test could be the following: Anxiety goes up or a fear appears and an immediate thought is Mercury Retrograde. When you catch yourself thinking it’s because of Mercury Retrograde ask yourself – “Is the intensity of the situation right now influencing my feelings, thoughts and actions in any way?” If yes then ask yourself – “What are the challenges I am being presented with right now.” Choose one challenge and with your mind’s eye confront the challenge and overcome it, or soften the challenge with you mind so it doesn’t appear so daunting.
This has been an experiment and is by no-means complete.
A final note: “I get sensitive to Mercury Retrograde” —– Inherent in this quote is that sensitivity is not desirable especially during Mercury Retrograde. More likely Person A is feels more sensitive due to the fear’s others have and is sensitive to those fears. Sensitivity has been given a bad rap in our culture.
Once one identifies that sensitivity isn’t a bad thing where one is made to feel a victim for being “too sensitive”. My mother used to project her feelings of upset onto me and I would burst into tears. She would admonish me for being too sensitive and tell me to “act like a man” and be angry with me. Really, I was expressing/acting-out her suppressed feelings of frustration and grief without realizing it. Practice is needed in identifying the emotions of others and building a strong sense of self in dealing with others emotions and my emotion response. Sensitivity is actually a strength when we’re (the sensitive empaths) are not being overcome by others emotions.
This requires skill building and a new mindset to see that sensitivity is a good thing.