The bazaar …

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever-changing view.” – Carole King

 

I have the privilege of working with a team comprised of men and women significantly younger than myself.  Time spent connecting … laughing, telling life stories, sharing important endeavors, and simply working hard together … brings joy to each day I’m scheduled to work.  Many of my team have recently graduated from high school, or in the early years of college.  All seem engaged in life and eager to chart passion-filled courses towards career and life.

As I prepared for work this morning I reflected on all this, giving it time to soak into my consciousness … time to blend with other thoughts flowing through my mind such as the passage of “time” at an ever-faster pace.  I mentally stood back to see those younger teammates and was emotionally touched by the thought that I’m watching them fill the empty spaces of their personal tapestries … beginning to weave the fabric of their lives.  I also saw the special quality of this moment, me granted this view into their early stages of life’s definition … how it will be designed, colored, and woven into their lives.

Some of my young comrades talk of charting courses traveled by parents, special relatives, or family friends.  Some talk of charting courses taking them to a role close to their heart.  And some are still testing the waters, trying to sense the direction meant for them.  The space between their years and mine allowed me to sense the difference between my seasoned fabric and their freshly woven work.  I sensed the space between … the space between their emerging work and my nearly completed work reflecting my personal architecture, use of seasoned colors, repairs of tears, and changes yet awaiting completion.  And it was such a gift to be able to watch and “feel” these fresh weavers work and craft their fabric.

Yes … a gift to “feel” their excitement, energy, and enthusiasm for their journey ahead while realizing within myself that I am witnessing something of a time machine … seeing what I undertook in my early days … in my fresh, new attempts to begin weaving this personalized fabric of life we each carry and wrap up in each day.  Such a gift … to sense my own excitement and emerging awareness of seeing this rare and once-in-a-life time set of moments from a place of greater understanding and elder wisdom, becoming an observer knowing that each personal effort will be rewarded by living a life meant just for them.  A gift to know that even using great care, some of their threads will be broken, weaves missed, and colors diluted by the sun or other elements of life.  It simply is the nature of “the journey”.

I realize that I am witnessing a dance of life performed by special beings at a special time and it fills me with awe.  It’s like standing in the middle of an ancient bazaar filled with merchants and artisans busy creating and selling their wares.  An amazingly colorful bazaar … vibrantly loud and active.  A place where energy surrounds me and carries me up … lifts me up … stirs my soul … and reminds me of past and present times when I too stood in the bazaar and still do.  And I realize that it’s not only my past, but my current moments that makes me a merchant and artist like my young friends.  Like my young teammates, I too continue adding to the fabric of life … my life … repairing tears and adding fresh designs, color, and texture as I weave with each breath until I pass into yet another form, fold my fabric, and set it on the self.  And they too will continue weaving as life unfolds.  Yes, the weaving continues through life so that the fabric wrapped around them and me reflects the results of our choices, wisdom gained, and self-awareness achieved. Hummm … I wonder what color and shape best reflects blogging???  I wonder ….

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The curtain rises on change and feelings …

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse

 

I write from notes gently laid down during a past venture into my beloved mountains.  Notes consulted in earlier writings as well as in this moment.  On this particular morning, early rays from a star far away left illuminated pathways among nature’s community, a community standing ever vigilant over those lucky enough to share their space.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am an early riser … one that seeks the special energy of the day’s door beginning to open.  This day’s early morning energy permeated the stage I shared with nature’s community and began to connect us via spiritual and physical sensations.

Standing among my brothers and sisters the trees, I sensed a release of tension, a tension I carry when living out my urban life.  Though granted the joys of now working outside, bringing joy, adventure, and playful connection to families experiencing an urban park, there builds an ever-increasing inner restlessness each day, each week, and each month.  It’s this “restlessness” that I pack and carry each day I am away from the world of the high country. A pack that grows ever larger and increasingly heavier.

And over time (an ever-shortening period of time) the burden of my emotional pack defuses my moment-to-moment consciousness.  Its weight disrupts it to the point where discomfort interferes with the joyful feelings filling my life.  A signal, song, or calling talked about in other writings, not only signaling the need for action but also that I’ve not taken care of myself as I’ve promised, not honored past lessons learned through painful experience.

A moment of inner disappointment rises but is quickly dispelled since another lesson learned has been forgiveness … forgiveness to me by me for being an imperfect being.  Forgiveness allowing me to simply say “so, I once again need to heal … administer the antidote … not find time but create it”.

So I listen, shift weight, change cadence, and step towards a new horizon.  Where once I was hearing my inner music and beginning to take small steps to shift my course to a new direction, I now have “a trip” planned and a clear course set!   Vision and small steps have become reality, morphing into a date and place for a visit by this urban tourist to my mountain cathedral and the joys of sitting among my brothers and sisters.  Several days paying loving penance as part of the ceremony to regain spirit and heart.  And even though this healing trip is still a few weeks away, I already draw reward.  Simply the vision of truly “feeling” the energy shared with my community of nature raises warm emotions and excites my soul.  All signals that I’ve chosen well and that my journey’s course is now more aligned with my inner true north.

Yes … the trip … the feelings … the re-connection with my nature family … and maybe a bear or two … all excites and enriches the spirit and soul of this urban man currently too far away from his mountains.  And among these feelings walks other, soft reminders of my past lessons … time spent in life’s classroom.  Re-learning that more trips … ventures out into nature … are needed in order to remain whole.  It is indeed the journey needed by this urban mountaineer … my journey … my life and chance to bring more joy to myself and through my joy, hopefully bring joy to others.  Ahh … already one day closer … ummmmmmm, here come the feelings ….

Max …

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

It’s said that we humans create memories by our brains making neural-networks meant to capture moments. Such networks connect a myriad of pieces … touch, smells, light, color, and the “feelings” experienced in those captured moments.  Our brains assemble them and their impact upon our bodies so that moments may be “relived” once again sometime along our journey.  These packages of memories are placed upon our library shelves, awaiting retrieval and recall … recall triggered by a host of possible conditions.

I have many such packages resting upon my shelves.  But there is one deeply etched, emotion filled collection that revisits me often.  A trigger … a song … “Colors of the Wind” … consistent in its ability to reach and retrieve a collection of memories surrounding a powerful moment in my life plays out with predictable consistency.  When played, this song evokes a memory package producing sharp, clear, and deeply penetrating reactions … relived feelings no different than those original feelings at the inception of this memory.

Max … a “big old” Malamute mix … a wonderfully loving dog … left me and my former spouse one late evening many years ago.  His body had been suddenly stricken by a condition diagnosed too late to correct, and even though emergency surgery finally occurred, the damage done simply overwhelmed his body’s ability to bounce back.

His final passing took time, and time allowed us to comfort his suffering and impart to him the deep, penetrating love we held for him … this creature of the earth.  It was the first, powerful journey I had shared with death, and I learned that it was a privileged moment as I sat on the floor of the veterinary hospital cradling his head in my lap … softly stroking his rich, grey fur as his eyes slowly became empty.  To this day, when the trigger recalls the memories, I “feel” the sharp, emotional sting of the moment while also deeply feeling the magic of he and I looking into each other’s eyes and reaching into what seemed some deeper place of connection … a place rarely visited … a place where souls touch.

Though it took me years to fully understand what Max gave me in those final, shared moments, I learned that late evening that love can take only the forms we give it.  I learned that opening one’s heart and allowing one’s soul to flow from within to some other place … some shared, connected place … is possible within the human condition.  I learned that such a connection, even when incredibly sad, sears a uniquely indelible image of memories that never seem to soften yet always seem to enrich.  This special memory … gathering of sensations … neural-network of the brain is now carried with me as though it lives.  When triggered, it brings forth a vividly clear reliving of a powerful experience along my journey.  And each time this occurs, I am gently reminded of how touching souls in love can change one’s personal fabric forever.

“Here Max!  Come here boy!” … come remind me of how deeply one can love.  “Good boy … good boy …”

The plight of a urban mountaineer …

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” –  John Muir

 

 
Another sunrise … one recently experienced as I joined close friends camping in the lower sierras for several days.  Another sunrise … one purchased by rising early to take in the unique, golden glow offered me by a beautiful location among the pines and granite.

Sitting here in my beloved sierras, the emotions within me expand and swell.  Early rising had offered me a spiritual window made of stained glass colored in greens, oranges, yellows and soft whites.  A window flowing with colorful essence and allowing witness to the sun rising over the granite ridges and blessing the world beyond.

Another sunrise … a gift from the universe that now means much more than in earlier years.  Another day to spend wisely since the days ahead of me are far fewer than the days fading on the trail I leave behind.  Another moment … to allow what beauty and energy it brings to penetrate my soul and release feelings demanding me to answer a call … a beckoning to “go and venture” into the high country where each breath brings such deep, rich good feelings.  Feelings that within this “urban mountaineer” offers immense impact upon a soul and heart in a humble man of 7 decades.

And with this sunrise, the rays of sun write their good tidings before me.  A message only shared when I stand within the cathedral of the granite gods.  But the ink of the sun’s writings quickly fades and never returns in quite the same way.  And I realize this moment was a message, personally delivered to me with the intention that I take in these moments … this sunrise … this brief, faint scene … and soak in the joyously rich feelings gifted me by the universe. Let it reach down and change me … change not only my thoughts but my being.

I’ve come to learn that when my inner music plays so loudly … when my internal compass spins then points so clearly towards a chosen horizon … I must answer.  It signals the direction of my true essence … some part of me that reaches to the ends of every root that plants me to this spinning sphere of clay and magma.

So I must go … take small steps to bring small feelings of increased excitement and joy.  Take steps … a day dream … a calendar entry … a talk about plans … a picture on my desktop … a reservation … piling clothes and equipment together in a place where more action is taken.  All and more … acts creating movement towards the compass heading leading me to immerse myself once more in nature and to stand among the granite gods in their domain.  Go and not only stand among the gods but allow their domain to become mine.  Yes, this urban mountaineer must go, and will soon go, and will rejoice as he joins the chorus of nature’s choir of rock, trees, and sky.

Reframing …

re-frame

verb

gerund or present participle: reframing

  1. place (a picture or photograph) in a new frame.
  2. frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.

 

I am on a journey.  Many miles lay behind me, and fewer lay ahead.  Each day the steps of my life reveal more of my self-vision … the picture I see of myself … my essence within the frame defining “me” at this moment in my time.

At times I struggle with this picture because I “feel” it doesn’t accurately capture me.  The frame doesn’t fit.  It’s an older frame trying to hold on to a picture that doesn’t belong, one reflecting what once was.  And this mismatch causes me emotional pain … a sense of failure and diminishment at times.

What’s within the frame is real, portraying a maturing man whose life is currently expanding into richness never experienced.  A life offering new discoveries blended by new freedoms and capabilities, strength, and connection.  Also within the frame lives a man where his outer shell ages, whose muscles ache more even though his fitness grows, whose need for occasional naps increases, and whose wisdom increases because he knows as his time remaining narrows, reflection offers calm and clearer understanding of his place in the universe.

But the frame surrounding this picture causes discord.  It reflects something in-congruent and out of phase.  It tries to define me using the tones of youth rather than reflect a more unique palette suited to “me” in this moment.  And over time, I realize more and more that the secret to gracefully aging … to continuous and harmonious growth in years … is to reframe this picture so that the man I am inside … the inner picture … aligns more with the man I see surrounding it as the frame.  Change the frame so that it moves and marches in step with the changes in me.  Refresh the frame so that it doesn’t reflect an earlier “me” no longer relevant or achievable, but offers new shapes and colors matching what’s held true within … a new and powerfully rich, fresh statement of me moving into my 7th decade.

The frame must change so that the new complete picture of “me” remains in harmony with my essence.  I must become friends with the concept that my “wrapper” (frame) of skin and bones must change as cells grow and decay, but my true inner physical and spiritual strength is quite different and much more powerful than the wrapper might imply. The challenge is to reframe how I tie it all together … the frame and the picture … the wrapper and the inner me.  It is the dance I must now learn.

Skin may sag but strength increase.  Muscles may ache while capabilities increase.  Superficial thoughts may be replaced by deep reflections.  And with practice, I can reveal a more harmonious picture framed by acceptance of the “wrapper” while celebrating the expanding essence of the inner picture and conditions.  If I don’t, then the discord created reduces the joy I experience each day.  So I must accept … no embrace reframing so that harmony is preserved.  The result is an ever changing and adjusting picture, a reflection encased within a morphing frame offering harmonious context to my essence.  A picture and frame proudly displayed on the wall because it offers holistically rich, joyful feelings.

Yes, an aging life must constantly form a picture in an ever-changing frame.  It is one of many tasks before me, but one that deserves attention and priority because it seems fundamental to many other tasks carried in my pack.

 

“I don’t believe in ‘thinking’ old. Although I’ve transitioned through many bodies – a baby, toddler, child, teen, young adult, mid-life and older adult – my spirit is unchanged. I support my body with exercise, my mind with reading and writing, and my spirit with the knowing that I am part of the Divine source of all life.” –  Wayne Dyer

 

Reframing … as with breathing … on-going in every moment lived.

Time away, yet messages and thoughts always lingered

Many months have passed since this writer has shared reflections of what’s held deep inside.  My life’s journey continued to take me forward, sometimes in desired directions, sometimes not.  Clear, joyful days where mixed with days of doubt and disappointment.  But that is what life offers, contrasting days assembled into our story.  And along the way, we travel the journey knowing the road is paved with solid ground, rocks and potholes.

For me, the space and distance from writing seemed needed.  And though the yearnings to “write” and share through this blog faded over these recent wanderings, messages and thoughts within me arose and lingered.  A collection of my mental stories reflecting feelings sparked by my “thinking” … my living life … my “feeling” feelings … and my relationships with the planet and those standing on it.  Observations about the “why” of life blended knowingly by simply accepting what is.  And the time and distance … away from writing … now seems to be “enough”.  Enough space for breathing … enough time for wandering, reflecting, but not sharing.

I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice, so I now “pick up the pen” and once again write.  Write for myself and for the feelings created as I set my inner thoughts free.   Feelings spawned from expressing thoughts from within me, knowing time continues to dance across the face of my life’s clock.

And it is time moving at an ever quicker pace that whispers to me to once again write and feel.  Blend these cherished acts into my moments.  As stated so well by one out among the stars (at least in our imaginations) …

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey.  It reminds us to cherish each moment because it will never come again.  What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, from the file “Star Trek Generations”

It all feels “right” in this moment, and fully living in each of my moments is a song I hum as often as possible these days.  So I once again “hum” my song of written words …

 

The freedom to speak from my heart …

“When you speak with your heart as your trusted friend, you will find all the goodness and wisdom, and you will know the truth.” – Gwen Boudreau

 

Recently my journey has revealed a subtle yet important internal shift.  I am developing the freedom to speak from my heart.  It’s a noticeable difference and a wonderful feeling each time I now express a thought, or respond to a question, or simply carry on a dialog, knowing it’s content sincerely reflects the way I “feel” and not some external story.

It’s taken time and effort to connect the pathways between feelings and expression so that it becomes my natural way of being.   As with any skill, conscious practice enables a new behavior to become a habit so that it operates at almost a subconscious level.  And working in partnership with practice is trust … trust that my feelings are real, and trust that using my feelings is the way to navigate my life.  And the “dots” connecting my feelings and words … these pathways are now increasingly clear and sharply connected, creating this new, observable and freshly felt freedom of genuine expression.

Though now a process used often, it remains a work in progress.  As such, questions still arise such as “How does it change my movement through life and the world?”  And as I look deeper to offer answers to such inquiries, I see this increasingly direct connection delving ever deeper into my heart and clearing fragments of old obstacles that filter or color the purity of what is retrieved.  I clearly “feel” that which is revealed, and even more clearly “feel” what is directed from the heart to the outside world.  And each utterance is surrounded by an intense sense of calm, lightness, and brevity.  It “feels” like it flows directly from mind-thought to utterance, smoothly and without residual friction … feeling effortless, unfiltered, and immediately and enthusiastically released.

And how did I achieve it?  Yes, through my personal work but also through my choice to seek immersion into a life experience that saturates my mind with all that resonates for me … saturates my total daily experience with an avalanche of triggers that inflame intense good feelings … inflames feelings that have been sought for many years but only now are being realized.  And as I stand in that place, life becomes flooded with rich moments offering the purest feelings of what’s whole within me.  The lightness of seeing and feeling my inner joy … and expressing it as I connect with all around me.  Such a wonderful song to hum as I continue walking my journey …