Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Enough is Enough - Don't You Think?

“Busy, busy, busy we pass the days of our lives—gone all too soon. Gone before we get to our dreams of creative expression, self-fulfillment, nurturing.” Carol Orsborn, Enough is Enough.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Relax into the Quiet that Contains the Mind

William Butler Yeats once said, "We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us to see their own images and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even a fiercer life because of our silence." Just being in present awareness, at ease in our own quiet hearts, can make us a reflecting pool, and those who gather around will tend to see their own images. It is possible to have profound life realizations while sitting in the company of teachers, friends, or loved ones without their speaking a word. There is a presence that transmits itself loud and clear, if we attune to it. In awakened awareness we use language to communicate while knowing that another, more powerful communication is taking place in deeper awareness. Rather than straining to quiet the mind in meditation, simply relax into the quiet that contains the mind.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Remember the Third Reich?

In the Garden of Beasts, Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin is another non-fiction book by Eric Larson, whose Devil in the White City I read at least a dozen years ago. Larson has an uncanny way of telling non-fiction in an interesting way, the facts flowing like they were never researched, like the writer knew them first-hand. He’s a good historian storyteller. I was fascinated by several things: an American Jeffersonian ambassador is appointed to go to Germany and no one in power respects them; his daughter, recently divorced from a short marriage, sleeps with Nazis, Soviets, American reporters with no discrimination and seems to have no clue how her actions affect her father and her fragile lovers; and the Hitler monster, despite all reports that he is torturing and killing people who are disloyal to him and preparing for war, somehow gets full control of the country. It’s an amazing story, and I’m glad Larson put so much effort into telling the truth. “Change came to Germany so quickly and across such a wide front that German citizens who left the country for business or travel returned to find everything around them altered, as if they were characters in a horror movie who came back to find that people who once were their friends, clients, patients, and customers have become different in ways hard to discern.” The fear came upon them so gradually, the changes so stealthily, that the people didn’t understand what was happening to them, like they were in a trance or hypnotized. “The Gestapo enhanced its dark image by keeping its operations and its sources of information secret.” Secrecy was one thing, but another thing that was happening was people divided into innocent citizens, the Gestapo, the SS, the SA, foreigners, and Nazis, all concerned with the intrigue of the others. Many thought they could control Hitler, but the man had a lot of anger and not a lot of respect for human life, and those close to him were some of the first to die. The book ends on this note: “’But history,’ wrote Dodd’s friend Claude Bowers, ambassador to Spain and later Chile, ‘will record that in a period when the forces of tyranny were mobilizing for the extermination of liberty and democracy everywhere, when a mistaken policy of ‘appeasement’ was stocking the arsenals of despotism, and when in many high social, and some political circles, fascism was a fad and democracy anathema, he stood foursquare for our democratic way of life, fought the good fight and kept the faith, and when death touched him his flat was flying still.’ And indeed one has to wonder: For Goebbels’s Der Angriff to attack Dodd as he lay prostrate in a hospital bed, was he really so ineffectual as his enemies believed? In the end, Dodd proved to be exactly what Roosevelt had wanted, a lone beacon of American freedom and hope in a land of gathering darkness.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Becoming an Instrument

If Julia Cameron got me started, Anne L
amott keeps me going. In her inspired book Bird by Bird, Cameron says “Truth seems to want expression. Unacknowledged truth saps your energy and keeps you and your characters wired and delusional. But when you open the closet door and let what was inside out, you can get a rush of liberation and even joy.” Now I love that. I feel that if I find the truth and go from there, the writing becomes about giving. “There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver,” Lamott writes. That is what I do—I write to let others know what I know, so they can mull it over and find what their truth is. I have a mission. I try to choose my words so someone else will read it and think they never thought of it that way before. I live on faith that I write because I have to, that I have my own distinct and interesting voice, and I have something to say. If I devote myself to my writing, I can help someone else with their truth. Anne Lamott says, “The good news is that some days it feels like you just have to keep getting out of your own way so that whatever it is that wants to be written can use you to write it.” When the work takes over and I become an instrument, I’ve found what I was looking for, and so have my readers. As the story materializes, I find the truth, in my own plodding way, bird by bird.