Enlightened Conflict

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

========================

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

===================

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

==============

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

the contradictory feelings of Life

March 13th, 2016

life is contradiction squeeze

 

———–

 

“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.”

 

==

 

 

Charles Baudelaire

————–

 

 

 

It is amazing how things in Life seemingly swing to & fro between horror and ecstasy.

 

It begins in childhood as the simplistic joys of youth crash into the inevitable of simplistic horrors <think … the ecstasy of first pedaling of a bike and the horror or the first crash>.

 

compromise balance beamSome of us master the contradictory feeling … okay … we don’t master it we simply learn to manage it. We face horror and ecstasy with an equal sense it will not last … horror with hope attached and ecstasy with a little disappointment attached. I guess we just figure out a way of balancing the contradictory feelings.

 

In simplistic adult terms we often call it the inevitable ‘highs & lows” in Life.

 

Neither last forever.

 

Neither is the norm.

 

 

It doesn’t really matter what labels we put on it all … Life is a mixed bag of contradictory events, outcomes and feelings. More often than not horror is not indicative of Armageddon and ecstasy is not indicative of future ongoing bliss. More often than not we encounter moments and envision the moment as something bigger than it is.

 

Than we have another moment.

 

And another.

And, well, another. Until we don’t.

 

 

And in the end we most likely look back at the Life balance sheet of horror & ecstasy and see it is fairly balanced. And if we are lucky and did things the best we could whenever we could we most likely see that we have more ecstasy in our asset column than horror in the liability column.

 

I sometimes believe this is a lesson learned of experience.

 

Youth looks on with horror at horror thinking it represents the yawning sinkhole of eternal despair and alternatively looks on with the addict-like yearnings at ecstasy thinking it represents what Life should solely be.

Through experience we not only recognize we ultimately have to face this ongoing Life contradiction but also how, in some ways, to avoid horror and, on occasion, encounter ecstasy.

compromise balancing act

That said.

 

I sometimes wonder if by avoiding what may appear to be horror that, on occasion, we are also eliminating some possible ecstasy.

Because maybe Life was built as a system in which to be used to its fullest we were meant to bounce off of horror … and ecstasy.

 

What I don’t have to wonder about is the truth that most of us older folk reach a point where we will sacrifice ecstasy for contentment … with the intent to avoid horror. I am not suggesting that is ‘settling’ because it is actually Life management.

 

But.

Many of the young look on and ask us “is that really the trade you want to make with your Life?”

 

All most of us old folk can do is shrug our shoulders and say “it is a choice you need to make on your own.”

 

And I imagine that is my point in today’s philosophical ramblings.

 

Life is consistent in its contradiction of horror & ecstasy.

choices happend to be jungIt is what it is.

 

Therefore, it is your choice to make what it is for you.

 

There is no formula.

There is no one right way to choose to live Life.

 

In general … each person can choose the amount of horror and the amount of ecstasy … and the amount of whatever resides in between … to make up their Life.

In general … as you weave your way thru the contradiction of horror and ecstasy you will find that … well … you will choose what to become as a person.

 

 

 

gracefully letting go

March 29th, 2015

 

 
———gracefully let go card

 

 

 

“Teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.”

 

 

via lilac-veinss

 

 

=====

 

 

 

There are moments in the life of a man, and of a nation, when it is right to say:

 

 

I have done my utmost, and I can do no more, therefore I will cease my striving and seek another road.”

 

 

 

======

 

 

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt.

 

 

They will grab onto whatever is in reach.”

 

 

 

Claire Zorn

 

======

 

 

 

freedom feels like hold

Ok.

 

 

Letting go of shit may be one of the hardest things to do in the world.

 

 

Even more difficult?

 

 

Letting go gracefully.

 

 

These are the moments in which you have decided you have done what you have done, done what you consider enough … and you are … well … done.

 

 

These are the moments in which you actually consciously think:

 

 

How do I let go?

gracefully let go lemons

Where do I begin?

Do I let go memory by memory?

How many goodbyes will this take?

Do I leave words with everyone until I have no more words left to give?

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And if I do all this, will it even matter?

 

 

In addition.

 

Maybe I should do nothing.

=

Maybe I should just stand here and let others let me <or ‘it’> go.

 

This stuff, letting go in general, let alone gracefully … is hard. Really hard.

 

 

And while we typically suck at letting the right things go, let alone anything I imagine, we REALLY suck at letting things go gracefully.

 

 

Suffice it to say..

 

 

 

Most people don’t let go gracefully let alone let go at all.

 

 

You just get stuck.

 

You just hold on tight … and then when you do let go you just want to throw it away and ignore it as if you never held it.

 

 

And maybe you get a little confused.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

There is no handbook for “how to let things go gracefully. “

 

gracefully Yep time let go

 

It does not exist and so you must try to find ways to figure it out on your own.

 

 

Frankly … it seems almost cruel that a handbook on “letting go” doesn’t exist <let alone gracefully>. Because it may be one of the most common things we do in Life.

 

 

We don’t seem to notice the almost daily experience as we let go every single day of countless amounts of things:

 

 

Moments.

Minutes.

Objects.

People.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

We may not notice until we are faced with a situation that we want to hold on or that we are the ones being let go.

 

That must be it.

 

 

There comes a moment where we realize we are the ropes in a tug-of-war.

 

Someone holding on at each end … until one decides to let go.

 

 

Someone watches you leave.

 

 

Or maybe you end up watching someone else leave.

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

We have lots of personal experience letting shit go.

 

 

Most times things are let go little by little. And in these small but significant changes we don’t really learn the ‘gracefully’ part … just the letting go part.

 

 

In addition.

 

 

Not only do we let most things go in small insignificant increments … often you have no control.

 

 

Things get lost.

 

 

People are going to begin to let you go regardless of whether you ask them to or not.

 

 

I have said it before … but part of growing up is leaving shit – regrets, stuff, people, choices, etc. – behind.

 

 

Well.

 

 

That is the gracefully part.

 

 

Learning to let things go that you not only made the ‘let go decision’ but also the things that were ‘let go’ by someone else.

 

 

In other words … learning to let things go even when your world starts to tilt.

 

 

Simply.

 

 

Holding on is a shitload easier than letting go.

 

 

And, in fact, I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘holding on gracefully.’

 

 

You are just … well … holding on.

 

 

Sigh.

 

 

Let’s end with this thought.

 

Unfortunately … I tend to believe you encounter more things not meant for you than those things actually meant for you in Life.

 
And while we may eventually get better as we get older with regard to sifting through all these things inevitably you will end up with a lot of shit that … well … aren’t really meant for you.

 

And even more unfortunately … there really isn’t anyone to help you sift thru … no one is going to … ‘teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.’

 

 

That is something you just gotta figure out on your own.

 

gracefully Life

Me?

 

I am a work in progress.

 

 

 

I have certainly learned to let go of things … but still learning to do so gracefully.

 

 

I can only hope that I am more graceful on the important things.

happy mother’s day to our ‘architects of fate’ … these invaluable builders

May 11th, 2014

mothers day puppy

 

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

Rudyard Kipling

———

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

Well.

 

It’s almost a little strange in that when I look back at the over 1250 posts I have written … I have written only once for mother’s day.

 

It’s strange because I have the utmost respect for mothers <and women in general>.

 

 

All I can offer on Mother’s Day are some thoughts … and perspective.

 

I am not a father.

I have managed individuals, groups, departments, companies as well as <tried> to coordinate the activity of multiple companies at the same time within a specific vision.

 

And even on my most difficult day … I hesitate to suggest I had a tougher job than a mother. Shit. I don’t hesitate … I know I didn’t have a tougher job.

 

And while I envision the rewards of being a mother probably offers heights I can only imagine … the difficulties & challenges are seemingly relentless and unforgiving.

 

In fact … in comparison … business is extremely forgiving. Mistakes are within moments and if you don’t dwell on them they can always <always> be bridged into someplace better <please note that I do believe the only time in business you truly get screwed is if you stop when a mistake happens … if you ‘keep going once in hell’ you will get out>.

 

Motherhood is strewn with ‘life mines’ and responsibilities. Where moments are not just moments … but rather epic within their seeming minutiae. Some mistakes offer no bridges to someplace better.

 

I say this because so often men, or maybe people with ‘stress related careers,’ flippantly make comparisons to their lives and ‘mothers.’

It is a silly comparison.

 

 

We in business are business managers.

We are in the business management business <of which we can certainly impact lives but inevitably we manage businesses>.

 

 

Mothers are Life managers.

Mothers are in the Life management business.

Period.

 

The decisions they make impact lives.

In fact … they are builders … they build lives.

 

Suffice it to say … and I will say this next thought as a quasi-workaholic who typically defines life thru my work.

 

Life is more important than any business.

And building a Life is exponentially of more value than building a business.

 

Regardless.

 

When I think of mothers I always think about something I heard one of my favorite mothers <wife of one of my best friends> say to her daughter during an argument/discussion <whatever it is called that a mother and a tween have between each other> as I sat in their kitchen eavesdropping:

 

Daughter:

 “… but I am sure you & dad did it.”

 

Mom:

“… you will have to ask your dad about what he did … but let me tell you what I believe … I made my mistakes … and you will make your own … but know this … I want you to be better than I was and, ultimately, than I am.”

 

Personally I believe all children should hear that they won’t simply be as good as someone, even their own parents, but something better.

Or at least that is the goal, or wish, for them.

And ‘better’ can be anything or any aspect.

 

fathers mothers noMothers are builders.

They build by telling you to drink more water and eat vegetables.

They build by listening even when they are so tired they don’t want to listen.

They build by saying ‘no’ <yes … even a negative can be a positive>.

They build by saying ‘yes’ <it is a little push to go and do>.

They build by showing hope <if they can do it then it is possible>

They build something better than anything that already exists.

 

They are architects of fate.

 

 

In the end.

 

They are builders. Architects of fate as one of my favorite poems written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow suggests.

 

Mothers … “… the structures that we raise in Time with materials filled … our to-days and yesterdays are the blocks with which we build … to truly shape and fashion these <people that we build> …”

 

We are the structures they raise.

 

Ah.

 

Happy mother’s day to our ‘architects of fate’ … these invaluable builders of ours.

 

 

The Builders

 

All are architects of Fate,walking home mother son

Working in these walls of Time;

Some with massive deeds and great,

Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;

Each thing in its place is best;

And what seems but idle show

Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,

Time is with materials filled;

Our to-days and yesterdays

Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;

Leave no yawning gaps between;

Think not, because no man sees,

Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,

Builders wrought with greatest care

Each minute and unseen part;

For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,

Both the unseen and the seen;

Make the house, where Gods may dwell,

Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,

Standing in these walls of Time,

Broken stairways, where the feet

Stumble as they seek to climb.

Build to-day, then, strong and sure,

With a firm and ample base;

And ascending and secure

Shall to-morrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain

To those turrets, where the eye

Sees the world as one vast plain,

And one boundless reach of sky.

 

Happy Mother’s day.

 

And … if interested … the only other mother’s day post I have written before this:

 

http://brucemctague.com/respect-for-the-single-mother

Enlightened Conflict