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On my soapbox: The myth of positive thinking

A family tree.

I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.

~ Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided:  How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America

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The transition

Two in the Joe Pye Weed.

I want to unfold.
I don’t want to be folded anywhere,
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours

Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

~ Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959

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Starting with a sunset

Yesterday’s sunset as seen from here on the ranch.

Before change can happen, a clear choice must be made.  I believe we all have the freedom to choose the direction of our lives and the values we stand for.  We have only to embrace our beliefs at a deep level and our path of change will open.  Profound change begins in the heart.  From the moment we embrace the clear intention for change, each of us according to our individual natures is inspired to act in a way to bring about a healthy and benign outcome.  All life will conspire to bring this about.  If enough of us decide to make the change, to surrender ourselves to it, transformation will happen.  I have faith in our capacity, as beings of love, to transcend the challenges we face on Earth, should we choose to.

~ Ranchor Prime, The Eight Elements

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A Monday meander: Vulnerability

Light at the end of the season.

Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

~ David Whyte, Consolations

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A Monday meander: Heatwave

Droopy.

We have separated matter and spirit and through the power of this collective attitude have starved the world.

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Awakening the World

Once when I was younger I went out and sat under the sky and looked up and asked it to take me back. What I should have done was gone to the swamp and bog and ask them to bring me back because, if anything is, mud and marsh are the origins of life. Now I think of the storm that made chaos, that the storm opened a door. It tried to make over a world the way it wanted it to be. At school I learned that storms create life, that lightning, with its nitrogen, is a beginning; bacteria and enzymes grow new life from decay out of darkness and water. It’s into this that I want to fall, into swamp and mud and sludge and it seems like falling is the natural way of things; gravity needs no fuel, no wings. It needs only stillness and waiting and time.

~ Linda Hogan

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A morning walk

Out the back door, near sunrise.

Today is sacred – for it will never come again. What could be more important than living this day with attention and the intention to be of benefit, to the best of your ability, to all you encounter?

~ John Bruna

In spite of all the talk and study about our next years, all the silent ponderings about what lies within them…it seems plain to us that many things are wrong in the present ones that can be, must be, changed. Our texture of belief has great holes in it. Our pattern lacks pieces.

~ M.F.K. Fisher

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A Monday meander: Rainy days and Mondays

Early this morning.

As I get older, I realize the thing I value the most is good-heartedness.

~ Alice Walker

Many of us sense in the time of this current pandemic a great opportunity: it is as if we have collectively been sent indoors to do our essential human homework, to hit the pause button on our hyper-accelerating lives and reflect on what is really of value. It is to get into our hearts; to discover that being human is a magnificent thing; that each human being is a uniquely formed stream of creativity so perfectly designed to flow into communal rivers of renewal and into a great tidal shift that moves us in the years ahead to declare, “Powered by love? Indeed the whole thing is powered by love: every forest, every lake, every creature, every human, every galaxy is powered by love—by a love as potent and creative as we allow it to be.”

~ James O’Dea

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