Friday, May 06, 2011

The Practical Arts of Living

I have always been fascinated with connections. Connections seemed automatic to me when I thought about anything, when I met people, when I listened to others tell their stories of a moment, a day, a life, when I read a sentence, when I watched a movie or television scene, listened to song lines, and more profoundly later, when I watched rain fall hard on dirt, making mud stools that looked like miniature castles, or red-headed lizards pop up and scrape on stone sculpted by time or blasting intention.  My mind was busy with connections – following them, questioning them, and wondering. James Burke, the science historian, was a mind I “connected” with when introduced first to his columns and books. His way of making and finding connections which showed the spiral nature of our creating as human beings fascinated me and seemed absolutely natural. This was an infinitely opening pattern, nothing ever closed – simply changing as one spark led to another.

Growing up as a triplet in Nigeria to loving parents, who also were house parents to many other “children” through the years, was a perfect incubator for a mind delighted with the nature of connections. We grew up with people from all cultures and religions, and were exposed to diaspora influences. Traders came to our house when we were children – kneeling on the concrete as they spread carved or beaded wares on a cloth for display. They wiped some of the figures as we stared. I smelled the palm oil, wax, leather, and dust, and remember so clearly the weathered cloth hats and big shrouds of agbadas worn by many. Many were stern, many dazzling in their jocularity, their smiles and enjoyment of what the day might bring. I remember the smell of the frangipani flowers in the tree behind our house, the fresh crunch of a green guava just on the verge of ripening to yellow.  The enveloping and overlapping energies of life were abundant and ripe with the potential of human challenge and change.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the natural power and connection of friendship as an energy of love, challenge, and change. This of course includes the dramatic “art of communication” which I have learned is one of the primary energies of the Ethical Values of our spiritual design as human energy beings. Reading Mind the Gap, John Hays’ wonderfully eloquent story of finding his way into the constant unfolding within the world of us as Nature, reminds me beautifully - We are Human nature. I am awed by his search, his deep appreciation of the truth of life as constant change. The beauty is in the details – the silver glint and metallic blue of a needlefish whose deep color he describes as the color between parting thunderheads, the fish stranded on the beach, caught in warm water then stranded by too cold. He writes of Dry Hill at Cape Cod, the land he and his wife made their home, which taught them the eternal nature of Mother Nature, the impermanence of home and the fragility of our physical pursuit as conquest. We miss so much because of what we think we already know.

Hay writes about migration, and how some thought there was something very uninteresting and repetitious about the herring migration – only fish after all, without much choice in what they did. “That we too might always be doing the same thing is not what we like to think about, because that deprives us of the illusion of free will. …Still, for me, the real wonder of the herring lay in the ancient power of their mission, which, like birth itself, escaped any easy definition.  In essence, the migration, however simple it might seem to us, involved a coastline that was thousands of miles long. Each local stock moved in early spring to find ‘the home stream,’ where they had been hatched and started to grow.” (mind the gap, 68)  “The idea, in Nature, is to live again.” 

As I’ve learned to accept and celebrate over the years, our behavior, like the migrating fish, tells the story we’re constantly writing as we live. As I’ve thought about what it means to evolve as a consciousness, and to appreciate and learn to live the joy and beauty (Ethical Values) of who we are, I think back about friends and my definition of family throughout my life.  Many friends I knew while growing up mostly in Nigeria, where our parents were missionaries. A very few of those I’m still in peripheral touch with (and now, thanks to facebook, numbers more!).  Others I met over the years have come and gone, making imprints and impressions in my life and my memories.  Those I have known the most intimately in my adult life are friends with whom I study Spiritual Philosophy and explore the Art and Science of life and what it means to be a spiritual energy being. As we grow together, I come to know more of the physical details of their lives as they share them, but the focus upon growing and shifting our minds from fear to love came first. The words are so familiar that my eyes and many minds can run right over them (skipping the historical parts, as one of mom’s friends said when reading John Adam’s biography!); yet within the familiar phrases (energy, Ethical Values, spiritual beings, evolution) are the simple truth of my human story as an evolving consciousness. 
When I think of the person I imagined myself to be, and who I was, 25 years ago and more, I can go back to memory moments of insecurity, desperation, and also the measure of strength within me to go beyond where I had been before as an evolving soul of mind and emotions.  I am so conscious of the confusion and depression I lived, and the flashes of magnetism to the energy of people, concepts, places, sounds, pleasures which made me happy at times and gave me a jolt out of the energy bonds I’d created throughout time.  I cherished some friends – appreciated their patience, communication, understanding, humor, sharing, intellects, our shared joys and sorrows, shallow or deep as they were or as I imagined or believed them to be. I also resisted some of their attempts to help me move beyond where I was, which challenged my perception of “cherish” and friendship.  I did not yet know how I was using the energy of fear beliefs as a “shield” to keep me from change and from love. My mother’s story of when I was a child makes me laugh still – once she realized, she said, what my pattern of resistance was, she had few problems getting me to do what she asked. I would often say No! three times, but then would go ahead and do it.  When she pointed this out to me years later, I began to recognize that she was right.  I remembered the pattern, and sometimes find myself still doing it! We have infinite opportunities to get to “Know Thyself” when we open to the constant energy of interaction internally and externally.  With each opening I feel the fresh air of a window opening, and I have a profound sense of how long that window of thought perception has been closed, or when it was once opened for a Spring spell. What does it mean to love? I felt very loved as a child, in fact from the moment of my beginnings as a triplet, but I questioned “love” always, wanting to understand the truth of love as a conscious mind with the free will that creates happiness through the growth and change of experience as learning. 

Spiritual Philosophy has taught me the truth of love as our healing energy, and teaches me precisely how the healing energy of love comes through our natural divine design of constant change. Our body has a head, and within our brain is the energy center of our nervous system, which creates and sustains our life as an energy being. Without change we would not grow, and growth is our expansion of consciousness as a willful intent and choice to change, a celebration of change as life.  I’ve learned what our design is as human beings, and what it means to honor and constantly learn to support and celebrate this miraculous design of ours. Such a simple concept. There is no greater gift of love, to me, than this knowledge of truth as eternally evolving energy.

As John Hay wrote, the power of our mission, including birth, is what has compelled me through life, to find the core of knowledge that has brought me “home.” James Burke wrote, “The aim is to put learning into a context that makes it easier to see the greater relevance of people, ideas, and events—and to inspire new ways of thinking.”  Kathy Oddenino has been for me what Conrad and Mary Aiken were for John Hay – a mentor with a passion for living, teaching, and learning the spiritual art of healing, come what may. Now I call it, the “Practical Arts of Living.”  As I continue to learn, I am more and more confident in the courage inherent within us as human beings to Know Thyself and Be a spiritual being. There is nothing to fear from change in any form, only an invitation to stop, look, listen, and acknowledge the beauty of our internal and external environment as energy.  We are always invited to love, as the highest order of beings. With the foundation of my family’s teaching of love, expanded by the infinite teaching of Spiritual Philosophy (that to Know Thyself first means to know we are energy beings living in matter), I love how Nature teaches me consciously and constantly. Healing happens as I mold my own mind, compelled by this mission of coming home to expand the Universal knowledge of the privilege and choice of being Human as evolving consciousness. Love is a miracle of creation. We each choose our way in life, day by passing day. I’ve learned it’s not only okay but essential to “let go” of concepts, images of people, life, love, beliefs that once seemed permanent and essential. Change happens.  As we grow, we outgrow thoughts, beliefs, and relationships just as we do certain clothing, activities, likes, and dislikes.  We create new. ”Debt-free” means more than money and “karma” – it means I owe myself and others simply the gift of love as truth and equality as best I know it, choosing to always be open to the nuances of the perfection of change.  Responsibility means to find and support the energies that honor the best in us, which must include knowledge that feeds our beautiful minds.  Then growth happens, and growth, like Spring, always inspires happiness.  Spiritual Philosophy is the legacy of an inquiring mind in its quest to know itself as love, the Creator of life in its constantly fascinating expressions of experience.

At this moment, after awakening from a blissful sleep, I am caressed by the Spring breeze as the window invites it in, and I hear the sounds of birds along with the low grinding sound of what seems a constant lawn mower nearby.  Change is the only constant! How we connect the dots is determined by how much we’re willing to think, to explore, to grow, to know, to love, to change.  It’s a wonderful life.

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