Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sitting in the sunlight......

Sitting in the sunlight streaming through my dining room window with a belly full of oatmeal, fresh strawberries and sunflower seed bread on a Sunday morning, I am aware of the power of life.  Ubiquitous and ambient, this creative power gives birth to all things, all creatures and experiences of all creatures.  I imagine that being alive is much like our bodies inside the womb, that our bodies simply went from one womb to another.  Only this womb we find ourselves in is infinitely large and births much more than human bodies and other creatures bodies but also dirt, rocks, air, plants, stars, suns, and planets and then animates all that it births.

We humans are fond of imagining that we are self contained islands onto ourselves and yet without the food in my belly, my body would last only a few weeks or without the air we all share, our bodies would last only a matter of minutes.  Without the sunlight streaming through my dining room window, life as we know it would not be possible.

I am not simply espousing a pantheistic view of life read somewhere in a book.  I prefer no labels on that which our puny little minds cannot begin to fully explain or comprehend.  This is not leading to some religious or new age view of life.  Instead I prefer to look into my experience of being alive and share that.

I am aware that there are those who will vehemently disagree with my sharing.   But I am content to sit and be present to the space in which we reside and to that which fills this space and be open to whatever experience shows up.  I feel no need to place this experience inside a religion, ideology or doctrine.  To feel peaceful, calm, and free of the usual stream of anxious thoughts, if only for a few moments in the warm soothing sunlight is enough.  To sit in the sunlight and be present to the beautiful dining room table, to the colorful slate dining room floor and to the entire house that all showed up in my imagination and all built by me and by others under my direction is evidence enough for the creative birthing power of life.

Pictures are from the final stages of construction.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving and my birthday.....

Today is thanksgiving day and also the day I successfully complete my 72nd trip around our sun.  At one point during this trip I had some doubts about completing trip number 72.  I had a brain attack, aka, a stroke midway through the trip.  Which brings me to number one on my list of what I am grateful for.

I am grateful to still be here.  There is something about waking up in a hospital bed in the middle of the night and feeling your lungs stop that gets your attention. That got my attention so strongly that I went into a panic attack.  I will be forever grateful to the angel of a nurse who sat down on the bed with me, held my hand and assured me that this was  quite normal with a stroke and it would pass.  I am very grateful for being probably 90% recovered.  I am grateful for the training and development work I have done that contributed to my recovery(subject of a future blog).

I am grateful for my wonderful family and particularly for my son and daughter who were so supportive and there for me during the initial stage of my recovery. Rearing children is a life giving experience and it is equally life giving to receive the love of your children.

I am grateful for my father and what he taught me without his knowing he was teaching me.  My father grew up during the great depression and had to quit school in the 8th grade.  And I will never know how, but he also acquired a disdain for education and made fun of “educated” people.  Probably some kind of defense mechanism.  I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to see what this cost my father and developed a passion for learning and questioning.  Who knows, maybe I would not be writing this blog if not for my Dad’s disdain for education.  So thank you Dad.

On this thanksgiving day I celebrate my 72nd birthday by honoring my Dad and I give thanks to my Dad for the gift of being alive and the gift of his love.  At age 92 my Dad demonstrated that it is never too late for a father to express his love for his son; for the first time in my life, my Dad said he loved me.  I love you too Dad.  Thank you for all that you gave.

Happy thanksgiving all!   Please enjoy this video on gratitude:  
Jimmy Wilson

Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you have an avatar?

We come into this world as a blank slate.  No language, no political ideology, no opinions and no religion.  We now know that babies identify with everything.  They do not know separateness.   But then those around us begin to help us fill in the blank slate including a name.  We become filled up with opinions, strongly held points of view and a history.  We acquire what we mostly call a personality and we identify with what we are learning and absorbing from our environment.  We experience ourselves as separate from everyone and our environment.  We become conditioned and programed by our family and culture.  We go unconscious to our original Self that knew no separateness.

We come to believe we are a body, a mind, a personality.... an identity.   We are a woman, a man, maybe a sibling and then later maybe a father or mother, a sexual identity and we develop a work identity as adults.  As kids we quickly become aware of death and combined with the sense of separateness, the drive to survive and the drive to be right becomes our dominant drives or urges.  And the drive to survive includes not just our body but also our identity, i.e., all that we consider ourselves to be.  We even develop a voice in our mind or a seemingly unending stream of thoughts and we identify with that stream of thoughts that seems to be located in the center of our heads and we come to believe that stream of thoughts is who we are.

And so the game and drama of being an adult human begins.  Choices show up personally and collectively.  Some choices lead to insanity, others to sanity or a mixture.  I choose to question the whole process of becoming human.  I question that we are our bodies, minds and stream of endless thoughts.  I question that we are fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters but instead these are roles we play.  Could it be that we are like masterful actors who lose themselves in a role and cannot get out of character?  I choose to think that maybe what we are, as our true nature, has a mind, a body, a personality, etc.

Could it be that we humans are under a kind of mass hypnosis and collective illusion?  Are we totally programed and conditioned to fight(as in fight for survival) for being a made up, false and fictitious identity?  Could it be that all the self improvement and personal growth work we do is for naught?  Maybe all we need is simply to experience waking up to who we really are.  See Eckhart Tolle for a more in depth exploration of this awakening.

It’s not that I am advocating getting rid of our identity.  Rather I am advocating a shift from being a thing, a little self, inside a bag of skin to a Self, common to us all that includes a body and an identity.  I am pointing to an identity that we have rather than be.  Such a subtle shift might lead to waking up from the mass hypnosis and collective illusion that leads to all the mischief of us human beings.  I am not saying that overnight all of humanity can suddenly transform and all problems of our planet will disappear.  But consider the possibility of one person at a time waking up from our slumber.  Actually that is already happening:  I will get into that in a post next week.

The shift I am pointing to can empower us to recognize our ability to observe what we have identified with and gain some leverage in letting go of what does not serve us well.  Example:  Consider the possibility if we individually and collectively had been able to observe and be aware of our thinking in the lead up to the Iraq War.  Instead, most of our political and military leadership, along with maybe most of us as citizens, were stuck being identified with militaristic thinking.  There was insufficient self awareness to step back and examine and question our thinking.

Personally I now think of my identity as being like an avatar.  I thought the movie Avatar was a great analogy for the power of the shift from being an identity to having an identity.  By having an avatar the protagonist(the disabled marine) in the movie was able to observe and question his behavior through his avatar and begin to alter his behavior.  Do you have an avatar?  What color is it?  Mine is green, for now.  But I may change it to peacock colors like the peacock in this video:  
Jimmy Wilson

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sanity or insanity? Choose.....

Do you ever ask yourself, what the hell is going on here?  Or, do you ever ask, has the world gone mad?  I certainly had these thoughts during the horrible events of 9/11.  And think what people must have thought during WW 2.   We could go on and on about current events.....attempts to blow up airplanes, murder or abuse of children and what of the craziness displayed in the recent political events?  I said to a friend recently that it seemed to me we are living in an insane asylum and the only thing we can do is to not contribute to the insanity.  

After some reflection I realized there is more we can be and do.  We can contribute to sanity.  That is what Jon Stewart was attempting to do with his Sanity rally.  Agree or disagree with him politically, he was simply asking, “why can’t we disagree without demonizing and hating those we disagree with?”  More specifically he was asking the media, aren’t we contributing to the insanity?  I couldn’t help but notice that pundits on both the left and right did not get it.  Instead they attacked the messenger.  

What’s my point?  We can contribute to sanity by examining ourselves, by observing our own thinking and emotions and asking, is our thinking true and accurate on whatever issue we have a charge around?  Am I more committed to being right than to sanity?  Who am I being?  Am I being a person who is adding to the insanity or am I adding to sanity?  

I recently began to question who I was being regarding politics and discovered I was  contributing to the insanity of politics by often demonizing people I disagreed with.  I have recently been questioning my political identity and discovered that I could back off and hear valid points on both sides of the debate.  I could hear beyond the crazy talk and see fear and concern or commitments people were underneath the charged emotions.

Does that now make me a political independent?  No, that is not what I am pointing to.  I am pointing to our ability to recognize, that contrary to what we may have been culturally taught, we are not our thoughts and emotions.  And we access that recognition by discovering and developing our inherent ability to observe our thoughts and feelings.   So that begs the question.....if we are not our thoughts and feelings, what are we?  

Now that is the big, big question that is probably beyond the scope of words and more on that later.  But I do say that observing and questioning of our thinking can lead to dis-identifying with thinking and emotions that add to the insanity.  More on identity later.
Jimmy Wilson

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On the day my father did not recognize his son....

In visiting my father in the nursing home a few days ago, for the first time, he did not recognize me when I was leaving and saying goodbye.  I was not sad or devastated.  I have had several years to prepare for this and he is almost 95 years old.  He is near the end of his life.

But I did go into a pensive questioning state.   So, I chose to go for a walk on the shore of Lake Hartwell.  I love being in nature while in that kind of mood.  Probably goes back to childhood on the farm.  Some of my most memorable experiences were in nature settings.
I was standing at the edge of a large expanse of water near the long earth and rock dam.  The ground was wet and soft from the rain that had just stopped and there was the smell of just starting to rot fall leaves.  There was a strong, cold and noisy wind that had that sense of crispness that you feel after the air is scrubbed clean by rain. 

Standing in the midst of this spaciousness, the usual mental chatter stopped and there was awareness of the vast spaciousness that contained all of this.... the trees, the wet dirt, the dark and light clouds floating in the unending blue sky, noisy wind, kids on the nearby playground and mountains on the horizon across the rough water.

My dad will soon disappear into this spaciousness, leaving behind a broken and worn out body.  His spirit will be liberated and know a freedom that it has not known for almost 95 years.

I was filled with awe, joy and tears.

Jimmy Wilson