The Dark Side of the Moon

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There is no one

To love me

But myself

Dark side

Of the moon

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2017

*photo by Beth Kirkhart, to see more of her work visit her on Twitter at @GilennLinn

Sometimes we come to a place in our lives and realize that something is dying. We might not always understand it especially when it happens within the deeper parts of ourselves.  I have recently been thankful for such an experience despite the pain that has risen to the surface. I have learned that I can embrace death and be glad for its coming. I have been on an unannounced hiatus from writing on this blog since the beginning of the year and I thank the patience of my readers. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the simple beauty of Beth’s photo that I found something in it calling to me…cracking me open to write again.

Beth Kirkhart provided me with some interesting history of her photo that she took in Santa Ana Refuge in Southern Texas. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, in addition; to many birds, it is also provides shelter to ocelots, jaguarundi, jaguar, and mountain lions. The refuge is right on the border between Mexico and the US, where Trump wants to build his wall. However, such a wall would surely disrupt the wildlife there.

While Beth was watching the wind blow the grasses and framing the moon, she heard a woman hush a child: a family group who had just crossed the river were hiding in a thorn bush thicket, waiting for her to finish her photo so they could be on their way by night.

Such is the wind at dusk there.

As a Mexican-American, when Beth shared this story with me I could only imagine how that mother must have been feeling. It reminded me of things I missed out on as a small child when my own mother wasn’t present in my life….like being in the shelter and sanctuary of loving arms. So many times we humans can put up walls…walls that disrupt the flow of life. Walls that may shut life out. So then we are faced with a sort of Life-Death-Life cycle. Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote, “Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.” So perhaps we can still find love on the dark side of the moon.

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Lunar Eclipse and Sweet Harmony

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Excerpts from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”:

Lorenzo:
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb that thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn:
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music.

Jessica:
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

Lorenzo:
The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted… Music! hark!

Nerissa:
It is your music of the house.

Portia:
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Nerissa:
Silence bestows that virtue on it.

Portia:
How many things by season season’d are.
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak’d.

(Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.)

The Simplicity of ‘It’s Okay’

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“The nectar of compassion is so wonderful. If you are committed to keeping it alive, then you are protected. What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in you, because compassion is the real antidote for anger.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

I have always been an open book for all to see. My mom used to tell me, “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” I didn’t get it for the longest time. I simply didn’t understand which is why I got hurt so often. I also had the tendency “to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders” to quote my mother yet again. That gets really heavy. Now I find myself at a time of transition. Alone. I have tried so hard to make peace with myself. In fact, I really found a path in this life that supports me a great deal. However, the age-old demons that plague everyone in this life, like fear and anger, take their toll.

Time has a way of grabbing hold of our thoughts and feelings and squeezing tight till we are out of breath. Fear rises up. And then there is a mad scramble to protect ourselves. To control. What we don’t realize is that we are giving our strength away. We forget who we are and take on an identity associated with fear and anger. Fear or anger shouldn’t necessarily be shunned, but we should greet it with compassion and patience. We cheapen our essence by shutting out fear in ignorance. I am slowly waking up to the fact that compassion for ourselves is the very protection we seek from our fears. Fears that we might not even understand half the time because they spring from our imagination.

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It’s okay to lose our balance, but when we do, instead of being critical and judgemental we can mindfully choose to approve of ourselves. We can concentrate our energy on self-compassion when we make mistakes instead of taking out our anger on ourselves. David Kessler once posed the questions,”What if we started taking some chances, if we stepped into our fears? What if we went further, if we were to pursue our dreams follow our desires? And if we allowed ourselves to experience love freely and to find fulfillment in our relationships? What kind of world would this be?” Sometimes the only way forward is to move through our fears. We can embrace them and still proceed on our journey. It doesn’t have to be a paralyzing process that zaps all our strength away. We are new each morning. We have the opportunity each day to open to life. To BE. When we find that our strength is gone we can whisper to ourselves, “It’s okay.” Then we find that place of belonging. That safe place within where our soul can breathe.

I would like to conclude with another quote, “Now is the only real moment we have, and love is the only real emotion because it’s the only one that occurs in the present moment.Fear is always based on something that happened in the past and causes us to be afraid of something we think may happen in the future. To live in the present, then, is to live in love, not fear. That’s our goal, to live in love. And we can work toward that goal by learning to love ourselves. Infusing ourselves with love begins the washing away of our fears.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross-

Live the breath my friends. ❤

Being Human

standing peopleart by Tetsuo Aoki

“Most of us play many roles throughout our lifetimes. We have learned how to shift roles, but we don’t often know how to look behind them. The roles we assume—spouse, parent, boss, nice guy, rebel, etc.—are not necessarily bad and can provide useful models to follow in unfamiliar situations. Our task is to find those parts that work for us, and those that don’t. It is like peeling the layers of an onion, and just like peeling an onion, it’s a task that can bring on a few tears.

It may be painful, for example, to acknowledge the negative in ourselves and find ways to externalize it. We all have a negative side, or potential for negativity: denying it is the most dangerous thing we can do. It’s cause for concern when some people completely deny the potentially dark side of themselves, insisting that they are not capable of strongly negative thoughts or actions. To admit we have the capacity for negativity is essential. After admitting it, we can work on and release it. And as we learn our lessons, we often strip away layers of roles to find things we’re not happy about. It doesn’t mean that who we are, our essence, is bad. It means we had a facade we didn’t recognize. If you discover you’re not a super nice person, it’s time to shed that image and be who you are, because being an extraordinarily nice person every moment of your life is being a phony-baloney. Many times the pendulum has to swing all the way to the other side (you become a grump) before it can come back to the middle point where you discover who you really are—someone who is nice out of compassion rather than someone who is giving to get.

expressionism of roles http://www.inspirefirst.com/2012/07/26/expressionism-photography-collection/

Even more challenging is to let go of defense mechanisms that helped us survive in childhood, because once these tools are no longer needed they can turn against us. A woman learned when she was a child to isolate herself from her alcoholic father: she knew that it was the best to leave the situation and leave the room when it became overwhelming. This was the only tool a six-year-old girl could come up with when her father was drunk and yelling. It helped her survive a difficult childhood, but now that she herself is a mother, such withdrawal is harmful to her children. Tools that no longer work must be released. We must thank them and let them go. An sometimes people have to grieve for that part of them that will never be. This mother had to grieve for the normal childhood she was never granted.

Sometimes we get a lot out of these roles, but we often realize with maturity that they have a cost. At a certain point the cost becomes too much to bear. Many people are well into middle age before realizing that they have been the “forever caretaker and peacemaker” in their family. When they understand this, they’ll say that they certainly are nice, but it got pushed way out of proportion in their family. Without seeing what was happening, they took on the responsibility of making sure their parents and siblings were always happy, they solved all the fights, loaned everyone money, helped them get jobs. At some point, you may realize that the burdensome role is not you so you drop it. You’re still a nice person, but you no longer feel obligated to make sure everyone else is happy.

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The reality of the world is that some relationships don’t work out; there are supposed to be disagreements and disappointments. If you feel responsible for fixing every problem, you will pay a high price because that’s an impossible task.

How will you respond to the new you?

Most of us have not committed criminal acts, but we do have to work through the darker parts of our personalities. Black and white are apparent; it’s those gray parts that we often hide and deny: the “nice” guy, the isolator, the victim, and the martyr. These are the gray parts of our shadow self. We can’t work on the deep negativity if we can’t admit that we have negative sides. If we acknowledge all of our feelings, we can become our whole selves.

You might mourn for the loss of these roles, but you’ll know you’re better off because you’re more genuinely you. Who you are is eternal; it never has and never will change.

vidaphoto by Brian Brake

Who we are is much more than our circumstances, whether they be great or small, though we tend to define ourselves by our circumstances. If it is a great day—if the weather’s good, the stock market is up, the car is clean and shiny, the kids get good report cards, the dinner-and-show goes well—we feel as if we are great people. If not, we feel as if we’re worthless. We move with the tide of events, some controllable, others not. But who we are is much more unchanging than that. It is not defined by this world or our roles. These are all illusions, myths that do not serve us well. Underneath all our circumstances, all our situations, is a great person. We discover our true identities and greatness by letting go of all the illusions of identity to discover our true selves.

We often look to others to define us. If others are in a bad mood, we are brought down. If others see us as being wrong, we become defensive. But who we are is beyond attack and defense. We are whole, complete, and of worth just as we are, whether we are rich or poor, old or young, receiving an Olympic gold medal, or beginning or ending a relationship. Whether at the beginning or end of life, at the height of fame or in the depths of despair, we are always the people behind our circumstances. You are what you are, not your disease, not what you do. Life is about being, not doing.”

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—

 

 

Who Am I?

I am at that place in my journey again…and it’s a question that must be answered for the sake of healing. “Spiritual healing differs from all other modalities in that it results directly from strengthening our relationship with the Divine. … Continue reading

I Rise With An Open Heart

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“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

― RIP, Maya Angelou, born 4 April 1928, died 28 May 2014

Skeleton Woman

ImageShe had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one any longer remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and thrown her over and into the sea. There, the fish ate her flesh away and plucked out her eyes. As she lay under the sea, her skeleton turned over and over in the currents.

One day a fisherman came fishing, well, in truth many came to this bay once. But this fisherman had drifted far from his home place, and did not know that the local fisherman stayed away, saying this inlet was haunted.

The fisherman’s hook drifted down through the water, and caught, of all places, in the bones of Skeleton Woman’s rib cage. The fisherman thought, “Oh, now I’ve really got a big one! Now I really have one!” In his mind he was thinking of how many people this great fish would feed, how long it would last, how long he might be free from the chore of hunting. And as he struggled with this great weight on the end of his hook, the sea was stirred to a thrashing froth, and his kayak bucked and shook, for she who was beneath struggled to disentangle herself. And the more she struggled, the more she tangled in the line. No matter what she did, she was inexorably dragged upward, tugged up by the bones of her own ribs.

The hunter had turned to scoop up his net, so he did not see her bald head rise above the waves, he did not see the little coral creatures glinting in the orbs of her skull, he did not see the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth. When he turned back with his net, her entire body, such as it was, had come to the surface and was hanging from the tip of his kayak by her long front teeth.

“Agh!” cried the man, and his heart fell into his knees, his eyes hid in terror on the back of his head, and his ears blazed bright red. “Agh!” he screamed, and knocked her off the prow with his oar and began paddling like a demon toward the shoreline. And not realizing she was tangled in his line, he was frightened all the more for she appeared to stand upon her toes while chasing him all the way to shore. No matter which way he zigged his kayak, she stayed right behind, and her breath rolled over the water in clouds of steam, and her arms flailed out as though to snatch him down into the depths.

“Aggggggggghhh!” he wailed as he ran aground. In one leap he was out of his kayak, clutching his fishing stick and running, and the coral-white corpse of Skeleton Woman, still snagged in the fishing line, bumpety-bumped behind right after him. Over the rocks he ran, and she followed. Over the frozen tundra he ran and she kept right up. Over the meat laid out to dry he ran, cracking it to pieces as his mukluks bore down.

Throughout it all she kept right up, in fact grabbed some of the frozen fish as she was dragged behind. The she began to eat, for she had not gorged in a long, long time. Finally, the man reached his snowhouse and dove right into the tunnel and on hands and knees scrabbled his way into the interior. Panting and sobbing he lay there in the dark, his heart a drum, a mighty drum. Safe at last, oh so safe, yes safe, thank the Gods, Raven, yes thank Raven, yes and all-bountiful Sedna, safe…at…last.

Imagine when he lit his whale oil lamp, there she —it—lay in a tumble upon his snow floor, one heel over her shoulder, one knee inside her rib cage, one foot over her elbow. He could not say later what it was, perhaps the firelight softened her features, or the fact that he was a lonely man. But a feeling of some kindness came into his breathing , and slowly he reached out his grimy hands and, using words softly like a mother to a child, began to untangle her from the fishing line.

“Oh, na, na, na.” First he untangled the toes, then the ankles, “Oh, na, na, na.” On and on he worked into the night, until dressing her in furs to keep her warm, Skeleton Woman’s bones were all in the order a human’s should be.

He felt into his leather cuffs for his flint, and used some of his hair to light a little more fire. He gazed at her from time to time as he oiled the precious wood of his fishing stick and rewound the gut line. And she in the furs uttered not a word—she did not dare—lest this hunter take her out and throw her down the rocks and break her bones to pieces utterly.

The man became drowsy, slid under his sleeping skins, and soon was dreaming. And sometimes as humans sleep, you know, a tear escapes from the dreamer’s eye; we never know what sort of dream causes this, but we know it is either a dream of sadness or longing. And this is what happened to the man.

The Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten in the firelight, ans she became suddenly sooooo thirsty. She tinkled and clanked and crawled over to the sleeping man and put her mouth to his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank and drank until her many-years-long thirst was slaked.

Then, while lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat up and banged on both sides of it: Bom, Bomm!….Bom, Bomm!

As she drummed, she began to sing out “Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh, flesh, flesh!” And the more she sang, the more her body filled out with flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice fat hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs.

And when she was done, she also sang the sleeping man’s clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin to skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night together, in another way now, a good and lasting way.

The people who cannot remember how she came to her first ill-fortune say she and the fisherman went away and were consistently well fed by the creatures she had known in her life underwater. The people say that it is true and that is all they know.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes~

*photo found on Pinterest via Luis Daniel Garza Fragoso