Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mountains to climb, vistas to view, reflections and promises

Also posted on New  Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project blog site (with a somewhat different ending. Check it out.)
I needed that Veterans’ Day Hike we took, back two weeks or so ago; the Sunday after the elections. Most especially, I needed to reach a certain scenic overlook and immerse myself in the spaciousness of it, as well as its historical significance.  I was after that experience of awe that is so much a part of my inner landscape when it meets the outer and all is well, as it should be.  Nothing in this world can compare.
Maryland Heights
scenic overlook
There hasn’t been much awe of late. The threat and upheaval of Hurricane Sandy had prompted me to stay with neighbors for a few days where, along with good company and the comforting presence of a generator, we worried  about the storm and kept ourselves informed, communally, about it, minute by minute, and about others not as fortunate as ourselves.

Then there was the cancelling of our Overcoming Polarization kickoff event, resulting from the hurricane.  My volunteer team and myself had looked forward to the event and had put effort into it for months.  Now our only accrued benefit was a large supply of stale-dated fliers . Next it was the election, with its front runner campaign hostilities that had been high level stress, to say the least.
The combination of these circumstances had, definitely, gotten my, generally well-balanced, relatively contented emotional system askew.

Thus by Veterans’ Day, I, hungrily, felt the need to be at this one spot, particularly; the scenic peak at Maryland Heights, overlooking the historical town of Harpers Ferry. From high up here you can visually re-trace the route, along the C & O Canal, where John Brown made his approach to hit the town, attempting  to generate an uprising in rebellion of slavery. Brown had taken the armory and hostages and then been taken prisoner here, himself, after his effort failed. 
Not long after, Harpers Ferry and its surrounding environs became home to cannonball batteries for both Union and Confederate soldiers, armed to do damage to the “others” as well as the land. Here they had seized the highlands to lodge their Civil War encampments and stake out the “enemy;” the enemy they would come to know later as themselves, when the country, at last, began to heal from its war torn divisions.

Since I have lived in these mountains, surrounding Harpers Ferry, I have done my best to visit these sites, at least once a year, and bring others with me. On Veterans’ Day, our mission specifically includes giving thanks to veterans, past and present, for their sacrifices for our freedom. This Sunday, however, the only real battles, close by, had been in the political arena where, thank goodness, no real blood had been shed.  
The view from this height and position allows one to see the town, the rivers and the mountains that embrace them for miles around. The scene is so majestic, from both the heights and the ground, as to have prompted Thomas Jefferson to describe it  as “worth a voyage across the seas” at a time when peace reigned. In particular, Jefferson was describing the confluence (or flowing together) of the two beautiful  rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah, that happens here.

I could have stayed at the overlook all day, even into the night, once we reached it. The sunset would have been glorious. I wished we could have stayed to see it. We had been gifted with such a clear, crisp Indian summer day for our hike. I wanted to linger on at this peak, feeling the “awe” that seemed illusive in recent past weeks. On this Veteran’s Day, I, hungrily, sought the clear view, the challenge of the climb and the clean, fresh air of that Maryland Heights vista, remembrances and gratitude.

But I was with a group of people,  enthusiastic responders to my invitation to do this (almost, annual) New Horizons’ Veterans’ Day hike and, having reached this spot, after close to four hours of hiking with about another hour, yet, to reach ground level, again, they were  eager to get back down.

Still hungry for something, somehow left behind for me at that peak, I have been drawn, ever since, to reflect, not infrequently, as to what my lingering sense of deprivation since that day has been about. This morning it came clear to me.

In blindness I had learned, in my mind, to climb many mountain peaks (with Murat as my guide). This day, Veterans’ Day, I yearned, almost desperately,  to experience another confluence; the one that brings my inner landscape into a beautiful flow with the outer. I want, only, to celebrate opportunities like this,  now that I can SEE with my new eyes/corneas once more!  
I need to keep SEEING and experiencing, again and again, the awe that is truly present inside of me, on the ground or at high level heights, and behold all that I can of that confluence with other people and nature. I knew I could experience and SEE this flow at the Maryland Heights scenic overlook.

It is this feeling of rightness, inside every cell of my being, in unity and peace with all people and all of life for which I hunger.  So, having reached this clarity, once again, today, it is time for me to get back to my postings here and do whatever is the next right thing for me, ground level and beyond, in our brave new world, post Election 2012. I have much to offer to our possible society in motion.
I hope I have been missed.

I return, like any other hero of a thousand miles, with many stories to tell from the past and the present, pledging, again, to do my best. Particularly, I want to share what I learned from living and working in a Camelot tainted by the dark side of politics and politicians. Mostly, however, I want to offer what I know that might be of some benefit to others regarding how to deal with the dark side of Washington politics and politicians.
It is very important that I, now, pass this on -- with the greatest of gratitude that I can, once again, SEE with both my mind and my eyes and SAY what is mine to say.

More to come.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gracious Me

Wasn’t  that some fun?
Analyzing the election campaigning, then analyzing the election. Then right after that analyzing how the election turned out. Then back to the beginning to the beginnings of the history of the United States of America. And, don’t forget the beginnings of a Barack Obama for a re-run, if you get bored and think you have nothing better to do.

Next, we can go right on to the budget cliff hanger. And, after that?  

Who knows? After all, this is the age of Bradjolina, Michael Jackson, reality tv and the boy whose parents wanted to send him way high up in a balloon. Isn’t this all so interesting?
Balance the beam
of that spotlight.
But, is it possible that there is one shining star in your life you have forgotten to look to and see the shine?

That one, in my estimation, is YOU.
Now, please understand, I have a hot button in me that gets triggered by all the attention grabbing of whomever is next in the media hype spotlight. Most probably, that trigger is there because I used to find my own self there; right there, center stage in the media spotlight.  For this story, however, that whole collection of tales will sit on the sidelines until I find a more propitious time to delve more deeply into my “I/we came for Camelot” tales. Or, the ones about our localJewish/Muslim controversy.

They are very good stories, as far as teaching tales, go. But right now I’ve got this other thread to follow; the one about where we choose to focus our attention. And, the related issue of the price we pay for our own stupid stuff when we get over-focused on the other, be they President of the United States, the now-shamed head of the CIA or his paramour, your parents, your spouse, etc. etc.
The real deal, best trick of high quality being and doing is the balance between I and thou/

More to come.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Brave New World

Well here we are, at last, the brave new world fought so hard to reach.
But now that we have arrived, what comes next?

Now be thankful.
And, then?
We are the fighters that, like the Arab Spring, have been victorious in our crossing over to a new way of living. That is, if we are wise in the choices we make from here forth. After all, living the life of a winner is more than just crossing the finish line in the race to get there.

What comes next on the morning after and the ones after that.

What can we learn from other similar victories on this planet of our's? Has victory in politics been enough? What comes next?

So far, we have made just one, major, right choice, electing Obama and not that yukky Mitt Romney. My choice was really for the Democratic party instead of the Republican. Your’s was for whatever your choice meant for you.
Now what? I think to pause and be thankful, take a breath.

Dreams come true, but what is the vision? Your vision, my vision, our vision?

What is your vision for a healthfully functioning U.S.A.?

What does it look like? And, how does it work?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Was this all necessary?

Musings on the morning after.
This morning I awoke on the heels of last night’s late night, waiting for the election returns to shine the light on who we must follow, next, as our esteemed president, feeling “raped,” battered, bruised, totally violated.
Stunned, shocked, sullied by evil, feeling as if I have been preyed upon by a gang, perhaps more than one, of self-interested bullies; the predators of the D.C. power game.
I have felt this way before, a long, long time ago; the era in my life when, coming to realize that the Camelot of my youthful idealism did not exist in Washington, D.C., I began the exodus that eventually led me to the life of serenity and peace that surrounds me now, out here in the mountains just above Harpers Ferry.  

Oh, for sure, we live amidst the war torn scars of the original “Civil War” out here. Nevertheless we are comfortably removed from the ones that crash and thunder on still, less than one hundred miles away in our nation’s capitol.

But isn’t there a better way than to bully our ways to success and burn the other guy, as we go, in this great country of our’s?
Even before the “excitement” of the election returns began their crescendo, late last night, the spiritual warrior in me was silently fighting its way to a new path to freedom, distanced from the intense battle-weary world of election campaigning. First steps first; I experienced gratitude for this precious democracy in which we live.

However, by the time the concession and acceptance speeches were done and I had rested my head on my pillow for the night, awakening vaguely refreshed, I began to hear the silent scream inside my head shrieking that I be liberated from the bondage I felt from this almost ceaseless, dirty campaign election ordeal.
But who, I asked myself, had been the perpetrators of this gang rape upon my mind and spirit, sans the actual physical violation? Of course, it had been the politicians, the media, the money brokers that hold tight to our present political system.

I knew these power players, well, in the life I left behind, decades ago when I chose the path of my higher education and a career as a psychotherapist. Setting myself up in private practice on the outer fringes of the D.C. metropolitan area, I had not yet been ready, then, however, until decades later to leave it all behind for these beautiful mountains.
Meditating, reflecting, contemplating on how to take my next steps in this brave new world of the morning after Election 2012, my mind turned, next, to my dear spirit sister, Susan, who had steadfastly vowed, last year at this time, to not allow these perpetrators of campaign violence to “hijack her goodness.”

Susan is of a different ilk than I. She likes best for her body, mind and spirit to stay on the ethereal plane. I, on the other hand, am strongly pulled to get down and dirty in the muddy game of dancing with the dark side before cleaning myself off for ascension, inclined to, also, dig down deep into the dirt as it surrounds me while I make my climb, if I believe the gain will be worth the pain.
A year ago when Susan steadfastly pledged she would not allow this election to sully her purity, this pledge made sense to me. I, too, was unwilling to voluntarily allow myself to be kidnapped, plundered and pillaged by the furor of the American presidential campaign game. 

Yet here I was the morning after feeling completely victimized by it all. Obviously I had been in it, not only of it.

Had I betrayed myself and my values while dear Susan kept herself clean and tidy? If so, always open to the teachable moment as I am, I asked myself, where had I erred as I made my way, personally, through  these heated, last days of Election, 2012, feeling powerfully impacted by them?
If I be a fool, I guess it was the Abkhazian Dinner that was my turning point. And, perhaps, it was also a turning point for me in my relationship with Susan. I think/feel as if I have now become an alien to her in the world she inhabits; the “other” to her that she knows not how to make room in her life to be with up close. Such is the challenge of overcoming polarization, even with the best of one’s friends. Oh dear. Oh, dear.

But, oh, there is so much more to my story on dancing with the dark side, Washington, D.C. style; lessons learned all the way back to my original flight from D.C., then Watergate, along with many other stories I have kept private until now, always believing, however, that somehow, the time would come when the lessons I’ve learned, the darkness transformed, at least in myself, would someday find use in the public domain. Maybe that time is now. I would certainly feel liberated, if this were so.
Among my greatest lessons is that over the years I have come to understand the similarities between convict games and those played by ourhigh leadership people. How can I, now, pass on what I’ve learned about the darkness and, almost paradoxically, that with this learning came, also, an enlightened belief in the capacities, undeveloped though they might be, of humanity for good in the end.

This is a faith that has come out of being down in dirt and the endless washing away and more washing that has come of being all muddy with others and then that liberating clearing that can come after; a belief in the capacity for purposeful human transformation, from the worst to the best. Not everyone is inclined to play in the mud of this game as a way to get clean.
So this was Election 2012 for me; deep enough into the dirt to get muddy, and, now, the morning after taking a nice hot, refreshing shower. I don’t think my life would make sense any other way for me.

Apparently, for me, the gain was, perhaps, worth the pain. Still I am “desperately seeking Susan.”

The morning after; a brave new, beautiful world?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Last night I went to sleep thinking that I would not allow myself to be attached to the outcome of today’s presidential election. There was going to be a morning after, and many more mornings after, following that.
I went to sleep last night believing that I was responsible to get myself to the voting booth, do my voting for the candidate of my choice (Since there was no candidate of “my choice,” I went with the party I was grew up on; the Democratic party.), and then let go of all expectations and judgments.
I am responsible for doing my part to overcome polarization. I believe I know, therefore, what I must do next on this score. I must, personally, reach across the aisle in all my involvements, personally and professionally.

Grateful, am I that our country asks only that one small, but mighty, effort on my part in order to help ensure the potency of the American way of life; take positive unifying actions wherever and whenever I can.
It was not too terribly difficult to reach that conclusion this morning when I/we are still counting our blessings that we survived Hurricane Sandy, especially so well, and that those who have been devastated by it are being aided by so many others coming together to help.

I wonder, again, what more I should do to help. Or, am I doing enough by the things I am already doing such as our Overcoming Polarization project which will soon, hopefully, get back on track.
Sometimes victory can simply be about being alive. And free.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Transforming: The Light In The Dark

The morning after was not supposed to be like this.
Flat lines on blog stats, high winds – terrifying, media broadcasts urgently connecting us all over thousands of miles, hibernation in the mountains.

Holed up at a neighbor’s home for shelter; a luxury log cabin. Relief;  finally able to come home, after the wind dies down and the rain stops. Electricity still on, food in frig okay. No fallen trees. That was the worst of the threats, but new leaks in the roof.
Life beyond our safely preserved mountain; topsy turvy. Check with friends further away, especially on the coast. Next trying to set life aright. Wonder how to help.

Life anew;
the mornings after.
Then mediation, contemplation, reflection, warm fire in the wood burning stove. Making chicken soup; Jewish, grandmother-style.

Thinking about how to show appreciation to neighbors. Would they like my chicken soup too?

Gratitude, endless gratitude to have survived Hurricane Sandy, like the gratitude I feel each day that I have regained my eyesight.

It was all so scary; white knuckle scary. But we survived, very well intact, at least through this ordeal.
Neighbor, Mike, says we deserved to come through so well after so many other, past tribulations up here in the mountains.

Now, transformation, blessed by the storm, if you choose to take it that way. Another level of emergence; always my way, Anastasia means “She who rises again.” And, again.
Prayers to you for your health and your healing.