Present Tense

2017: The Year of Complete Exhaustion

Let’s face it: 2017 has been a completely exhausting year. We’re all worn out, mostly from the weird energies and ‘new normals’ that have we’ve been faced with this year.

I would love nothing more than to go into the whole astrological significance and transits and energies and how this is affecting our lives, but I know better. Many of you find that silly and confusing…so onward. (But, it’s fascinating and amazingly accurate, so maybe I’ll write about it later for those who are interested)

I guess the main theme and watchword for the past 12 months or so was ‘disruption’. As I watched the news or read about current events, my own mantra was “Nothing Makes Sense”.

As the year went on, this became something I repeated over and over to whoever would listen (usually my poor husband who is the main receiver of my insights and wisdom:) After a while, I started saying it with an exasperated chuckle.  Eventually, things got so crazy, you HAD to laugh.

We kept trying to fit this square peg of a year into the nice, round hole of comfort, security and ‘the way things have always been’. Try to do that physically and you’ll soon be banging that peg with a sledge hammer, creating an even bigger mess and problem.

This was the year that all of the buried shit in our culture began to rise up, like a plugged up toilet. The normal and expected result after we poop or pee is that we push the handle and it flushes it all away; out of sight, out of mind.

2017 was the year that we pushed the handle like we always do and suddenly the toilet tank begins to fill up.  No flushing! Holy shit! And I mean that literally.  Here it comes…overflowing…overwhelming…what do we do?

This was the year that we had to begin to see that our collective toilet is plugged. That we’ve pushed things down, underground, out of sight, out of mind for literally centuries.

Racism, sexism, misogyny, abuse, male domination, bigotry, religious zealotry, white supremacy/nationalism, violence, corruption, corruption, corruption, homophobia, ignorance, inequality of kinds; shall I go on?

You get the picture. All of these horrors have existed, but we buried them nicely, so that many of us who are not directly affected (and as we’ve seen over the past year, with #MeToo, etc. that nearly ALL of us HAVE been affected, we just felt powerless to speak) have been able to just whistle past the graveyard.

So, as we all stand here at the end of 2017, with the sewage puddling around our feet, now what? Do we get a shop vac and suck it all up? Do we get out our mops and sanitizer and make the bathroom sparkle again?

OR do we unplug the goddamned toilet?

Let’s stop shoving things into it, hoping to flush it all away. Let’s begin to allow unpleasant things to be seen, rather than buried or flushed.

This is the legacy of the past year AND of the Trump presidency. It was to disrupt and to force us to see who we are. He is our mirror. Ugh, right?:) But, that’s the hard part, isn’t it. Seeing our warts and prejudices and ignorance. Tough stuff.

Do I think he had this all planned out? Oh, for God’s sake, NO! But I see so clearly that this had to happen. We had to be shaken up. Do I like it? Not really, but I have gotten to the point where I understand it and see that it’s a necessary evil.

We can’t keep flushing away our problems…the septic tank is FULL.

So, relax this weekend. Reflect and try to see past all of our fears and discomfort and disruption of the past year. I know it’s been exhausting, but growth and insight and resolve take a lot of energy.

2017…you kicked our butts, but I think you lit a fire and for that we will look back in gratitude.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

We HAVE to love

monkey-loves-cat1I was just reading an article about dog behavior.  Most things in the world come down to animals for me, particularly dogs, but this concept struck me as a perfect example of some insight into the question that has become our national mantra: “What is wrong with people”?

Seems that puppies have these two times during their development, when a fear response can become ingrained and turn into major behavioral problems for their entire lives.  One is between 8-10 weeks and there is another 2-3 week period between 6-14 months of age.

They cited an example where a perfectly normal and well-adjusted German Shepherd pup suddenly became extremely aggressive toward other dogs.  He was fine with people, but his owner was literally afraid that he would kill another dog.

The genesis of this very serious problem was one traumatic incident: the dog and his dog buddy were wrestling around in the front yard, as they had done for months, when they got too close to the invisible fence.  The German Shepherd was shocked and immediately went after the other dog, resulting in an all-out dog fight.

From that moment, he became increasingly aggressive toward other dogs and would never play with that familiar dog again.  ONE incident of traumatic pain and fear, altered that dog’s life forever.

Let’s turn to humans.  How many incidents in our past have shaped our relationship to life?  Things that we can barely remember or that we can’t remember?  The figurative electric shock of various traumas that have been layered one on top of another since we were born.

Even though life in the United States is relatively safe, compared to many parts of the world, there is a lot of trauma going on.  Trauma for many that begins the moment they were born into a family with a history of violence or abuse.  Trauma in their neighborhood, where crime and violence were common place.  Trauma from being different and/or not fitting in.

It may not have been anything physical like an electric shock.  Maybe it was listening to the adults in our lives express fear or suspicion or flat out bigotry and hatred toward someone or some group?  Maybe it was something learned in church or from media.

Maybe it was the devastating loss of a loved one or pet or friend?   My God, the list is endless, isn’t it?

All of these incidents add up over time and in some of us, morph into destructive behaviors.  Just like the dog.  We are really no different in our conditioning, particularly when we are young and don’t have the skills to cope or analyze.

So, as we discuss the various tensions within our nation and the world, remember that humans are not machines.  We are all shaped by our environment and surroundings.

Those of us who are pet owners, know that puppies need a lot of love, attention and socialization.  Training them with abusive or fear based methods can result in aggression and that makes them dangerous.

Humans are delicate.  We are easily bruised and scarred.  We also need gentle handling, not only as babies and children, but for our entire adult lives.  Be aware of that and be aware that many of your fellow travelers carry around not only their trauma, but the trauma of their ancestors, because that stuff is passed down.

It’s so easy to see.  Look at the Middle East.  Look at the problems in our inner cities.  Look at the problems on Native American reservations. Ancestral trauma.

We all carry it around with us like a heavy, ever-present backpack. In order to begin to see others in a loving way, we must heal ourselves.  We have to release our past traumas and pain in order to open up to healing the pain of others.  Don’t discount another’s trauma. It is real.  It animates them; often in ways that are destructive to them and to our society.

Listen to these people’s fears and experiences.  Really HEAR them, without your political or religious or socio-economic filters.  It’s not just their trauma, it is all of ours and until we acknowledge and embrace that, the killing and conflict will continue.

Empathy.  Walk a moon in their moccasins, measure your words and reactions. Be kind.  We are all in pain.

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

   

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