Tag Archive | self

Stolen Memories

redlilylg

Red Lily – Australian Bush Flower

Observations of being human …

Gaia guides me, helps me value my memories and my Self — through Her kind and loving eyes I see the me of my story before memories and moments are stolen — or given away; She grounds me through the trees nodding in affirmation and recognition, and the path welcoming my footsteps, and the dogs looking to me for guidance and love. Full Circle. When I step into woods, I feel Her embrace and Her love holds my memories as sacred, as mine; my soul is nourished, our spirits are One. Gaia sees me as me. And She tells me to write into my own infinity …

If I don’t make the effort to tuck away my treasures, the essence of each moment’s quenching of thirst, the healing well, can be drained by those who presume to know what I meant … they steal the memory and put their own spin on it and I wonder if I’m crazy — ! Did I recall a fantasy, a story created in my mind or was it real?

To write is my way of putting a lid* on the memory, to wrap it up with a ribbon so that I can say: this is what I felt, thought, sensed, knew. No matter what anyone else may say or think, the memory has become real — it is my memory, not someone else’s.

I have barely any memories of childhood, of being part of my family’s life, of my socially active early twenty-something years — all the people around me sucked my memories away and made them their own, and I wasn’t quick enough or mature enough to realize I needed to write it down, that I needed to be the scribe of my own life or it would appear that I was merely a footnote, an addition, an accessory to someone else’s life and memories. My wispy memories are of a solitary child playing in the barn with cats, of watching roly-polies for what seemed like hours, of twirling alone on the green grass in an old square dance dress until, dizzy, I drop to the ground in my Gypsy fantasy.

Later, the longer I lived alone, the more memories I have retained, through writing in my journal and scripting the story in my mind — consciously pausing to write my story, my internal response to a situation, before someone snatched it away and said “no, you aren’t remembering right — it happened this way.” The space, a pause, a few moments of solitude and stillness are needed to set my memories firm, to establish their home in me.

They didn’t intend to steal my memories, or my innocence, or my identity. They simply assimilated the events into their own story — like The Blob in that old horror movie — and I disappeared, became a mass of bone and flesh without a sense of Self. And I do own my part in giving my Self away. But who was I if my memories weren’t there? Most people set such store by the importance of past — of memory — and my past was someone else’s footnote.

Only a discipline – writing – within solitude’s grace, the solitude I again came to know as my long lost identifier in a deeply rooted core of being, only then were my recent and new memories allowed to remain with me — they weren’t stolen away by good intentions of control or a foreign persona of deception.

Write, write it down, write everything down before someone can abscond with my experiences and create their own version of my story, my life. I hear it revised and rewritten whenever I visit family, so hard to hold onto it. Who I am disappears into someone else’s memory of who I was and my young nieces don’t see or know me — they only know the person I was supposed to be or the me who disappointed authority. I disappear into someone else’s memory — I don’t recognize that person they talk about, that me in their memories. But since my memories of the early years are gone, I cannot contradict, I can only shrink a little further into the bubble of my dimming aura, contract in so that no more memories are extracted. If I don’t speak, my voice cannot be stolen. Write it down; become the story in the pages, preserved a little while longer than would happen if the fire blazing through vibrant personalities made me disintegrate.

Now in my fifth decade, when I am with other people, silence preserves my voice from being distorted … I listen, feel, think, and then later write into wholeness of Being. Not to be chained by ego, but to recover and know my own soul in the world.

Are there other people with stolen memories?

lilypondmaine

Lily Pad Pond in Maine

Without abundant water and earth, is it possible I fear the desert fire and air will try to steal my memory — my identity — if I let go of my resistance to its intensity? I nearly lost it once in the desert already …

The desert is another face of Gaia. I’ve always trusted Her loving presence. Maybe it’s time to have faith that even in Her most fierce form — the Fiery Desert — She will keep me growing, safe, whole. She has nurtured as the North Woods, She has inspired as the Rocky Mountains — what is Her gift to me as the Sonoran Desert? She’s never stolen my memory before, why would She do it now? Unless … would She do it to teach me that I am more than my memory?

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*The portal for the above was Emily Dickinson’s poem (#1266), drawn at random:

When Memory is full

Put on the perfect Lid — 

This Morning’s finest syllable

Presumptuous Evening said — 

lilypadroomcave

Lily Pad Room, Onondaga Cave, Missouri

I have also been reading When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams, and I know her essays influenced my direction toward contemplation of voice.

Thinness of Self

handleafveilbwI had lain in bed at dawn, savoring the taste of silence, appreciating the moment of dark quiet with Widget snuggled against my side and Phoenix curled at my feet. This was a moment of sweet peace, relaxing, breathing in the silence that would sustain me during the rest of the day. A short while later, when I took the dogs outside and we stepped into the dove-gray softness of liminal light, a small bat was flitting back and forth above my head quite near but silent. Gaia’s Grace was tangible.

There is a line that I love in A Book of Silence: “the thinness of my sense of self” (p.17). When I read this, I felt I became intimate with the book’s author, Sara Maitland. I’ve never met her and probably never will, but with this comment, I felt we were kindred spirits. She is writing of how difficult it is for her to sit in silent meditation with others because she is so aware of them it intrudes upon her own sense of silence.

I nearly squealed in recognition of this sensation of “thinness of self” because I experience this when even one other person is in the house with me. I usually considered this due to my personal insecurity, or perhaps embarrassment or discomfiture that I was somehow being “judged” and could feel the judgment oozing through even a closed door. However, I also usually experienced this at Kripalu — though to a milder degree — in group meditation, where it was highly unlikely that others were judging me since they, too, were meditators. Nevertheless, I was often feeling a disturbance of energy in the room rather than my own peaceful silence or the group silence. I simply am not at ease in group meditation. And this went against (which added to my feeling of being an “outsider”) the teachings of all the benefits of meditating in groups to assist with maintaining and encouraging spiritual focus and energy. Occasionally, the meditation was long enough I could reach my own silent center and personal sacred space of nothingness, my core of being. But not often.

When I think it is my insecurity creating this inability to feel the silence in a group, I feel negative overtones. But what if this is a “thinness of self” that is naturally spiritual? What if it is the natural thinness that comes directly from one’s soul? Sara Maitland seems to worry, as do I, that this is some kind of “fault” in our character. But is it? Why would it necessarily be so? Why would we assume it is? Is it not simply a trait that is natural? Perhaps our discomfort or inability to rest in group silence is a judgment of our society, even a spiritual one like at Kripalu or a retreat center? A judgment that is more comfortable grouping everyone together and not comfortable with those who are solitaries in their silence? The only advantage I personally could see to a group meditation was that it provided a structure for the ritual, something that says it is to be done now, not put off, not shortened or skipped — group practice can create a sort of discipline if one has a hard time doing this alone. And yet, even if that aspect is helpful in the beginning, it is still adherence to someone else’s control of our path. At some point, will our spiritual path be important enough that we are disciplined by self?

Is it possible that this “thinness” of self goes further than imagined? That it is a gift allowing a permeability of spirit to more easily flow in and out of soul, and that solitude is needed for some of us to lower the barriers we maintain in any group? Is it this “thinness” that can sometimes be perceived by others as a “madness” or a form of dysfunction because it doesn’t adhere to the group mind? Or is it a source of creativity in some sense? At least for some of us? Clearly not for all of us because many people go deeply into meditation in groups or create marvelous works of art in the company of like-minded individuals or even strangers. But, for some of us, why do we automatically assume that this thinness is a fault, a flaw in our constitutional construction?

Some contrasts I feel here with Maitland are, for instance, that I’ve avoided groups my entire life; preferring one or two people at a time to crowds; even being uncomfortable at my own family’s dinner table at times. Whereas Maitland speaks of her joy in the bantering noise of discussions in family and other groups … that she didn’t begin to yearn for silence and/or solitude until later in life. Which shows her to be following a somewhat normal basic inclination — a healthy one — as described by Ayurveda, i.e., the Vata phase of life. Further, Maitland divorced — she began her journey into seeking silence while on her own, without a life-partner to consider, and this allowed her more freedom to fully engage with the Call of Spirit, to deepen her relationship with silence and solitude. I, however, have a beloved husband. Yet we, in our partnership, continue creating ways for my “thinness of self” to be nourished and encouraged.

Our partnership has been built, in part, upon early recognition of my need for solitude and silence. We didn’t call it “thinness of sense of self” though; an easier and more common term, though one just as socially unacceptable, is introversion. Confessedly, moving to Arizona has been a trial in this area, due to some confusion, loss, misunderstanding, and stumbling.

GatesPassHowever, come winter and cooler weather, I will be able to drive fifteen minutes into the desert, walk a short distance, and experience vast silence and that will, hopefully, induce a greater sense of solitude … one where my thinness can breathe more easily — if I can release my fear of the desert. As Maitland puts it, “the silence of the desert has a horror to it, as well as, born of the horror, a deep and joyful beauty. The desert is vast, cruel and very silent” (p. 128). Perhaps there is a way for me to replace my fear of the desert with love for the opportunity it provides in its unique manifestation of silence and solitude? To balance the environmental overwhelm I feel in this harsh landscape with a freedom of expansive space once the extreme heat recedes for the winter? In that silence, what will happen out of the thinness that is my self and the prominent desert elements of fire and air?

I seek a greater spiritual appreciation of the desert. I seek this so that even though my preference is cave and forest, where I feel safe (and, interestingly, another contrast is that Maitland does not feel safe in the forest), I can move into a state of gratitude for this opportunity of spiritual exploration through desert presence. After all, Maitland who lives in the United Kingdom had to travel to the Sinai Desert whereas my desert is all around me. Maybe my “thinness of self” will facilitate my becoming one with the desert silence, and, through that grace, find a deeper peace here?

May Bast guide our journeys to self through silence and solitude.

Of Wings and Whispers

Gaia sings to me and I see my soul grow wings of animal angels, wings of bats and birds and wise old owls. How are the wings to be made? Like those of the butterfly or the bee? Shall my wings have feathers or leathery skin to see the veins or skeins of colored threads that become the tapestry of a butterfly’s wings or the film of translucent gauze that is the bee’s lace wings, diaphanous and miraculous, almost existing in another world rather than this one. How will my wings move? Shall I feel the vibrational humming of the nectar bird so tiny as a thimble or the majestic slow waves of the hawk so high she is a speck against the smooth blue gown of Gaia’s breath or the ever-so gentle lifting of the flitting butterfly?

How shall I experience the wings I’ve grown and woven among the pattern of my own new life that echoes who I was as a small child among the weeds in a field far from the house and walking in the woods down a path to pick fresh black raspberries so delectable and sweet I can cry with the juices upon my tongue as I swing upon the vines that hang near the dried up creek bed and I am in heaven, walking the land, playing in the family of Gaia.

So many years as the caterpillar, alternating to cocoon but never making it to butterfly — a stage that eluded me for most of my life. Until I could surround myself in solitude and emerge as pink and green, all wings and down, inward seeing, for my wings are those of moth, not butterfly, and I am become the whisper in the night that used to haunt me, calling me to fly away. The voice is mine and has been here all along.

Goddess and Priestess, hermit and monastic soul upon the ledge within the cave where soul is full of wonder gazing into the heart of creatures great and small as I sleep in my nest, curled and humble into rest.

I am the kiss at the end of desire for we are whole in soul and self and sea, waves of pulsing breath, the shining stars are angels soaring far away and they drop a feather into the sea that becomes me. We are not earthbound, we are earth held by grace and know the ease of soaring and shining into a moment of joy and then gone again. Stones shimmer and in the moonlight all becomes the silver and blue wink of energy forming and dissolving just as the tears of a weeping tree become the golden treasure of nature’s inspiration holding the precious residue of past wings. Into the earth, I release my wings and climb down, feeling Her voice echo in the tears of amber and once there, I rub my palms together and create the moonlit wings of a pink night-moth, the lunar essence of vision in the dark of seeing without eyes and knowing without the limitation of light, and the reflected soul is iridescent in the joyous abyss of Gaia’s womb.