22 December 2016

Solstice Greetings

The longest night has passed, the shortest day is done.  It's a return to the Light from this point forward, thank the Goddess.

So, I've been thinking about duality in its various forms.  In its simplest form it sounds like good vs evil, light vs dark, Clinton vs the Hate Monger.  But, duality isn't simple.  To see it as A vs B is to misunderstand that there are layers to everything.  Does this mean that there is some good to the election of the Hate Monger?  No.  Absolutely not.  But, wait a minute.  What if this election means that enough people are angered, disenfranchised, uncounted, and hurt to be a catalyst for positive change?  What if something wonderful came out of it?

Here's the thing, as I see it, duality is also about balance.  At this time of year, when the planet is leaning into her orbit, we are at the furthest point away from balance.  Balance comes at the Equinox, we are at the opposite end of that today.  We are on the seat of the teeter-totter, our butts on the ground.  But, soon, we will be poised in the middle and then up in the air again.  Balance.

Light vs Dark is another false duality and is actually a beautiful balanced reality.  We imbue light and dark with values that have nothing to do with the presence or absence of the Sun, the day star.  Of course we do, silly humans, always making everything about ourselves.  Sheesh!  Have you ever read the Silmarillion, by JRR Tolkien?  It is the creation story (actually several stories) of Middle Earth.  In the beginning of the physical world, there was no sun or moon and the elves lived under the starlight.  The sun and the moon were created (in part) to give light to humans (a later species) to protect them from the forces that preyed on them in the dark.  BUT, the dark itself wasn't bad, it was appropriated by evildoers for their own gain.  When the sun and the moon were created, the Elves mourned the loss of the starlight.  The starlight was that balance point between light and dark.

Do we fear the dark?  Sometimes yes.  I think that stems from being prey species in our evolutionary past.  We've got good vision, but we need light to utilize it.  It's harder to see the hunter in the dark.  We may have feared the dark as children (and we may still as adults, no shame in that), we may have needed a nightlight to protect us as we slept.  We probably didn't ever thank the sun for rising again, but our ancient ancestors likely did.

I'm trying to get to a place of balance.  A place where light and dark are the natural, expected and equally cherished parts of every day.  Understanding is the enemy of fear.  If I understand, accept and celebrate the dark then I do not fear it.  On these dark winter days and long winter nights I am working on finding an appreciation for what the dark gives me.  Time to read, a cessation of yard work (mostly), the enjoyment of being at home all snug and warm while the storm rages outside, things like that.

As an aid to that seeking of balance, I have a new mantra.  It may make you laugh, and that's not a bad thing, but I can tell you that it truly brings me a step closer to balance and centeredness.  I say it as a prayer when I go to sleep and I say it as a gratitude when I wake up.  I say it sometimes during the day when things seems bleak.

Bright blessed day
Dark sacred night

That's all.  Just those two lines from the song 'What a wonderful world'.  Performed and made famous by Louis Armstrong and written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss (thanks Wikipedia!).  That song still has the power to make me tear up every time I hear it.  It also reminds me that duality is false.  Night and day are different, but they are two necessary parts of a whole.  And here's one thing I love about that couplet: bright/day and dark/night share the notion of holiness.  Blessed and sacred are the same value attached to the two opposites.  With this idea we can see that both night and day are a gift.

On the shortest day of the year, I will look forward to the turning of the wheel.  But, I will not bemoan the dark.  I will celebrate all of the good that I have in my life, and I will acknowledge all of the work I have to do to make the world a better place.  I will happy when the days are longer, but I am not sad that they are now short.  It's time to make plans.

Happy Solstice, friends.  I'm toasting you with a glass of crystal clear, mountain born, icy cold water.  Drink deep, refresh your spirit, get some rest.  We have work to do.

12 December 2016

December is cold

Hello Readers,

It’s 12.12.16.  Wow.  Almost halfway through the last month of the year.

November was… difficult.  First, it was NaNoWriMo.  This year marks my fifth win.  I’m happy about that, and I will have more to say about the writing output later, but… November.

Second, well, you know.  The Travesty.

It’s been hard to make sense of our country and our people.  It’s sad knowing how many people live with hate and fear in their hearts, leading their actions.  It’s also terrifying knowing how little they regard anyone but themselves and their kind.  The terror comes from being one of their targeted ‘others’.  We made so much progress as a nation during the last eight years…  it’s heartbreaking to contemplate it all going backwards.

So, where does that leave us?  Clinging like tsunami victims to the scrap lumber of our sinking ship? Maybe.  Maybe for a little while.  But, really, we’ve got to fight back.  I don’t know how, but I know that we must hold our ground.  I know a lot of politically savvy people and I hope like hell that they are formulating plans.  I’ll help.  Whatever it is that we are doing, I’ll help.  (Usual caveats.  Not killing anyone.)

When we look at the voting patterns, we see the same thing that has been happening for years: polarization of opposing views, and much of it geographically aligned.  This behemoth of a country has stood despite such a strongly divided population, but it is shaking, tipping, teetering now.  Could it fall apart?

There is a long held desire in my neck of the woods toward secession. Free Cascadia!  Cascadia is the bioregion that includes the Cascade Range and everything west to the ocean.  Cascadians would like to have Oregon, Washington and British Columbia (and the SE peninsula of Alaska) as our own country.  There is a small region in far Northern California that would like to join us – they already refer to themselves as the State of Jefferson.  They could be our southernmost boundary – our banana belt, if you will.

I know there are other idealistic secessionist notions in our country.  US out of Vermont was a popular rallying cry a decade ago, and probably still is.  We all know that Texas has been talking secession for generations.  I mean, who didn’t contribute to the Great Wall of Texas?  California has the gross domestic product of a fairly large nation and could, easily, be its own country.  New York certainly has the population for it.

I guess what I am saying is that… maybe it’s time.  Maybe this behemoth isn’t serving enough of the people anymore.  It is turning into an oligarchy before our very eyes.  Do we have to stand by and watch?  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think that I would see the collapse of the Soviet Union in my lifetime. That happened with breathtaking speed.  Can it happen here?  We didn’t start as diverse nations united by force, like the Soviet Union.  But our diverse regions are becoming more and more estranged from the center of government.  And, this trend will continue, I think.

Now, the ultimate breakup of the United States is a pipe dream at this point in time.  I believe that it will happen eventually.  But, probably not for a very long time. [But who the hell knows? The Travesty should never have happened either.]  One thing that can and should happen sooner than that is the breaking of the two party stranglehold on our government.  Just imagine if there were no majority.  All parties would have to compromise and work together to get anything done.  This would be a boon to the people of the country.

Besides the need to work together, a plurality of political parties would also ensure that real people are truly represented.  For my part, I do not feel represented by the Democratic party.   My concerns, my demographic, is a footnote to the larger party, and we are most often told to wait, that this isn’t the right time to address our issues.  True, President Obama made good on a lot of issues, and I thank him wholeheartedly.  Without a strong populist in the driver’s seat, the rest of the passengers on the bus will be out of luck.  And, that’s just those who were allowed to get on the bus in the first place.  Oh, who am I kidding, the Hate Monger would never be caught dead on a bus.  It’ll be a limo and it only stops for the wealthy.

I’m discouraged.  I’m tired of rhetoric.  Even more, I’m tired of lying liars and the lies they tell.  I’m tired of the disingenuousness of the mainstream media.  I’m tired of the 24 hour news cycle.   I’m tired of social media.  The world is changing and the rate of change is increasing.  I know I’m getting older because I am often left feeling that I’ll never catch up, that I’ll never understand the new order, that I’ll never even be able to work the fucking remote control for the tv!

 So, where does that leave me?  I cannot spend the next four years in despair.  Depression is my frequent companion; I can’t invite her cousin to come along.  That means that I need action.  Action!

I’m talking about two kinds of action.  One is meaningful political activism, the other is physical.

For the first, money and time.  Right now my time is limited, but I am going to partially retire in the summer (!) and I will be able to devote actual hands-on active time to a cause.  There will be many to choose from, a plethora, sadly.  As far as money goes, no I don’t have a lot, but I can make an extra $50 donation to some of my usual charities.  I’m getting my brother’s family a donation to the ACLU for the holiday gift.  That kind of thing.  That is something that I can do right now.

The second kind of action is physical.  You know it.  I know it.  We all know it.  Physical activity, exercise, whatever you want to call it, has a great capacity for decreasing depression.  When I am working out regularly, she really does sit in the back seat, sometimes even in the trunk.  I have put my bike on the trainer in the unheated sun porch.  I need to pump up the tires (at least the front one).  With the Goddess all around us as my witness, I will ride that bike TODAY!  This I swear; witness my hand this 12th day of December, 2016.

Now, there’s my positive note!  Pollyanna smiles and breathes a tiny sigh of relief.  You see, we need something, some positive thing to cling to, to hold us up against the downward pull of the tide.  We’ve got to hold the good thought, people!  For our own salvation as much as the saving of our country, we have to keep the light shining.  Apparently, for me, it’s all tied up with the damned bicycle.  At least right now.

So, thanks for rambling along with me.  I know every single one of you is as gobsmacked as I am.

Don’t give in to despair!  We are in this together.

Peace and Love, friends.