The Toothbrush and the Soul

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“It is so many years before one can believe enough in what one feels even to know what the feeling is”  ~  William Butler Yeats

“When time is reduced to linear progress, it is emptied of presence.”  ~  John O’Donohue

“There were timelines branching and branching, a mega-universe of universes, millions more every minute. Billions? Trillions? The universe split every time someone made a decision. Split, so that every decision ever made could go both ways. Every choice made by every man, woman, and child was reversed in the universe next door.”   ~  Larry Niven

Cold air is the news. At 5 AM, in El Prado, New Mexico, the air temperature is a delightful 44º. At least I take delight in it. It is my contention that all warm weather all the time is harmful to the soul, because it is unnatural. I will not elaborate here because I am in no mood to rant. Nor will I explain why I am even thinking about the soul at 5 AM on a workday. Suffice it to say that I also brush my teeth before I go out into society. In psychotherapy yesterday we got to talking about what I called a “safe room”, some subjective space where one can draw back from the toxic things that happen to anyone who leaves home on occasion. What precipitated that discussion was my panic attack of the previous weekend. I feel proud to say that I took action as soon as I realized that the attack had commenced, and I took that sucker to the ground. To the ground, buddy. The trouble there is that in such an aborted attack the essential elements of the attack  already have their hooks in you by the time you take action. The attack begins with a rush of cortisol throughout the body. Once done it can’t be undone. What you are dealing with after that happens is . . . well, it is unavoidable. That’s me today. The major after-effects have passed the ‘dull roar’ level and are settling nicely within the bounds of a purring state of mind. Remember that cats sometimes purr when they feel ill. Purring is not always about contentment. In fact I would venture to say that purring is a way of getting there, of settling into contentment at all, ever. Or at least acceptance. Now, I speak as a man who got optimum sleep last night. To accomplish that I had to take a late afternoon, early evening nap, wake up long enough to feed that cat and close the chickens and the warrior turkey in the coop, then check in with the national news, only to find out that we are all still neck-deep in toxic emotional sludge. As a people, as a nation. This ‘deep shit’ level of things is indeed voluntary, to some degree. Soooo, the yuck of the news chased me away pretty quick, and I had better use of my time in mind, so I went back to sleep and slept straight through to the alarm. Other than the therapy session from noon to one I did nothing practical all day. Intentionally! In the past I have called such a process ‘profound rest’. But these days, with a fiend in the White House, I look at it pretty much from a hygienic point of view, getting that deep rest is on a parr with brushing my teeth. The yuck of American life in these times still goes subliminal with just about anyone. The despair filters on down to the marketplace. Nobody has to talk about it, but all are living it. Without further elaboration I will nobly defend my need for extra rest, and will admit that I do not consider it to be an indulgence to get it. This brings me full circle. I have to go to work today. I will be the introvert that no way no how wanted to leave home. This is where the ‘safe room’ returns. That room is in essence the very soul I mentioned in the beginning of this post. It is Jung’s capital S Self. Connect, ride free within the safe space. The rest is just weather blowing through. Should anything disrupt that peaceful center – and it will – be prepared to pull yourself back into that space at your earliest convenience. These are my sage words to myself as I head for the shower. And to brush my teeth.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

At the Top of the Hour

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“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”  ~  Vincent van Gogh

This is the third morning in a row that the air temperature has dropped down below 50º here at the house. There’s a definite turn of the season going on, but I have to keep myself realistic, because I know that Summer’s heat has a way to go before abating. Meanwhile, an early morning chill proves to be the real prize. The sunrise is muted this morning. Pale orange, but mostly a bluish-gray thing. It’s hard for me to reconcile the feeling, but I have been awake since 3 AM, and now at six there lingers the timelessness I usually associate with the earlier hours. I’m thinking maybe this is a good thing, as I am savoring time on a day that is not long enough to begin with. After this one day off it will be four back-to-back workdays. That’s a tall load for me, but one I will face as a challenge. Which makes doing the laundry today mandatory rather than just a good idea. I think I just busted myself. It occurs to me that I may most want to “do nothing” on a day when the time for just that is lacking. This revelation, such as it is, will serve to provide a low-grade chuckle to start these daylight hours. As for time, a couple of days ago I was trying to explain to my 18 year old coworker just how old fashioned circular clocks had qualities that digitals just do not provide. I found it was hard to express exactly why that is. So yesterday a guy comes to my register to check out. He had a circular wall clock to purchase. I commented on the clock and he began to explain why he needed it. He’s a DJ at the public access radio station, and being new there he found that the studio has only digital clocks. He went on to explain that he, being “old school”, needs that clock dial to make his shows flow freely and with the highest precision; he needs to be able to tell at a glance, without the need for calculation, just how far away ‘the top of the hour’ is. I quickly pulled my coworker over to listen, explaining to the man that I was only recently trying to give her an example of the benefits of a circular clock. Then I turned to my coworker and told her, “See, I arranged this”. The DJ was quick to pick up on that, asking me “where’s the ten bucks you promised me?”. No profound meaning there, just a fun anecdote. Which brings me back to the present, where the top of the hour fast approaches, which means the cat gets fed, straight up seven being the guideline. My Baby Ben alarm clock ticks away before me, counting down the seconds until that responsibility takes hold. But it will be my cell phone that keeps me plugged in to the clock at all as I head on down to the laundromat, then on to psychotherapy at noon. After that appointment, then I can get around to doing nothing, and I’ll be like all “what took me so long?”.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

A Rich Presence

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“I mean, you could claim that anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody’s proved it doesn’t exist!”   ~  J. K. Rowling

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”  ~  Carl Sagan

Thanks for coming by to read. I wish I could offer more. I’m keeping it short today. Not much to say, or too much to say? Both, and. For me it feels best to keep my eye on the weather, the change of the season, the changing of the light. And the rich presence of Spirit throughout. That’s enough for today.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

Off the Hook

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“The person who doesn’t scatter the morning dew will not comb grey hairs”   ~  Hunter S. Thompson

“I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps.”   ~  Steve Martin

You hear a lot these days – cloud season, mushroom season, green chile roasting season. Allergy season. That’s me this morning, loving them all except for maybe that last one. That, not so much. But it’s real. That makes the aspirations of tolerance more tolerable. Tolerance doesn’t test well in the abstract. Now, I’ve just used that word ‘tolerance’ three times, rapid fire, in a row. It’s a no brainer as to why this word sticks with me: last weekend’s domestic terror attack. I sit here thinking about it, as I write about it, and I see clearly that I want to say to a lot of people, “How can you possibly think that it is . . . ?”. It just sticks on my tongue. I’ll not milk that metaphor. I’ve written about trauma these past couple of days. That makes sense as well. And I’ve read about it, more than I can remember. There has been some truly great writing done on the subject. Hey, what about this? Oh, never mind. My writerly ambitions lack luster this morning, and I’ll not try to push it any. It is shock. Plain and simple. And I remind myself that I am under no obligation to provide anything meaningful on this blog, nor even anything lengthy. There, having said that, I am off the hook. I can get on out to check out the sunrise then step into a hot shower, and that should do things up just right. Tis a workday. Indeed.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Why So Serious?

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“The bodies of traumatized people portray “snapshots” of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. For example, when we prepare to fight or to flee, muscles throughout our entire body are tensed in specific patterns of high energy readiness. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions, we fail to discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations. This energy becomes fixed in specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. The person then stays in a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word- they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult if not impossible to function normally under these circumstances.”  ~  Peter A. Levine

Yesterday was a hard one, a self-care kinda thing, one long reminder to breathe. Why so serious, Mr. Ebert? PTSD is serious. That’s why. I reread yesterday’s post and noticed . . . well, let’s just say that I needed to be reminded that it’s not all in my head. Trauma is stored in the body. Today? Yeh, I feel better today simply because I can more fully feel at all. Yesterday it was all too much, a lead boot kinda thing, with the added boost of lead bracelets and collar.The personal trigger on Saturday was socially triggered. That’s all I will say about it here. But it only tripped one of my two prime triggers. Lucky me, right? I’m gonna include an excerpt from from my book, Theater of Clouds, here, to reveal the nature of my two prime triggers. If you want to participate in a little shameless self-promotion of my book click here. Now:

“As I write these words I am feeling the dreadful muck of feelings that weighed me down back then. There were only two viable options. One was that the imagined magical happening would free me from a lifeless life. The other was much easier to imagine. Some harm would come to me. Then I could die and get out of the life that had become so profoundly empty. A bus crash could do it for me. Or maybe I would be accosted by a criminal at some way station. Either way, death would be the outcome. But the bottom line was that either someone would strike at me, or some vehicle would go out of control, and that would be my end.”

Dammit, when I went to locate this quote in one PDF copy of my book, and highlight it, then do the control/C to copy thing, I got a rush of feelings again. Yeh, it’s healing, but that don’t make it hurt no less. I don’t know about you but when reading that excerpt I see how the two triggers relate to the terrorist attack murder of the young woman in Charlottesville on Saturday. If not, re-read the last sentence. That similarity tripped both triggers, which compounded the tripped trigger earlier in the day. I’m still shaky. That’ll last for a few days. That’s the way trauma work. Now, moving forward, before I wrap up and publish this post (I’m exhausted just from writing this) I want to thank my international readers. My readership in the US is small, and I know most of them meatspace. I’ve had visitors from the Philippines, Singapore, France, Italy, Germany, India, Russia, Great Britain, Ukraine, Canada, and Germany. The ones from the Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, Great Britain, and Russia, have returned multiple times. The one from the Philippines is the most recent, having visited the past few days, and several times in the past. This tickles me to no end. Thank you, all of you. So, that being said, I am going out to watch the sunrise. The opening photo is from a few days ago. This morning’s clouds indicate that such glory and beauty will happen again today. Feeds the heart and soul, it does. That also is healing. Ciao.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

 

Bearing With the Wasp Lady

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Sunrise, from my driveway, 8/11/2017

“Unlike other forms of psychological disorders, the core issue in trauma is reality.”  ~  Bessel A. van der Kolk

“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”   ~  Stephen Hawking

I got triggered yesterday, and I am none too happy today. I got confused, disoriented, and clumsy for quite a while afterwards. Let me reiterate, because I know I have said it before, though I can’t remember when . . . no, wait . . . why do I always have so much trouble typing the word ‘remember’? Is there some hidden psychological issue there? . . . anyway, I reiterate now: PTSD sucks. Literally, and figuratively, and bigtime. And I was like all ‘oh, great, now I get to deal with the cortisol rush!’. First comes the pain, like numerous hits from a ball-peen hammer, throughout the body. And then gravity sucks. Standing up seems hardly worth it. The fatigue forgets that it is supposed to be a cumulative effect. Dizziness becomes as presumptuous as an alt-right orc. Now, today, this morning, the sunrise was about up in the magical level. Although I kept falling back into my own head I knew it was going on, I was watching the sky brighten, I was happy about it, I was dazzled by the beauty. Yeh, I’ll do my best not to snap at the cat, until the shock wears off, then I can feel at ease with her antics. With PTSD the initial, original shock that has been set it in stone comes back each time a trigger snaps. Every time. Dammit. I haven’t enough money to drive up to Colorado to get some weed, which is good for easing the PTSD thing. I would if I could. Sitting still is the most effective palliative for me when a trigger goes click. I wonder if a long walk would? . . . nah. The chair, dude, the chair. I spend too much time in this chair as it is, but that is because I am lazy, or something. Today it will take work to sit. By now you must be all squirmy and stuff – if you haven’t stopped reading altogether – by my whining here. The last time I wrote about being triggered, only a coupla weeks ago, I was not in so deep. The difference this time is that when I settled down to read the news after work the terrorist attack in Charlottesville was smack in front of me on the screen. I almost cried. There is a demonic force loose in this country. Well, at least it’s not all about me now, right? I mean, silver lining and all. Cynical, I know. Whatever. Hey, I am feeling a tad better for spilling this all out this morning. Soooo . . . I’ll think about a certain woman’s smile. I’ll get out for a while. Say hey to the kestrel who sits on the wire out beyond the garden gate. Laugh at a raven here and there. And honor the warrior turkey named Oscar. Drink lots of water. Moan and feel sorry for myself, but only as a palliative. Mustn’t indulge. I won’t do these things out of gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I feel gratitude this morning. That’s not the issue. I’m talking about that New Age “gratitude list” stuff. Let me give you a cute analogy for what I mean by snarking out on the ‘gratitude’ list thing. It happened just yesterday. There are a lot of wasps this year, for whatever reason. So we are selling a lot of anti-wasp spray at the store. A woman was buying some yesterday. She had been stung several times that morning, thus the purchase. When I told her that I am allergic to wasp stings she followed by saying that she had heard that wasp stings can actually be beneficial through the amping up of the immune system then stuff like arthritis gets better. I think she either missed the point entirely or she didn’t know what allergic reactions can do. Maybe it was the cortisol from the PTSD trigger that made me all angry when she said that. I hid my anger, because, after all, I am a professional cashier. People like ya know . . . well, they say things. For me anger is the one part of a PTSD episode that truly hurts the most, because we are trained from childhood to keep anger in check, or at least to keep it out of other people’s faces, as I did with the wasp lady. I even snap at the cat this morning, then I am like all sweet and stuff, then I snap again, and she gets this look like dude like WTF. That makes me laugh. Onward and upward.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Life Before Death

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“Everything science has taught me strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. I believe in an immortal soul. Science has proved that nothing disintegrates into nothingness. Life and soul, therefore, cannot disintegrate into nothingness, and so are immortal.”   ~  Werner Von Braun

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”  Paulo Coelho

Yes, I did it. I missed a day of blogging. I almost did it anyway, even though I wouldn’t have been able to post it, seein’s how the internet connection was at full stop. Poor me. I missed it (the internet, that is) sorely because reading the news, or trying to, on my Samsung Galaxy 2 was anger-inducing. Darned thing kept jerking the browser around the screen. But it’s better now. The morning feels almost normal, and it may well be as such. It’s a work day, and I am not feeling the anxiety I usually feel, which usually has me buzzing like my Baby Ben alarm clock at the fact that I am obligated by a sense of (almost) duty to leave the house and go into town to go to work. That sense of alarm is something that is so common for me that I have ceased trying to fight it. Acceptance may not be easy but it does make make life easier. It’s a paradox I am coming to love. Don’t mind me, I’m in a rare mood. Kinda like Spring fever in August. My sense of inner youth was stirred up yesterday while working alongside my 18 year old coworker. She’s a good kid. First time I called her kid she reminded me that she is a woman. Duh. I just said yes she is, with a big smile and a laugh. That’s not the point. You can call me boy any time. No harm no foul. But the Spring fever thingy is indeed mysterious. I can’t rightly splain it. I can’t . . . well, it’s just weird, that’s all. I think it started two days ago, when I had back to back therapy, first psycho then massage. Body, mind, and . . . hey, wait a darned minute now. Did I fill in the blank myself? Body, mind, and Spirit. That would account for it. The psychotherapist, near the end of the session, told me I have integrity. I almost cried when she said that. The massage therapist showed me just how stiff my neck is. I’m lucky to have these two skilled women on my healthcare team. I’m trying to glean a connection between integrity and a stiff neck. Yeh, ya gotta hold your head high, up, whatever. But mine, due to spinal wear and tear, tends to droop forward and down. Soooo . . . what about Spirit? I sometimes write about life after death. It just seems to me that we already have life before death, so why not. For me there is no question about it. Many say there is no proof of the after death Spirit world. They are standing smack in the middle of the Spirit world already and they don’t even know it. Why on earth should death change that status? Beats me. I just think I’ll publish this post and get on with the day. I’m liking this feeling of Spring fever in August. I even feel a little goofy, in case you didn’t notice.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

Seeing Outside the Crawlspace

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“Start at the beginning,” he said. “Move one step in the direction of your goal. Remember that you can change direction to maneuver around obstacles. You don’t need a plan, you need a vector.”   ~  Cory Doctorow

“Stop thinking all the time that you’re in the way, that you’re bothering the person next to you. If people don’t like it, they can complain. And if they don’t have courage to complain, that’s their problem.”  ~  Paulo Coelho

Have you ever considered how much you pay for the packaging of a product, tangible or otherwise, that the seller is trying to convince you is valuable, and the packaging is part of the appeal? How such a question comes to me at five in the morning is beyond me. Maybe I’m still half asleep. I get that during the earliest part of my work shift; a customer says “I’m still half asleep” and I want to ask “What if you’re not?”. That could go either way, and I don’t want to confuse people, so I don’t ask. I’d be a smartass anyway if I asked such a thing. I firmly believe that one should be a smartass only in appropriate situations. It’s your decision as to when that is. Life is full of choices, and some are made without thought. Or maybe it’s just me. Soooo, what kind of morning is it? I often comment on what kind of morning it is. This morning I haven’t decided yet, which mildly alarms me because it means that thinking is involved instead of feeling. That’s one really bizarre thing about chronic, visceral anxiety: it not only wields shields against what’s out there in the world, it also shields against what I am feeling. I mean truly feeling, of course. Of course. The disorder is somewhat analogous to a crawlspace, with all that may imply. But life goes on. Ob la di ob la da. There were serious coyote calls earlier. It was the best performance they have put on in a long time, in months. That pleases me to no end. The temperature now at sunrise is 50º. Rosie the cat has been shedding bigtime for the past week. That means the season is changing, which is just about right on time for these parts. Now, moving forward, the reason I mentioned the anxiety earlier is that it is cranked way up this morning. From self-training I have come to be more acutely aware of natural beauty when the anxiety runs high, because beauty is one of the best medicines for it. Yeh, I could go up across the border to Colorado and check out a dispensary and what manner of herb they have that might help. Maybe someday. Maybe. Anyway, seein’ as how I am searching for beauty today I will be all the better off for it. It is a choice I make that serves me well, and a beautiful sight or feeling sometimes actually poofs away the anxiety on the spot. Later today I have a psychotherapy session at noon and massage at four. It will be interesting to have that one/two punch of therapy back to back. If I set my intentions just right then . . . well, we’ll see.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Dancing With Balloons

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The Rio Grande runs through the Rio Grande Gorge – taken from an observation deck on the Gorge Bride near Taos.

“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.”   Albert Schweitzer 

“Everything you can imagine is real.”  ~  Pablo Picasso

“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”  ~  Barbara Kingsolver

What Barbara Kingsolver said in the final quote says a lot to me. It is especially poignant these days. Things aren’t really ‘bad’, as such. It’s that benign, subjective, minor boogyman, that is one expression of chronic clinical depression: a dark, gloaming, Prussian blue stasis; a humorless, yucky, viscous, place of glued immersion: it is not the dark place that tends to chase away friends because of it’s presence. Lucky me. Sometime since the first of the year I learned management skills that keep my mood from plunging down into the awe-deprived depths. Twas the meeting of a lovely woman, with whom I felt a spiritual connection, that did it. Ah, the first rush of love. A close relationship need not form for this rush to work it’s magick, she lifted me up into the beauty and magick of life, which jump-started my endocrine system and . . . well, I liked what I was feeling, and even if only for a fews weeks my heart felt like Donald O’Conner dancing with balloons in a movie (Do click on that link. Mr. O’Connor is a lovely talent!). Nothing came of it, as far as I know, but a faint glimmer of ‘maybe’ remains. It is that maybe, when it first was spoken implicitly, that reminded me of life and love and all that fancy stuff. I chose the word ‘fancy’ because that is what life looks like to him when our hero arises from the depths of hopelessness. Hey, why did I choose Donald O’Conner instead of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Them other two fellas are much more famous. Donald made a movie about a talking mule named Francis ( another great link). That tickles me to no end. There is a donkey pasture across from my home, where one mule accompanies three donkeys. One donkey sucked on my right index finger one day, and that gesture caused me to fall in love with the sweet, gentle beasts. Of course I was afraid the ass might bite me. You have to take chances in life, otherwise . . . oh never mind. For now, I will leave the donkeys to graze so I can get around to heading on down to the laundromat. That will lift my slightly downward funk. It always does.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

One Long Uphill Mosey

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“If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.”  ~  Douglas Adams

“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.”   ~  Jean Cocteau

“The source of all light is in the eye.”  ~  Alan Watts

Seems to be some sort of a time bubble so far today. Blame it on the Full Moon. I do. While I won’t get much writing done I’ll not feel too bad about the lack of words. Some days are just like that. I really feel numbed by the world at large, and painfully dazzled by the personal growth of late. Growing pains at 62? You betcha. You are simply never too old. Look at aging as snail-pace breaking down of a life? Go ahead, try it. As for myself, I can’t see it that way. Growth is one long uphill mosey, unless you drink a lot of Red Bull, then watch out. You might get that breaking down I just mentioned. Entropy is highly overrated. As is compulsory social and professional haste. But let’s not go there. Listen, you can’t do Zen, k? But I’m aiming at dropping my aim today. The sky has a hint of overcast this morning. It rained again overnight. All is moist out in the world. Monsoons are here. So there’s no telling if that cloud cover is going to stay put or not. That’s the story. In fact, I am going to step into another story, a different story, for the day. We live for stories, because of stories, in honor of stories . . . what the heck am I talking about?! I’m just going to try on a different story today. Just because. The monsoons are here so there is going to be a steady stream of cleansing for a while. The world could use a lot of that these days, at least my world can. Tally ho and off I flow. Bueno bye.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.