Archive for the ‘Life’s Storms’ Category

     Wild Child!   Such a fitting nickname for me, and so many of my friends—that is if we were still stuck in the 1980s.  Ah yes, the carefree 1980s when life was a continuous party, with intermittent breaks reserved for school and part time jobs.  Oh wait, that’s right, we brought the party with us then, so school really was a place of “higher education” and retail and fast food jobs could be experienced as “funemployment”.

Bonfires, boys, beer cans, secrets, laughter, dreams, and things with a funny smell were passed haphazardly amongst friends–we dreamers who were grappling with an idea of what we wanted, but still couldn’t quite name.    Though we were young, clearly we had left childhood, yet still had no clue what it meant to grow up—yet.

Who doesn’t remember the boy or girl at the party who was the center of attention, you know, the one who everyone said, “Man, he (she) is TOTALLY

Out of Control!

      Why that was a badge of honor!  It meant you were superior at taking risks, yet skilled enough to stop with smoke coming off your heels, before diving off a cliff completely.

Fast forward the VHS tape of our lives about twenty five years.  Out of control takes on a different meaning.  Translation:  I’m losing it! 

It means you still don’t quite have it together yet.  You grew up.  You became responsible.  You make lists of things to do, schedules for work, family, and activities.  You call people back, as well as reply by email, text, Twitter, and Facebook, all of which we missed out on in the 1980s.  You either faced someone in person or phone, or avoided them, plain and simple.  Now there’s no excuse for avoidance—we can be stalked by phones (of the land, cell, or smart variety) computer, and quite possibly GPS.

Back in the 80’s we lived, and dreamed about working—a little.  Now we’re “on” 24/7 and are most likely on speed dial with our boss, our clients, our spouses, our kids, our friends, and extended family.  Now we work a lot, and dream about what we would be doing if we were actually living.  You know what I mean, that thing we’d be doing, when we weren’t being so frustratingly responsible.

Hear me correctly.  Responsibility is good; no, it’s great!  We all can think of the self-chosen few who didn’t take responsibility seriously and missed the boat in terms of careers, family, or being independent.   It’s just that with all the responsibility that continuously weighs on us, who doesn’t dream from time to time of just letting go for a while.

Somewhere around forty plus, you realize you’re at the mid-way point.  You question yourself.  Am I successful (enough)?  Did my family/life turn out the way I hoped, more or less?  Should I have become more?  Should I have worked less?  Am I where I am supposed to be?

Maybe you grew up and made good choices and tried to do everything right.  Still:

Life happened.

People still died.  The divorce happened anyway.  You got let go, after all those years.  You had to downsize from your dream home.  Someone you loved abandoned you.  Your child rebelled anyway.  You were told your child has autism.  You didn’t think your spouse would get cancer so young.  Or maybe, you became a smashing success, but somehow the happiness you thought was attached to it, eluded you anyway.

Here’s the deal:  It was always about control.  In our rebellious youth we acted as if we didn’t need it, and by the very act of pretending and avoiding it; we proved we were already mastering deception–the very foundation of control.

Yes, we post our notes, and fill our calendars, and answer our email, all the while, we kid ourselves thinking we know what tomorrow brings.    Yet we know we’re just one phone call away from devastation, or a kiss away from an unforeseen good-bye, and sometimes the miracle moments too, the ones you never saw coming that leave you breathless.  Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that in our heart we make our plans, but God always directs our steps.

We crave control, and try to order our lives in such a way that we appear to have it.  But if you’re like me, God will occasionally interrupt your bliss and hand you a six-pack of situations.  Pop!  ZZZZZZZ!  Start chugging baby.  Before you have time to accept the harshness of the first bitter swallow, BLAM!  Have another one baby!  And another!   Go ahead; drink your fill!  There’s more where this came from!

    I’m not calling God a party-crasher.  I’m just saying– none of us get to stay at the party of endless fun!  We all get called to come home.  Funny thing is, when we surrender our need for all of it, all this control, and can truly turn to someone higher than ourselves, we can finally rejoice in letting go of what we never really had.

We’re out of control though.  It happens.  IT HAPPENED!  Out of control.  OUT OF CONTROL!!

We got spirit, we got soul!  We got some big ideas; we’re out of control!!

— Bono at Glastonbury 360  6/24/2011

Sunset in Raleigh 6/26/12

 

 Sometimes we get lost because it’s so easy.  We skip from one distraction to the next and in so doing we lose sight of The Big Picture of our life.  We are without compass and have lost our sense of direction.  We rarely have a moment of quiet or peace.  All we really want is to find our way home. 

I can remember when I was a very young child being lost in the woods.  Or at least I felt like I was lost.  I was at the total mercy of my father to return me safely to civilization, my known world.  He did, thankfully.   By middle school I participated in Girl Scouts and enjoyed my first camping trips without parents.

I learned to use a compass by day, but at night we hunkered down in our tents or shelters.  We never once explored the deep dark woods at night.  However, when  I was trying to fall asleep outside under a full moon with crickets chirping all around, and strange movements that could be detected close by, I was more than a little tempted to explore on my own, though my better judgment always kicked in.  We were young girls after all, alone yet together, with den leaders who also were young women–just a slightly more grown up version of ourselves.

It seems I was have always been hungry for adventure, and generally one to travel with relatively little fear “for a woman” some might say.  But I didn’t know then, what I do now.

 Sometime between childhood and adulthood, I learned I had better always be able to find “True North”.    Even “True North” is of limited use, if you are not sure of your arrival destination.

Today we are literally surrounded by a 24/7 onslaught of endless digital media, our old friends the TV and radio, and of course advertising everywhere you turn!  We go out shopping and we sometimes can’t even clarify our own thinking, save for the monitors at the end of every aisle subliminally reprogramming our decision making process over which products to consume.  Go online; it’s way worse!

Our daily travels and errands are constantly bombarded with noise, images, music, sound effects, giant paper billboards, and flashing neon and enormous LED displays that have fourteen different crawls scrolling across.   Times Square makes the Zoo TV Tour look like it was little more than a stationary backdrop.   We get to and from our intended destinations, but we miss 99% of the journey.

We are direction-less wanderersWe’re always in motion, but seem clueless as to where we are actually going.    We are in this space and time but for an infitesimally small fraction of eternity.

U2 was ahead of its time twenty years ago, because their tour foreshadowed the continuous wallpaper advertising and multi-media distractions that we’ve since incorporated as daily routine.  For a concert, it was amazing entertainment!  Now, we seem to live in a state of constant distraction with random or no focus, and no sense of where home (where our heart truly resides).  It’s just too much!

How many of us leave the house with one or more TVs just on?  Perhaps you fall asleep to the lull of “comfort noise”– the conversations of people both real and fictional characters, none of whom know or care for you and vice versa.  We interact with faces on screens more than faces on people!  We’ve silenced our inner voice by a bombardment of noise and lights, and wonder why do we feel so alone?

It’s time to leave it behind!  We need to get back to simple.  We need to leave our cubicles and get engaged in the beautiful day that is all around you.  Unplug from the pod and hear the earth as it actually speaks to you.  Feel the variations of the ground beneath your feet.    If you’re in the city, I hope you can carve out a regular time to visit somewhere that has tall trees, an absence of concrete, and vast amounts of silence.

Once thoroughly embedded in a night forest, begin traveling my friend.  (Bring a buddy of course, safety first!)  Look up!  Look around!  Do you know where you are?  Can you find True North?

It’s easy.  You’re looking for the North Star.  Her real name is Polaris, she’s also known as the Pole Star or Lode Star.  She’s not the brightest star in the sky, but she is bright.  Here’s how to find her:

  • Find the big dipper.
  • Look at the two stars (top and bottom) farthest away from the dipper’s ladle.
  • The one on the bottom furthest from the Big Dipper’s handle is called Merak–which for some reason makes me think of meerkats!  Whatever!
  • The one on the top furthest from the handle is called Dubhe –go ahead, call it doobie if you’re so inclined!
  • Anyway—while looking at Dubhe, in your mind draw a line that starts at Merak, continues on to Dubhe,  and in the same direction look until you see the top of the handle of the Little Dipper.
  • The very top star of the Little Dipper is Polaris.  Congratulations, you’ve found the North Star!

It’s easier to find Polaris by starting with the identifying the Big Dipper first since the Little Dipper isn’t always easily recognizable in the night sky.

Hopefully, now you know how to find your way home geographically.  But what about your heart?  Where is home?  Who or where is your North Star?  I hope you find it.   You already know this:  In life, there are plenty of black holes, most of them super massive!    At the “event horizon” of a black hole, is the point of no return; it’s where the pull of gravity will irrevocably take you down.  You can’t escape, even if you are traveling faster than the speed of light.   You’re sucked in, stretched thin, and shredded to pieces.   Sound like anyone you know?

So find True North.  May this be your moment of surrender.  You may think I’m not easy on my knees.   Look up—do you see what I see?   North Star.   And may your heart sing A New Song (40) as you journey home.

‘Cause there’s only one light that can guide you
Guide you home, home

Say it, say it, say it, say it
I can’t wait any longer
I can’t wait any longer for your love

“North Star” – U2

Suggested Listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuUsn3Ck9bU

Image from: http://allu2allthetime.tumblr.com/

One of the Best U2 Fan Sites Ever!!!!!

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There is a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in – “Anthem” – Leonard Cohen

       I’m having one of those days.  You know, a day where your brain is firing on all synapses simultaneously.  All the areas in life scream at you for attention!

“Mom, have you seen the…”

“Hey, where’s the….”

“We still don’t have any milk?”

“Dad, I need about $200 for…”

“Honey, I forgot to tell you, but by noon today, could you…”

Did you take care of this?  Did you call this person back?  Did you pay for this?  Register for that?   Finish your work project?  Mow the yard?  Pay the bills?

There’s something about forty-something, that makes you long for your own dream, a shiny new dream, especially if you have spent a long time responsibly meeting your obligations that largely orbit around other people you love.    There’s a name for this affliction of what some call selfishness.  The old MLC (mid- life crisis) comes itching, and all you want to do is scratch it.   It could be a new sports car, a prettier wife, a bigger boat.  It could be a shopping spree that would make the Kardashians seem thrifty, taking a trip where your family is not invited, or that delicious man on the side.  The depth of your shallowness astounds you when you ponder these thoughts.

Then suddenly–they pass.  Because thankfully for you, you’re just old enough, and though it bums your conscience, just wise enough to not do something really stupid.

But it does make you think about defining what your dream is.    When you start dreaming up life in a whole new way, well it causes this electrical storm in your head.   You don’t seem as “present” as you used to be in conversations and tasks.   There is a riptide that is carrying your soul to uncharted territory.  You feel yourself moving in a new direction.

This creates friction with the objects and people around you.  When you start operating other than the status quo, you’re often met with resistance.    When asked why there’s no milk, and you say because I didn’t want to go buy it, suddenly things start to fall out of orbit.   Negative and positive ions collide.    Electrical storms now reign in your world.

These are the words I sometimes say and yet can’t stand if they’re fired at me:

You should….

You never…..

You always…..

So I’m going to try harder to just button my lips, and quietly focus on my dream this week.   I am going to write; come hell or high water, come cliché or original flash of inspiration.    I am going to write if I’m joyful, or sad, or frustrated, or mad, or awed by something so magnificent that nobody else even sees.  I am going to write my truth as it is made known to me.   I’m going to play with word craft because I should.  Because you never and because you always…..  For all these reasons, and more, I’ll write.

Like loose electricity I feel words that are rushing to the surface to discharge.  But there is something beautiful in the process of craftwork.  It’s this:

Everyone knows in the eye of the storm is where the calm point is.  It’s where the pressure plummets, and the view in the sky is brilliant and peace just beams into your soul.    It’s the nerve center of inspiration and clarity.

So while the winds of change are unsettling, and the dark skies appear threatening to your stability; keep leaning into the storm.  Get to the core.  Look up, way up!  How cool is that?  Now brace yourself; it’s time to endure the rest of the storm so you can get to the other side.

Suggested Listening:  Electrical Storm – U2    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0adFYuNuns