Friday, March 30, 2012

Buying Bacon

Is eating “trafe” or not eating it an appropriate guideline for community membership?

I bought a pound of bacon the other day. I am not sure I ever did that before.
To belong or not to belong?

If I did, my conscious mind does not remember it. That’s how brainwashed, in other words, prejudiced, I have been on the issue of bacon.   

By inheritance, I am “not allowed to eat bacon,” even by accident. Because bacon is “trafe,” meaning unclean for me. Born a Jew and raised in an observant home, even in this late day of assimilation., I might lose my tribal membership, perhaps, by eating bacon.

Today, however, as my bacon bakes in the oven, I am pondering the fact that is was just yesterday that I, consciously and purposefully, bought my first (??) pound of bacon. Blatantly, without shame, I brought this trafe into my house and am cooking it, now, as I write, intent on eating it before long..

Last night, having already cooked and eaten some of this trafe, I wondered at my present state, regarding this bacon. How have I managed all these years, eons after my emancipation from my mother’s orthodoxy to avoid buying, cooking and eating bacon? To my mind the logic of it all has long ago passed out of the realm of reason. However, I did not even closely consider this fact until after my bacon-centered dinner last night. In other words, I went on automatic, not thinking about my beliefs or acions or lack thereof on this subject.  How totally unconscious, I can be at times!

By bedtime, my mind quiteted almost to dozing, my thoughts shifted to observations I had gathered from last week’s Abkhazian Dinner event. In particular I was reflecting on our main event, our “Bus Ride” story and what I had noted, as well as heard reported, from that experience.

The main objective behind our offering what is, actually, Murat’s “Bus Ride” story, told beautifully I might add, by my Small “Zones of Peace” collaborator, Sue deVeer, was to present a vehicle for instruction on how a group of people, any group of people to be precise, under certain conditions, can, in a relatively short time, develop into a community. That is, of course, providing they desire such an outcome from their time together.

But what if eating bacon, or not eating bacon is a condition for someone to genuinely be a card carrying member of a particular group or community on a bus ride? Or a train? Or an airplane? Or a boat? Or maybe even a space ship?

Is that not somewhat like judging someone “in” or “out,” based on what they wear?

Am I now, having eaten my bacon, still properly credentialed to remain a member of my tribal community? Or not?

And, one other thing: why isn’t just being a person enough to qualify all other someone’s as a part of one’s true inheritance?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Labyrinths And The Joy Of Sleuthing

No longer intrigued by the investigation and healing of Inner Child wounds, as I once was, today I am investigating labyrinths and mazes as metaphors for a particular type of bus ride.
When I trust what I see
and say what I see,
magic enters my life.

One set of definitions I came across and with which I took the liberty of combining parts, defined a labyrinth as a “confusingly intricate state of things or events. A particular type of bus ride, thus, could be similar to a labyrinth when the search for a way through the experience is complex and confusing. Notwithstanding the fact that one could be assumed to, at least, have a particular destination in mind upon embarking on a bus ride, it could still turn out, as many have, to be an intricate state of events.

The investigation I have been carrying on for my present endeavor; defining labyrinth as a metaphor for our Bus Ride game, based on Murat’s story of that name, brought to mind a wonderful supervisor, Marilyn Zalcman, I had when I was a student clinician. Marilyn loved to investigate the sources of certain patterns of human behavior, wholeheartedly enjoying the adventure of sniffing out the mystery of “whodunit” with me as we explored the mysteries behind these complexities.

She was a masterful clinical trainer and a devoted friend. I have, as with so many others, regretfully lost track of her. Thinking of her, today, as I pursued a different kind of mystery, I attempted, however, to remedy this disconnect. I was only able to discover a few rather dead ended links to her whereabouts with my cursory investigations. Still I made the effort that I have neglected for decades.

The majority of the clinical investigations Marilyn and I conducted; she playing the role of Sherlock with me as her Watson, typically led us back to unhealed traumas at the source of complex behaviors in clients, usually involving child abuse. It has been many years, now, since sniffing out those roots has evoked any fascination on my part. Still I retain a devotion to sleuthing. And, today, that bent for closer inquiry had not only drawn me forth to an investigation of labyrinths and mazes, as metaphors for our bus ride adventure, but to the warmth of recalling someone still dear to my heart. To my way of thinking, that qualifies as a little taste of awe.

Labyrinth Defined.

Question: How can a bus ride be like a labyrinth?

Labyrinth Defined. A labyrinth can be defined as symbolic of the journey to the center of oneself, an aid for learning about the spiritual path.  

Murat's "Bus Ride" story
offers us a formula for
personal and social spiritual

Answer #1: A bus ride can be like a labyrinth when it is experienced, not only as a trip on a vehicle of physical transportation, but as a vehicle for personal transformation that might include social transformation as well.

In the coming weeks, we (Sue and I) will seek to demonstrate how the year’s Abkhazian Dinner event was the beginning of a spiritual journey of personal and social transformation for all who choose to sign on.

Same article also posted today on New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Entering The Labyrinth

Whatever IT is, first you have to want IT. Then you need to believe IT is possible to attain. Next you need to set your intentions, wholly, totally without reservation, on your vision, even if you’re a little bit scared. You might actually even be a lot scared. But that cannot matter. Every fiber of your being knows this IT is your “North Star;” the light you must follow; if your life is to have meaning for you. The only worthy path for your destiny.

How can a bus ride and
a labryinth be similar?
Step number four is that you must regularly and ruthlessly self-assess and monitor your attitudes and actions. You must get out of your way, meticulously seeking to eliminate any and all you do that obstructs the attainment of your vision. You do this eliminating on every level of your personhood, your human interactions, carrying that intent into every conceivable aspect of your life.

Your intention is so strong; your determination so unequivocal that your day-to-day, moment by moment choices become more and more familiarly spontaneous. You are, essentially, living without needing to make, any but the most rudimentary, momentary choices as your main, overriding destination is topmost in your mind, encircling and defining the smaller ones.

Our night of the Abkhazian Dinner has come now and gone. It was a beginning. I believe I will always be able to trace back to this event, this year’s (Almost) Annual Abkhazian Dinner, as a beginning though I will never see its end. The attainment of a long held vision is in sight. When I lost my eyesight I did not lose my vision. I do not yet know how to tell you in words what I saw when I was blind but I believe what I saw is now coming to pass.

Last night at the Abkhazian Dinner I was unable to eat. There seemed to be no time for me to imbibe the beautiful array of foods brought to our feast. Still I had little hunger, fed as I was on all else, surrounding me, particularly the people. Yet not only the people. but the spirit they created collectively around them.

Now that I’ve got it what do I do with it? I have entered the labyrinth, once again. This time bringing very special others with me. Who can know where we are going although we know where we are heading?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Dawning

Help support New Horizons'
programs and projects.

I think insight might be dawning for me about my relative silence here these past few months. Growing clarity suggests that my quiet has had to do with my knowing "awe." As Murat has said, “not knowing about it, but knowing it.” And, once known, at least insofar as awe is concerned, not being willing to settle for less. Here I am, particularly, speaking about awe and its various aspects.

To “know something, not just about it, but to know it,” can be wondrous. One of the things I know is the quality that “awe” has; the vibration of it, particularly when it is an “awe” co-created with others. I have spoken, sometimes even at length, about awe on the other blog site. I have even, at times, offered myself up as a guide for the adventure of climbing the Mountain of Awe. I have had some takers, but not nearly enough to assure myself that I am available enough to the best of my abilities.

Now comes the Abkhazian Dinner, promising to be another opportunity; a golden one at that; this one for a group, where I believe I will be called to use the best of my skills in the service of guiding others on the climb to the very peak of the Mountain of Awe. Even better for me, this climb will be assisted by my co-adventurer, Sue, and the other volunteers signing on to help with the Abkhazian Dinner.

Now it is dawning on me; my silence has been a product of my “knowing” awe. Knowing awe, why would a discriminating person become overly-involved in the hype of the day, even to offer one’s opinions about it? Such a being should definitely be discriminating, saving one’s precious energies for a more propitious time. It will surely come. Patience is the key.

Already I am beginning to see that the energies surrounding our Abkhazian Dinner, on behalf of the Season For Non-Violence, bode well for contributing my various skills. Indeed, the event may, in fact, even turn out to be an auspicious opportunity. What more could one ask?

I advise that, if you are not already a reader of both of the blog sites for which I write, start tuning in now. I believe BIG things are about to soon start happening for me and for New Horizons, our many programs and projects, including our Possible Human, Possible Society Study. My stories about these will be shared as much and as often as I can post them, back and forth between the two sites. I believe my silence is over!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Soon again

Soon again, I will have words to express myself here. They are coming, slowly. Yet I feel them bubbling up to the surface of my mind, almost ready to be shared. I am understanding the logic, too, more fully; of my personal reasoning, albeit reluctantly, dredged up from my unconscious, that has been underlying my inability to speak of late through this blog. My resistance surprised me when first I noticed it in mid-December.

Prior to that time (July – December), I believed I was eagerly joining in and contributing something meaningful to the talk of the day; something that might make a difference, even a sliver of one. I really wanted to do that! Then I got stuck.
Abkhazian Elder, Murat Yagan, showed many of us
that "Wherever two or more are gathered,"
informal conversations can become
healing medicine for systemic change.

Speaking and writing began to feel as if I were throwing words at people and them doing the same back at me. All around me began to feel like one big, noisy crowd; everyone that was talking blaring out as many words as they could at anyone else who would listen.

After my few forays into it (July – December), I felt as if I was, part and parcel, of a faceless, reactionary mass; opinions everywhere about politicians, scandals and the rest of the “what not” that passes for day-to-day news.  What point was there in joining the near-ceaseless rhetoric, threatening to pack cyberspace on a daily basis? What value offering up more words, as if more could make a difference, and create change by the end of a given work day? Why bother? It was all so predictable. Soon it simply became a bore; news that was not really about life in motion. Rather, better stated, merely a commotion.

Simultaneously, I was discovering the joy of doing interviews for the Possible Human, Possible Society Study. Initially, I anticipated the study as merely being a data gathering project. It was, nonetheless, intended that the study would, at least, identify a few meaningful conclusions regarding current social change and allow New Horizons to offer whatever it could to needed remedies.

Soon, however, the real deal surfaced; study interviews were inviting storytelling, mostly that of the interviewees, yet with ample room for some stories of my own. What a mitzvah (Yiddish for blessing)! Many of the central interview questions revolved around the same essential topics as the “noise;” current national affairs. But through stories I was being told and hearing much more; the deep, heartfelt significance beyond mere constituent complaints. I was becoming privy to stories that reflected the heart and soul of the well-thought out hopes and dreams of study participants.

What a magnificent surprise! Endeavoring to gather certain data via the study, (too complex to explicate here), I had found a portal to enter the realm of “awe” with study participants, perhaps only briefly, but awe no less. A chronicle was in the making through our study of contemporary American social change in certain select areas of concern. Wow!

Storytelling is one of the most vibrant of human life-affirming means for connecting with others. Here I am, “Anastasia The Storyteller,” learning anew the power of storytelling. Wow, again! I am so grateful that our Possible Human, Possible Society Study is giving this treasure to me and others (along with its data collecting). Now I am, also, eagerly looking forward to our coming event, the Abkhazian Dinner, March 25, that will invite out more of the same; storytelling, from me, from my co-presenter, Mayor Deborah Burgoyne of Burkittsville, Maryland, study participants and our local community. All in the service of building community-unity.

(Yes, Burkittsville, Maryland is the home of the "Blair Witch Project." Has that anything at all to do with community-unity building, 2012? Most likely not, still there’s a good story for you.)

Storytelling! Storytelling! Through storytelling I believe, I am beginning to find new ways to share words with others that can bypass the dumb stuff (for me). I don’t like it at all when words (mine or anyone else’s) just add more noise and make little or no difference at all.

Since I am just learning and so much is unfolding, rapidly, day-by-day, I invite you to become a reader of the other blog that I write so you can be informed of what’s happening there, even if I cannot say much here. These two blog sites actually are companions, if you have not yet figured that out. "Anastasia The Storyteller" offers stories that are the behind-the-scenes stuff of New Horizons. "New Horizons/Small “Zones of Peace” is generally about what’s happening out front.