Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Island in Time

How wonderful are islands! Islands in space, like this one I have come to, ringed about by miles of water, linked by no bridges, no cables, no telephones. An island from the world and the world's life. Islands in time, like this short vacation of mine. The past and future are cut off, only the present remains. Every day, every act, is an island, washed by time and space.
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh


 Sharing some pictures from my vacation, of a tiny island in the middle of a lake...

 just room enough for a house...

 two chairs...

 and a teepee

 Finding this island while kayaking with my sister brought back memories of the Famous Five books we used to read together when we were little - their mystery islands, secret tunnels, ancient maps, ship wrecks, and exciting escapes - oh how we had dreamed we'd have such thrilling adventures too!

Also, check out my previous post for pictures of the rest of my lake-vacation

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rest, Respite, and Relaxation

Sharing pictures from my vacation on a lake...

the lake is set in a valley of the Adirondack mountains...
 we stayed at a charming little house for a week...
had coffees by the lake every morning...
kayaked in the quiet waters everyday...
 read books in the middle of the lake some evenings
did yoga by the lake in the mornings...
went on long walks with my sister...
along trails filled with flowers...
picked wild flowers...
for the kitchen window sill...
(yes, we had a kitchen too - here's our make-shift pantry)

went on a hike to the top of a mountain
built a pile of rocks on the edge overlooking the lake...
maybe someday I might to get to build a little house on top of a mountain for real :)

It was a blissful vacation, a getaway from my life, a place to play and dream, a place to pause for sun and solitude, a place that was warm and welcoming, a place that could call me back someday!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On an Incessant Ferris wheel

Oh the story I have become - with a storyline I'm writing as I go, with no end in sight, neither a happily ever after, nor a dead heroine - I'd be happy with either. Instead, this story of mine is a plodding one, one heavy step after another, forcing myself to trudge my dragging feet along - the same steps over and over again, not learning anything, not gaining anything; losing hope, losing zeal, losing self respect, losing character; finding the pathetic soul that lives in this body - wanting to do right, but only missing it in every step - for lack of courage, lack of integrity, lack of strength. It's like the Ash Wednesday poem that T.S. Eliot wrote -
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
When have I lost hope? When did I lose my youth and become old? Why? Is there nothing I can do right? When did I become a failure? Were my hopes too high? too silly? the hopes of a wretch?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow,
For there is nothing again
Was my positive hour a one time thing? A transitory power? The glory of a winged butterfly? Has my spring come and gone? Can I not stay it? Keep it? Am I nothing now? Nothing again?

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
How I wish I could rejoice that things are as they are, how I wish I could accept that time is always time, how I wish I could keep my faith in that blessed face, the blessed voice... and turn again... and turn to hope again

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
I wish I could forget, I wish I could repent - these regrets that eat at me, these matters that gnaw at me, so that I can't even pray - I'm consumed by my story instead - did I learn anything? Or am I repeating the same mistakes over and over again? Ever and forever again?

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
And this life of mine, and its plodding steps - if only I could stop and sit still, if only my will was small, if only my wings could stop flapping, if only... if only...

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
Sigh... who do I even ask to pray for me?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pull of Polarities

A generalized diagram showing the lines of force related to the Sun's magnetic field.
Here comes that old restlessness again - I seem to be always struggling to find my balance between the highs and lows, between wanting something and pushing it away, between wanting to feel a connection and wanting solitude, between wanting lessons to learn from and not wanting pain; and as always not being able to distinguish what's coming from the ego versus what's coming from the soul. Or maybe it's truer to say I can distinguish them but I don't want to acknowledge it. I want to give in to the temptations that my ego is pulling me to, even though I know in the back of my mind that once I give in, it will turn sour - and then the same battle starts all over again - it's the endless tug of war between temptation and truth, desires and renunciation, conscience and consciousness, waking up versus staying asleep. The funny thing is I know what I need to do, but the pull of the sleepy, ignorant, Tamasic side is so strong that it's hard to resist. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). It's easier to give in, to stay asleep, to stay ignorant.
I was pleased then, to stumble into an Eckhart Tolle link that my sister forwarded, and it was a good refresher course for me, of how he explains this now-familiar state of discontent, unhappiness, the sense of insufficiency. He doesn't mince any words in saying that these arise from the ego (of course I knew that but didn't want to acknowledge it): "when the ego singles something out and says "I love" this or that, it's an unconscious attempt to cover up or remove the deep seated feelings that always accompany the ego... for a little while, the illusion actually works. Then inevitably, at some point, the person (or thing) you singled out, fails to function as a cover up for your pain, hate, discontent or unhappiness... and it gets projected onto that person (or thing)... suddenly love turns to hate... the ego doesn't realize that the pain and the hatred is the universal feeling of not being connected with the deeper level of your being - not being at one with yourself... only surrender can give you what you're looking for... the moment you accept completely what is, something inside you emerges... an innate, indwelling, peace, stillness, aliveness... it is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself."
Funny how everything comes back to me, if only I'd let it. When I let go of my self, my center, and give importance to the peripherals - the desires - of wanting - a place, a person, a thing, a possession, a feeling, a thought - the peripherals get all the attention and the self gets lost, goes back to sleep. It continues to be a tug of polarities, however uncomfortable it may be, that seems to be unavoidable. In Tolle's words, "the entire phenomenal universe exists because of the tension between the opposites. Hot and cold, growth and decay, gain and loss, success and failure, the polarities that are part of existence... however, you can transcend polarities through surrender. The polarities themselves cannot be removed... but the whole universe becomes more benevolent, not threatening... the opposites continue to happen... but your lack of reaction means that the polarities are not fueled... they begin to dissolve... living in that way is the beginning of the end of the world."
I woke up this morning remembering bits of dreams - one was of a round rock, the size of a canteloupe, and the other was of a white feather. I think the rock and the feather are a perfect symbolization of polarities - solid versus light, commitment versus freedom, unyielding versus flying with the wind, laying a foundation versus letting go. As disconnected as the dream was, it's a perfect representation of the state of my mind right now. At the time that I woke up I was wondering what they meant, but as always, writing out my disconnected thoughts seems to connect me to some source that makes sense out of all the disjointed pieces. I even seem to have found a solution to my struggle between soul and ego - SURRENDER to what is. But as far as being able to surender, I'm not so sure I have the strength to surrender. Or rather, my ego is too strong to surrender. Identifying the solution is only half the battle; the real victory is not until I'm able to follow through with the solution, to persuade my ego to accept what is, unconditionally.