Saturday, 14 February 2015

Don't Miss the Message While Mired in the Mullet

One of my favourite places to busk - which in my case is comprised of singing and playing guitar is in the outdoor courtyard of the downtown public library. I don't know if the architects designed it intentionally to have great acoustics, but it most certainly does. It also has the additional benefit of being covered so it allows for performance even on inclement days. Knowing it is a popular spot and first come first serve are the rules of engagement - I set out early yesterday to be the proverbial "early bird."

When I arrived I couldn't hear any music or singing so I thought my plan was unfolding successfully. When I rounded the corner I saw a man standing on the raised seat and platform feature that I generally play on. I don't particularly care about being up there specifically, but the security in the area asked the first time I sang there, to be sure to have my case and "stuff" where it wouldn't impede foot traffic walking through the courtyard. I'm happy to oblige such requests as I don't want to wear out my welcome, so upon the platform it is!

Anyway, the fellow isn't singing - however he is I discover, reading aloud from the bible. I decided to step quickly into the library and decide what to do when I returned outside. Sure enough he's still there, so if I still want to secure the spot - I guess I'm going to attend a bible reading? I thought he might let up for a moment so I could ask him how long he was planning on being, there was no such pause. I have to say, his reading skill was admirable - his elecution was smooth and expressive despite having chosen to forsake a more modern edition of the bible. Though I first considered whether sitting through this might well be a kin to "smiting" my head against a wall. My next thought was - "you know, this guy has got guts, it doesn't matter if I share his beliefs, there is no question regarding his conviction and he's not afraid to put in on the line! So I sat there, and listened - he made use of the whole circular platform moving around as he read, this would have been useful to reach people around the perimeter (if anyone else had been paying attention). When he came around my side he did look up and made eye contact as he read without missing a beat. I had no idea how much he planned to read - suffice to say it went on considerable longer than the "typical" readings I recalled. Then I thought - I do love to sing and I give my all whether anyone acknowledges or not, but I have to admit, it's nice when someone does. Who knows how often he does this - but I can imagine it's not always warmly embraced, so this morning I am his listening.

 He eventually got to a scripture that asked "let any among you that is without sin, then throw (it may have said casteth) the first stone" I don't think I'd ever heard anything leading up to or following that line before. Though I don't subscribe to the born in sin etc. theology - I could substitute "judgment" and ask myself "who was I to judge this fellow" I'll spare you "those stories" and complete this one instead. Here I was waiting to march myself right on up to where this fellow was doing his thing - intending to do mine. Why was what  I was offering of any more importance than this fellow's. Let's face it any "material" gain I receive is due in no small part, to the generosity of spirit of those that pass by. Surely then I can find and expand generosity in my heart and appreciate this fellow and what it might take for him to show up. Maybe this brings him as much joy, as singing does for me - he certainly seems at ease, not to mention - he didn't go fishing around for that reading, he was just reading page after page and along come that passage that had something to say to me. Coincidence? I think not!

Next thing you know - he's proclaiming "this has been a reading from the ....... bible." I'm not sure that announcement was required - I'm pretty sure anyone that was paying any attention, knew it was the bible and then, he walks off the platform. I hustled on up there to get my stuff set up and moments later looked in the direction that he had walked off and he was no where to be seen. I continued to set up and the whole thing took on a quality that is familiar to me - which is to say surreal, I say that of those sort of events that I encounter, often not in context with what has been going on and then it ends abruptly, leaving me wondering - "did that really just happen?"

In this case - it was "confirmed" just as I was about to start playing another fellow approached me and asked if I had seen the guy that had been here just before me? "He was....." and I said, "reading the bible" -  "ya that was him - we were supposed to meet now!"
I said "well he walked over that way," pointing toward some shopping carts full of belongings beside the library - "and then I lost sight of him."

It seemed to me the least I could do - moments earlier the cowboy boot clad, mullet coiffed, street evangelist delivered me a message I didn't even know I was looking to hear, who was I, not to now be there, to carry the message to the next guy that asked?

Monday, 9 February 2015

Rather Than "Noticing Failure" - Give "Notice" to Failure!

I have failed magnificently, in fact some of my failure is of a magnitude that it might well be the crowning glory of my entire existence and what's more, some of my most glorious failure is still embryonic in nature awaiting my discovery and commencement.

How's that for an eye-grabbing opener - what say I use that in my next "cover letter?"

To continue, I have yet to ride off into the sunset, though I have witnessed artistry splashed across the heavens. I can't lay claim to ever having executed an effective rescue - in fact I have invested considerable energy in relinquishing my "shining armour." Not the star of stage or screen, never occupied a board room - though I have been bored in a room!

What pray tell is this then? A masochistic litany of self-deprecation? Though I'm not sure assurance is called for, I will state categorically it is not! It actually represents to me a burgeoning liberation, but more on that later.

I had occasion to engage in a conversation with a fellow who is seeking employment. The scenario is for me part of an exploration and possibly development of my capacity to mentor/coach. He expressed concern for impressing he or she that would be conducting his next interview, with any indication that he had failed in his life. Now, I get the power and influence of the "want" of belonging, the perhaps primordial but nonetheless persuasive energy that exile from the "tribe" means certain death - which is still alive and residing within the cellular biology woven into the tapestry of ones DNA,  my wonder is, to what degree can one disengage from this remaining the operating system of the individual?

I recognize that while I endeavour to be a mirror for this individual and support him in the knowing of his own answers and innate gifts, he simultaneously can mirror for me where I am at concerning my own dance with what I "see" going on for him. I'm not there to influence him, change him, judge him or make him wrong. He tells me that my input, reflections and life experience are very helpful - I in turn am not invested in that perspective remaining constant, if for example he doesn't get the job. I suppose this being a new direction I haven't really taken any time to consider what or how I would evaluate whether I am being affective in this capacity. Preliminarily I suppose this being a voluntary undertaking - the distraction of whether it generates income or not is off the radar screen so I can test the waters of personal engagement and fulfillment,  purely on the experience, without any direct associated concern for a strictly financial bottom-line perspective. I have an awareness of his objective, while at the same time recognizing I am in no way responsible for his success or failure, there is for me freedom in that. I envision that parlaying similar "relationships" into that of income generation would be comprised of the same objectivity i.e. my sense of fulfillment not hinging on the the client meeting or failing to meet their stated objective. As from my perspective there is no endpoint while still walking here upon planet earth - I would see my role as remaining that of the mirror continuing to engage in an ongoing process - with both being the mirror and he or she reflected in it. The unknown then would be the individuals willingness to continue to engage in the process.

Returning to this business of "failure" I begin to draw to this fellows attention that everyone has failed somewhere along the line. It's then that I come to realize that I can share my consciousness regarding that - but beyond offering him a momentary opportunity to consider something else is possible than his current mindset, it becomes very apparent that energetically doors are briefly opened and frequently slammed shut again. Even though to posture in an interview as though you are one without failure - the person conducting the interview knows that's not the truth - still there is for him so much fear present that an admission of failure would spell certain failure during this interview.  

Now then to revisit my opening comments - I can't say that I "invite" failure, wouldn't claim I don't experience some disappointment in the face of failure, but I don't relate to it the same way anymore either. Am I bounding out of bed each morning to enthusiastically and courageously face the unknown? In many ways and on many levels yes. Well okay "bounding" might be slightly overstating things. There are many ways in which life long patterns are not only being discovered and being owned, I am also making living into entirely different ways of being, in many cases for the first time ever - this represents to me very real steps toward embodiment of transformation that far exceeds intellectual understanding. Believe me I can verify that understanding the need for change and even some sense of the mechanism involved are not at all the same as being that change.

While there may have been times and situations where unknowingly I had stacked the deck against myself right from the onset, energies of self-sabotage in a variety of permutations, would so often impede or prevent my enjoying lasting success. Just the same though I'm not inclined to necessarily indiscriminately wear my heart on my sleeve - neither will I deny my "failures" continuing to steep them in a wash of shame. It really depends then how these so called failures are framed. God knows how many attempts it might require to yield a particular result. Even if a new vision and direction arises all has not been for naught, there invariably will have been the unforeseen development of various attributes, hidden talents etc. that absolutely will be of value moving forward. How then can that been deemed a "failure?"

I would also submit that what I might have deemed colossal failure which may well have been replete with self-admonishment, I now lay claim to having dared greatly for these failures to have occurred and believe myself to have been blessed to have my character and life trajectory most favourably redirected as I continually choose a willingness to mine the gold from these experiences.

Perhaps not much has changed in the world around me, but I can state unequivocally that the view from inside my skin and my ability to comfortably reside there, is increasingly pleasing to me. This leaves me to recognize and appreciate all that I have walked through as my teacher and little doubt about whether I can be of valuable service to others, it just a matter of determining when & how.

Drawing Upon Blank

I've come to write, without any idea of what I've come to write about. Perhaps the dilemma might be alleviated by letting go of the assumption that I can only write when I know about that which I write. What if I don't actually "know" anything? What then would fill the page? If I reduce or eliminate that which I have been told by someone else, but never really have investigated for myself, in other words societal conventions, assumptions that are considered "common sense"; or the use of what I have previously experienced as being "what I know" in which case nothing "new" is necessarily being shared - it's based on presumptions that what I experienced is what I would always experience and that what I was told is "true."

As I sit in the coffee shop where I am currently writing the in house stereo is playing various artists "covering" Leonard Cohen songs - if I were to dwell on this too completely I might conclude - I could continue to write the rest of my life and never achieve what he has with the written word. But in truth, I'm not here to do that - at least presently, I'm here to achieve (convey) with the written word the best that comes from me or through me. Even if I sing his lyrics I don't bring what he does, to the, or with the, songs. I express something of me through the performance of his music. As with other artists work, at times the lyrics resonate for me in some way, or I embrace a familiarity with the song which affords an enjoyment which I then love to share. I suppose then that each street corner rendition of mine is unlike any other - there is no "take two" so it is what it is - when it is, until it is again...

One can't really "perform" someone's previously released written work, for one thing it is deemed as plagiarism - beyond that, what would be the point?

Perhaps the lines blur when I consider the idea of "making a name for oneself" & using that as a criteria for validation. It's certainly not required for example, in order to write - in this case all I need do is write. It might be more pertinent if there were to be an inordinate focus on the writing being read at play. But then as I am learning through busking - would the muscle of conviction be exercised if what I am doing is completely dependent on outside approval? There is a refinement in the doing that can never occur embracing instead, concern, that I lack the expertise to begin. Having said that there must be present something beyond mild amusement to continue to take an endeavour onward.

The most impactful thing that ever comes from my keyboard could be the first thing I write, or the last - I have no idea, it's probably not for me to decide, the call is to write, not 24/7, but certainly it comprises some of what I'm here to do. If I stop for any appreciable period of time and "question" what I'm supposed to be doing with my life - I actually start finding pens and/or blank journal type books while I'm out and about & I don't mean going to a stationary store, they show up on the road side, with frequency that gets my attention.

I suppose what I'm getting at is what a vast arid wasteland the pretense of "knowing"can potentially create for the soul - while the mind is appeased, or at least that part which is hell-bent on survival. How quickly life can take on then,  the shape of the aphorism "been there, done that." The root of that would seem to me to be like: completing one colouring book cover to cover then going out and buying the identical book and expecting a different experience by now using a different box of crayons. The form is the same - one can't create newly utilizing the same paradigm. Nothing new can occur within the confines of what was. If the colouring book was of Disney characters and page three is Donald Duck it doesn't matter how many copies of that book you buy and what colours you select for the character on page three - it's still Donald duck. Now if you accquired a book full of blank pages - page three could be created newly each and everytime, unless of course you felt compelled to draw Donald duck on the blank page.

I'm not trying to revolutionize colouring as much as I'm pointing to what is at least for me the futility of rigid unchanging forms, while at the same time acknowledging an entirely formless existence without any direction is not particularly comfortable either. What I really am not sure of is, if that is due to any innate need to be "doing something productive" or whether the angst is entirely the result of inactivity bumping up against the programming that judges people by what they do - which I then turn upon myself. Life itself seeks expression - and while new galaxies are apparently continuing to be created on infinitum - the diversity of life on planet earth is continually subject to forces of conformity. In truth I can't say that "colonizing" other planets won't forward human evolution - I can't see how it would yield any new results if it isn't undertaken with a new consciousness, by which I mean by those that undertook the project, not just that the technology was achieved to make it possible.

Apparently those that have participated in previous "space programs" have reported a profound change, that the experience was for them transformational. Is it necessary for everyone to go to space to achieve "transformation" - I would say yes and no. It would seem it was necessary for those individuals, they made the voyage and were forever changed - would they have had life changing experiences if they chose an alternative path? Quite possibly - but by all accounts they were called to do what they did and I suppose their contribution would take another form. And maybe even though the conclusions they draw about the interconnectivity of life on the planet and the planet within the solar system and the solar system with the galaxy etc. have been realized by spiritual adherents and medicine people that "appeared" to never leave the planet long before these astronauts were born, never mind made the journey - these space voyages needed to  happen to spread that awareness into as many front rooms via television as possible, potentially raising credibility beyond that which might have been afforded to someone that spent seventy-five years in a cave.

Either way their transformation is both personal and a contribution to the overall mosaic. Others have a different journey to undertake and whatever brings about their evolution and transformation is a contribution as well. There is no competition as to what makes a more valuable contribution. Many people seem to have these known trajectories from an early age, many others find themselves in unchartered and unimagined territory, the result of one or a series, of major life events that become the catalyst to becoming spiritual frontiers in their own life, which most certainly won't forever operate in a vaccum,  sooner or later it's going to impact others.

What a blessing I find myself in the midst of - today I had the time, the means and a blank screen inviting my contribution. No editor, no publisher, no censor (well that's not entirely true - there is of course the mind I asked to step out of the way in the opening paragraph) - so then relative freedom. I say that when I consider by comparison a "free-lance" writing opportunity I explored at one time - the assignment (had I chose to accept it) was to research a half dozen different barbeques and then write a "review" outlining the virtues of the one company that was offering this contract, stipulating why theirs was the best. Not my idea of writing, oh sure the end result would be delivered in the form of writing, but that would be about where it ended. Essentially I would have to lie my face off in order to do this. First of all I don't care about barbeques, second there was very little to distinguish any one of the models in the various categories as been clearly superior. From my perspective, any one of them would likely be scrap metal in about five years. I would be more inclined to either say you can save yourself a great deal of hassle and just cook on the stove or in the oven you have inside your house. Either that or forget it - you don't need one! Clearly my need for personal integrity would preclude any semblance of satisfying what the outfit looking for the "writer" was expecting - consequently, no remuneration.  That's not writing - that's dictation - "oh sure you can use your creativity as long as it says what we want it to say." No thanks - next!!

Who's to say what written expression will go on to create a spark of inspiration in the next person. I certainly have experienced having shared something of myself in a group of people and during and after believing nothing I said made any sense and judged it as one of my more incoherent utterances, only to be met by someone when the gathering was over, that is thanking me profusely for what I said - "how much it helped them" gain clarity about something in their life and yet I no longer even know what I said.

I guess I wonder at what point will form and structure stifle free expression to such an extent that the true gold doesn't get past the editing process? What is trying to be said is lost to the expectations of they who have commissioned the work or in over concern for the sensibilities of who might read it.

So to conclude - what we have here is either a whole lot, to say not much of anything or maybe an example of stopping at nothing to say something! It's also an example of glorious paradox in that I can recall in my "young life" being advised that it was pointless "making something out of nothing" while today - as for everyday I choose to write, that exactly the objective!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Born Free ....... and then?

I stood at the bus stop the other day and noticed among the assortment of people standing there two women. One wore what in truth, I may be erroneously calling a traditional burka, the other wore, what might be described in contrast of the former, more form-fitting attire - which included boots that I suppose made their debut on some fashion runway, but could also serve quite handily to wade across a stream and perhaps if you were inclined, indulge in a little "River Ran Through It" complete with fly-fishing with out having it run through, the rest of your attire. Incidentally, I'm not particularly adept in the fashion world or fishing, however I will at all times give myself license to use the world as my metaphor.

Further truth would reveal that I don't know specifically which tradition, lineage, religious observance gave rise to the burka or what it means to those who wear it.  I honour and value diversity and the innate freedom within. Having said that - what came to mind as I stood and began to ponder, was "oppression." That is to be the focus of this particular rambling.

As I said I am largely lacking in real knowing concerning the Muslim faith - though I did attend a prayer session in a Mosque in Sarajevo (the "guest" of a very gracious man I met outside while I was trying to sneak a peek inside). As was the case in the various forms of sacred observance that I had the opportunity to experience while on spiritual safari in Europe - I was very present to the energy of reverence, even when I couldn't understand the spoken language or know what was being revered. I felt a bond in our joint want, to express reverence.

Just the same, my personal acquaintance with the faith is scant and even though I don't share the viewpoint that the "idea" that the burka garment represents oppression, if for no other reason than I know squat about them, so I'm not going to go about proliferating ignorance - obviously the seed of the idea has been planted, in order for me to make even, the mental association.

To be clear a more relevant oppression for me to consider would be - what stops me from asking someone if they could share with me more about their culture ....... and the list begins, fear of offending, fear of being rejected, fear of conflict and of course I would have to at least give some nodding recognition to ways in which, "political correctness" have been taken on by me. But I wonder, what would truly be more offensive - my ongoing ignorance or a question representing my genuine curiosity brought on my a desire to understand and better know and connect?

Back to the simultaneous observation of both these individuals at the bus stop - my thoughts went very quickly to, though the "western mind-set" that might be quick to label the contrasting visual as oppression versus freedom - who says the other women was any less "oppressed." Now first of all I'm not saying either necessarily is oppressed. I'm also not denying or diminishing the truth that women (& men) are being subject to a wide array of horrendous oppression throughout the world, for nothing more than who they are and what they believe. I am not comparing West to East - men to women, one religion to another.

I am saying that it's possible the women in the western world fashion ensemble, might if asked, claim her apparel represent her freedom of expression and look to the women standing beside her as being beaten down and an example of "all that is wrong with a male dominated world." But consider, there are countless millions of advertising dollars spent on subtly and not so subtly, creating an appetite for these fashions, replete with the associated psuedo-status that is afforded, (pun intended) through the hierarchy of various branding and the corresponding escalation of ticket price. Suddenly maybe it's not so clear who the oppressed one is anymore! Though I will again acknowledge oppression has many faces some with far more grave repercussions - those that call themselves "free" particularly if done at the expense of someone else's free choice, are in a bondage they have perhaps yet to recognize.

Obviously I can't and am not, making sweeping generalizations - both women could be self-assured, empowered individuals that know who they are and what they believe and make conscious choices. Before I go any further I'm not suggesting men aren't impacted by the same marketing influences or any less likely to march to unconscious forces. To make this more personal, I certainly know of the existence and power of my unconscious, to oppress my otherwise more authentic self. Certainly it is easier to look at other forms of oppression in the world and condemn that, than to own the ways I oppress myself or defend my beliefs at the cost of another's dignity. For me I am learning to be accountable and take full responsibility for my unconsciousness, while at the same time coming to know that the only useful response, is to love myself along the way.  My journey reveals that there has been no healing at times when I continue to persecute - this applies equally within & without.

I am not drawing lines in the sand with respect to declaring name brand good or name brand bad. I'm clear that my "value" is not determined one way or the other. I'm also clear that in many cases I am of course "free" to choose the more expensive item, but it is just as likely that what I become free of, is the money it cost to acquire it - it absolutely doesn't ensure quality or longevity.

I also will point out that a flip-side expression of the same oppression could look like what might be called Thrift shop snobbery - i.e. "those fools buying the expensive clothes - silly "sheeple" I would never spend that much on a shirt!!" Rather than authentically holding up the value of being good stewards of their finances, one could be militantly upholding unconscious lack of worth, through creating illusory self-worth, by bestowing virtue upon poverty.

One might ask - is the "right" choice for the wrong reason, still the right choice? Having posed the question, I would prefer to steer clear from the "oppression" of duality - i.e. "right" "wrong" by saying many an open window - might prove to have bars and that at least for me, "freedom" and "oppression" can be exercised moment to moment.

It is less likely that I can make a choice free from my own forms of oppression, if I don't know what they look like. I'm also clear that there is a difference between making the same choices unconsciously over and over by default and what appears on the surface to be the "same choice" but, a significant transformation has occurred and therefore the choice is being made with a completely different consciousness.

Didn't somebody once say "don't judge a book by it's cover." Maybe that could be expanded to say don't judge the person by the book!?