Thursday, September 27, 2007

Learning to Read

Dave McKean
Kathy Oddenino
I have been a full-stream reader ever since word patterns began to make coherent meaning (sense) in my mind. Some call this learning to read. I don’t remember exactly what age we were when my brother, sister, and I began to read, but I vividly remember the sensation of sitting on the bed or couch with them, or with our mother or father, with open books scattered over our laps, and studying patterns on the pages. I am a triplet, and because we were so much together and following the patterns taught to us by our parents, and by our older brother, we mostly learned things at the same time. I asked Mother once what she remembers about my learning to read, and she said one day the words suddenly clicked into place and I started reading and never stopped. The feeling reminds me of learning to ride a bicycle, beginning with the training wheels, wobbling along, getting used to the feeling of movement, and of guiding my own movement, then suddenly one moment my feet move the pedals with power and assurance and the wheels turn faster, my hands grip the handlebars with purpose, and I’m off! This pattern is familiar in any context once we recognize it.

When we were children, we read a variety of things, such as Zane Grey novels, a whole series of them. We borrowed them from a missionary doctor friend who had the entire collection, along with every novel by Wilbur Smith. These were "thrillers" connected to the land, to Africa, as well as to the dramas of families and their networks of intrigue. Mother liked certain types of mysteries. We had encyclopedias, world books, the Bobbsey Twins, Tintin’s Adventures, Mary Stewart’s offerings, including her "Arthurian" series, which began with The Crystal Cave (1970). I remember this book on our shelf in the living room of the apartment my parents’ lived in while they were house parents at the boarding school in northern Nigeria. That book had a white book jacket with an alluring cave opening. In interviews Lady Mary Stewart has said she always wanted to write a historical novel, but had no real interest in Arthurian stories – or to the Medieval time. She was drawn to Roman Britain, and also she so admired White’s The Once and Future King, that classic of Arthurian tales, that she didn’t want to tread on his ground. When she read of early Merlin, before he was a priest, a druid, the magician of great legend, she found her subject, she said. What made this man this man, I imagine. The story of each character, Arthur, Merlin, Mordred, more, is tangled and complex, easily recognizable and familiar.

I was never particularly drawn to Arthurian legend either – although I read The Once and Future King and loved it. I entered that tangled, troubled world with full will and senses. I read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, upon the great insistence of our American cousins, and again plunged into that invented world full of every pathos, tear, loyalty, creation. The list of what I read and was drawn to continued to unfurl. I was interested in what got my interest and how I usually responded quickly when taken. I waded right into the pool and went under.

When I went to college the only thing I was sure of was what I had always been sure of – I would study literature. Beyond that was unknown. I wanted much more than "English literature," but my thinking was narrowed into what I assumed such options would be. I found wonderful teachers and a few friends accustomed to such loyalty to reading. We found, then, Garcia Marquez, and 100 Years of Solitude. What a revelation it was - to walk into that dense tangle of jungle and sound that was so different than mine, yet so familiar. His language opened my mind to new worlds. Wright Morris was another favorite. I found in Wright Morris’s writing a clean and clear style, straightforward innocence and honesty, that still held all the evancescent poetry and profound permanence of a moment in memory, including the development of photos. Wright Morris’s book, Field of Vision (National Book Award winner in 1956), is one of the treasures of my early exploring in the book world. Wright Morris wrote more than 33 award-winning books, and Stephen Goodwin said of Morris – No writer in America is more honored and less read. The clarity of his style reveals his subject clearly, with artful grace, without drawing attention to "the writer." This is a true characteristic of artful grace to me. He captured for his characters the fleeting sensuality that is so profoundly memorable and also starkly physical in a way unlike any other writer I know. This is his uniqueness, and something I cherish in the gift of being introduced to his writing when I was.

Joyce Cary was another – particularly his book, The Horse’s Mouth (1944), with his "hero" Gulley Jimson, memorialized again, courageously, by Alec Guinness on film (1958). Gulley Jimson is a painter, an artist, a William Blake lover, a man on fire for the passions of life, and the chaos of following his muse wherever "she" may lead. He is overtaken by color, and the challenges of each vision, each penny that needed making when it came to that break in between. Another connection with Cary, which I think I discovered after I read his book, was his colonial service in Nigeria before 1920. His government service gave him the experience to find the "common humanity" among us, and he wrote movingly about this in some of his books.

Michael Ondaatje, Annie Dillard, and Jeanette Winterson are other favorites. There are many. This doesn’t begin to name the other "poets." To tell this is to name persistent threads through my reading life that have "shown me my way." Each has his or her place in this map of mine, as each gave me a foothold, an anchor, or a kite to hold which felt natural in my hand, in my mind, and I flew or dove with them into the depths or heights within myself with their easy prompts. With prompts from certain teachers in college, I filled pages with my insights as I read, each word, sentence, or paragraph exploding into visions or caves. Some were so intense to me that I had to stop, just finish sentences. Others trailed into air and I followed them silently at other times, dark, light, shifting.

Through school I read poetry and novels mostly, along with the science, history, and political intrigue introduced to us by teachers and sometimes parents. I dove into novels and poetry and found myself at home there more than I often did in the "real world" which required my attention to "do what I needed to do." What did I need to do? Go to school, eat, sleep, play intramural sports, shower, spend time with my friends, boyfriend, do homework – whew. What a life, I thought. When can I get back to my reading?

A friend said to me recently – my personal life is getting in the way of my doing these other things. I laughed about this, because this reminded me myself. Still, now, as I get behind in some of the physical details of my life – such as paying bills, taking trash to the landfill, the overgrown shrubs – sometimes I feel the frustration of "I’d rather be…." The difference now is that I am coming to know myself as an evolving consciousness of "energy and matter." My freedom to choose does not begin and end at what task I focus on at any given moment. It begins with my creation as energy, and my creation as energy and matter with my parents’ cooperation. Spiritual Philosophy has taught me this, and therefore taught me to get to know my own mind as itself, in its energy intention to cooperate with "the rest of me" as an infinitely evolving sensory being.

I introduced myself to changing my thinking focus most effectively through reading. When I was 29 years old, a friend insisted I read Kathy Oddenino’s book, The Joy of Health. Kathy Oddenino lives, breathes, and teaches Spiritual Philosophy. I was living in Annapolis, Maryland then, as was Kathy. Living in the same town as the author whose name was spoken so excitedly by someone I was so close to, was a prompt in itself. I had lived many lives by then, since college, and my reading tastes had changed somewhat, but not my reading habits. I had a stack of books by the bed, and was constantly thinking about, reading about, wondering about books. I shrugged it off, saying I would, and her excitement continued. She insisted I read them, as I had borrowed them for her from the Library of Congress, where I was working at the time. Tired of being pestered, and curious, I picked up Kathy’s first book and began to read. I was captured by the words, though not in a way I was familiar with. Her introduction explained the "channeled" message, what that meant, and then laid out the cycles of life and the chemical foundation of us as humans – air, food, water, energy and matter in motion. The energy and pattern of creation was defined in specific ways – how to eat and why, the patterns of lessons we create through our different ages of life, as mother, father, embryo, through relationships, children, families, life, a cleansing and maintenance program and how to keep a balanced "energy." How to keep your engine running smoothly? I didn’t know much about my car engine, and certainly had not treated my body very well much of my life – smoking, drinking, depression feeding self-destructive habits that cycled up and down. As I read Joy of Health I found myself following along intellectually, thinking I understood, that the words "made sense" and that I agreed with them (therefore "understood" them). Yet I felt this growing reaction inside me that felt like irritation, then anger. I was familiar with the slow-burning volcano. Why? What was happening? I had never had exactly this reaction to reading. I knew that how I felt was related to what I was reading, and I also knew that my mind didn’t understand why I felt the way I felt. This confused me. My mind could not "make sense" of this – Houston, we have a problem. I couldn’t make it go away. I was determined to figure out what was happening and why. I resolved to keep reading some of the book every day to help me understand. I did this, and gradually (within a week, two weeks?), I began to notice that I was reading more and more pages and the feeling was dissipating, or gone. Why? The words were having their effect. I felt better. Responding to words and the "energy of words" was not new to me, but the fact that these words were talking about "energy" and the energy of us as human beings, the creation of thought and matter, had a different meaning for me. I had read plenty of science by then, in school and out, but rarely had I felt that level of interest, motivation, spark that I knew came from inside me to Know More. Other sparks were more like shooting stars that shone brightly, high and quick, then disappeared into the dark, faint memories only.

Not long after this, I went to an event at Kathy Oddenino’s home in Annapolis, and this began a friendship and mentoring process that continues today. I began to work with her shortly after this meeting. She had published three books, and was working on her fourth, Love, Truth & Perception. I was glad to be "helping her," and eager to work with her books too. I began to read the manuscript, studiously marking a few things here and there. Then I found myself repeating sentences to myself over and over, trying to "make sense of them." I quickly realized what was happening. I could not read these books in the left-brain manner I was used to. This was part of the challenge and invitation I had found with reading Joy of Health. My intellect was accustomed to introducing itself to subjects, objects in its own way, and using them or backing off accordingly. Kathy’s books had an energy altogether different. The words were inviting, stimulating, provocative, yet not confrontational, not divisive, not insistent. Does this mean these words are "true"? I was not even used to thinking of "truth" except as right/wrong, substantiated or not, etc. An intellectual approach mostly, or a way of thinking influenced by emotional heartache, heartbreak, or need – either to control, or make sure "everything was alright." To think beyond this as "truth" as a mind was an insight, a revelation in itself.

This insight seems self-evident to me, as the mind that experienced this. This is part of the point that makes itself known to me all the time, and why coming to know "Spiritual Philosophy" has been the best mentor for my mind – Spiritual Philosophy explains to us why it is only our mind that has to "know itself" – the rest of us, as infinite senses, and loving emotions, already "knows itself" and is eager to cooperate with the mind, as our male energy creation (no matter our gender). As I began to read Love, Truth & Perception, and came to a grinding halt more than once, very early on, I recognized the gift to me in this work showing me the difference I had already made in my mind, and what it meant to open my mind to thinking differently – to the beauty and potential of thinking as an infinitely sensory being made to love.

To embrace a word! As a child, I had been taught, "In the beginning was the word." I knew this was true. Yet what in the world did that mean, really?

For a brief time, in Richmond, I taught reading to a few adults as part of a public program. It broke my heart to imagine someone, especially in our culture, going through life without being able to read. I also admired the courage people had as they made their way through life without these skills. One man I tutored briefly had his own successful business. He was married with two beautiful girls. A big burly man with beautiful eyes and black skin, he cried when he told me he wanted his girls to know he could read and was tired of hiding. They are beautiful, he said, and I don’t want them to be ashamed of me. Even here, he showed his love, not pity for himself. He taught me in those few sessions, and I loved the way he read each word and how they came together. I hope he never stops.

A mind wants to "know itself." The joy of reading has been a gift to me all my life, and my mother and father gave it, fostered it, as did my brothers and sister and teachers beyond. Words that offend are not part of this art – words with the energy that enhance the beauty and joy and power of creation, the celebration of the lifeforce of us – that is the joy of "in the beginning was the word." Read on! Thank a teacher! Let the mind love.I love to read, and now I know why I never would have made a "good academic."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blue Ridge Travelogue

My friend Steve took a 1041-mile trip on byways and highways of Blue Ridge beauty. He shared some pictures with me, and names of towns I'd never heard of, or hadn't thought about in many years. It's nice to be reminded. Saluda, for instance: A town in Henderson and Polk Counties, North Carolina. The population was 575 at the 2000 census. It is a quiet country mountain town at the top of the Northfolk Southern Railway's Saluda Grade, the steepest standard gauge railroad line in the country. Tourists like it, I've heard, and I like this: The town festival is named Coon Dog Day, after raccoon hunting dogs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Learning to Kneel - Poem by Mike Martin

i am learning to kneel
to rivers and sky,
mountains and earth,


God’s forms
Presented in structure and motion.

These powers we resist,
Threads spun in infancy.
Twirls of color spiraling in cycles,
Returning again and again,
Renewed even as they burn.
Just like the sun, burns,
Burns down our faith,

Our name
Our place
Our worth

The clouds are moving
Somehow holding these burnt threads,
Offerings, familial patterns,
Collages we cannot escape in our gatherings,
Pondering changes, illness,
Trailing our fingers in the sand.

The memory of water,
That prayer,
Spills in hinting of blessing and beauty,
Undeniable grace.

We feel the desert wind blowing,
Hearing the call,
The thread that waits for response.

We collect the amber silt simply through stillness,
The dusting showers left in the telling of our stories,
Butterfly coating,

Angles of dust,
Soul forces thriving in this place of sharp light and thin soil.

copyright by Mike Martin

Atlas Winced

Lester Kraus

Harriet Rubin's 9/15 NY Times article on Ayn Rand's Literature of Capitalism included a quote from John P. Stack, a business executive who took Rand's ideas to heart. Stack says to save his company he took action like a hero out of Rand's Atlas Shrugged. He created an open-book company in which employees were transparently working in their own interests. The best motivator of all may be when we see the direct relationship of our thoughts and actions to our quality of life and how that quality of life relates to others and our world. It's the best business book I ever read, he said. To get something that tells you to take your dreams seriously, that's an eye opener.

I couldn't agree more. To feel the rumble and racket and even disfigurement that happens to us on the inside and outside when we ignore our dreams, or see them as nightmares, bats and gnats bothering us, is to know the need to take our dreams seriously as our personal urge to create with the power that gives and sustains life. What do our dreams call us to do? Surely not war. The hero stories are those in which lives are saved, life is enjoyed. Rand called her book a "mystery," "not about the murder of man's body, but about the murder - and rebirth - of man's spirit." Her book was published in 1957 to scathing reviews and criticism from all sides, even as groups of fans grew. Many were secret fans of the motivation of self-interest she proclaimed, but afraid to be visible. One of her big fans was Alan Greenspan, whose memoir is now in the news. The world needs prime movers as much as ever. What does it mean to live the truth of our convictions, to dare to be dreamers, and to take our dreams seriously? Be realistic. We are creators!

Spiritual Philosophy is shining the light for me on the cave walls of my memory, and our collective memory. I have often feared success, just as I have feared failure, not dared to be "visible." This fear itself is the nightmare. My eternal dream has been to awaken. What a wonderful world. Healing happens.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Snakes and Ladders

What is love?
Sometimes we think we have to explain, justify, when what is asked for is love. This shows why we cannot truly love until we know ourselves as spirit energy – that it is the spirit energy within us that is love. When we suppress this, we create pain, chaos, destruction, war. The levels at which we create this depend upon our own level of growth and the relationship that we have to ourselves as energy – the images of ourselves as energy that we recognize and relate to. In the same way that our friends reflect our energy, our energy reflects our relationship to ourselves as energy beings. Why would we choose violent friends, for example, unless that is an energy we are comfortable with, intimate with, within ourself? An energy that we have not yet changed, healed. Why would we choose war if we knew the reality of peace?

Let’s be realistic, someone said to me.
What does it mean to be “realistic”?

When we look at the history of art, what we call art and why, we see patterns that artists, appreciators, critics have recorded that may help us recognize our perceptions and beliefs about what “realistic” means. Does “realistic” mean a recognizable facsimile of life the way I see it? Does “realistic” mean an image that is recognize as “real” to any human that looks at it? A landscape of beautiful green leaves on trees that bloom in spring – is this recognizable to someone who has grown up in a desert where there are no shade trees, only other kinds of blooms? What does “abstract” mean? At a local library recently I looked at pictures in an exhibit by a local artist whose work was called “abstract” – forms, images, mixed media, some very large. The colors were muted and soft, with some bold strokes. One image brought immediately to my mind a very large painting I saw once in an old friend’s apartment many years ago. The old friend and I are no longer in touch, but the image of the painting in my mind remains vivid and its impression at the time of our last visit is a memory now imprinted in a way that will last forever. Does this mean consciously? When I am “another person,” in another life, does this mean I will keep this memory of this moment and this painting in this room as this person and I felt what we felt and spoke what we spoke? Moments live and die as we do. All are there, within our mind, to be called upon and conjured up, at Will? When we do, what do they mean to us, how do we feel, what do we think of ourselves, of them, how do we relate? Energy never dies, so knowing why we sense as we do, what we do and when, becomes an adventure and the fun of it multiplies when we share it openly as the energy of who we are as we change.

Now I see the danger in our ladders and levels of learning to know ourself as we experience life, as we create experience. With each opening, the myriad of pinpricks and sunbursts of light we may rejoice in, until we know ourselves fully without fear, the shadows of our beliefs which we have willed into being, lurk behind doors, under beds, in the shadows of our thoughts like clouds, or storms, and reinforce the same old beliefs we are more and more ready to release and change. In Bernard Berenson’s Rumors and Reflections , I read a good example of this, which he wrote in diary entry in 1941. He is writing about his friend, Carlo Placci, in Florence, and his reflections of friendship, interaction, images, intimacy, and thinking, are interesting to me. Intimate as they were, B. writes, Carlo seldom gave an indication into the depth of his private thinking. He gave enough to make B. suspect that he was incapable of a wholehearted conviction about anything. He had many fervent opinions, but they seemed only skin-deep, which he showed by the rapidity and completeness with which he turned away from them to whatever was most up-to-date, whatever he had been next convinced of. He relates the habit his friend had of needing the last word. Because I can relate to this, his example means something to me in my learning about the images we create of ourselves as energy beings and the progress we make through life in our learning and living.

Here is B’s example: “…this swift and sure turnover from the extreme of leftism to the opposite extreme was made easy in his own eyes by a book just published that I had in all innocence lent him: William James’s The Will to Believe. It gave him the pragmatic justification for choosing the principles which his whim of the moment and his tropism led him to prefer. Like the Scot who when politely told that he was eating asparagus from the wrong end retorted ‘I prefer-r-r it,’ Placci would bang the lid on every discussion by rejoicing in iniquity, despising reason, and rejoicing in the right James had extended to him, to believe what he willed.”
As I said, it takes one to know one, and I recognize Placci – and what patience it takes for us to grow through this stage, as well as for our friends who remain, to love us despite our annoying habits and not encourage them.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lost & Found

One day I walked down the street in late afternoon light, and I felt the rough stones under my feet like little rising bread loaves. I smiled inside somewhere, even though outside I was beginning to feel the new chill in the air, and my past seemed both large and empty. How could that be? I thought. I’ve lived 54 years, with a wife once, and a young son. He must be 12? I haven’t seen either of them in so long, I’ve almost forgotten their mannerisms, their ways. I wonder if they are happy.

I had spent so many years inside, in that office full of piles of paper, paint faded and beginning to peel. I almost forgot why we were doing what we were doing. Filing court orders, filing official notices, recording liens in different languages. Why did this seem so important?

Always, we choose to climb stairs and enter doorways, to walk down one street rather than another. The motionless sense of time passing you by is a strange sensation. All of this would make sense if all I have seen were true! The passing of windows, cars moving slowly by, the way rain falls on the cobblestones and bricks, leaving slick patches and reflecting puddles. We watch ourselves, don’t we? What do we see?

Socrates may have said Forgetting is just losing knowledge. Where do we put it when we lose it? Plato wondered what it meant to remember. Who first used the phrase, “hidden in plain sight”? I’ve been known to lose things. I hear myself saying, It drives me crazy when I can’t find something! When something is “found,” does this mean it was lost? “Lost” at times has implied hopeless. “Lost forever.” “I lost the feeling in my leg.” How do I find it again? Is it hopeless? This thought clings to loneliness and solitude and denies the power of each generating energy cell of life. We are humans together, creations in the image of creators. Are our thoughts extinct? Genetically engineered? Or do we know our power, and “it must be here somewhere.” What creates reflections from the puddles in the street? Who made the car I pass in whose window I am reflected? Why is the car parked here, and for how long? Energy is real. I touch the metal, feel the rain, take in air, and expel. Energy pulses. Energy plays, dances, creates, moves, changes, expands. There is nothing stale about creation. Remember?

Another Day, Another Dollar

I walked on the beach, by the river, on the mountainside, and the sky opened above me. I remembered each moment, each cycle, cataclysm, then, and the faces that spoke goodbye, hello, the smiles and tears. Love letters to my world. I write them to myself and send them to the sky, late nights to the stars, the spread between, early mornings in the air before it changes with the sun’s heat or the day’s chill, I wad up inked pages, sometimes with the smile of send-off as a message in a bottle on the ocean of all I remember. The children next door jump in their cluster on the trampoline, some in their dresses, others in shorts and t-shirts, all squealing. They light up the heat-filled sky, and I listen, letting their sounds show me the different in the shrillness of what I remember as the bats in the cave in my mind, the memories of the darkness, the rough cave walls, and the clanging cymbals. This is the joy of the world, the way we all light up as we listen. Spread this, with a thought, let it blend with the motion of water, the rhythm of all reeds and strings and wind. Then I’ll pay bills, spread that.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Skateboard Leaps

Anna sat herself down at the edge of the creek and studied the swirls in the water, the leaf patterns as leaves moved with the current, then caught on rocks, twigs, at angles. As she sat she felt the whole world within her. What did it mean to have landed her, in this spot, as if she were from some alien ship? Of course, she wasn’t. Why would the thought even come? Weren’t there lights and ramps and whirs and bells that she heard sometimes that seemed to signify other launches, other exits? Then again, wasn’t the curl and urge and nudge and stretch and suck from her mother’s canals a practically indescribable ride full of lights and ramps and whirs, liquids, smells, all manner of earth coming alive and pulsating with life? With the palms of her hands she can feel the ends of the earth? Are there ends of the earth? With the palms of her hands she can feel the rings of Saturn? With the palms of her hands and tips of her finger she can sense the inside of every cell, every course and flow, every organ, every signal? If not yet, then why not? Isn’t it because this nerve language is one that grows and changes like the grass, the sky, the water, only individual in its expression of its collection of the moment, and she has always been attached to anchors, to alphabets, to some root she thought might mean forever, unchanging?

When her son, Daniel, approached, she closed her eyes and felt him walking toward her. Every step was an earthquake, his stare a laser, a rope swing, his sloping shoulders a ready range for the weight of the world. He was 13, big, and his eyes were still that innocent blue, with just a bit of a shadow in them, a sadness. He had felt a lot of sadness in his young life. His father, Anna’s husband Carter, shot himself the day before their 8th anniversary, when Carter was 7. Carter’s is another story, yet part of mine, ours, and I feel the weight and the waste, and the eternal love within it, now, she told me. Her eyes, when she says this, are closed just for a second, then back open and blue-grey, clear.

This was a day by the creek not far from her house, when she sat on cold smooth stones and studied the water and its artifacts. She told me some of this later, how this is her way of following the flow of the world and knowing her place in it. There are no true stops and starts, only knowing the place where thought makes itself known, and the way leaves flow, twigs catch, temperatures change, water levels rise. There is knowing how and why this happens, which becomes in itself a study of life, and an easing of the pain that comes with blocking each thought and then letting it go.

I never had children in this life, and when I hear their voices in my sleep sometimes, it is my own playground. Anna and I talk about this sometimes, she telling me how she dreamed of Daniel before he was born, Carter’s terror at moments of knowing such life was in his hands, such joy, and I coming to know all things that make such nurturing known in other ways, finding that flow. This is mother’s milk of love, I think, this sweetness which lets us know that what we create is what we know, the endless, boundless joy of life itself, a constant creation of goals, spin-offs, thoughts, fantasies, the roots and anchors the creations themselves.

Sometimes when I hear music which reverberates and warbles in notes that drown these whispers, I know the cacophony that happens inside always when confusion reigns, when signals are missed, train wrecks happen. It takes time to clean up the debris, and this is with the most dedicated workers imaginable. Tonight at the restaurant earlier the music resounded and I remembered this. I remembered ropes, mist, smoke, loud clanging, dark night, fog. Those strings do not call forth morning. Yet it is easy – remember the stars that appeared as the sky cleared, the silence and sense of the breeze.

Anna loves Daniel. Daniel loves his mother. His innocent blue eyes with that dark shadow flitting through show his need to be with her, not to fear her disappearance or death. I watch his face when I can, and I see the placid lake of a cool Fall day, the heat of summer underneath. He questions, likes the prompts alright. I remember my own questioning, the shadows in my eyes as a child, and I remember swinging on vines of the thoughts in my mind. This way of energy I did not know. Obviously, we are falling.

The roots and anchors are also the creations themselves, each step, each skateboard leap, each goal achieved. As love takes roots in a mind, the sky inside lights up. Daniel, take my hand. As you remember you, I will remember too.

"You have created your life in the exact design that will allow you to learn the lessons that you have come here to learn. It is your design and you should love it. You first need to understand that you are more than you can see on the surface. You are not blown back and forthby the winds of events. You are an integrated being. You are body, mind, and spirit." Kathy Oddenino, Sharing, 66.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Big Picture

Kerry Skarbakka

Yesterday I went to Kathy Oddenino's latest seminar on Hidden Memories - Here is something she wrote, which I've been thinking about since:
We live countless lifetimes and as energy we create them intentionally – when we accept this we can see how we are changing and growing internally through our growth of Spiritual energy experiences, how we preserve our past-life memories in the neurons of our brain, and why our past-life memories are pure diamonds within the dual soul memory of our endless past lives.

Our mind is always seeking new knowledge, new experiences, so what is sought after by our mind is an image of the “carrot” that is leading us, motivating us in our continuing creation. What urges us on, to live, to get up in the morning, go to bed at night, eat, dream, read, swim, walk, fly, talk, laugh? A life without any sense of momentum is no fun – it is depressing!

When we feel or express that we do not want to grow and change, we are writing our obituary as a human being. We are not getting through our head the storybook of us as a human being.

Believing that we live only one physical life has kept us focused on only black keys on the piano keyboard, only one or 2 colors in the color spectrum, only a few tastes in our taste palette. We do not know how to use our hidden memories to our advantage because we do not “know” (accept) they are “there.” This is because our beliefs are “cast in stone,” as “fact,” and we have become accustomed mainly to proving only what we already accept as “true.” This is an internal image of what it means to make ourselves into “graven images” and worship this image as immutable, omnipotent, and to-be-obeyed. We misread what we see in the mirror. Kathy’s seminar yesterday on Hidden Memories (past life memories, past life memories as bleed through with flashback memories) brought this up again in my mind in a new way. We worship this image of ourselves as a monument to our history, to ourselves as we are, even in our struggle to survive, our struggle to conquer, and divide, even as we think we commit ourselves to unity, support, and love of our fellow human. This also relates to our iconic memory of the “Ten Commandments” cast in stone and given to Moses on the mountaintop - think Charlton Heston in his flaming fierceness as a bearded image of Moses on the mountain with those tablets, in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 film. We saw this film as kids in Nigeria, I think on a visit once to the theater in Ibadan, the city closest to Oyo, where we lived. Certain images imprint themselves in our memories. I remember looking up at the big screen, a towering Moses, towering waves on screen, Charlton Heston’s booming voice, a slave woman being crushed by a gigantic block of stone because her a piece of her clothing was caught beneath the weight. For those who saw the film, or read about the history of film and animation, the technology and skills which expand the ways we manipulate images, that film had plenty of drama – the River Nile turning red (dye) and more staged effects that add to landmarks of memory. The drama of images fascinates me, and understanding them as energy fields simply adds to my fascination.

In disgust, the stone tablets are broken. When we are fed up with our own waste and denial and wandering in the wilderness, we break the stone of our beliefs and see the truth of the ethical values which the “love your neighbor as yourself” intends as an energy message.

The day before Kathy’s latest seminar on Hidden Memories, I went to see an exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art called The Big Picture. The exhibit featured 23 large-scale photographs by 13 artists, including Kerry Skarbakka. I’ve been intrigued by Rosemary Laing’s photographs since I first saw a print a few years ago from another N.C. exhibit catalog called Defying Gravity. Some curators and art observers are saying that photography is now the dominant force in contemporary art. This adds more emphasis to how we manipulate and interpret images as our skill and technology creations expand. Kerry Skarbakka is one artist who had 2 prints in the exhibit. His series of photographs of “perpetual falling,” and how he simply and profoundly describes his “impetus for change and “the challenge for self-improvement” all fit together for me in how we each sense our rise and fall. We “fall” through the energy levels within our mind when we don’t open our mind and rise to the occasion of the momentum of growth and change that our mind is seeking. This is depressing for the mind! We capture these images of ourself in many ways, in life, in art, as we learn the art of life through change – the death of loved ones, our own demise, our own rise and fall. The knowledge of who we are as evolving consciousness explains this pattern of creation and expression. It is beautiful to see how we change our view from "defying gravity" to knowing we can fly, or, as my friend PC beamingly acknowledges, Levitation of the mind!

Kerry Skarbakka
Kerry Skarbakka’s images picture a world full of physical and emotional dangers. His web site refers to German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who described human existence as a process of perpetual falling. This creates the framework for much of the falling/tripping photographs in his series The Struggle to Right Oneself, for which Kerry has become known.
Lightwork catalog

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Punch & Judy

I was at a resort once, where pools of radiant blue water shimmered in the sun, and people ambled around them half-dressed, lazy, like they were all happy and dazzling themselves. This was a delightful feeling. There was the occasional sharp voice, such as when a man ran to pick up his little boy as he spoke to a “stranger” who seemed maybe a little too influenced by the sea-breeze cocktails and beer. In the boy’s eyes was a sudden fear, an unknown, as if he didn’t know what had happened in the rush and grab and run. The tipsy man seemed unaware of any change in the breeze, turned away, laughing, on with the next note. I turned back to listen to a woman in a wide-brimmed hat and large sunglasses. She had been talking to me for a few minutes, only I heard maybe half of the words. The airflow continued until I put up my hands to shield the sun and we smiled, she delighted in the day’s welcome and the moment of joy. We were “strangers” to each other, yet no thought of danger.

I woke up the other morning with these shimmering views. Why? Change happens, and I am feeling my way into knowing what do we do with what we "know"? What does this mean to me, and why do I care? The other day at work Kathy exclaimed after seeing a client, as she often does, I love the nervous system! I often think about those words, her excitement, what this means to her as I hear it. The excitement shimmers all around and within her. I have not always loved my life, loved life itself, so I recognize again why this learning for my mind has been an unlearning of the blocks I had put into place, the gates that block the fields of flowers, and the intense pleasure of this slow awakening to what it means for me to "love my nervous system." I have been afraid of "it," without knowing this, because understanding such "things" was not my domain - it was to be the realm of those who specialized in this, the "doctors," or...... Those with expanded knowledge of subjects are animated by them as they relate the knowledge to the gift of a mind using the knowledge in ways that are fun, exciting, creative, helpful. We abuse what we do not understand, because the "unknown" frightens us. This is one way for me to identify what it has meant to "fear the spirit within me." What an amazing gift it is to Awaken - like the pins and needles of a foot awakening after being "asleep." Think of the words - "pins and needles" - sometimes we say, I am on pins and needles (anticipation, waiting to hear....); pins and needles we use for so many things - to insert, embroider, knit. The complex design of any landscape is there to appreciate for those who awaken to it. I am grateful for life, for what moves us, every way.

Seeing the truth of who we are in our life experiences beyond the limited way we think of "physical mirrors" helps us to see our need and urge to grow from the energy level we are living into the next energy level of appreciating life as an energy being. What we haven’t yet learned will flicker in and out of our mind, images that leave very little lasting impression. We must learn to pick and choose our own energy fields like walking through fields and picking flowers, noting those that bloom. Transient hidden memories are more like sheet lightning, or “transient wanderers” we may pass on the street, or take note of – each energy image makes such an impression that we take note (we feel the sadness sometimes, the doggedness, the persistence of pushing that cart or clutching that cardboard sign, the dirt that clings, the hunger that persists) – and then the image recedes, as landscapes do when we pass in our car and the scene through our window changes. We often cling to hidden memories that we are afraid to let go of, rafts for us in the ocean of our energy and our mind. As we open ourselves to the flight of all thought, we feel freedom and know it.