Mind Your Head, Mind Your Step

A few years ago, I took a trip to the United Kingdom with the college where I work. For many of the folks on the trip it was a new experience. For me, it was a trip back to England. Moreover, it was quite the experience for me. One I will not forget anytime soon. When we were down in the tube – the subway, in American vernacular – I remember seeing the signs all around – ‘mind the gap” – which referred to the area between the subway train and the platform. This notorious little no-man’s gap was where many an unwary traveler’s leg would wind up causing a great deal of embarrassment and potential pain. As I watch the gyrations of Americans over the current political state caused by the current resident of the White House, I continually see similar signs in my own mind’s eye stating, “Mind your head” and “mind your step.”

gapThe signs that I see in my own mind’s eye are essentially visual reminders and cues to not be too caught up in the whirlwind that has become America’s favorite past time: restlessness, hand-wringing, consternation, and general panic over politics. Yeah, forget baseball and football, America’s past time is being glued to their TV sets for the daily broadcasts of the news on their preferred spin-cycle. Staying glued to those news spinmeisters is precisely what the current President wants. Your attention, complete and undivided. Even if you are completely outraged and angry – your focus is still him, what he says, what he does, what he does not say, and what he does not do. I will hand it to him; he certainly knows how to command a publicity campaign. However, I believe it is time to mind one’s head.

Peter Coyote wrote in his book ‘Sleeping Where I Fall’ – “High ideals and visionary brilliance [are] no substitute for daily practice grounded in spiritual insight.” Spending all of our time worshiping at the television, grinding our teeth and wringing our hands over what one single man thinks pays homage to what he desires the most – attention. Positive, negative, indifferent – that matters not to him, so long as you are talking about him, his words, or his deeds. I cannot speak for you, what you do or what you manage or handle within your life, but I just do not have the energy capital to spend on this person in that manner. I have many other things that need to be handled and dealt with on a daily basis. Moreover, to be frankly open and honest, I have wasted far too much of my time on things that do not provide a return of any sort. In minding my head, I need to bring my focus back to my own daily Spirituality, to the areas where I should be focusing, and not on something that lauds and flatters some individual’s narcissistic needs.

Granted, there are things that this guy does that need to have an eye kept on, an understanding of what is being done, which provides a watchful gaze on what may cross into the our own lives or the lives of the ones we love. We do need to be ready to mind the gap, and stand in the way of potential tyranny. However, we also need to make sure we do the daily things that work in our own spirituality, the things that keep us moving forward in our own lives and our own devotional practices. In this manner, we need to insure that we are minding our own heads, finding that balance between watchfulness of things that do nothing directly for others or us and those things that we need to do in our daily Spiritual practices.

For me, part of my daily routines were to go outside and recite my daily prayers as the night skies started to darken the world around me. Rain or shine, hot or cold; I made my way outside. Then one night, I did not. I remember the night quite well. It was the night of the so-called St. Louis riots. People were taking to the streets to protests the police shooting of a young black man. I stayed indoors, riveted to the television. When I finally looked up, it was 11pm and time for me to go to bed. I never made it outside. The next night, I was again riveted to the television of news coverage. And then over the next few months, I made fewer and fewer trips out to the stone circle during the evening. I knew it was not a bad thing to miss a few days here and there. Nevertheless, part of handling a daily practice is continuing the same routine as best as one can. Moreover, getting back into the same practice is becoming more and more difficult. Yes, it seems like a small thing – and it likely is. However, it is a part of my daily devotional process with Crow and Coyote, and I let too many other things get in the way.

Recently, I have been reorganizing my own life. Somethings that I gave priority and privilege to within my life needed to be set back in their proper places. It had turned into a one-way street. I poured all the energy and effort into these things, and received nothing or extremely little in return. The only people benefiting from all of this were those who showed no appreciation for what I was trying to do. Thus, the change was necessary. I started examining many parts of who I am and where I am at and came to the realization that those things that I did get benefit and return from were the very things that I had set off to the side as items that I could do later. I certainly needed to take some time and mind my head.

watchforsnakesI use politics, the issues with Donald Trump and the issues I have with the media as a whole as examples because everyone can readily understand all of this. All of these have some reach into our lives and the lives of those we love, as well as strangers we have never met. Yet, when we pour our energy into being outraged, being angry, being depressed…we get nothing from all of that, except the warm glow of those feelings. Those that protest, write letters, make phone calls, and even confront governmental representatives over these issues can wind up feeling empty when the day is done. In addition, when you expend all the hours of your day, and ignore the aspects of your daily Spiritual life, your daily devotions and other aspects – you can feel your life spinning out of control. I know I have. I did. I continue to feel that.

Minding your step is about coming back to those things that helped uplift you. Your daily devotionals to the Gods. Minding where and how you spend your energy and time. Because if we do that, we can find that, we can do more than one thing. We can be outraged without worshiping at the television for hours on end. We can also do our daily devotionals. We can add aspects of our outrage into our devotionals, asking the Gods for advice, assistance and even inspiration. We do not have to choose how we resist over how we manage our Spiritual lives. However, in trying to combine the two, we once again have to mind our heads, to make sure that we find a balance between mindfulness and outrage, so one does not overwhelm and drown out the other.

Mind your head? Certainly. Keep an eye on your own thoughts; your own emotional state. Learn when to back off. Explore where your limits are. Push those boundaries when you can. Moreover, realize that those limits and boundaries can change daily, hourly. What you are capable of today may be more or less tomorrow. That quantity is malleable. What it is or is not is completely up to you. You know you.
–T /|\

 

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Trying to Reason the Why of It All

Why is that some people attract all the drama into their lives? All the bad stuff happens to them? They just cannot seem to get a break? Why?

Yep, I got asked this on Facebook. And my answer is that I have no damn clue. If I did, I would understand why I had to put my middle-cat Gizmo to sleep, less than two weeks ago. And before the weekend was done after that nice Thursday moment, my youngest cat, MY cat Kaylee was being diagnosed with bone cancer. Just five days after having Gizmo put to sleep. In-between all of that, I got written up at work for asking questions “with attitude” through a series of text messages. Why did all of that happen to me in my life? I have no damn idea, and if I did – I would bottle it and sell it to cover my house payments.

I honestly have no idea why stuff happens. I hear the obligatory stuff

God is testing you.
The Gods are angry with you.
You did something that the Gods did not want you to do, so now you’re being punished.

Huh. You really think so? Because I don’t. Things happen. Sometimes, you make a decision between choices a through z and you just pick the one that brings you to where stuff happens in a way that is devastating. Destiny? Sure, if you want to move within life that way. I grok that, but I don’t believe it. I live life in the vein of a programming flowchart – you reach a decision point on the tree, and you make one choice or the other based on the logic and information you have. Sometimes, it can be a bad choice. Sometimes, it is a good one. More often than not, it is kinda meh. And eventually, you come to another decision that has to be made. You can make hundreds of thousands of decisions in a twenty-four hour period. Sometimes you can only make three. Or some other arbitrary number.

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My baby girl Gizmo. I still miss her so much and always will.

I would love to lay all my ills and bad choices at the feet of the Gods and tell Them: “Your fscking fault! Fix it!” Except that I know there were choices in there that I made. Some innocent, some not so much. But those were my decisions, not the Gods’. Did my decisions cause Gizmo to have a cancerous tumor in her throat? Maybe. But I can never be sure one way or another. I do know that I had the choice of picking her over five other kittens when she first came into my life. And even with the crappy ending to her life, we still had nearly fourteen fantastic years together. We loved each other, had family adventures together and were there for one another in ways I could never really articulate in written or spoken words. I can grab hold of the good and keep those memories sacred in my memory or I can wail to the Gods about how unfair it was for Them to pull her out of my life this way. I would rather keep those happy, most sacred memories than spend my time slamming my fists on the wall recalling all the pain I watched her go through in that last week.

Some folks do have a run of bad luck or make a series of bad choices for whatever reason. At times, they might even feel like they were related to Schleprock. I have seriously been there. And it was really easy to fall into the “woe is me” mentality. That is really understandable. The key for me was reminding myself that life was still worth moving forward through, on my own momentum instead of the current dragging me along. But that’s me. Other folks react differently. For me to say that they are doing it wrong would not only be cruel and heartless – but ignores the fact that every person is their own individual. The way that they react to situations is, can and will likely be different than my own. I will not negate those experiences, feelings, and emotions that they are going through. That shit is real.

I really wish I had a better answer than all of this, but I really don’t. I do have things that have helped me get through painful times – including what I am going through now with Gizmo’s passing and Kaylee’s troubles.

Prayer. Believe it or not, as a Polytheist, as a Pagan, prayer is a strong tool. I prayed to Brigid for healing for both Gizmo and Kaylee. I sought Her assistance as a healer and said chants over both of my girls while I was at the vet with them. The prayers helped me to focus on being strong, loving and in that moment for both of my girls. Brigid is not a typical Goddess for me to work with (in fact there are no typical Goddesses that I work with, I have yet to form a strong relationship with any single Goddess), but I knew of Her healing aspects and asked Her for help.

Finding things to do to keep my mind off of troubling issues. I do data retrieval coding for a living. Some of it gets really complex and requires me to turn off most everything else in my brain to concentrate on what I am doing. I have purposefully worked late a few times, just to keep my mind occupied. Usually, when politics get a little too front and center for me, I tend to dive into code in order to turn that stuff off for me. Working and solving these kinds of coding problems is a form of therapy for me. Some folks I know get out their knitting. Others get crayons and coloring books. Anything to distract the mind from the issues directly at hand, particularly when things are beyond your control and you feel helpless to do anything.

Walk. One of the most relaxing things for me to do is to go walking or hiking. Particularly where there are a lot of trees. Just putting one foot in front of the other, and listening to the wind in the trees is the most calming, relaxing thing I can do for myself. Plus, there is also the aspect of getting some physical exercise. And my Fitbit thanks me for the extra steps too. 🙂

I cannot tell you what is the right way for you to deal with stuff. I can make suggestions, but the real solution-maker is going to be you. As for what to do when bad stuff continually happens, the only advice I can really give you is to just slow things down. Make your decisions carefully – that includes whether to eat at Taco Bell or McDonald’s. Don’t beat yourself up when a decision brings you to bad stuff. Sometimes, it is inevitable. If yelling and screaming at the Gods and laying the blame at Their feet works for – go for it. That is not my style of preference, but I can only answer for me. Simple as that.

Do Not Feed the Troll

As I continue to pull back from a lot of online areas – mostly due to the constant barrage of “what Donnie does, what Donnie says” – I have noticed that internet trolling is becoming more and more common. As well as open criticism without regard for what is being read. We’re a good worldwide society at complaining, sniping, and criticising other perspectives. The internet provides a lot of cover for those that decide to hide behind a pseudonym or fake profile to achieve their means.

I’ll admit, getting the zinger in does feel good. I do it all the time with the President’s Twitter account. Well, not ALL the time. I do have a life. But I do toss in a zinger from time to time.

Tweet

I would love to think that the President of the United States actually reads my trolling efforts, but I sincerely doubt it. Besides, I am not trying to provoke a response from him. Since this is a communications medium tied to a Presidential administration, that means that when he finally does leave the White House these will be part of his Presidential archive (by law). I just wanted to be sure my voice was added to that for future reference. 🙂

But let’s come back to the area I am wanting to work with here – how we communicate. Or rather, how we choose to communicate within an open, online “forum”. I am sure you have seen the “battles” that take place on Facebook, and I am sure there are a lot of you out there who, like me, are tired of watching the energy that gets expended in these exchanges. These exchanges that solve nothing, and change no one’s already well-set perspective.

For some, these exchanges are what they get off on. They enjoy spreading the anger by cajoling others into an interaction. When one responds in an angry fashion about what a waste of human excrement that this “troll” is, the “troll” gets fed precisely what was desired – your emotional response. The result is that the “troll” will fire off another retort or statement that is even more incendiary than the first, expecting an even greater expenditure of emotion from you. And when you respond, in that same fashion again – the cycle begins with even more bombastic rhetoric. I have seen this cycle. Nine Hells, I have even participated in it – from both sides. But long before the internet.

Back in the late 1980s to sometime in the late 1990s, I participated in Bulletin Board Systems, more commonly referred to as “BBSs”. I had my local favorites here in the DFW area. “Pandora’s Box” was an adult-oriented system. Renaissance BBS was when dedicated to discussions of all sorts, and one of the places I “published” my poetry on. Dark Side of the Moon was themed after the Pink Floyd album of the same name but was geared towards philosophical discussions. Malkuth BBS was a Pagan-oriented BBS where the ability to participate was by invitation only. And then there was The Church Mouse. Run by a devout Christian, it was here that I played the role of the troll. I jabbed and punched at various Christians in rolling debates, along with an Atheist and a Chassidic Jew. Some of the discussion was actually serious, but most of the time, I played the role of hit-and-run troll. Looking back, I realize that my interactions were childish, at the very best. All I was trying to do was make someone angry. And when that individual did respond in anger, I felt I had won the battle.

“Won the battle.” What in the Nine Hells did I win? A short emotional response that made me feel more superior to someone else. Last night, in a discussion with a much younger individual (early twenties), he made the remark that he had won plenty of “battles” with folks in a discussion. I asked what he had won. He told me that these folks did not like him, as if this was a trophy to hold. I told him that for me to participate in such antics – there had to be a prize, like money or an actual trophy. of course, I was being sarcastic, but I doubt my point had any application for him. I remember feeling invincible at that age too.

But I actually did win something during all those trolling moments. Like my young friend, I earned the disdain of quite a few people. Furthermore, I assisted those individuals into thinking that every Pagan that they would meet was an angry, combative individual. That all a Pagan could accomplish in a conversation is an angry derisive commentary against their beliefs. Or maybe they merely came away from those thinking that directly of me, and not broad-brushing against all of those who were also Pagans. I certainly hope it was the latter.

All of which leads me back to my semi-constant barrage against the President’s Twitter account. The above tweet that I sent is one of my “cleaner” tweets. I have sent some really nasty tweets to Donald Trump. I’ll admit, it is not one of my more adult things to have done. But sometimes, you have to fire back at someone who is using power provided to him under a social contract such as the Constitution of the United States to harm other people. I cannot drive up to the White House, knock on the front door, and slap the wig off his head while admonishing him for all the hurtful policies he has implemented as “Executive Orders.”

What I can do; however, is to vote in every election. For politicians who will vow to be more socially conscious with what they should be doing. Regardless of the level of the position that they are seeking or even the political party that they are part of. So long as they follow the social contract that is what government is. I can publish blog posts like this, asking others to follow that lead. Ask. Because I do not command you. “I am no leader. I do what I have to. Sometimes people come along.” Yes, I am quoting Dennis Leary’s character from the movie “Demolition Man” because it is a direct understanding of what I am and who I lead. I only have one follower – me. Anyone else who chooses to follow my example does so because they decided for themselves to do so.

As one of my fellow Pagan bloggers said quite a while back (I am not sure who or when – just that I read it on a Pagan blogger’s site) “words do matter.” I would also add that what we decide to accomplish with those same words matters as well. Internet trolls only stick around, so long as you feed them. React to them, you provide what they want. They will attack with even more force, more names, more derision…because they want another reaction from you. The idea is to force you off your center and balance so that you flail back constantly. You are not harming their assumed personae. You are just wildly lashing out. And for them, that is laughable. Try not to feed the trolls. It really is not worth your time or effort. Take it from someone who was a troll before there were internet bridges to sit under.

do_not_feed_the_troll_by_veilx-d38viyi

Be a REAL Patriot…Vote.

It is the 4th of July…another day. I am not a flag wavin’ type of individual, so this is essentially a normal day. Except that folks feel the need to fling gunpowder into the air and ignite it. But that’s their problem, not mine. And if anyone wants to question my “patriotism” over my lack of glee on this day – let me remind you, I gave up my rights as a citizen for eight years to serve in the military. Please, don’t thank me for my service, I don’t want or need to hear it. Not in the current environment we live in.

No, my reference is not to the fact that the Sunkist Dictator is currently the elected President of the United States. Rather, my reference comes to the state of how we do politics in this country amongst ourselves. Rather than just disagreeing, we make it personal. Rather than discussing, we talk past one another, while attempting to speak louder than a Manowar concert. We hold these “discussions” as a form of battle – having to “win” at all costs, even finding appropriateness in hurling extremely insulting terminology at the other side, in much the same manner that military forces hurl napalm into theaters of war. We are not mindful of what these words do or even what that means to the people that wind up hearing them. Because we have to “win” the argument. Because no one can have a differing political point of view from our own.

MeYesterday morning, I saw a news report where a woman and child were united after two months of being apart. The mother relayed a statement that was essentially a warning to anyone wanting to come to the United States: “Do not come here. These people are heartless.” I can completely concur with her statement. No, I am not being sarcastic here nor am I advocating for tighter border security. Rather, I concur with her statement that people in America are heartless when it comes to immigrants fleeing the terrible conditions in their own country. The United States is not seen as a pot of shining gold, where currency falls from the trees like leaves. Rather, it is seen as a place of refuge, a place of safety, where an individual can work hard for their family’s needs, and eventually have a better life. And that better life would be one where daily violence is not visited upon them as it is back in their home countries. At least that is the hope.

Here in America, we seem to have started a new un-civil war. Violence is slammed against those that do not see the world through the same jaded worldview. Granted, we do have a President that is pushing against the laws that rightfully restrict the powers of a single individual in a triad of governmental control. To call this man an adult with reasoned understanding is a flat-out lie. He is nothing more than a petulant child that only sees his own needs before those of anyone else. And that is a bad thing to have for a position that is to be a representative of all the citizenry of this country. He also comes from a position of significant privilege that has been afforded him by his significant wealth. In other words, he is used to getting his way on everything. Laws be damned. Money speaks. Except when you’re a government official. And we watch him constantly rage on Twitter about it.

The bad thing here? He rages, we react. Essentially, he calls the tune, we dance. Maybe – and I am just spitballing into the wind – if we stopped letting him call the tune and we stopped reacting to his pied-piper act on Twitter, we (the collective citizenry of the United States) could drive the narrative. I think we all forget that whether you voted for the individual or not, government officials work for us. But to make that statement have any bite whatsoever – Americans need to do what they do not – vote in EVERY election. As I pointed out earlier, what if the other person shows up to vote? Who knows how the election might have actually gone in the last Presidential cycle. It might have made things interesting. But it all brings up another point – when do we start getting people that are WORTHY of our vote to run for elected office?

I will admit, I was unhappy with the individuals that were offered up by either of the two major parties. None of the Republican candidates were to my liking. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders – not a democrat – at any point in my life. I think I agree with Sanders about five percent of the time. And while I loved Bill Clinton as President, I was not as enamored with his wife, whose politics do not mesh well with my own. I found a third-party candidate that was a better fit for my beliefs and provided my vote there. To be completely honest, as John Beckett noted to me in a Facebook comment: “…if someone is looking for a perfect candidate, they will never find one.” That is not a direct quote, but it is close enough. A perfect candidate is likely to never occur. My vote for the third-party candidate was for an individual that was not a perfect candidate for me. Because that individual does not exist.

So how does all this relate to my Druidry? Well, my concept of Druidry is that I find connectivity to the world around. Politics and all the gnashing of teeth that is currently underway is in that web of connectivity. I do not like that it is, but to deny that existence would be to remove a part of what I sincerely believe. I am connected to a lot of people on Facebook. Here, people post links to articles, badly created and worded memes, and even long statements on how today’s political affects them or other people that they know. I’m not a massive empath, but all of that stuff does hurt. I see people in distress over what is being done.

Done by a single individual, the petulant child I mentioned previously. I do not completely agree with the ferocity that others provide to this Twitter Dictator. To put those kinds of feelings and emotions into the hatred of one individual gives power to that person. The true power that he holds is somewhat limited under the powers provided to his office through the Constitution. And those limitations are enforced by the other two branches of government. One is an appointed position that is granted after a process between the President and the Congress. The other – the Congress – is voted in by the citizenry of this country, as their representatives. Elections have consequences, folks. Sure, turnout in droves for the Presidential cycle. In the meantime, less than ten percent of the voting populace turns out for all the other cycles. There are officials and government representation that gets voted on here – including Congressional representatives and senators. These are the folks that have the representative power to keep the President in check. And you let ten percent of the voting populace determine who that will be. Let that sink in…ten percent. One out of ten voters makes that difference.

Politics does not figure into my Druidry or my Spirituality. But community participation does. And I honestly cannot think of a more community focused activity than voting. I could care less who you vote for or the reasons you put behind it. That is your personal business, not mine. I am not telling you who to vote for or what proposition to vote for or against. Make yourself an informed voter and educate yourself on all of that prior to making it to your local polling location. That is a part of connectivity. Knowing the issues, and participating in your community elections. For me, that is a part of my Druidry. And that type of connectivity, in my opinion, means far more than slamming poorly written memes up on your Facebook wall or having insult-laden arguments with others in whatever venue or medium you choose to do so.

You want true Patriotism? Forget the flag waving. Forget the hollering “America is the best country in the world” at the top of your lungs. You don’t even have to wear a military uniform to be truly patriotic. Be a true Patriot, participate by casting a vote in ALL of your elections. Your local, county, state and federal elections. All of them. Be involved enough to know what the candidates stand for, and what voting “yes” or “no” on an issue will mean to you. Be a real Patriot: be informed, and for the love of the Gods…VOTE.

But that’s really just my own perspective. I can only do me. You have to figure out you.

 

Dealing With Untimely Death

I honestly had planned to write something very different for today’s blog. Unfortunately, my mind is elsewhere, to be precise it is on my youngest kitty, Kaylee. And just like the issues with Gizmo last week – this week does not bode well. In fact, it is shaking me right to my very core.

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Gizmo hiding…sort of

See, last week – I had to have Gizmo put to sleep. She had a cancerous growth that was extremely quick and invasive on her tongue. It grew in size quickly, and cut off her ability to eat and was affecting her ability to breathe. It was an inoperable form. So rather than watching her in pain, and knowing things were not going to get better, I opted to help her cross the veil. I could have been selfish and kept her alive a little longer – hoping against hope that a surgery that would have happened today would have helped her. But she was in pain, and last Thursday morning – she had essentially checked out.

In the meantime, Kaylee had been having trouble walking on her front left leg since late May. She is the most active of the three cats – always moving, and jumping, and checking into everything. The vet and I both chalked it up to landing wrong. Rest, and some painkillers went home. Xrays showed nothing wrong with the leg. So, I babied her and watched. And waited for her to start using her leg. She didn’t. I kept checking it, pulling on it, massaging the toes, thinking that she was feeling some kind of feeling because she had refused to use it. Eventually, I could feel her upper leg getting bigger and stiffer. Like her muscle had clenched up and wouldn’t let go. This was also the time frame when Gizmo was starting her rapid decline, so my entire focus wasn’t really on Kaylee’s leg. Until the day that Gizmo passed.

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Kaylee curled up in my office chair

On my out of the vet, an appointment was made for today for Kaylee to be seen. X-rays were taken. The tight muscle was actually new bone growth. or rather, bone growth brought about by the bone cancer on her upper leg. The prognosis wasn’t favorable. Provided that cancer had not spread from her leg into her chest, Kayle would lose the leg and the left part of her collarbone. A deeper x-ray was needed, and Kaylee was moved off to the Equine center next door for more in-depth scans. She has a mass in her chest that might just be a fatty deposit. But it could be the spreading of her cancer. Materials for a biopsy, along with the x-rays have been sent to a specialist. I should know early next week what happens from here.

Kaylee is currently on the daybed which is next to the window that looks out over the pool. This was a favorite spot of Gizmo’s, but occasionally I would catch Kaylee laying there. She has been watching out the window. A few times, I have gone over and sat with her, petting her, letting her clean my hand, my forearm, and the tip of my nose. She has always thought of me as her kitten, I suppose. Cleaning me constantly to make sure I was the cleanest kitten on the block. Some of the symptoms of bone cancer include lethargy, which she has. She does not move often from whatever spot she winds up in.

All I can do is watch. And hold her. And pet her. And kiss her. And talk softly with her. All of that, while knowing these might be the last few days we have together. Knowing that if the end is not here, long and difficult days will be ahead for the rest of her life. And if I am given that gift, her being around with a leg missing – I will count myself damn lucky. And that I will have stolen those days from the Reaper.

Otherwise, I know that this cat – a cat that was adopted from the Hickory Creek Animal shelter…. This cat, who was left in a foreclosed home with her mother and six other newborn kittens… This cat who was the last to be adopted from that entire group… This cat, who three months later would lick the tears from my face after I was verbally assaulted by the President of the company I worked for (a company I would quit four and a half hours later – in the middle of a digital phone upgrade over that abuse)… This cat, who spent every single day with me during my two years of unemployment, playfully reminding me that joy in life isn’t measured in by the dollars you make… Yes, this cat, who has meant the world to me since she came into my life and became my “puppy”…this cat has been and continues to be the shining star in my life, and I will forever be grateful for that.

No one should ever have to go through the untimely death of their children – furr-kiddo, human or otherwise. I have already done that with Gizmo, just six days ago. I can hope that I am not about to go through that again with the cat that is as close to being a familiar for me can be. But I do have to steel my heart over that possibility. Again.

How can you deal with the impending passing of a loved one? I am not sure I have that answer…for anyone, including myself. I do what I normally would. I cry when I am completely alone, and be happy and loving in her presence. I go out to the stone circle and ask the Spirits of Ancestors to watch over her on her passing, just as I did for Gizmo. I remember what I believe. And why. And that it applies to not just human beings and animals but everything around me. And yes, I feel angry. Angry that Gizmo has been taken from me. Angry that Kaylee is currently in pain. And I ask “Why them?” And I know full well I will likely not receive an answer. But I take comfort in that they had full and wonderful lives filled with love while they were with me. And while that will never fill the hole that Gizmo has left, nor the potential crater that will be opened if Kaylee leaves…it will have to be enough. Because it is what I have.

Just Because I Said It Doesn’t Mean You Have To Listen to Me or Do It

Within a lot of the more openly activist circles that I am in, I tend to get blasted for the perception that I am not “on-board” with a lot of the activities that tend to occur. I don’t attend the marches or protests. I don’t blast meme after meme after article after article denouncing the President and conservatives all over the country. I’m told that I am the problem with what is wrong.

I have no desire to sit here and refute each of those particular perspectives or justify how I am “with” what the protests are aiming to achieve. Why? Because I think its nonsense to have to justify who I am and what I do and what I believe. I can; however, tell you what I believe, and demonstrate that on a daily basis by continuing to be who I am. Without apology. Honestly, if that is not enough for some folks, so be it. I don’t live my life or walk my beliefs daily for others. Who I am and what I do is not some reality television show that needs to be placed on display to prove something to others. Nor should yours be, in my opinion. I cannot do you. You have to do you.

One of my favorite graphic images is currently making the rounds as a Facebook meme. tankgirlIts an image of Tank Girl pulling on her boots, the cherry on her cigarette beaming brightly as she makes her statement that things cannot be this way, that we can be wonderful. We can be magnificent. We can turn this shit around. And that statement is so very true. We can turn things around. We can be magnificent. We are wonderful. We just happen to be going through a difficult moment in our collective history. One that we have visited before, and forgotten. We have seen a lot of the issues that are currently taking place. Terrible treatment of others based on the pigmentation of their skin. Hatred and resentment of others because of who they love, or how many they choose to love. Codification of minimizing people who are different than those who happen to be in charge. Human history is littered with examples of this from every corner of the planet. And no matter how much you show these examples to those choosing to be on the inhumane side of things, it will not change their minds. They will find “holy” writings to utilize religious beliefs to justify their actions. They will flat out ignore those examples, utilizing the “we’re in charge because we were elected” mantra. They will point to laws as justification for what they are doing – its legal to do so, the law says we must. They will utilize invented morality to state their correctness. “Those people are sick in the head.” “I don’t want to see them in my everyday life.” “I don’t want my children to be like them.” Their children. Irrational hatred of those different than yourself is a learned behavior. Done through observation. The observation of their parents. Gods be damned, I certainly do not want my actions or behaviors to be the catalyst to having children hating others.

So why am I not out in the streets trying to combat all of this? Why am I not picking up stones and hurling them at police? Why am I not following politicians in their daily lives and shouting at them? Well, for me it is a simple thing – I am not willing to discard my humanity. Because when things are brought to an end, I would prefer to be an example of how we – that collective we thing – should act towards one another. I would rather be the force of calm and reason even when standing in the jaws of the maelstrom. And if that makes e into someone that is the “problem” then I will gladly wear that mantle.

I have sympathy and compassion for those that are being mistreated because of their differences in society. And I will gladly and willingly step between those swinging the riot batons at them. I will take the blows for them. I will not return those blows. I will struggle to defend myself and others. I will not take the offensive. I believe that once I have taken those steps, to visit chaos on others simply because they are conservatives or part of the current governmental administration – I will have lost the very ground I seek to defend.

Tank Girl’s point is a good one. We, again the collective we, can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. Yes, we can fight the battles. We can achieve the legal equalities that we seek. We can win those battles. What happens after that? When fascists and conservatives are defeated and beaten. What happens then? Those same fascists and conservatives will continue to be a part of society. That collective We were screaming hatred, anger, and attempting violence (in some cases) against those very same people.

Once the collective We win, once the collective We are in charge – I guess it will be back to tea and crumpets at the Red Hen, eh? Collective history suggests that this is not usually the case. All of this is far closer to a civil war than a country v. country war. We will all live within this collective society together. Even when capitulation happens, the battle will likely continue in our immediate environment. Perhaps not openly, but it will be there.

We can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. But I would submit that the collective We need to be a little more careful with the how it is accomplished. Lest we come back to do this again in another forty to fifty years. And maybe then, reason may no longer be available to curb some of the more despicable and disgusting methods of forcing one aspect of society to come to heel under the boot of another. We’ve done that chapter of history a few times before. And right now, we are only a few steps away from it happening again.

Nearly a year back, folks asked what #TheStorm would look like. Well, the edges of it have already passed. We are staring straight down its gullet now. Except that the description of a storm might not be an appropriate metaphor to use. Because this is a more like a Dragon. And it is the same Dragon that has visited our village before. Last time, before the Dragon left to slumber in his lair, our village was a smoking ruin. And now, as the battle rages around us, we squabble amongst ourselves over the choice of weapons that others bring to the battle or the manner in which they swing their swords. And yes, I am aware of how this statement relates on to what I am stating here – the cyclical aspect of it pointing directly back at my own words.

I am not a commander of troops in any of this battle. I manage me. I realize that my approach is open to criticism, ridicule, and disdain from others. Anything that anyone does in life is open to such. But as I noted before I know how to do me. You know how to do you. Far be it from me to tell you that you are doing it wrong. But I might comment that I certainly wouldn’t do it that way. Just because I said it, doesn’t mean you have to listen or change what you do. All it means is that I said it.

 

 

Thinking About….

So, as many of you saw earlier, my middle cat (I had three) crossed the veil this week (just a few days from this writing). Gizmo has been foremost in my thoughts for the last month. After a trip to the vet to find out what was going on with eating issues, it was noted that Gizmo had a melanoma tumor on the back of her tongue that had worked its way down her throat. It was an aggressive growth, as her health and well-being declined rapidly. I had steeled myself the best I could, knowing that these were going to be her last days in this incarnation. I gave her all the juices from the cat food, so she didn’t have to chew as much. In the end, I pureed her food into liquid form so she could get more sustenance. I sat with her in the middle of the night, petting her and talking softly to her during bad gasping episodes as the tumor started to narrow her ability to get air.

The hope was to get her to Tuesday morning when she would see a specialist down in Dallas to try and shrink the tumor with laser and radiation treatment. Thursday morning, she was in a seriously bad way. She had taken to hiding under the bed or behind the couch – her way of dealing with pain was to hide from everyone. At the vet’s office, I kept whispering to her that it was time to let go. As much as I hated to let her slip beyond the veil, a selfish thought admittedly, I know she is not in pain today and that is what was most important to me. Tonight, I will set a bowl of milk out at the stone circle, and say my final goodbyes. The bowl of milk is nourishment for her travels beyond the veil.

Everyone has their own ideas of what happens beyond. For most folks, there is the beloved tale of the Rainbow Bridge, where pets play and wait on the other side for their humans to cross – ready to provide the warmth and love they have done in this incarnation. My perspective; however, is a little different. I am a firm believer in the concept of reincarnation. Beyond the veil, is what is affectionately referred to as “the Summerlands” – a place where one can rest a short bit before coming back in another form. Don’t ask me what the purpose of continually being reborn is because I really do not know. I can speculate wildly for you, but its only speculation.

I believe that every creature has a part in all of that process. Even my little Gizmo. I love the story of the Rainbow Bridge and am deeply touched by the idea that Gizmo will be waiting for my own crossing at that bridge. But Gizmo has her own journeys to undertake. Our Paths will cross again at some point in eternal time and I look forward to when that happens. Until then, my life is far richer from having her in it just as hers was enriched by my presence as her human.

I know some folks will provide their own perspective of the afterlife based on whatever deeply held principles that they will have from their own experiences and connections that they have with the wider world around them (or not have as the case might be). The truth of the matter is this, none of us knows what comes after. You have to experience that in its totality to understand that mystery. And once it happens, there is no coming back to report the experience for others. To understand it, to experience it, one has to pass that point of never returning to this incarnation.

Is there a Heaven or a Hell? Maybe. A Limbo? A Purgatory? A Summerlands? Possibly. Or something we just do not understand or comprehend? A complete nothingness? I can understand that potentially being there as well. And while I sincerely miss Gizmo and wish she didn’t have to cross and experience all of that – I am not ready to cross over myself. I have lots of other mysteries and experiences to still have. Plus, I truly do believe our Paths will cross again, perhaps even in this lifetime that I am currently in. But I cherish the time she and I have had. The experiences we have developed together. Our little rituals for meal-time. Finding her curled up and firmly against my head at 4am in the bed. Her coming out and greeting me every time I came home. I will miss those little, nearly daily moments.

Good night little girl. I have enjoyed being your human. We will meet again. And that never-ending bond will continue to exist. Whatever form it happens to take.