Stuck – cars and bodies.

My car won’t start. I’m waiting at home for AAA to take me to the dealership to get this figured out. It has happened off and on for several years. It will get fixed, then stop again. It is a little annoying. I’m trying to use everything I’ve learned to adapt to this. Be calm. Accept it. Don’t fight it. See it as a lesson.

Maybe there is a good reason I’m being kept at home right now. Maybe something bad would have happened if I’d gone on my errands today. I’m trying to trust God. I’m trying to be thankful f

Meanwhile I’m thinking about other things. There is a possibility that I might be stuck for a long time. I’m not talking about my car right now. There is a possibility that I have multiple sclerosis. I have several of the symptoms. When I went to the eye doctor two years ago she noticed that my eyes twirl in an odd way. It is called rotary nystagmus. It isn’t a disease. It is a symptom. The ophthalmologist, in standard Western doctor way, told me not to look up anything about it. She didn’t want me to be scared. She doesn’t understand that not knowing is far more frightening than knowing. At least with knowing, you can name what you are up against. You have a plan of action once you have a name.

It could be a brain tumor. It could be multiple sclerosis. It could be a side effect of my bipolar medicine. It could be nothing. It could be either something really horrible, or it could just be the way things are and this just has never been noticed by any of my previous eye doctors, ever. That part is unlikely. I go to eye doctors at least every two years.

I was sent to a neuro-ophthalmologist. Then I was sent to get an MRI. Nothing bad showed up. I’ve had a thyroid test too – fine. There are now other symptoms. My fingers have a slight tremor. I have a pins and needles feeling in my arms occasionally. I have vertigo every now and then. Nothing stays long enough to be of real interest, until something else pops up for me to wonder about.

There is no cure for it, so early detection won’t do me any good. And, standard Western medicine being what it is, it treats the symptoms rather than the cause. That treatment alone is painful and has unpleasant side effects. So I pulled open “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” – one of my favorite how-to books. It is like an owner’s manual for the machine that is the human body.

Fortunately I’m already doing some of what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m doing water aerobics and yoga. I’m eating seaweed. I’m headed towards being vegetarian.

But the most important thing I think I can do is accept it. Whatever it is. Learn from it. Maybe there is something just over the horizon that I would miss otherwise. I’m mindful of the Chinese story of the old man, the boy, and the horse. I’m mindful of Rumi’s “The Guest House”. (I have copies of these in my Resources folder.) Everything speaks to the idea of not judging, of accepting, of trusting. Everything also speaks about being with and in the moment, the now.

Perhaps I will eventually get to the point where I can’t walk. My body will be like my car – unresponsive. I’m trying to be OK with that. I’m trying to be thankful for that. I’m trying to be open to the lessons that God needs me to receive like that.

I’m breathing into it, just like with a deep yoga stretch. Just like with pigeon pose, I’m breathing into it, breathing into all the tight places.

9-11-2013

Today is the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks in New York City. I don’t think we’ll ever forget that day. That day was a landmark day in America – a day where everything changed. It was a day we mark time by, like the day Kennedy was shot, or the day the Challenger shuttle exploded. We changed after those days. We lost some of our innocence.

It is important to remember that just a few people took part in that plan, not an entire religion. We can’t paint everyone with the same brush. This is a country that was founded on religious freedom. The Puritans came here because they wanted to be able to practice religion their way, without persecution. This is part of what makes America amazing. People from all around the world come here to be free.

Yet we stopped being free after that day. We all stopped being able to live freely without the government watching us. We are tracked, photographed, interrogated, and frisked. Our every move, cyber and real, is watched. We can’t get on a plane without being scanned. Our passports and IDs have security features they didn’t have before. Young boys who are any shade of brown are at a risk for murder by cop just for walking down the street.

We are all hyper aware. We are all on our toes. The collective paranoia is a bit much.

Sure, life is a lot safer and saner here than in much of the rest of the world. Bomb blasts aren’t normal. We don’t hear of attacks so often that we are immune to them. They still shock us. Being kidnapped and tortured is still something that doesn’t happen here on a daily basis. We still think we are fairly civilized.

But there is still a lingering fear that we are headed that way.

And while we are fairly enlightened enough to say that not all Muslims are terrorists, we are wary. While we can admit that the Westboro Baptist Church, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart don’t represent all Christians, at least their actions haven’t killed anybody. There is just bombast, not bombs. Their actions result hard feelings and ugliness – but not death.

I want to trust all Muslims, but I don’t. I want Islam to be a religion of peace, but if you judge a tree by its fruits there’s a poison apple there. Sure, there are many many more Muslims who are peaceful than jihadist, just like there are many more Progressive Christians than Fundamentalist. But I’m wary. I’m afraid. I think deep down many Americans are, but don’t have the words for it. We want to be kind and forgiving and trusting, but we hesitate.

I want everyone to be able to follow Creator in the way that they are called to follow their Creator, no matter whether they use the name Jehovah or Allah or any other name, or none at all. We have the same source. I want everybody who lives in America to feel free to live their lives the way they want to live them – up until it infringes on other people being able to live their lives. If someone doesn’t like Western culture – if they think it is too extravagant, too ostentatious, too carnal – then don’t participate in it. It is totally possible to live here and not do any of those things that define average American culture.

The Amish do it.

Instead of attacking what they don’t like, they live their lives as an example. But just as they don’t want to be forced to live life the standard American way, we don’t want to be forced to live life their way. This works for Amish and Muslims and anybody.

There has to be a middle ground. There has to be trust. There has to be dialogue, not debate. It isn’t either-or. It is yes-and. We can live in peace. We can share.

We can all get along. Teach us by example. Show us peace, by living it.

Intention – goals, Alice, and English roundabouts.

At the beginning of some yoga classes the teacher will invite you to set an intention. This is a prayer, or a hope, or a goal. It is a focus point. It is a way of aiming yourself in the right direction.

I offer you this insight from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where…
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

So you need to set an intention, otherwise you’ll end up just anywhere. You’ll wander off aimlessly and end up years later wondering how you got there. You got there because you drifted along with the stream.

Sometimes it isn’t planning to fail, but failing to plan that is the problem.

This is true mentally and physically. Where do you want to go? Do you have a business plan? Do you have a career plan? Do you have a spiritual plan? This isn’t about the “name it and claim it” trend – it is about being awake and intentional about life. I don’t believe in “wish-craft”. I do believe that everything worth having in life is made up of little tiny steps. You have to have a plan, and you have to work towards that.

Neil Gaiman in his “Make Good Art” book said that when he first started out he envisioned where he wanted to be as a mountain. He’d look at whatever job was offered him and measure it up as to whether it moved him closer to the mountain or further away. This seems like a good idea. Does this little thing get me closer to where I want to be?

Life is cumulative. A college degree is made up of many classes and many tests. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of little steps, going towards a goal. Everything built on top of everything. If you took a class and read a book and attended a lecture on your own with no goal in mind, you might learn something but it wouldn’t add up to anything specific. You will have frittered away your time, aimlessly wandering. You’d end up nowhere, lost.

This reminds me of when I was on a trip in England with my aunt. She was driving and I was navigating. I’d give directions as to what leg of the roundabout to take and she’d sometimes pay attention. She’d take the third leg instead of the fourth and we’d be hurtling down, getting further and further away from where we wanted to be. English roundabouts aren’t like American interstates. If you get off on the wrong one you can’t turn around and right yourself anytime soon. You’ll be at least thirty minutes away down the wrong road before you get to another roundabout where you can reorient yourself. She could have stayed in the roundabout, going around again to aim at the correct leg, but she didn’t. This happened a lot.

After several days of this I relinquished my role as navigatrix. Why bother telling her where to go when she was going to ignore me anyway?

So, my point is to aim. Plan ahead. Have some idea of where you want to go, because either you’ll stay stuck where you are, or you’ll end up really far away from your goal. What do you want to be doing ten years from now? How are you going to get there? Sometimes it takes baby steps in that direction. Just keep aiming that way, keep walking.

And don’t get in a car with my aunt.