Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maybe I'll write a story

I read the following passage in one of Tolle’s publications. I'’m thinking, I want to write a story based on this pain model of his. I don’t think it is plagiarism:

“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.

”The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind. The mind always seeks to deny the Now and to escape from it. In other words, the more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer. Or you may put it like this: the more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering – and free of the egoic mind…

”In a fully functional organism, an emotion has a very short life span. It is like a momentary ripple or wave on the surface of your Being. When you are not in your body, however, an emotion can survive inside you for days or weeks, or join with other emotions of a similar frequency that have merged and become the pain-body, a parasite that can live inside you for years, feeds on your energy, lead to physical illness, and make your life miserable.

”So place your attention on feeling the emotion, and check whether your mind is holding on to a grievance pattern such as blame, self-pity, or resentment that is feeding the emotion. If that is the case, it means that you haven’t forgiven. Non-forgiveness is often toward another person or yourself, but it may just as well be toward any situation or condition – past, present, or future – that your mind refuses to accept. Yes, there can be non-forgiveness even with regard to the future. This is the mind’s refusal to accept uncertainty, to accept that the future is ultimately beyond its control. Forgiveness is to relinquish your grievance and so to let go of grief. It happens naturally once you realize that your grievance serves no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self. Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life – to allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering, a greatly restricted flow of life energy, and in many cases physical disease.

”The pain-body has an extremely powerful energetic charge that can easily pull you into unconscious identification with it. You are then actively possessed by an energy field that occupies your inner space and pretends to be you – but, of course, is not you at all. It speaks through you, acts through you, thinks through you. It will create negative situations in your life so that it can feed on the energy. It wants more pain, in whatever form. It is pure pain, past pain – and it is not you.”

My idea for the story is this; two people, each with his own pain body with vastly different causes and dimensions and energy, get together and move into a relationship. At first they don’t realize that the attraction is between the two egos, the two pain energies that want to continue and perpetuate the pain in an ever worsening spiral. The two compliment one another perfectly—say the one is stuck in blame and resentment and the other in fear and approval seeking. The dance continues and deepens. Only one of them realizes how their underlying energies are destroying the relationship and tries to change habits and patterns. In the story the thoughts and journaling of the one who realizes the underlying dynamic is used to communicate this hidden plot to the reader. The rest of the story is form and what the world sees. The struggle is between the one who wants to become real and the other who unconsciously wants to remain in denial. Ultimately they either destroy the relationship or both become real and start working towards their fulfilment.

I don’t know where to start. I guess this is already a start. I got Zen and the art of writing from Brett this morning. I’ll start there. While I’m working on my motorbike restoration I’m thinking about the characters, creating images of them in my mind.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Spirit of the Wind

Brenda made the reservation with Olivier’s Rust in De Rust. While she was talking and trying to confirm dates, I said, we have to check if we can get kennel space for Nunus and then confirm. Well, the outcome of that was that Susan, the Olivier’s Rust owner, said bring her along. So we took Nunus with us! I was apprehensive, but this was the first revelation—She travelled well, behaved exceptionally, enjoyed herself and appeared as if she’d been doing this all her life.

De Rust was a good choice. Around the corner from where we stayed, on the front gate of The Weaver’s Nest was this plaque: “ It is Here With The Spirit Of The Wind That I Will Find My Soul.”

And we did, each in his own way. In the stillness of the quiet Klein Karroo we could stand back and refocus on the bigger picture, be honest and clearly see the value of the simple life-style.

De Rust is a village of simple life and Donkie Teksies.The Donkey Cart project was started to convert a problem into a feature. Donkeys were verwaarloos and looked it. The carts were held together with wire and make-shift fasteners.

The project saw carts restored, fitted with rubber wheels and painted green. The visitor can now hire a ride. It provides a small income for the owner, the donkeys are better off and what used to be a disgrace has become a feature in De Rust.

Meiringspoort is an experience. It is a beautiful place in nature. But above all, I’m proud to be South African when I see a place like this. It is clean and well managed. There are no plastic bags and beer cans lying around. The stopping places are clean and quiet.

On the Wednesday we took a ride to nearby Uninondale to see Paul and Carol. They were both out and while waiting we looked around the village and visited some of the churches. It was good to see Carol again. Next time we'll see Paul. The Klein Karroo is an experience. I wonder why we are so fascinated with Disneyland and casinos. There's not been a time when visiting this beautiful part of our land has not transformed my thinking and lifted me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My thoughts on moving towards excellence.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit, not an act (ion).” Aristotle—Parentheses are mine. How do I move from ineffective behaviour, like anger, fear, sulking and withdrawal, the helpless victim, feeling ashamed, feeling I’m totally at the mercy of the situation, which I repeatedly do, towards more effective behaviour? My states of anger, fear and withdrawal, shame, not good enough, are habits. I want to change them. I want to move towards excellence. I want to repeatedly do something different from what I’m repeatedly doing when I feel threatened. I don’t want to feel I’m at the mercy of the situation.

Over and over I find myself reacting to anger with anger, becoming fearful and feeling threatened, regressing into childish victim state when the situation is nothing more than a disagreement over something trivial! Someone calls me a wuss, in a moment of anger, and I hit back in anger or regress into “poor me” state with, “That’s unfair. Give me a chance to explain.” For God’s sake, I know I’m not a wuss! Why do I behave like one when confronted? Where does it come from?

When we are children we do not have the emotional, physical and financial resources of adults. We are little, have no money, very little experience and feel helpless often. We react to perceived threats with childish behaviour, frustration and anger, tears and pleading, wanting sympathy and understanding, withdrawing and hiding. It is all we can do with our limited resources. What’s more, it often works. Although we don’t freely admit it, these threats are frequently caused by the very parent(s) who are our only caretakers. As children we may resort to becoming busy with other activities, withdraw into fantasy in order to escape the feeling of being betrayed by a parent.

The actual situation is of little importance. What is important is that at some stage we habituated certain behaviours because we had no other way of responding. As we all know, old habits die hard. Long after the childhood situation has changed, in adulthood, even in middle age, we find ourselves still acting out the old childhood behaviours although we are capable of behaving more effectively. Something triggers our insecurity, we shrink back into helplessness and we react with behaviour from some primitive habit that’s lying right on top in our toolbox of behaviours, the more effective response lying unreachable at the bottom. How do we move it from the bottom of the toolbox towards the top?

Can we achieve it through better knowledge and understanding? More knowledge can help. What l’ve written here is not new. Most of us already know it, maybe not in these words, but at some level we already understand it. At some level we already have this knowledge. How will more knowledge make it better? I believe that just like we can become stuck in ineffective reaction to problem situations, we can become stuck in seeking more and more knowledge, hoping that one day we will know enough to bring about change. Reflect on Aristotle; “We are what we repeatedly do …”, not we are what we know. We go to school we collect knowledge, we memorise the new knowledge and we recall it in the exam and write it down. We are rewarded with a pass. With that reward comes the illusion that we are competent at the process! Wrong model, we are experiential learners. We don’t become competent drivers by accumulating knowledge, we have to move gradually from knowledge to doing to competence. But we apply the knowledge equated to competence model over and over in other areas of our lives. We don’t even acknowledge that the knowledge equals competence model often don’t work. If I want to turn a chair leg in a lathe, I have to select a piece of wood and prepare it, measure out the profile, select an appropriate speed and tool rest position. Then I have to cut the wood using several of a whole array of chisels. I’ll probably have several failed attempts before I can repeatedly turn an excellent chair leg. We are experiential learners. A doctor accumulates knowledge, then shadows experienced doctors, then does procedures while supervised by experienced doctors. Finally, after doing it several times, he is considered competent. We are experiential learners.

So, more knowledge is, at best, only part of the answer. You know you are no longer a child—Stop behaving like one when you feel threatened or weak. How about compelling yourself into different behaviour when you feel at the mercy of the situation? Come on, you’re a big girl, or boy. Be mature! Snap out of it! We all know that does not work. When you are at the mercy of the problem situation, you are at the mercy of the situation. You don’t even realize that you have regressed into childhood behaviour/habit. Once you feel helpless, you are already in the old habit behaviour. Part of that old habit is there-is-nothing-I-can-do-about-this! You are in the habit and there is nothing you can do. You have to interrupt yourself before you are in the habit behaviour. You have to “snap out of it” before you are in “it”. You cannot learn a new reaction to a scary or threatening situation when you are in full flight or fight already! Your survival mode self does not have the ability to switch mode. In survival mode you are surviving, not thinking. Remember, your weak little self, your angry and frustrated self does not have the resources. I’ll say that again, because it’s important. Your survival mode self does not have the ability to switch mode. In survival mode you are surviving, not thinking.

I had a session recently with a therapist. He said to me, imagine a situation in which you felt helpless, vulnerable. Feel the fear, the frustration, the shame, whatever. Now step away from that helpless, little, afraid child-like you and look at him with compassion and understanding. Look at him from your higher, resourceful self. You have wisdom and you are competent. The little character you have regressed into cannot handle the situation, but your higher self can. Shield the little one. Come between him and the problem situation. What is the adult response to the problem situation? Is the situation as threatening as the little child thinks it is or is the little child stuck in an old habit? It was easy to do because the problem situation was simulated; it existed in my imagination only. I could make the switch.

Practice this every day. Use different problem situations in your imagination, where it is safe. Gradually move towards trying it out in real situations. Experiential learning! Repeatedly do it! We become what we repeatedly do. If we want to move towards excellence we must repeatedly do something different to what we are now doing in problem situations, repeatedly not behave in old, un-excellent ways of handling our problem situations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

“I’ll Always be here in Grotto Bay”

Yesterday when we were sitting on the beach, Brenda said that: “I’ll Always be here in Grotto Bay” and also, “This is my home.” We had a little celebration on the beach, Ruth, Brenda, Nunus and me. Ruth had decided to swim. She always swims. Somehow she persuaded Brenda to go in. The photos tell the story. Brenda left soon afterwards--she swam in her clothes and it was getting cool. When I got home she put her arms around me and said, "I played in the waves! I can't remember when last I did that!" It makes one happy to hear words like that.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Best Advice I Ever Had

When I was in my mid thirties I had an allergy. I don’t really know when it started. One day I realized I had it. I could not be in sunlight. Even indirect sunlight caused my face to swell up and become red. If I was inside and walked outside I could feel my skin crawling and in minutes I was swollen and red. Once the allergy had flared up it did not subside until the sun went down. Only the next morning would I look near-normal again. It lasted more than ten years. I coped as well as I could.

It affected me in several ways. There was the physical discomfort. That was trivial in comparison to the helplessness I felt. I wanted to go hiking with my children. I wanted to play golf. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to take photographs. I wanted to sail. Any of these things caused extreme discomfort.

I experienced shame. That may sound odd, but I felt I was abnormal and somehow responsible. There were days I regressed to 4-year old. I hid.

I took cortisone. I wore big hats. I pasted sunblock on my face. It affected only my face. The rest of my body was okay. I saw doctors. I saw specialists. They medicated. Nobody expressed a diagnosis or a prognosis. They evaded my questions.

I went to see a doctor in Seapoint. “You are allergic to yourself. Something, some secretion from your skin is causing this. It reacts with oxygen in the presence of UV light and you are allergic to this oxidised form of the substance. There is no treatment.” I said, “What am I to do?” and he said, “Get a job as a pool room attendant.”

I thought, you insensitive bastard. How can a man, a doctor, be this brutal and tell me to be a pool room attendant and he does not even bother to hear me and that I want to sail with my children and play golf.

Many years later I still have a slight allergy, but I can do some of the things I wanted to do then. But above all I can look back at the pool room advice and see the value, not the brutality. I can see that, were I able to at the time, I could have learnt acceptance of what is. In some way it helps me today. It did not help me at the time, but today I can look back and say, you have a situation, not what you’d like it to be, but live within the limits of your situation—It’s plenty good enough—Enjoy it.