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.

A Waking Dream

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A few days ago I was stressing out about my next direction after the big move I have recently undertaken. I found myself reading my Cancer horoscope, which is something I have not done in quite awhile. Here is what it said:

There is a part of you that is not your body.  It is not your thoughts, your words or your feelings. This part of you is doing something mysterious and exciting. Let it be. Give it space.

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I take this horoscope message as a waking dream, one way that Spirit or the Universe communicates and brings about daily miracles.  In this month of focusing for this blog on the Life Theme of Spirituality, it is wonderful to be gifted with such a message. It helps me to accept where I am at and welcome the new possibilities open before me after this Big Move.

Soul IS doing something mysterious and exciting. Is it so for you as well now?  It is good to remember who we are NOT, so as to remember and better come to appreciate what IS!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

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.

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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!

Relocation for Better Endings

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The Life Theme we are focussing on for August is Relocation. For many a Life Mapper a Big Move or Relocation is a golden opportunity for life changing new beginnings that can help someone “jump start” their life.

As I have just relocated myself from Colorado to New York state, I can certainly attest to the freedom such a major transition affords. It is a Starting Over in some respects though I also find myself banking on anything familiar so as to feel grounded. The daily routines with my dog and cat, walking 2-3 times a day with Sophie, for instance, keeps me in the flow of life as I have known it, though the new environment is welcome and fun to explore for us both.

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Transplanting oneself through relocation offers many opportunities to reflect on the life one has been living so as to tweak or make conscious changes for “better endings.” What would I have done differently? becomes rephrased:

What CAN I do differently Now?

This is a time for deep reflection while also for moving forward. It is a time pregnant with opportunity and for avoiding merely settling into old patterns. Every new adventure brings sights not seen before in this lifetime. Every new connection is ripe with the joy of discovery.

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What about you? When you have relocated or undertaken a Big Move, how did you go about using it as an opportunity for Better Endings? Or if you have yet to take such a step, with retirement or changing a job or your environment, how might you prepare?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Mischief Managed? Or Lesson Learned in Transit: Love Is All

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I have just driven cross country with my dog Sophie and cat Emily and with two excellent friends, Arlene and Philemon, who volunteered to drive a Uhaul with all of my personal belongings, from Colorado to Ithaca, NY.  Semi-retired, house prepped and sold, on the road away from all I have known and cultivated this past 25 years, and now here, mostly moved in already, friends leaving tomorrow for their Amtrak journey home to Zuni, New Mexico.

I had thought the title for this blog after finalizing this big transition would be MISCHIEF MANAGED, meaning I have completed twenty-five years in my chosen profession as an Anthropology/ university professor and now I am “freed” from many of the responsibilities of that post. But along the way, something spectacular happened. First, my friends from Zuni and from my faculty in Colorado Springs surprised me with a wonderful dinner party they had been planning for months! As it was on the day of my cleaning and then closing on the house, I only had a short time to share my appreciation with them, but I was profoundly affected. As well, the day prior some ten friends helped me to pack the uhaul and the next day, one friend of many years helped to clean the house.

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I realized while on the road that I had set a spiritual intention when I began my life in Colorado, which was to learn what love is. And, I did! Friends from my spiritual community, from my workplace faculty, and other solid friends shared much impersonal, unconditional love and continue to do so.

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images are from pixabay.com

Next, my intention in New York with this new Life Chapter is about attaining happiness through fulfillment of my deepest potentials. A friend, Donna, once said to me: “New York is not the place to start but is the place to finish.” May it be so!

With gratitude to All who have embraced this journey in tandem with me as we each proceed with our own spiritual purpose, not Mischief Managed after all, but May the Blessings Be! Elahkwa!

Expanding Horizons

Travel is a common Life Theme people identify with life mapping. Quite often, Travel themes appear as ‘spikes’ in a Life Map–punctuation points, as it were, that usher in new change potentials after the Travel events have occurred.

Travel, whether for planned vacations or for a major relocation, really can bring variety and spice to the adventure of being alive! When we venture forth to experience new environments and encounter new people or forge new relationships, we expand the horizons of our points of view in subtle and sometimes also in dramatic proportions.

Taking the much needed vacation may afford a “time out of time” effect. This is vital for shaking out your routine enough to allow new ideas to take shape for when you return Home.

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

Friends are Family, Too

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In our modern American culture, while Family is always important, given the highly mobile nature of our society, we must often move away geographically from our nuclear family for school, jobs, or with our marital families. But our human desire to have close, permanent relationships on the order of family ties allows us also to form some—a few perhaps—very close relationships with our lifelong friends. Our families of friends are often just as important to us as our natal family.

I know in my family each of us five kids always developed close friendships that were like extensions of our immediate family.  And we have tended to maintain, at greater or lesser constancy given where life has taken us all geographically and workwise, communication with these families of friends, for life!

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My own closest family friend ties include Barbara, Rosemary, and Michael (also less frequently another Michael, hi!) from high school and early college days; Mary, Jan and less often Pattie and Orit from grad school days; Arlene, Darlene, and Althea at Zuni;  and the same Jan, a newer Jan, Kathleen, Denise, Gianmichele and Zvia in Colorado. These latter from Zuni and from Colorado are the folks it will be most difficult to say goodbye to as I prepare to take the big journey back East to be closer to my main family again after retirement.

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Family is a group of close social relations you can rely on to be constant and caring throughout your life.  Though our modern lives often make being geographically near to our family including our family of friends difficult, we are always connected spiritually.  Fortunately today’s social media technology makes it easier than ever before to check in with one another and stay updated.

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I thank my family of relatives and friends—pets, too!—one and all, for the love and companionship I have been blessed with from your friendship!