If Life is Love, What Have I to Give?

 I want to share a waking dream this week. I came upon a documentary called “God’s Super Collider,” and I found it so fascinating I watched it three of four times. It is mainly about the Higgs field and Higgs particle (known as the God Particle), which give mass to everything in the known universe. Also it explains ‘dark energy’ and ‘dark matter’ better than I have seen before. But what I liked most is that the narrator/ filmmaker takes a gnostic turn with this scientific discussion into a treatise on God as Everything (and, No-Thing).  God is not outside but within every cell, every atom and particle of Its creation, the very air we breathe both metaphorically and literally. Since the Universe is One = ‘God’ = Love and love only, as THE cohesive and integrative weft and warp of reality or life itself, then It Just Is and that is All.

I Am… That… I Am.

I came away from this program with a mantra phrase that I practiced for several days:

“In Love I live and breathe and have my Being.”

This leads me back around to my monthly question about ‘How May I Serve?’ Since all life is One and we are each and all part of this Whole, then service to one is service to all, including care for oneself and one’s dear loved ones.

So I offer two techniques we can use to “take stock” of our capacity to be of greater service to the Whole:

First, make a list of your five (to ten) greatest strengths. I once attended a creativity conference where a workshop presenter had us write our five greatest weaknesses, then strengths; then he asked us to crumple the list of weaknesses and throw it away. Focus on your strengths to improve those and over time former weaknesses will also strengthen.

Second, write or talk about or make a list about: “What I Have to Give.”

List as many traits or qualities or abilities and talents you have developed that come to mind as ways you have been or could be of service in your life.

Review both lists or journal notes. When I did this I found myself noting beside each ‘what I have to give’ item in what domain or kind of relationship or activity I can or could express that trait. For instance, “caring” I can and do give to my pets, friends and family; while teaching I (can) give in more structured activities.

Try circling 3-5 of the qualities and/or strengths you have noted that seem to stand out to you as potentially linked; so, you can connect the dots between your greatest strengths and what you have to give. Looking then solely at these circled and linked elements, ask yourself if they suggest some specific sort of activity or a fresh approach to your developing and offering a new form of service?

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

In Service Is My Reward

For 45 years I have participated in service activities with my spiritual group, and I have taught university courses first as a grad student then  as a professor and author for forty years altogether. Service is baked into my sense of identity and purpose. I would feel bereft without the opportunity to serve, wherever and however I can be of use. A credo I have adopted is:

In service is my reward.

I put this out there because this month’s question is about how to be of service in a new location after semi-retirement, which I feel is a fundamental necessity for continuing growth and development. Living your Dream, Now!, which is the through line of my book, Your Life Path (see right panel), does not mean “settling” into an inert, less than active life. Quite the contrary; Living Your Dream means to be following (in Joseph Campbell’s terms), yet I would say, manifesting your Bliss! For as you achieve one facet of your fulfillment, this opens doors to pathways leading forth to many more.

In Indian traditions (both continental Indian Hinduism and some Native American cultures) conceptually a lifetime can be understood to be comprised of four stages or cycles. Elder-hood can be a period of reflection that bears the fruits of Wisdom, not just head or fact knowledge. Wisdom is expressed as service to one’s community based on the wealth of experience an elder has attained. Giving back, offering insights from a life well lived, is a vital stage by which the generations turn in the gyre of transformation and continuation of growth and enlightenment.

images are from pixabay.com

So I am ready to step forward, to volunteer in my new community and to forge continuing pathways forward with writing and other creative activities. I find that having made this commitment, already avenues are opening. I dreamed of an advertisement for my life mapping services. I will add some info in the blog tabs shortly. Plus I have been welcomed to help in a political context, and ideas are flowing for writing.

Service and love are one and the same, as forms of reciprocity in community.

I welcome YOUR story, and comments.

How May I Serve Thee?

My July Quest theme is “How May I Serve Thee?” By Thee I address the Universal Oneness by which we are all interconnected: all beings; all states of consciousness including all humans, other animals, all of Nature and Spirit. I could say, how might I serve All that Is, but I prefer to include You, dear readers, family and friends.

Service is in so many ways what I identify with as my ‘mission’ and goal in this lifetime. As my overall Quest this year is to manifest true happiness in my new post/semi-retirement location, and since service is the means by which I might fulfill my purpose, then service is the basis of my happiness. Hence ‘How May I Serve Thee?’, day by day, moment by moment is my means as well as my measure of happiness.

images are from pixabay.com

A practice I have been using this week, based on a morning contemplation insight, is to ask myself several times every day:

What More Can I Do, Today?

This has been a fine motivator this week. It has helped me revitalize my writing goals and to refine my writing activities, for writing is one primary outlet for service to me. In addition, this prompt helps me daily to clarify and focus on priorities and opportunities, including tasks but also expanding to creative action.

What I CAN– not should or would or might — DO opens unlimited possibilities of the Moment. I CAN, for example:

walk with my dog, read, write, explore new horizons locally, meet new neighbors, exercise at the Y, write a blog post, outline chapters, edit, respond to and send emails, read poetry, contemplate, watch documentaries, like other peoples’ blogs, interact over social networks, grade papers online,  kayak with a new friend; you see? Endless vistas of possibility unfold to reveal the multidimensional potentials of Now! And all of these actions can be engaged with as modes of service to Life.

So, I give to Thee:

What More Can You Do, Today?

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments

“Love, love, kiss, kiss!”

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My Better Endings story for June’s question of ‘Why Am I/ Are You Here?’ is about moving forward with love and an open heart. I look to my pet companions Sophie and Emily for my inspiration, as they give constant, unconditional love without ever having to think about it!

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Emily has her purr mantra that I am blessed to receive on my chest in our favorite chair most mornings and at night before going to dreams.

Sophie has developed a special gift as a Greeter when we go walking in our new community. Sometimes when she sees a person coming in our direction even halfway down a block, Sophie plants herself on the spot, refusing to budge until the person comes closer or until I take her to greet them. She gives them welcoming wet Shorkie kisses. “Love, love, kiss, kiss!” I often say to her while she extends her greeting ritual, especially when there are kids involved. People love it (mostly), usually commenting on how sweet Sophie is. She lifts their spirits with her loving gift, as both Emily and Sophie do for me always.

image from pixabay.com

Sophie and Emily’s unconditional blessings of love which evoke reciprocity while never demanding any return, are my strong waking dream for stepping forward in a new home with Love and an Open Heart. It is a selfless service they naturally share with trust and faith in the basic goodness of life. My next month’s question (re. the yearly Quest of attaining True Happiness) will be to explore ‘How May I Serve Thee?’

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Deer Vision

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I have had two waking dream concepts recently about my monthly question of ‘Why Am I/ Are We Here?’ I realize now they are two facets of the same idea: “Bubble awareness” and “Deer vision.” Both refer to living mindfully in the Now. Let me begin by exploring Deer Vision, as it seems most relevant to my probe.

In the rural environment I drive through where I am living now, white-tailed deer are abundant. They are such exquisite Beings, playful and loving in their close family groups, able to dive and leap in play with one another. One of my greatest concerns is that I never want to hit one as it would be crossing a road. So, I try to drive always with Deer Vision: looking far enough ahead and driving at such a speed that I could slow or stop in time to avoid injuring a deer.

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Deer Vision also means for me to consider and emulate how a deer sees. Such soft, intelligent eyes these white-tailed deer have. They often make eye contact with me as I stop for them to cross or as I slowly drive past. I imagine that how a deer sees is in energy forms, perceiving and assessing the intentions or consciousness of other denizens of the forest.

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This brings me to the broader notion of Bubble Awareness. From fencing I learned how important it can be to maintain a 360 degree awareness, forming a protective but fluid  ‘bubble’ of attention. This allows responsivity, let’s call it, the flexibility to advance or retreat in the moment without having to consciously “think” about it. When the alter (i.e. the opponent, in fencing) and self are both operating at a high degree of this sort of awareness, the ‘bubble’ envelops them both and they are in it together. I used to call this a ‘peak experience bout.’ But the principle extends to life in general.

I am Here, in part, to exercise Deer Vision within the perspective  of Bubble Awareness: to be attentive and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the Moment, for myself and in relation to all others.

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images are from pixabay.com

To be sure, being (only) human, I do not always achieve or maintain this ideal awareness. The other day while driving and actually mulling over Deer Vision at the time, a beautiful little chipmunk darted out in front of my car. Although I tried to slow down and veered slightly to avoid hitting the chipmunk, the car did run the chipmunk over. Darn!

My very act of trying to avoid the chipmunk may have been what caused the accident to happen, since s/he could not adjust to my change in speed or trajectory. Likewise, when “trying” too hard in life more generally, I often err in my human relations, too. Darn! So, patience with myself, acceptance of my limitations or the limitations of the situation as I/ we aim to see and respond, better.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

Eagle with Snake

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While driving in my car via a new route for me, from Ithaca to finally settle in at my new lakeside community retirement house, I watched as a Golden Eagle carried its living prey: a snake, dangling from its beak. The eagle with snake flew in front of my car in my same direction for a long while, weaving back and forth like blazing my trail forward; then it veered off to the northwest, precisely in the direction of my new home.

I certainly accepted this unusual experience as a waking dream, and one that relates greatly to my June question: ‘Why Am I Here?’

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My initial personal associations with this sign include that the Eagle could be understood as an Animus (a masculine energy form) in Jungian terms, with keen vision, sharp talons to provide for its young; also as positive purpose and clear directionality.

Online some of the information I discovered about this image revealed:

  •  Eagles and hawks have the keenest vision of all birds; therefore they are symbols of visionaries and messengers;
  • eagle with snake, in mythology, represents the conflict of opposites (a dialectical, dynamic fusion);
  • the Mexican flag contains the image of a golden eagle on top of a cactus, grasping a snake: “the very image the people had been promised would direct them to the place they would make their new home.”
  • Golden eagles do eat snakes but only as 2.9% of their usual prey; this has not even been reported to occur in New York state.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for this sign which feels like a blessing for my purpose in my new home. May I serve Life here in whatever capacity I am able.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Why Are You Here?

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June is my birth month, this year I’ll be 65. I find myself living my dream, now, as I have discovered, purchased, and moved into my dream retirement home in a beautiful natural setting, with a dynamic community, and with excellent regional resources and opportunities. I must admit, this scares me! Will it all come crashing down, too good to be  true? This trepidation reveals to me a self-limiting postulate that I need to confront and resolve in order to go forward with this fresh set of life conditions. My monthly question becomes:

Why Am I Here?

I have always recognized the double entendre of this age-old question, ‘Why are you here?’ Why here, at this physical place and time; or also why Here, in a spiritual sense. These two are connected from the perspective of Purpose. What am I here to do, be, and see? This also relates for me to a search for greater clarity regarding an even deeper concern:

How Can I Serve?

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Wednesday night last week I happened upon a sci-fi movie on TV that I had not heard of before, called “Passengers.” It was about two people on an interstellar spaceship traveling some 88 years to reach a habitable planet. Some 5000 passengers had been cryogenetically suspended for the duration of the voyage, but a malfunction caused one man, Jim, to resuscitate early, and after over a year alone, he revived a woman, Aurora, whom he had developed a fondness toward from watching her autobiographical video records. This was an atrocious act of selfishness as it meant Aurora, too, would die in transit before the ship could arrive at its destination.

(Spoiler alert): After an initial phase of believing Jim’s story that she had awakened accidentally, Aurora becomes enraged after a robotic bartender informs her of Jim’s actions to assuage his own loneliness. But my interest in this story piqued when the ship developed further malfunctions that required Aurora and Jim to work together to repair the vessel if the ship were to reach its destination at all, and for all its passengers to survive as well as themselves. It became a matter of Purpose then; I could surmise from a spiritual perspective that there had been no accidents at all in the revival of this man and this woman, with their particular skillsets and their survivalist personality dispositions. They were needed to save the ship and its passengers, a purpose of collective, not just personal, good. Their lives then took on a heightened significance; they had a purpose, a reason to be who/ what/ where and when they were in their own sojourns of discovery and service.

Already I have had a waking dream about this question, from a conversation with my sister who is a pastor in New England soon to be retiring after more than 40 years of serving as interim pastor in many churches. We arrived at the awareness:

Love Is All There Is.

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images are from pixabay.com

For all of our human questioning as members of an often overly self-conscious species (my dog Sophie and cat Emily do not have this problem!), I do feel that at the foundation of everything–of all sentient experience–is Love: unconditional, untaintable. I sense if I can connect these principles of service and love I can accept that I, like everyone, am indeed here for a greater purpose than personal satisfaction or material success. Therefore I have a right to be Here-Now and am willing to step forward to fulfill whatever service opportunities I can. Already here and now, I am writing!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Make Every Day a Good Day

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My waking dream this month is from a book called Wisdom of the Heart, by Harold Klemp:

“…life does not give rewards for good

or punishment for evil. It merely gives

results. Life is what you make it.” (pg. 26)

The same author says, “Make every day a good day.”  I found this gem a few days ago and have been using it like a mantra. Each day has been a gem of its own so  far, with new connections, insights and positive motion forward with responsibilities and creative projects.

Starting over–ostensibly alone but for my pet family–carries a full load of worries or trepidation as well as excitement and adventurous, fresh opportunities. Mainly I am faced daily with choices: everything from what Medicare plan to enroll in–as I turn 65 next month–to when it would be best to start social security allotments, how to address health matters, and how best to follow through with new local connections and with my writing and service ambitions.

I am approaching every new day as like a time capsule, using lists to keep me focused on what I need to do each day to fully ‘move in,’ to conquer immediate fears or anxieties, and to shape my new way of life in a new environs. A move is such a golden opportunity to establish yourself in a manner that accords with your current state of consciousness and intentions.

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images are from pixabay.com

I find I truly am now, mainly, gratefully, “living my Dream, Now!” every day. That does not mean everything is smooth sailing. In fact, to move forward consciously requires attending to my habits and thoughts, to choose wisely that which will continue to allow this Dream to unfold naturally and with beauty.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Carrying Deni

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Week Two of this year’s monthly process at Better Endings invites you to reflect on nightly dreams with regard to a question you have posed in Week One (or any time).

This month for me my significant dream has preceded the statement of my question, and has influenced it. My question is about Starting Over (see last post) after having retired and relocated far from my familiar life of the past 25 years. Not having a lifelong spouse or children due to choices made along the way, this major shift of location and new social community can seem overwhelming some times, though my dear dog and cat companions and being closer geographically to my family members and returning to be reacquainted with some very old friends are welcome blessings.

Recently I have been rudely awakened to the distance I have created from my Colorado friends as a very dear friend there (as well as another dear friend further away) has become afflicted with a debilitating illness and I feel sad and helpless not to be able to be there to lend a hand and provide direct support. Thus, “starting over, again” has a sad element of separation and anguish regarding loss of the mobility to be with especially my friend Denise in Colorado.

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So, the dream. In this dream another Colorado friend and I are going to pick up Denise–who is the one suffering now–to bring her with us to visit a third friend who is in the hospital (in the dream). I go to “pick up” my friend Denise quite literally, for her body is shrunken and she is unable to move about on her own. I pick her up in both arms rather awkwardly and ineptly and she says, “Hold me like a log.” When I awoke (just after that) I realized that holding someone like a log could mean with both arms outstretched and holding the body up toward my chest. Or, it could mean I am to see my friend’s or anyone’s body itself as just “like a log,” dead weight so to speak, as versus the dynamic, beautiful and vibrant, free spirit/ Soul my friend is and will always Be.

When I awoke and reflected on this brief dream I still felt sad for my friend’s condition, but I also felt encouraged. Time and geographical distance shift and forms of life and relations bend and change, but Soul to Soul connections, camaraderie, unconditional love do not fade and can persist despite outward facts and conditions. I love my friends; friendship has always been the bedrock of my life despite a lifelong theme of Relocation to pursue, first my family’s and later my own primary quests: educational, career-based, and spiritual.

So how this dream helps me answer my probe about how to best approach starting over (yet again) is to suggest that a life based in love, friendship and service is never truly solitary; and that friendship is eternal, spiritually if not always in the outer form.

That is all I can say, for now.

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I welcome YOUR Story and Comments about your own monthly–or lifelong–Quest.

Starting Over, Again

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At 65 next month, I feel I am starting over. Recently retired and this week completing a year’s stint as adjunct faculty far from my tenure of 25 years in Colorado, I have a second new home, no more classroom teaching after 40 years (though still teaching online), and a wide new community and lake environs to explore and to connect with.

I am grateful for the opportunities ahead without knowing what is ‘out there’ beyond the new horizons. My monthly question (inviting you to choose your own) is about how to  proceed with the greatest aplomb into this next Chapter; how to step forth into new territory with more mindful awareness, an openness to real change, and the dedication to implement my potentials through various forms of service. How am I to start over, having moved away from longtime friends and environs?

I open this month’s query with a poem, my first poetic impulse for over two decades:

Now Settled In Me

These days I traverse mindscapes

accompanied solely by voices from within,

now settled in me:

Friends I may never again visit bodily

remain; constant companions

alongside Masters and guides,

memories and silent vistas.

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I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

 

The Room of Requirement

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Last Sunday around 1:30 AM I discovered a “room of requirement,” right here in my new home! Immediately I recognized this was a waking dream confirming my emerging insight this month, that Love Matters (answering my monthly question: “How Can/ Does Love Really Matter After All?”).

I was in bed with my two pets Sophie (a Shorkie dog) and Emily (my orange tabby cat), looking forward to a restful sleep after being up late the night before.  Sophie started barking; I listened and heard a ‘drip, drip, drip, coming from the living room. It was raining outside, and when I got up to check it out I found my sliding porch door had sprung a leak, endangering the new wood flooring!

My first effort to plug the hole was to use a roll of “magic tape” I found in a kitchen drawer. This prevented the drip temporarily, but I knew it would not hold up through the night.  I live about 30 minutes from the nearest store that would be open 24 hours and have sealing materials and I did not wish to go out.

I went into the guest bathroom to use the toilet while asking inwardly, what could I do? For the first time ever, suddenly I noticed a door behind the bathroom door that I had never seen or been told about. It was a linen closet. Inside were not only extra towels but also a large red emergency kit. In the kit was an unopened package containing a roll of “absolute waterproof tape”!

I recognized this immediately as a gift of love from Spirit/ the Universe (call It what you wish!) in my time of need. This reminded me of the Room of Requirement from the Harry Potter saga.

The Absolute Waterproof tape worked to seal off my interior leak through the night. In the morning then I went to a store and came back to seal the sliding door both outside and inside. Mission accomplished.

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images are from pixabay.com

So What’s Love Got to Do With It/ How Can Love Matter? I believe “Soul Exists Because God (/the Universe…) Loves IT.”  In times of need, when you ask, even with the smallest of need as also with the greatest, It CAN embrace you and bring real solutions or balm for your anguish.  Sometimes, as I have found, we just need to be open to ACCEPT the love that Spirit brings in the Moment.

As my Better Endings story for this month of April 2019 then, I simply acknowledge:

Love Matters!

Because of this, I am okay, no matter what, wherever I am and whatever circumstances or conditions I encounter. Gratitude for all good things received and trust in the goodness of Spirit can lift our hearts to soar with the angels and is ever with us in times of need.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Stephen Hawking from the Other Side (or, What’s Love Got to Do With It?)

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This year we are exploring and pursuing our dreams here at Better Endings. Each month I invite you to put forth a deep personal question that relates to your high spiritual quest, let’s say, for it pertains to your greatest sense of mission or life purpose, in this life or beyond.

After posing your question (week 1) I encourage you to pay attention to and record your nightly dreams (week 2), then to contemplate your waking dreams and emerging insights about your question (week 3), so by the end of the month (week 4) you can compose/ write a Better Endings story or scenario about how best to incorporate what you have learned into your future Life Path.

I am excited this week from a dream I had yesterday morning (4/9) and to reflect on how it pertains to my own monthly personal question (but, please use your own): What’s Love Got to Do With It? (or, Does/ How Can Love Matter?)

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In my dream I am at a campus of—truly—Higher Learning (n.b., always use present tense in recalling your dream). First I am visiting a sports field where teams dressed in white and azure blue are playing a game akin to soccer except they use thought impulses to propel or to counter the ‘ball’ along the field a to goal area. A middle-aged appearing man approaches the field to observe the game with us from the right. I think to myself, ‘Is that Stephen Hawking?’—from his shock of hair though it is reddish here, and from his lithe step…until I realize this man is not in a wheelchair, which throws me at first.

Then I wheel/ drive a wheeled chair vehicle to carry a friend (woman, semitic appearing) to a special meal event. (This part was so important in my dreaming that it had an instant replay so I would be sure to recall it on waking.) The guest of honor at this honorary meal was indeed Stephen Hawking! This time he appeared more like I would envision him though he was seated upright and without any wheelchair or speech problems.

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The people who had organized and were hosting this special event are two of the greatest spiritual leaders I have been fortunate to know: Luisa and Gordon (last names not used here for their privacy), who are superb leaders with a spiritual group I have been associated with in Colorado. Several other guests at the table include a couple of other folks from that group and some special, once famous bright thinkers who have ‘passed on.’

Hawking shares a new insight he has gained since translating his form into the higher planes with the death of his physical form. Luisa observes that the principle he is describing could help ‘the Poor’ (though she qualifies that she is not yet sure if she would support such use for the sake of wanting people to strengthen rather than being dependent on quick solutions). Hawking agrees. He says that ‘students’ can, ‘even now’ (i.e. in the Physical, I surmise) use this principle to create abundance to meet their immediate needs, by manifesting through some sort of feedback loop effect, “reflecting (thought? spirit?) back on itself.” This statement is so astounding and exciting to me in the ‘dream’ that I wake up immediately on hearing this (btw, a good way to remember an important lucid dream message is to train yourself to wake up right then).

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So, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Everything. My bigger question about Love this month is ‘(How) Can Love Matter?’ which itself more deeply asks: Is there (after all) a meaning and purpose or positive results from living this (i.e. a particular) lifetime? As Love Is All, the basic fabric of the Universe and all things and Spirit Itself that fills such universe (my view), What/How Can Love Matter (“in the End”)?

In this dream of Stephen Hawking continuing to grow and share his uniquely gifted insight from Beyond in an after this lifetime context, well then, Wow!

Love/ Life/ It CAN and often DOES Matter, Very Much!

A lifetime of experience is not wasted and provides spacetime for developing or honing awareness and, hopefully, wisdom. We are unfolding this individualized awareness and character not just in a single lifetime (my belief includes the assumption of reincarnation to the point of eventually transcending even that); and not only in our current bodies that carry us along for a life cycle, but beyond that as well.

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images are from pixabay.com

It comes down to what we can do with the love we have expressed and the awareness gained in a lifetime of focused experience. The old adage, “you can’t take it with you” does not abide here. True enough, we do not take or physical body nor our material acquisitions with us as we translate from this lifetime into the next/ other dimensions. But we do retain our individualized consciousness as a facet of our higher Soul awareness, a spark of divine wisdom, a molecule in the creative fountainhead, from the Ocean of love/life force Itself (my limited view, of course).

So, goodbye to Despair! This has been my deeper concern over the past few monthly themes. (This) lifetime can/ does/ shall matter, for Love is All, the source and basis of all transcendent awareness. This reminds me of a useful insight:

“Soul is a happy entity.

IT cannot be any other way.”

(Paul Twitchell)

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments

What’s Love Got to Do With It? (Love Matters)

Hi All, I am merging week One and Week Two topics this time because the author interview posted last week came through unexpectedly, and I was asked to share that.

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This past month has brought difficult news about two of my good friends who are facing very difficult health conditions. Both are facing their conditions with strength and some degree of appropriate humor, but they are facing the impending mortality of their physical bodies and the mysterious transition of spirit which that entails. As I ask myself what should my monthly contemplation question be for April, I hold my friends dearly in my heart as I ask, “What Is (the Value of) Love?” or maybe more specifically, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Because Love seems to be what matters most in dealing with issues of life and transition.

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When I was in high school in the turbulent early 1970’s, my father once grounded me because he said I “do not know what love is.” We were at a restaurant with the family for a Sunday brunch. Dad made some negative comment about the Beatles, especially John Lennon. I said boldly,

“All they are singing about is Love!”

For this Dad grounded me for a month, to think more deeply about the true meaning of love (to be generous with his motivation; actually he just didn’t like for anyone to challenge or contradict him in public). But I have never forgotten this experience and have often asked myself, at every new stage or transition of my life:

“Do I truly know what Love Is?  What Is Love, Really?”

This means, for me: why is love so important; am I truly capable of love or of being loved; and what does/ how can love matter, for I sense it is the most important state of consciousness one can have/ develop/ give/ receive/ share. I have come to believe that “Love is All!;” that at the base of any vital experience IS Love, a fountainhead of grateful bounty and blessings, the foundation of a true harmonious connection with another being or with nature or with our own higher Self, Spirit, and Divinity Itself; or else, the apparent lack of love, an emotional or spiritual vacuum.

In all, my best understanding so far is simple:

Love Matters.

So this shall be my personal growth question for this month, about how love matters and how the fact of Love, as an unconditional spiritual force, matters to the continuation and transformations of Life. I am reminded at the start of one of my favorite songs ever, about Love. It happens to be by the Beatles. (You may Click here to listen.)

In My Life

(by Paul McCartney, John Lennon)

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life– I love you more

 What is YOUR question for the month of April? I invite you to set your focus question as a contemplation seed for personal growth.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

 

 

As Strange as Fiction / Let Each Breath Count!

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This morning (from Thursday) while en route to work, I had a sort of deja vu or, more accurately, an other dimensional flash of awareness. I saw my life as Story, with me as an actor engaged in acting out the script my Higher Self, let’s say, has composed for this leg of the journey. t reminds me of how we live our lives as Story; perhaps at least humans (similarly as all sentient beings, I assume) should be classified as Homo Narrativus.

My new book, Your Life Path (see right panel; available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble), is all about helping YOU to review your Life Story as mythic, in terms of chapters, themes, ensemble character arcs, and plotline.  The (free) Life Path Mapping Toolkit (downloadable also from the right panel) provides life mapping and journalling activities.

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My epiphany on Thursday reminded me that life is (at least) as strange as fiction–as fiction is based upon our lives, primarily.  So regarding my present scene, set, character actions, conditions and relations as part of the narrative flow can help me to accept and follow the narrative arc set out before me. Or, as Homo Narrativus is both an Author as well as Character, I could choose to revise or redirect the plotline at any Moment.  Here is the launchpad for creating “better endings.”

One of my favorite film storylines is Stranger than Fiction. In this dramatic comic fantasy, a tax auditor played by Will Ferrell looks in the mirror while shaving one morning and wakes to the realization that he is actually a character in some (other) author’s novel. The Author, played by Emma Thompson, has not yet completed her story about the Auditor; she is stuck in a writer’s block mode. Should she, as is usual for her stories, kill off the main character (the Auditor) at the end for having lived an unrealized, unfulfilling life; or, not? Meanwhile the Auditor must figure out who he is in the story and what genre of story he is in, be it tragic or comic. He seeks the help of an English Professor, played by Dustin Hoffman, to help him figure that part out.

See this film  Stranger than Fiction for the rest; I do not want to be a spoiler here. It is well worth seeing and mulling over for yourself.

So for this final week of the month, here is a Better Endings scenario for my own monthly contemplation seed, ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ (I invite you to write or think about your own Better Ending outlook for a personal question or concern you find yourself contemplating this month.)

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images are from pixabay.com

Let Each Breath Count

I will title my Better Endings story this month, “Let Each Breath Count.”  Who knows, for any of us, how much longer our current lifetime storyline is to continue? What I do have some measure of control over is, how shall I love and breathe through every moment.

Through fencing (see previous post) , I learned from a coach to “remember to exhale!” (‘Et la!’ one can think while exhaling and landing an attack.)  Exhaling while lunging with a fencing foil attack actually lengthens your stride enough so that your ‘point’ is more likely to reach the receding target.

My Better Endings mantra to carry forward from this month is “Let Each Breath Count!” Every moment is a potential punctuation mark or Turning Point in my life journey; an unconscious or better, a mindful act of choice. Generally I set out intentionally, so following through on immediate daily plans is the correct choice. But when I reach a roadblock or a pregnant pause of some sort, it is helpful to review and possibly redirect my action. I may benefit from revising my goals or recognizing an unexpected opportunity to advance (or retreat) in a new direction.

So as I set out on the next act with relocating and moving into the next phase of my post-retirement chapter, I aim to remember how my life story intersects with others’. I aim to be flexible and responsive. I do not want to go forth just in a “Present” tense bubble that carries my past habits forward unexamined. I claim the freedom and the obligation to navigate intentionally my Life Path boat, as it were, so that Living My Dream, Now means that my personal dream remains flexible, expansive, and adaptive to the concerns and opportunities of every moment, for everyone involved, with every breath.

With this rededication, May the Blessings Be!

I welcome YOUR Story or Comments!

 

 

Miracles: More than Magical Thinking

A waking dream about my monthly question of ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ comes from watching a Saturday television documentary on a channel I have never watched before. This was a biographical story about a farmer named Jason which got me thinking about the difference or the relationship as well between miracles and magical thinking.

Jason had been a professional football player, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. You might think this was his dream come true, but no; Jason’s ‘better endings’ story came from asking inwardly for guidance to find his real calling. The answer to his prayerful question was that he should become a farmer. A man of deep spiritual faith, Jason quit his day job and found the farm of his dreams to which to move his family. Having made this choice, a long sequence of miraculous seeming opportunities unfolded, which Jason regards as acts of divine intervention.

The farm Jason ended up buying was not even on sale when he saw it first, but in an indirect way he was redirected to ask and the owners agreed to sell. Jason named his farm “First Fruits,” gifting not just the first season’s crops but indeed all crops for the next several years to anybody in his community in need of produce or food donations. Gratitude poured back from all directions; farmhands, a new tractor, roosters that appeared by a roadside when he was thinking about wanting to find some roosters, and even a donkey that was gifted exactly when he was worried about how to protect some goats against predator coyotes: all were gifted just as the need arose.

images are from pixabay.com

Jason’s story reminds me of a similar sort of autobiographical story described in the interesting book, Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered. There, too, Machaelle Wright tells how she followed her inner guidance despite in her case drastic abuses and obstacles, emerging with an uncanny ability to conjure forth the slightest need–such as manifesting physical tools in her hands during contemplations–to aid her very positive farming enterprise.

So what is the difference or the relationship between miracles and magical thinking? The latter is generally regarded as a matter of frivolous or selfish, wishful thinking; that one should be able, figuratively speaking, to twitch their nose or wave a magic wand to satisfy their or others’ material needs. Some prayer, I would aver, is really a matter of magical thinking being projected onto a concept of divinity in service to selfish desires. As if divinity or the universal good–however you might comprehend that–doesn’t know what one ‘needs’ until It is petitioned, or doesn’t know as well as some mere human what is needed or most beneficial to the highest good or needs of all concerned.

I find in my own practice that true prayer–which I would relabel as contemplative communication with Spirit or the universal good–involves listening TO and FOR the divine principle and being receptive to ITS moment to moment guidance, which can lead to definitely ‘miraculous’ daily events! I comprehend this as enjoining a TANDEM relationship with spiritual guidance and oversight, as it were. It is like riding a two-seated bicycle with Spirit, sometimes on the front driver’s seat and sometimes taking up the rear to allow the guiding wisdom of Spirit to lead the way toward well considered, worthy aims or solutions.

What Difference Does It Make?  The reality of  a positive, tandem relationship with Spirit or the Universe proves in every daily miracle acknowledged or acted upon that the smallest pursuit DOES matter, CAN matter for fulfilling “the greatest interests of all concerned,” so long as that is the intended result of one’s most humble inner quest.

I welcome YOUR story and Comments!

What Difference Does It Make? Double Ballestra!

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This month I am framing a lifelong question of “What difference does it make?” Similar to my question from last month of “So what” or “what then?” I have often returned to this question in times of deep transition or choice. It relates now for me to how best to proceed “forward” with my current relocation process. I do not want to settle as I gradually assume more of a retirement income; I always aim to live a life of value not just to myself but to others, to life itself.  Every action, every thought, every creative or productive expression should matter or I feel I am wasting God-given energy, intelligence, love. So, ‘what difference does it make?’ propels me to continue with my writing and to figure out how best to offer services related to the Life Path Mapping process I have been blessed to develop over the last decade or so. So far, though, visiting my new home while still completing a semester of classroom as well as online teaching has left me just settling in. Like a recluse, I enjoy the new home but have not been very active.

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Already I have had a significant dream this month about my question. It was a fencing dream. In the dream I discover a fencing club or team at a new location, so I go around looking for equipment so I can join the team. I realize that in the past when I have needed a major boost in life, I have returned to fencing, either in reality or in my dreams. When I was finally ready t complete my dissertation in Phoenix, I joined a community college fencing team with a former Olympian coach. This gave me the impetus to carry forward; within six months after three years of slower progress, I finished my dissertation, graduated, and moved to take a university position in Colorado.

Advance; retreat; feint; attack; retreat/ defend; parry-riposte; double advance; coupé-disengage; fence without a blade; shield with parry; distance control; beat-feint, advance; bind; retreat; double-ballestra-beat-disengage-coupé-fleche—touché!

The above syntax reflects the sort of thought process I would engage with in a typical fencing bout, at the height of my fencing skills.  Fencing is a constant flux of action and reaction, a continuous flow of positive intention to find an opening and defend one’s ground and person along the way. The final successful touch is so exhilarating; I have never experienced anything remotely as satisfying or completing…to land a touch is to make a difference, surely!

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Because I am short and fencing generally favors tallness, my own strategy would be to stay out of reach of the opponent while figuring out her patterns and discerning vulnerability. Then on a final flourish I would do a double or triple ballestra (a forward jumping motion), culminating in a fleche which is an outright running attack, landing the point while running past the often then bewildered opponent. If I failed, at least I usually would not be hit (though might be!) I could start the process over and improve upon the maneuvers to build a new attack or wait for their attack instead and counter it quickly. Even remembering these moves stirs my enthusiasm.

The solution to inaction is action! Engagement. Stepping forth. So HOW to make it count, HOW to make a difference supercedes the fear of not succeeding. What is worth doing is worth doing well. May I draw upon this awareness in forging the new life ahead.

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images are from pixabay.com

What is your pressing question this month? I encourage you to dream and contemplate its meaning and significance. Forge on!

Ehwaz—A Better Endings Answer to ‘What Then?’

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Week Four of each month this year I am inviting you to write your own Better Endings story or scenario relating to going forward in your life based on insights you have gained from contemplating a monthly question pertaining to your personal life Quest.

For me through February I have been contemplating the personally meaningful question of ‘What Then?’  I have arrived at some valuable insights from dreams and ‘waking dreams’ about this question.  One amazing dream showed a woman (a spiritual Guide and/or my realtor) ceremoniously carrying a large spruce branch as she approaches the new home I am in process of moving into as my new writing and retirement home. This was a wonderful image as I associate a spruce branch with cleansing and with new growth, so this dream vision portends great new potentials for a fresh, creatively productive life in my new home and location.

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Just this past Tuesday I received another very relevant waking dream: a photographic slide made into a pin that was among a set of these the Art History department where I am teaching left out for people to take as a gift. The ‘art pin’ slide image I selected is a sculpture called “Horse and Rider” (by Maria Marini, 1945-1950). The abstractionist metal sculpture depicts—to me, though at closer inspection online the rider is nude (see below)– a Medieval knight wearing a helmet astride a horse whose head juts forward while the rider has his arms fully extended outward to both sides.

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I have always found the symbol of horse-and-rider significant personally. The Nordic runes I have sometimes consulted have a Horse and Rider “partnership” rune called Ehwaz.

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images are from pixabay.com

This rune draws attention to a partnership or friendship relationship of any sort (with another person, animal companions, or a creative project).  Here is an interpretation:

How to Interpret “Ehwaz”  (https://www.ifate.com/rune-meanings/what-does-the-ehwaz-rune-mean.html) :

Most simply put, Ehwaz symbolizes ‘forward energy and movement’. Ehwaz may represent general travel and steady progress– or it may literally represent a car, plane or another method of transportation. Ehwaz also symbolizes communication over long distances, and can refer to an important message that one will give or receive. Harmonious concord and pulling together as a team is also referenced here. When Ehwaz appears in a spread, it empowers the runes around it and augments their meanings simply by virtue of its directional energy and forward movement. Teamwork, forward-motion, communication, and consistent drive will win the day when this rune turns up.

So, let me try my hand at a Better Endings story based on this image of Ehwaz along with other insights arrived at this month from asking ‘What Then?’:

‘What Then? sang Plato’s ghost;

What Then? W.B. Yeats

            My partial retirement and relocation to the Godsend of my new home are about riding forward, not settling back into any less active or less creatively or spiritually productive way of life. This gift I have gratefully accepted of retiring a bit earlier than most while still continuing to teach online from a remote location allows me to step up, not down; to continue to develop book sales and offer life mapping services related to my new book, Your Life Path (see side panel to order!) while writing forward to complete the next 2-3 books in my Life Paths series.

 Your Life Path

Horse-and-Rider is an image meant not only for myself alone; it betokens what the Life Path Mapping Process provided within my book can offer to anyone: a creative, practical toolkit for integrating and aligning the Self with Life Itself; i.e. with Spirit or the Universal Life Force. Life Path Mapping can help anyone to reflect upon and envision or even re-model their life course according to their highest, deepest sense of purpose, their Life Dream.

I ride forth from Here, arms outstretched and open to new potentials, to fulfill the life purpose that has brought me to this space. I ride my Spirit Horse with trust and loving gratitude, whatever the future might bring.

The horse-and-rider partnership also reminds me of one of my favorite Irish film stories, Into the West. A set of brothers have lost their mother and have been separated by their despondent father from their spiritual heartland and heritage as Travelers. A white horse depicting the mythic Tir na nOg arrives and transports them, propels them, back to the Western seas where they will metaphorically reunite with their Mother, with their very Soul.

Funny that my current relocation process propels me Westward from where I have temporarily paused en route to re-engaging my deeper Purpose. I accept! Thank You, my Spirit Horse, my family, friends and pet companions all, and my spiritual Guides. May the Blessings Be!

So what about you? I encourage you to journal or to write a Better Endings story about your recent insights regarding a deeply meaningful question you have been pondering. Writing can help you to exteriorize your process and keeps open the channels of communication between your Mind, Heart, and Spirit!

 

 

 

Reading the Tea Leaves (Pay Attention to Your Signs)

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“Not everything has meaning!”
(my college fencing coach Roxanne, en route to a competition in NYC)

Later, to myself: “No, but anything can!”

I am a huge believer in using outer signs for listening to and following inner guidance. I have found through long experience that so long as I reflect deeply and act in a balanced way in response to ‘waking dreams’ that catch my attention while I am mulling over some question or pursuing some meaningful goal, good things follow.

Responding to outer signs can help to keep the flow of communication open between Spirit or the Universe, Inner Guides or whatever you prefer to acknowledge, and your own higher awareness. The more you can progress in tandem with your inner nudges or guidance, the easier it becomes over time to wend your way through challenging situations and key decisions; and, life is more fun!

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So what are your ‘tea leaves’ telling you this month about some meaningful question you are pondering? Pay attention to the slightest waking dreams or outer signs: random seeming thoughts or insights you may have; statements that stand out to you from a passerby or on tv or in your reading; roadside messages on signs that you pass, or even bumper stickers that catch your eye… Any of these or several taken together could offer you a breakthrough insight on your problem or query.

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Some people like to set up an image or a specific object that they will see if their potential decision is correct.

If you want to try this, you can set up a sign of affirmation for your question that would not be common or likely for you to see, and you can set a time frame as well for encountering your sign. When I was working on my final book proposal for Your Life Path (see right panel), I set up the sign of a blue butterfly if I was going to be able to find a publisher. Right around the time my wonderful literary agent began circulating the book proposal, I started seeing blue butterflies everywhere. This encouraged me with every step of the proposal and publishing process. Now I have several items in my home with blue butterflies on them to remind me that this book process has initiated a longterm project, with much yet to come for me to fully realize its potentials in terms of writing and service.

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images are from pixabay.com

What are you asking to better understand or what decision are you weighing? Pay attention to YOUR outer signs; they are all around!

What Then? (Week Two: the Dreaming)

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For Week Two of our monthly Better Endings process this year, I ask you to reflect on your dreams or inner guidance with respect to a monthly personal question or quest.

I have been dreaming a lot this past two weeks since posing the question, “What Then?” In one dream a friend standing behind me introduces me to a couple of potential new friends in a new location. As I am in transition already, moving gradually to my new home in a new town for me, this seems quite likely! I took note of the appearance of the two potential new friends so I might recognize them when or if this comes about outwardly.

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Another dream shows me (from my dream journal): “approaching a space, like a hole on a white membrane, that if I were to enter, it ‘would go on forever… like a wormhole’.” It felt like a purification portal of some sort–I woke up wondering what it would mean to enter into that space and sensed it would be “transformative” and that it indicates a passage to embracing or becoming/ joining with “all that IS.”

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images are from pixabay.com

These two dreams taken together both are positive indicators that the new direction I have already embarked upon is a forward motion, advancing into new potentials. A step into an apparent void, perhaps, yet clearly full of positive potentials. The wormhole-like image felt as though to enter would be like a death or a near-death experience. Yet it was placed before me as what is next, something I must enter into, a natural passage of spiritual development even though it is a mysterious movement into a void or the Unknown.

Ready, Set, I Accept!

What are YOUR dreams telling you this week or month about some deep personal question you are contemplating? I encourage you to keep a dream journal and to review it at least once a week. I had forgotten the “wormhole” dream until reviewing my dream journal. (Interesting, though, how I used a wormhole picture in last week’s blog post when I first established my monthly quest for understanding.)

Dream On!

What Then?

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“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

If there were a way to live in their own time,

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

I envisioned. Wrote, edited,published, prepared for the Big Move, left… to live my dream, Now! Arrived at one place, then searched for the next. Found it. A refuge for me and my pet family. Moving, again.

But, why all this? Or as W. B. Yeats once asked:

“What Then?”

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

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I once posed a similar or perhaps it was the same question to a Philosopher, my college mentor, Dr Antoinette Patterson in Buffalo, NY.  I was glum that day.

“So, what?”

I asked Toni in her office, there for an independent study session on a topic we had agreed to, the ‘philosophy of Silence’. 

“Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and write down

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

Bemused by my mentor’s response to what I thought was a futile question, I went off to seek for answers.  I read an essay by Emerson called “The Transparent Eyeball” and many poems and essays about silence, thinking somehow that must connect. Who was I beyond my embodied personality; what was Life beyond the day to day back and forth of conversations and classes?

When I went back to Toni’s office for our session that next Wednesday, she was waiting for me. After I shared about what I had been reading and journaling about, having not really answered the question at all, she took me to a far corner of her office where she had set up a card table with a large, empty sheet of sketch paper she had laid across it. She had me write “WH-” words on every corner of the page:

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

Dr. P. then used a pencil to draw connections between these WH- words, allowing the  lines of connection to intersect at the center of the page where she drew a blank circle and wrote in that space one word:

W  H  A  N

There before us on the page was our answer to the proverbial question.

So What?

Whan.

In that moment in that office on that one day, nothing seemed clearer than that one discovery: the answer to every question about meaning or purpose, about Why/ Where/ When/ What resolves to a singular unity: WHAN!

As we discussed what is WHAN, I realized it meant not to worry about Why? or what Matters. Life IS, therefore life is meaningful of Itself alone; and no amount of thinking or wishing or proving or disproving would ever have any effect upon that which simply IS. Whan! and so Life flows forth and I must with it, wherever It may lead.

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images are from pixabay.com

So this is my monthly Better Endings life question to answer for myself this February:

What Then?

I sense this is the natural follow-up question to the discovery of Whan!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments. I encourage you to form a personal monthly question to explore with your dreams and contemplation this month.