Hook Your Wagon to a Star

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When I was in graduate school in Buffalo, I had a little yellow Puch moped for transportation. When I would ride as needed in heavy traffic, I used to remember a ine from Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage:

Hook your wagon

to a Star.

“Hook your moped to a Mack Truck!” I would substitute mentally, hugging the wake of a large truck for security on the road against faster moving cars whose drivers often would disregard my little moped.

There was a principle involved. ‘Hooking my moped to a truck’ meant, to me, living in tandem with Spirit. Active choice plus faith in helping to bring about the most positive potentials of any life situation have carried me along on this journey, so far,  through relationships with people, my animal friends, and places I could not have foreseen and yet now, I will never forsake or forget.

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So, again, having recently set out on an unknown highway to encounter places and people unknown, I must trust in Spirit, surrender my fears, be grateful for what IS, and enjoy the adventure.

In the process I am relearning some basic lessons: acceptance of change, gratitude for what is permanent, willingness to forge ahead, one small footstep at a time.

I am also unlearning now. This new process has only begun, yet I am already unlearning what had only seemed most solid; peering ahead to where I had assumed was No-thing. Yet here it is, I am, Life is, even Love is, yet not at all as I had imagined it might be. Spirit leads me onward–not necessarily forward as I would have expected, yet onward inexorably nevertheless.

stock-photo-china-jinshanling-the-great-wall-606656372

images are from pixabay.com

I do not know what lies ahead; I must simply release what was before yet carry forth, not memories so much as a dim awareness of the certainty of love itself, of life itself as Spirit. New life birthing yet of the same indelible fabric that weaves through us all.

Thank you to all who have shared with me to any extent this lifetime of human (and broader!) experience. Thank You with love for all you Are!

Life Metaphors We Live By

bridge

          So is life, for you, a Road to Glory or a demolition course?  Is it a slow, inevitable march into oblivion or a recurring series of cycles of growth that lift you by trials and gradual achievement toward increasingly lofty goals? Then also, in terms of what you are setting out to achieve with a Life Mapping adventure, will you be able to switch horses midstream, if you wish to, transmuting lead into gold? Yes! You can! (L. Watts, Life Paths, Chapter 2)

When you close your eyes and envision a human life, what is it is like; what image do you see? This is a Life Metaphor.

Life metaphors are schematic cognitive models, habitual ideas you have developed. You might ask yourself, where do they come from and why do you hold this image currently rather than another?

Serpentine pathway stones on a park lawn (concept)

Some Life Metaphors are culturally shared and defined: Life is a Journey, for instance. This model reflects the epic, mythic hero cycle stories found universally in all cultures such as Joseph Campbell describes in The Hero with 1000 Faces. These stories represent the hero’s adventure as a going, reaching fulfillment, and then and a return to serve humanity, as in the mythic adventures of Prometheus or Theseus, or of Dorothy in The Wizard the Oz or even Harry Potter.

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There is the metaphor of Life as a Mountain, with peaks and valleys: Sisyphus, for example, is compelled to roll a stone up the mountain and then it falls back down and he starts over again, endlessly.

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Or perhaps a Life is like a Hot Air Balloon ride? I saw one land once in a peach orchard while I was working on a farm. It was from Canada. The pilot got out and he seemed to me to have come from another world altogether.

amusement park

There are many other life metaphors that reflect and can also influence our understanding of life. Life metaphors can even shape our interpretations of and responses to life events.  Is life a Roller Coaster ride, and if so, when or for whom?

handdrawn-merry-go-round-horse-021114-ykwv2

I have always loved the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel, which is why I use the interesting “Carousel” header image with this blog, by the fantastic artist Ann Wipf, showing the horses leaping off from their platform. A carousel goes round and round and up and down, in time with the musical sound and flashing lights of the platform arcade. Traditional carousels may have a brass ring that the riders reach out for and try to catch as they go around. This reminds me of the golden snitch in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories; I have a poster on my den wall that shows Harry going for the snitch and it reads: “The game of Quidditch isn’t over until the Golden Snitch is caught.” Such metaphors as these can serve to propel us forward through the trials and tests of life as we aim to attain our life dreams.

Grand Palace. A temple Wat Phra Kaew

SO THIS WEEK I INVITE YOU TO IMAGINE: what is Life like to you, now? Close your eyes to envision Life or a lifetime; what image do you see? Explore the implications, the metaphoric entailments, thoroughly. How is a lifetime like the image you perceive, and why?

On Tuesday we will look more closely at the variety and basis of Life Metaphors. I invite you to share your stories and insights this week!

Life Path Metaphors We Live By

Over-the-Rainbow[1]

This week’s Better Endings Life Mapping activity (#3) is to describe a human life according to a key metaphor or image. Is life like a Journey, a Cycle of Seasons, a Mountain or River? Or, to you lately, is Life more like a Roller Coaster Ride? If you haven’t already done this exercise of the week, take a moment to write down an image of what, to you, a human lifetime is like. And, how/ why? Briefly explain how life fits your current image of it.

[Please complete the above activity before continuing.]

Okay then. Now, ask yourself, “Does this image mirror any pattern in my own life?”  I am going to wager that it does. So, if you like, please take another moment to describe in what ways your life fits the image you just described.

[Pause; you are writing again.]

Very good! So, what’s this all about? I call the the sort of image you have just described a Life Metaphor. You might provide a different image depending on what is current in your life in terms of basic patterns, such as how much your life is feeling stable, dynamic, or in chaos. Today’s image of yours is what I will call an “initial” Life Metaphor; before completing a full Life Mapping process. I expect it will shift for you if you keep up with applying these weekly Life Mapping techniques over the course of this year’s blog. So I encourage you to keep a Life Mapping journal that will develop these ideas over time.

One of my own favorite Life Metaphors, and the reason for my use of Anne Wipf’s wonderful painting that I am using as the header image for this site, is: Life is aCarousel or Merry-Go-Round. Round and round I go with the cycles of time–days, weeks, months, years, decades–Up and Down with the flow of events in my life. And as I cycle along with this merry-go-round adventure, I always seem to be reaching out and striving to catch that elusive “Brass Ring,” every time I come around to it again.

handdrawn-merry-go-round-horse-021114-ykwv2

How wonderful that Anne Wipf’s great piece of art that is the focal image for this blog, “Carousel,” shows the horses leaping off from their base platform to freedom! It must get pretty boring, after all, for a carousel pony. It must feel like a cage, or like the mountain that the mythic Sisyphus is bound to, rolling a boulder eternally up, and then back down, over and over again as his punishment from the gods.

I imagine these Anne Wipf “Carousel” horses leaping off from their wooden platforms every night when the amusement parks are closed, teaming off together to some rarified, special place known only to themselves. Then, in my imagining, they willingly hop back onto their platform by morning, humble vehicles of divine love that they are, to bring pleasure to the children and adult children who delight in the brief, musical turn of the ride. Where do they go, do YOU imagine?

There is such serendipity and sychronicity I am discovering while producing this site that develops our year long theme of Better Endings. Last week I watched Mary Poppins and I was taken aback to see Mary Poppins and Burt (Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) hopping merrily OFF from a carousel on horses that leap joyfully through a technicolor valley. Then on Christmas day I went with a friend to seeSaving Mr. Banks and learned, to my delight, that the entire story of Mary Poppins is about creating Better Endings that have the creative power to transform bittersweet memories from childhood. (Go see it!) And there was the carousel, in both P. L. Travers‘ and Walt Disney’s biographical lives as well, and their combined creative genius of allowing the horses to leap out from their ‘cage’ in the film, to transport their riders through a magical kingdom where wrongs are righted and sadness gives way to merriment.

Would you alter your current Life Metaphor at all, if you could? Or, would you rather like it to stay just as it is? I would love to share your insights and Comments.

Thanks for being out there, and I encourage you to share with  Comments and your own Life Metaphor stories or reflections!

Flexibility for Mastery of Better Endings

rubber strips yin yang pattern

Life Metaphors  are a variety of “core metaphors” that reflect “idealized cognitive models” (ICM’s), according to anthropological linguists George Lakoff and Paul Johnson in their groundbreaking book, Metaphors We Live By. Such core metaphors govern our conceptions about whole domains of experience by having multiple metaphoric entailments. My example yesterday of Life as a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round shows this well. Life has Its Ups and Downs; It goes Round and Round; we may find ourselves reaching for “the Brass Ring”. Yet, of course, all of this is imaginary, or…well, embedded in our cognitive mindset. Because of the all-encompassing nature of the conceptual model that a key metaphor creates, reality itself is mapped onto our ICM of It, and we become somewhat bound to our model, or, schematic cognitive mindset.

This week’s general topic is about transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths into Bettter Endings scenarios. Merry-Go-Round horses leaping from their platforms overnight changes the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel by adding a new dimension of FLEXIBILITY into the model. As another first principle for creating Better Endings,then, flexibility is on the top shelf of our toolbox!

Flexibility incorporates lots of Better Endings principles in itself, doesn’t it? Creativity, Acceptance, Adaptability, Mindfulness; all of these are activated in a genuinely flexible thought or action. Flexibility involves a willingness to bend and to adjust, so it is helpful and often necessary for transforming self-limiting attitudes, beliefs or behavior.

I am reminded of two poetic images, both penned by Robert Frost.

The first, on “Acceptance“:

Ah, when to the heart of man,

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things,

To bend with a grace to reason

and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?

 

             The second, from Frost’s “Birches”:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

Mandi’s Guest (Re-)Blog on Thursday shares her “life secret” of Letting Go. This is part and parcel of flexibility, to RELEASE. Robert Frost’s image of birch boughs laden with ice and snow in winter and then winging back to the sky and freedom–though forever arched by the experience–evokes the suppleness and fresh vitality needed for, or perhaps resulting from, a shift of attitude: from holding on, to letting go and ALLOWING a new way come into Being.

Sometimes I think this is much of what the effects of physical aging are about: what we hold onto and then, eventually, what we are able to release. My mother who is 86 with Parkinson’s has had to release so much already (her mobility, most household possessions, solid food) and, over time, she will release the rest of her burdens from this life–and her loves–so she can move on to the next cycle of death and rebirth; however your belief system frames that. (By the way, I highly recommend reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven if you are struggling with a loved one’s or your own physical mortality.)

A spiritual author I regard highly, Harold Klemp, in How to Survive Spiritually in Our Timessays that one’s “degree of acceptance” determines one’s level or state of consciousness. What are you willing to Accept means, how flexible are you; how far are you willing to bend and what can you let go of to allow a Better Ending? I agree with Mandi that  this is what it takes to transform our lives or habits, from rigid to supple, from stubborn to wiser; bringing well-being and a fresh, vital, childlike perspective into our daily actions and choices. Flexibility allows us to transform self-limiting beliefs or fixed models so we can follow through on our most conscious, mindful decisions.

Flexibility is the essence of our willingness to grow, to learn, to unfold in greater freedom rather than being pinned down by the accretion of rigid thoughts or withered attitudes. And so, flexibility empowers us to transform self-limiting mindsets into life affirming gestures of allowing ourselves and others to grow, to explore, and to achieve the life of our and their dreams.

What is it that you would love to be doing, if you could release self-limiting concepts? Allow yourself to be all that you care to be, to do all that you mindfully dare to do, to become all that you ARE!

————-

Please feel free to share your insights with others in the COMMENTS box below. FOLLOW to receive Better Endings daily to your email address. And if you enjoy this material, please LIKE  and SHARE with your friends!

Life Path Metaphors We Live By

Over-the-Rainbow[1]

This week’s Better Endings Life Mapping activity (#3) is to describe a human life according to a key metaphor or image. Is life like a Journey, a Cycle of Seasons, a Mountain or River? Or, to you lately, is Life more like a Roller Coaster Ride? If you haven’t already done this exercise of the week, take a moment to write down an image of what, to you, a human lifetime is like. And, how/ why? Briefly explain how life fits your current image of it.

[Please complete the above activity before continuing.]

Okay then. Now, ask yourself, “Does this image mirror any pattern in my own life?”  I am going to wager that it does. So, if you like, please take another moment to describe in what ways your life fits the image you just described.

[Pause; you are writing again.]

Very good! So, what’s this all about? I call the the sort of image you have just described a Life Metaphor. You might provide a different image depending on what is current in your life in terms of basic patterns, such as how much your life is feeling stable, dynamic, or in chaos. Today’s image of yours is what I will call an “initial” Life Metaphor; before completing a full Life Mapping process. I expect it will shift for you if you keep up with applying these weekly Life Mapping techniques over the course of this year’s blog. So I encourage you to keep a Life Mapping journal that will develop these ideas over time.

One of my own favorite Life Metaphors, and the reason for my use of Anne Wipf’s wonderful painting that I am using as the header image for this site, is: Life is a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round. Round and round I go with the cycles of time–days, weeks, months, years, decades–Up and Down with the flow of events in my life. And as I cycle along with this merry-go-round adventure, I always seem to be reaching out and striving to catch that elusive “Brass Ring,” every time I come around to it again.

How wonderful that Anne Wipf’s great piece of art that is the focal image for this blog, “Carousel,” shows the horses leaping off from their base platform to freedom! It must get pretty boring, after all, for a carousel pony. It must feel like a cage, or like the mountain that the mythic Sisyphus is bound to, rolling a boulder eternally up, and then back down, over and over again as his punishment from the gods.

I imagine these Anne Wipf “Carousel” horses leaping off from their wooden platforms every night when the amusement parks are closed, teaming off together to some rarified, special place known only to themselves. Then, in my imagining, they willingly hop back onto their platform by morning, humble vehicles of divine love that they are, to bring pleasure to the children and adult children who delight in the brief, musical turn of the ride. Where do they go, do YOU imagine?

There is such serendipity and sychronicity I am discovering while producing this site that develops our year long theme of Better Endings. Last week I watched Mary Poppins and I was taken aback to see Mary Poppins and Burt (Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) hopping merrily OFF from a carousel on horses that leap joyfully through a technicolor valley. Then on Christmas day I went with a friend to see Saving Mr. Banks and learned, to my delight, that the entire story of Mary Poppins is about creating Better Endings that have the creative power to transform bittersweet memories from childhood. (Go see it!) And there was the carousel, in both P. L. Travers‘ and Walt Disney’s biographical lives as well, and their combined creative genius of allowing the horses to leap out from their ‘cage’ in the film, to transport their riders through a magical kingdom where wrongs are righted and sadness gives way to merriment.

Would you alter your current Life Metaphor at all, if you could? Or, would you rather like it to stay just as it is? I would love to share your insights and Comments. And, of course, if you enjoy this, please Like it and Share it with your friends. To receive Better Endings daily by email, simply enter your email address in the Follow box.

Thanks for being out there, and please do share with your Comments and Better Endings Stories!