Not Alone In The Dark
Looking At What We Don’t Want To See
It is one of life's great paradoxes that the things we don't want to look at in ourselves are the very things we need to look at in order to know ourselves better and to become more fully who we are. The feelings that make us want to run away are buried treasure full of energy and inspiration if we are willing to look. These feelings come in many forms, from strange images or snippets of information to recurring dreams and feelings that rise up seemingly without a reason. Whatever shape they come in, and no matter how scary they seem, these messengers bring the information we need in order to grow.
When we are tired of pushing something down, or trying to run away from it, a good first step is to write down what we think we are avoiding. Often this turns out to be only the surface of the issue or a symbol of something else. Expressing ourselves fully on paper is a safe way to begin exploring the murky territory of the unconscious. The coolness of the intellect can give us the distance we need to read what we have written and feel less afraid of it. It helps if we remember that no matter how dark or negative our thoughts or feelings may be, these are energies shared by all humanity. We are not alone in the dark, and all the gurus and teachers we admire had to go through their own unprocessed emotional territory in order to come out the other side brighter and wiser. This can give us the courage we need to open the treasure chest of what we have been avoiding.
Within the parts of ourselves that we don't want to look at, there are emotions that need to be felt. Unfelt emotions are stuck energy, and when we leave emotions unprocessed, we deprive ourselves of access to that energy. When we feel strong enough, we can begin the process of feeling those emotions, on our own or with guidance from a spiritual counselor. It is through this work that the buried treasure of energy and inspiration will pour forth from our hearts, giving us the courage to look at all the parts of ourselves with insight and compassion.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage
I couldn't even get through the article; I wish you better luck.
The first line: So, how bad could this get?
Let's see, house prices (like stock prices) have been completely out of whack with reality for how long?? Umm...at the same time that the dollar is falling and the price of oil is at never before seen prices. Oh, and yet the gasoline prices in heavily Republican towns is still laughably low.
I could go on... there are the less obvious but no less troubling, such as the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the squeezing out of the middle class of important yet essential things such as higher education and home ownership.
Well... I guess if you base your economic knowledge on the State of the Union speeches given by the president or on the basis of how much you can charge on your credit card, then everything is just fine, and you can ignore all the latest news, too.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
In fact, I took the entire (almost all of it, that is) three day weekend to wallow because sometimes you have to actually stew in the disappointments, pain and sadness in order to be able to move through it.
This morning, I finally got to listen to some stories from the weekend that I hadn't gotten to...
here's the one that brought tears to my eyes. Instead of shying away from the emotion, I listened to it three times. Yes, three times. The third time, I actually read along as I listened. Beautiful, truly beautiful.
I was saying to a friend last night, when I emerged from my wallowing long enough to talk to other people about it, that I wasn't going to feel bad about the wallowing. It is not usually something that I like to talk about proudly, but in this case I really needed the simmering time.
In the middle of it, I got to the bottom of the bad feelings. I worked through the anger and the blame and the judgement, so that I could live with the situation.
There are things that I have to do (and I have made at least the first little baby steps) and especially that I don't want to do.
But, yesterday, even though it was cloudy and rainy and the sky was perpetually threatening to take over, for the first time in several weeks, I felt hopeful, lighter and closer to who I want to be.
For months (really, honestly) I have been practicing actively looking for the silver lining. So, Annaliese Jakimides' essay on what she believes and what she has learned from her son's suicide really put this all into perspective.
Thank you, Ms. Jakimides, for being willing to share the darkness and the light.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Exhibit 1: Title ... Fleeing to Mexico Thwarts Death Penalty
Ms. Roberts, do you know the meaning of fair and balanced? Or is this another thing we can blame on media consolidation?
I recall a young British man who had been on death row released from jail recently... the first thing he did was jump on a plane back to Britain. What do you think the British would have done with this guy had he managed to flee to Britain before he was convicted??
Exhibits 3-8: Excerpts that clearly show that the slant on this article was all too obvious:
Mexico refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty - a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families.
Word choice here seems to point to Mexico as the small child refusing to do what its parent directs and wants.
"We find it extremely disturbing that the Mexican government would dictate to us, in Arizona, how we would enforce our laws at the same time they are complaining about our immigration laws," said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant to the prosecutor in Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix.
Apparently Arizona and Maricopa County have more sovereignty than a COUNTRY.
Mexico routinely returns fugitives to the U.S. to face justice. But under a 1978 treaty with the U.S., Mexico, which has no death penalty, will not extradite anyone facing possible execution. To get their hands on a fugitive, U.S. prosecutors must agree to seek no more than life in prison. Other countries, including France and Canada, also demand such "death assurances." But the problem is more common with Mexico, since it is often a quick drive from the crime scene for a large portion of the United States.I want you to read the article because I want you to see how long it takes this reporter to get around to letting us know that the run to the border to avoid the death penalty could actually go either way, though, she is choosing to report on only ONE direction. She will demonstrate that she cannot prove the statement in red above in a quote below where she notes that she was unable to get stats for France and Canada.
"If you can get to Mexico - if you have the means - it's a way of escaping the death penalty," said Issac Unah, a University of North Carolina political science professor.I hope Professor Unah is the reigning expert on this subject, though, just knowing that he is from University of North Carolina must make it so. Real JOURNALISM usually requires that you get differing views that would imply at the very least interviewing more than one "EXPERT."
Yeah...so it turns out that we can know how many suspects have been extradited to the US from Mexico; we can't know how many "death assurances" were issued; and, we have NO IDEA how many suspects are sought in Canada, how many suspects were extradited or how many "death assurances" might have been issued. I can clearly see how that would qualify one to say that the problem is more common in Mexico.
The Justice Department said death assurances from foreign countries are fairly common, but it had no immediate numbers. State Department officials said Mexico extradited 73 suspects to the U.S. in 2007. Most were wanted on drug or murder charges.
Please, where is the editor at AP? Could it be that we just dislike Mexico more right now and thanks to the bigoted (and/or just plain rabble rousing -- because I know some of you don't really care but it's been a great bandwagon for you) radio and TV commentators have made us feel entitled to heap criticism on Mexico?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Looks like Mr. Tapia has gotten a website, so you can see what's going on more easily.
Here's my favorite part of this story:
Tapia is particularly moved by the outpouring of support from children, like the 5- and 7-year-old siblings in Colorado who opened their piggy banks and recently sent a check for $60. Or the 6-year-old who sent a check along with a drawing of Tapia next to a big yellow heart, under which she wrote, "This is like you are putting people into your heart."
"I will take that to my grave when I die," he said, choking up again.
"The gestures of these children are going to tear out my heart. They have such goodwill, and they have parents who are teaching them hacer el bien sin ver a quien," said Tapia, quoting an old saying of his native Mexico, which translates roughly, but not as poetically, as "do good, even if you can't see who will benefit."
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
An excerpt from Martin Luther King's most compelling document not frequently quoted:
...."We have waited .for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God- given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
....."I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. "
Read the entire document!
I don't know if it is a particular person (or if it were that I would say), but people really irritate me. I want to say sometimes to make myself sound less like a crazy self-centered hermit, but at least at this moment, it feels like it's an all the time thing.
I could blame these feelings on any number of physical frailties or just on the moon phases or other obital patterns. Bottom-line, this is what I need to work on.
Embracing people where they are, while they are there... not later after processing and being ok with doing the bigger, better thing.
Sadly, it is also the thing I want most from the world.
Like so many many situations in life, that which you either want the most or fear the most is what will trip you up... or just present itself whenever you get comfortable.
I rode the bus with Mabel again this morning as well. Today she was much cheerier than on our first meeting. She tried to chat with one of the Chinese ladies who also had a cart... a little cart lady bonding. I don't know if the other lady didn't understand Mabel or just didn't want to chat; and that made really sad. I felt badly for having bad thoughts about Mabel in the past and got a little more window onto her lonely world.
The fact is that I was at the bus stop with her, waiting in a not very patient way for the bus to appear. I could have talked to her; just made small talk. But instead, I looked away, studied the bus schedule, looked for the bus, checked the time, etc. It was wasted time that at least could have been used to make small talk with a lady who might not get to make small talk all that often.
That less generous side of myself is not my most flattering...
It was an awful rollercoaster kind of a day for me with all this crap...
Monday, January 14, 2008
1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2007?(What did you create? What challenges did you face with courage and strength? What promises did you keep to yourself? What brave choices did you make? What are you proud of?)In 2007, I committed to making life more important than work and to seeking balance. I have been practicing experiencing life more and planning life less. For the most part, I kept these promises and practices for the year. I am proud of taking care of myself, supporting myself financially as well as emotionally. I made the brave choice of finishing the trail half-marathon, running in the middle of the night in a remote area of Nevada, and joining the gym. There's probably more, but these are the things that pop into my head.
2. What is there to grieve about 2007?(What was disappointing? What was scary? What was hard? What can you forgive yourself for?)I was disappointed that I could not commit to a job sooner or to an academic program in time to turn in applications in 2007. It was scary to realize that I am ready to start dating but don't know how to do it. I can forgive myself for hiding whenever I felt I needed alone time or processing time. It was hard to face the work and life demons over and over as I allowed them to come forward and say their peace. I hope that it will be easier in the future to ignore their intrusions as I have already heard and dismissed all the things they have to say about me.
3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete? Okay, the next step is to say out loud, "I declare 2007 complete!" How do you feel? If you don't feel quite right, there might be one more thing to say...
2007 was a grand experiment. I challenged myself to focus on me and not work or plans or expectations (real or imagined). I learned that I have more resources for doing this than I thought was possible. I recognized that life is a journey to be travelled, not planned. As an experiment, it did not always turn out well. Some days were harder than others, but ultimately they mostly just were. Life happens changing day to day and I discovered that I continue to be throughout it all. For the first time in my life, when things were not going as I would like, I did not wish to be dead. I held on for the morning light that I knew would come; I never felt like anything would be too much for me. It was a blessing to discover this to be true.
2008 is my year of discovery. I want to explore more places: in my mind, in the world, in my heart and soul. I want to bravely face adventures in dating, or even face them timidly. I want to reach deep into the place where I have hidden all my intentions always believing they would never come true and show them the light.
The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2008? Is it the year of joy? the year of self-care? the year of partnership? Stand up and say it proud, "2008 is my year of...."
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I have been plodding through NYTimes since December 22nd. I am finally up to December 30th today and I come across this little gem of an editorial. It turns out that on January 1, 1808, was the day that the prohibition of importation of slaves went into effect in the United States. The editor muses about why and how this milestone is going largely unnoticed in the US compared to the same marker in the UK last year.
Well, reading this now, I come to understand (and appreciate even more) the series that Michel Martin has been doing on slavery on her fantastic show, Tell Me More. [I will post links to her series below.]
I also understand the debate that has been going on in New Jersey about apologizing for slavery. In the back of my mind I had been thinking, well, it's about time, but it makes all the more sense how those who support it were able to push it through. It also makes those who oppose it all the more callous and ridiculous.
Among the dozens of measures that passed on Monday [January 7, 2008], the two chambers overwhelmingly approved bills authorizing a formal state apology for New Jersey’s role in slavery. New Jersey, the last Northern state to abolish slavery, became the first Northern state to apologize for it.We certainly have heard some about the debate over making the apology. It's definitely odd not to hear more about the anniversary, afterall, this is one anniversary we in which we might take pride. I remember a lot of information on some anniversary of Lewis and Clark, for instance. I am continually dismayed to see us "celebrating" anniversaries of the missionary work of the Spanish in early California. Both of these pioneer events surely caused the decimation of many native tribes as well as bringing white folks to the west. However, we allowed slavery to continue in our country. We allowed each state to decide and fought over it before the abolition came during the civil war. Will we celebrate that anniversary when it hits 200? I doubt it, I find we are still very unresolved on the issue of slavery because so many are so unwilling to take up the issue of responsibility, culpability and apology -- and reparations.
We all know that your ancestors who held slaves are dead. We all also know that the slaves are dead. It is completely logical for the descendants of slave holders to apologize to the descendants of slaves. One cannot extricate innocence from not having been born yet. The descendants of slaveholders clearly benefited and therefore have plenty for which to apologize. The descendants of slaves have clearly been adversely affected therefore ... it's just so easy and logical. Again, I am loathe to even respond to ridiculousness, but it is completely unfair that some people's voices get to be louder than others because they get to be on the radio or the floor of an elected body. So there.
Tell Me More's series:
January 2, 2008 -- "Watermen" Helped Slaves Unlock Door to Freedom
January 4, 2008 -- Quakers Helped Abolish Slavery
January 7, 2008 -- Human Trafficking: Slavery of the Modern Era
January 7, 2008 -- Harriet Jacob's Path to Freedom
January 10, 2008 -- End of Slave Trade Meant New Normal for America
Friday, January 11, 2008
Whereas I believe that many of our 50 years to life sentences are egregious, what I find even more egregious is when we give different people who commit the SAME crime different sentences.
How was it decided that Mr. Colono's life was only worth two years? Who will give restitution to Mr Colono's child? Mr. Pring-Wilson will likely get out before the two years, go back to graduate school, live a long, privileged life (he already started out that way) and pass along many opportunities to his children. Mr. Colono's child will likely not have any of these opportunities and no father.
Mr. Colono's past did not justify Mr. Pring-Wilson taking a life. What was Mr. Pring-Wilson doing with a knife. That in seventy seconds he could wield the knife in such a way that it killed Mr. Colono makes me believe that there is an angry past that perhaps was kept from the jury.
This just makes absolutely no sense.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The more I listened to it, the worse it got. I stopped at one point to go directly to his blog to read what he had written. [You can read Major Olmstead final post here.] I had to go to a meeting and didn't get to finish listening to the piece.
In the meantime, I sent an email to the codepink listserv regarding some rather abusive messages that have been posted by someone who goes by DOE ONE (his/her email address is shockandawe2006@...com -- I post this not because I want anyone to send him/her nasty email, just to show that he/she hides behind an anonymity). I was going to sign off the list, instead I plead for moderation -- as in, moderator, please get this person off the list.
Here's what I wrote:
I came to the site to unsubscribe.I think it is unfair that I should have to unsubscribe, though, in order to nothave to deal with the many (and hateful) posts by DOE ONE who is clearly not acode pink member. Instead, I am going to plead for whomever is moderating this list to remove DOEONE from the list. It is clear to me from the posts that DOE ONE has no intention of moderatingthe tone of his/her posts. I know that the anonymity of posting to lists gives many the sense that theycan do and say that which they would not say to another person's face, but Iwould like to believe that we could maintain some sense of propriety in cyberspace by moderating the list. Thanks.
This is what DOE ONE wrote back:
i will be more than happy to say what i said, and even more,to your face but then you can not stand any opposing viewpointbecause your own beliefs are so flimsy and intellectuallydishonest that they can not stand against the blowing of a person with severe lung cancer
Obvious ignorance aside, this person knows nothing about me. I make NO personal attack towards him/her. I merely state the obvious (and you haven't seen the other posts made by this person, but they are NOT worthy of even excerpting for they are of no value and often rather vulgar): he/she is not on the list to further the discussion of code pink. This person may have joined in order to harangue, I don't know, but the posts have been inappropriate.
I turned back to my computer to finish reading Major Olmstead's final blog and to listen to the radio piece. I wonder what we are to do in this world with so little respect for each other. And, politics aside, the loss of another person who is willing to think through issues, share his thoughts in a respectful way, and who truly loves his life is a tragedy beyond words.
There are no words to offer his wife and family and friends (cyber space and in person). I am truly sorry for his loss. The world is mourning the gap he leaves. We were a better world with him it.
Thank you for your sacrifice, Major Olmstead. Thank you for choosing life even though it meant giving yours in return.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
It is not surprising that Sister Prejean's essay, Living My Prayer would fulfill all the wants I had for this series. But it was still lovely to know that it was out there. I think her intentionality (besides her truly beautiful and earnest soul) about the writing of this particular essay is what ultimately does the trick. She is not trying to full from the tree something fully formed, she is writing to the prompt. Masterfully, I might add.
I wonder what others who listen to This I Believe feel about this... let me know if you drop by.