Meanderings

Heart torn wide open

A recent dream reminded me of an old flame of mine who was one of the great loves of my life. It was one of those tumultuous relationships with a lot of soul and ups and downs.

Some might call us karmic soulmates brought together to learn from past lives to face unresolved issues and challenges both on a life and soul level.

I read something from Andrew Harvey’s “Sun at Midnight – a memoir of the dark night” that struck me as defining our relationship through my eyes — it was a message delivered from the divine through a dream to him about his own relationship:

[She] is the spear through which I have opened your heart. Now it can never close.

She broke my heart wide open, showing me a love I had never known before. She didn’t do it with finesse – it was blunt and at times terrifying. It was raw and honest. She tore through my walls and left an indelible mark. We challenged each other, at times pushing each other off metaphorical cliffs to burn off our own insecurities and fallacies.

Our souls were intangibly woven together through many past lives; we had a deep metaphysical connection to one another.

Long story short, our paths eventually diverged sharply — we each had our own lives to live and callings to follow. We were no more.

I still think about her from time to time. I’ll also feel her now and then when she thinks of me. It’s that kind of connection.

I don’t know if we will ever circle back, she’s tried and I’ve tried but circumstances and boundaries and bad timing made it not to be. It’s as if life deliberately placed an invisible buffer between us. Perhaps it’s for another lifetime and we’ve done our part in this one?

Life goes on as it always does. Sometimes I struggle when I fall in the grips of the past through sudden memories or when I feel her, but I’ve learned to flow through it. To trust — to surrender and hand it over to the Beloved, to keep living my life to the fullest.

And most of all, to honor the greatest gift from all this by keeping my heart torn wide open to true love.

It’s all I ever wanted.

“Coffee is not your friend”

At a session today, I updated my acupuncture physician on how well things were going healing-wise with little victories along the way.

There was an exception, I told her. The time a few days ago I sat outside a cafe for about an hour writing. I splurged on a coffee, something I hadn’t had in a good while. I felt it was well deserved after having a good week and most of you know of my great fondness for coffee.

I paid the price… After an hour I felt my energy suddenly drain and I didn’t feel so good anymore. I knew exactly why because it happened weeks ago when I cheated on coffee outdoors.

As I finished describing what happened, she uttered those dreaded words:

“Coffee isn’t your friend.”

She reminded me how caffeine, while giving a nice spike, ends up draining my energy big time since I’m not yet at 100% full strength.

She used a great analogy — drinking coffee is like taking money from my savings account and putting it in the checking account only to be spent away.

She repeated: “Coffee isn’t your friend.” Ouch.

As much as I love coffee, my health comes first now, a lesson I am still learning at times. I will heed her advice (rather reluctantly I confess).

In the meantime I’ll continue to drink hot teas as my morning substitute. A double bag of peppermint tea with a bit of honey does the trick quite well and I’ve come to look forward to it.

One of these days when I’m back to full strength, I’ll have that sweet (or is it acidic?) reunion with a great love of mine in coffee now and then on a cool afternoon.

Until then, it’s sweet dreams thereof.

Trying to reconnect with nature

This evening I walked through a preserve to the edge of a lake and sat on a bench to begin my quiet communion with nature.

Beauty was everywhere — waves breaking across a vast surface, tall trees all around, an osprey flying by with fish in mouth, vultures sailing in lazy circles above, sun’s shadow fading from the horizon… The wind was blowing briskly, adding another dimension to the senses.

Yet my connection to it all wasn’t as sharp, as deep as it usually is where my soul would sing with nature and body would vibrate in harmony. It was far more subtle, as if reaching through a fog.

I’ve noticed this happens when I haven’t been in nature as much as I usually do; due to heat issues my usual forays deep within have been on hold. It’s not all bad — the past couple weeks I’ve been able to venture out to the lake and such in early evenings now.

As they say when recovering from something long term — rejoice in the small victories (and these are great ones for my sore soul). I delight in each of those victories and the first time back to the lake there were tears in my eyes at such a sweet reunion.

And yet, the connection.. It’s fuzzy.

I know why — it’s like meditating. When you stop for awhile or do it sporadically, the connection within is not as strong, it fades. Like a muscle weakening from lack of use. It takes time to reconnect, to go deep again.

I find that’s what’s happening with nature. The connection never goes away like a permanent radio signal (after all, we are from nature), but it can fade.

I try to go to the lake shore each evening and I can feel the connection slowly rebuilding and the bliss subtly rise within.

I’m truly looking forward to those days when I had total immersion with her, my beloved. It’s been a long journey back, but it’s coming.

Once something gets into my bones, it becomes a forever love.

Unearthy encounters

While I’ve come across a great deal of unusual people, all sorts of wild animals (including a bear hunting me down on a trail – that’s another story for another time), and strange physical structures (both natural and man-made), I’ve unexpectedly had a few encounters of the paranormal kind.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised — ever since I was a wee one, I’ve always seen spirits and strange things most folks didn’t see. I even had a ghost live with me at one time. There’s also the strange phenomena that sometimes comes through meditations.

I attribute these things mostly to having an enhanced sixth sense due to my deafness. Nonetheless, I truly didn’t expect it on my travels.

Whether you believe in that sort of stuff or not, at the least it makes for an entertaining read. Since there are several experiences to share, I’m going to break it into separate stories.

For now we’ll start with…

GHOSTS IN NORTH CAROLINA

A dear friend of mine invited me to stay over the weekend at her place near Boone, North Carolina. Not only it was a great opportunity to explore a very cool area, it was a chance to catch up.

On the first night, after a long day, I crashed in her spare bedroom on a pad on the floor. In the middle of the night, I kept feeling someone stepping over my feet, dress dragging over ’em. After a couple times of it, I groggily woke up and was startled to see the figure of a pale white girl in her nightgown looking out the window.

I was so tired that night I shook it off and fell back asleep, thinking I’d ask about it in the morning (by then I was pretty used to ghosts!).

At breakfast I brought it up, her eyes widened and she laughed saying she knew exactly who I saw that night — her house used to be a foster home or something similar (which made sense as it was a large house with several rooms on plenty of acres). She was thrilled to know I saw the little girl as it validated her own experiences.

I thought that was the end of it but nooooo…

The next night again I woke up with a jolt, this time to see a large lady with black hair in a tight bun squatted down like a sumo wrestler staring at me. She was so real I thought she one of the guests staying in another room who came in to wake me up for something and bolted out of the room. Thinking it was an emergency, I got right up only to find the house dark and everyone sound asleep. This one I admit to feeling a little freaked about because it was so darn real (and there was no way the guest could move that quickly).

I asked my friend about it in the morning and she said she hadn’t seen that lady before, speculating maybe she was one of the caretakers when it was a children’s home. Who knows? I do remember the ghost lady initially being startled I could see her when I woke up — the surprise on her face was unforgettable.

Other than my ghost-in-residence in Micanopy, the lady in buns was the most real and clear spirit I’ve seen to date.

Stay tuned for more… : )

Ray

P.S. If you’ve had experiences, I’d love to hear from you — share ’em here!

A year (or more) of silence

The other day I realized it’s been over a year since I voluntarily removed my hearing aids to go completely deaf as a literal vow of silence.

(For those of you unawares, I’ve been deaf since birth and usually wear a pair of hearing aids for some assistance. You can read a bit more about out this on my “about” page.)

The past few years have been a series of spiritual journeys beginning the day I gave up my beloved cabin on a river to live in a tiny camper roaming the continent.

Taking my hearing aids off was a part of that quest to go deeper and deeper within.

When I meditate, I usually take out my hearing aids. One day I thought I’d take it a step further and keep them off as part of an ongoing meditation.

I thought I would miss hearing voices, music (I can hear a bit of instrumental music with hearing aids — enough to enjoy it), and the general noise of the surrounding world. While it’s true with hearing aids I don’t even come close to the range of hearing of normal folks, it’s enough to be aware of certain sounds and noises.

It’s actually been blissful to be wrapped in endless silence, hour after hour. The silence has been a faithful companion, one whose company I enjoy immensely.

I’m finding in many ways I “hear” more without my hearing aids — my other senses have become more attuned to the world at large and I’m far more aware of those subtle nuances all around us that have become regular “voices” to me.

Most especially in nature. I’m finding she has a large cacophony of silent messages and whisperings — in the quiet way leaves turn in a breeze, the way an animal’s ears twitch, the communiques from the swirls in a river, the silent thunder of the skies, and so on.

In people, body language becomes more apparent (and a language all its own). It’s a language that speaks truth outside of the spoken word. It’s easier to read the joy, sorrow, worries, and such outside of vocal ranges.

The eyes speak the loudest truth. A friend of mine says he loves where he lives (and it is a paradise he created) yet I saw the truth in his eyes that his soul had left the place. Indeed, he’s been looking to move elsewhere.

They say eyes are the windows to the soul… Yes, they speak a thousand undeniable words in silence.

And there’s that sixth sense (or dimension?). I’m more acutely aware of a subtle intelligence brimming underneath every thing every where. Sometimes I hear them as melodies within and they vary in intensity and tone. Is it divine intelligence? God? The Universe? The Beloved? Or the soul itself?

Whatever it might be, it’s a blissful intensity. A constant prayer all around, humming and vibrating.

Yes, my meditations have gone deeper as a result, into other universes and galaxies, so to speak (pun intended!). It feels like it’s just the beginning.

It’s been a very interesting journey of silence and I think I’ll keep wandering that plane for a while longer to see where it takes me.

The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude, which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living. Man cannot be happy for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul.

Thomas Merton

My body was stolen from me

This early evening I walked a mile and came back to my dwelling feeling pretty much wiped out.

Walking a mile these days is usually cause for celebration after barely being able to get out of the house six months ago

Yet while I sat recuperating from the walk feeling a bit unsteady and unsure physically, I thought to myself, “I wish I was just in normal shape…”

I miss the days where I could walk dozens of miles along with barefoot jogs in the woods, biking on trails, and kayaking to my heart’s desire.

Folks with chronic illnesses (Lyme in my case) know what I speak of when we only have so many “spoons” to use each day, energy wise.

It’s been a first for me to deal with the devastating effects of Lyme disease — everything I did or tried to do to boost my health didn’t work — even when it used to work in the past. I couldn’t power through situations, tough it out, or adjust to things physically to make it better. In fact, my health often went backwards in total opposite to how it usually reacted in the past.

And doing simple things would exhaust me or crash my energy to where I’d be sequestered in the house for days or weeks. I couldn’t go outside for long because the Florida heat would cause toxins from the Lyme come out into my bloodstream and my energy would crash big time.

For awhile I couldn’t even meditate because it would make me dizzy.

It was a totally bizarre situation to be in — my body was stolen from me and I had no control over it at all. As if an alien took it over with bewildering effect. There’s no other way to describe such a strange phenomenon.

That’s a very scary thing to experience with decades of familiarity with one’s body thrown out the window.

One good thing out of all this for me is the stark realization how vital a healthy body is to be able to live well. We often abuse or ignore our bodies, expecting them to function as they always have as the years churn by. I’ve been quite guilty of this, slacking off on exercise and proper eating habits. Getting Lyme was a huge slap in the face.

I’d say I’m about halfway through recovering.. As my doctor put it, I’m finally climbing out of the deep hole I was in and am rebuilding my fragile body back to good health. I now have a goal to get in the best shape of my life I possibly can and and stay there.

Don’t take your body for granted, folks… It’s akin to taking your life for granted — without a stable body your whole world wobbles and it becomes a nightmare, believe me.

Don’t let an alien steal your body.

Campground showers (and skinny dipping)

Since I’ve been on a year long hiatus from my nomad life I’ve been reminiscing about it from time to time to ease the hole in my heart from dearly missing it (I hope to be well enough to get back on the road in a couple months).

Part of my healing routine (from Lyme) is an easy daily swim in the local pool. I always feel much better for whatever reason — the sensation of floating in cool water is quite the relief.

After each swim, I hop in the showers in the locker room. It was this morning I realized they were very much like typical campground showers — a few shower heads in a row on a wall with no privacy. Along with gimpy water flow and time-release valves you have to keep pressing to keep the water flowing. And lukewarm water, of course.

I freakin’ loved it. The realization brought a smile to my face along with fond memories of so many different showers across the continent, all with their own unique quirks.

I remember the showers at a Maine state campground being almost luxurious with private showers in classy wooden plank buildings and unlimited (hot) water time. There’s the ones in California whose showers are very skimpy on water thanks to ongoing drought issues (I understand now some of them are closed to save even more water) — you also had to pay on top of it (in my experience, I had to pay at around 1/4ths of the campgrounds). Some of the national parks had the best FREE showers with a blast of hot water and privacy.

The weirdest? The showers at Mesa Verde national park had signs plastered on each shower that were pictograms asking people to please not poop in the showers (shudder). I guess it’s a thing in some foreign places)?

The most memorable? The more remote places where there were no facilities. I’d often go skinny dipping in the lakes, ponds, creeks, etc. as available as long as no one else was around to be offended (lol).

My favorite was up in Michigan on national forest land. It was pretty high up so the pond was very cold. I ventured in anyway and egads, it was so cold it hurt but it was so invigorating and so worth it (and very cleansing!). I’ll never forget — by the time I got up to my (shivering) neck in the water, a pair of bald eagles flew overhead close by. It was a magical moment emblazoned in me forever.

The best thing about all these campground showers and skinny dipping moments? The sheer variety of different experiences through it all. Rather than seeing the same old shower every day in a house, taking a shower on the road became a welcome adventure of liquid varieties.

It’s not just the different showers and such — your mind changes and expands when confronted with a steady stream (pun intended) of different experiences and oh, the memories! Now I have vast store to draw from in each and every little experience — be it showers or people or land or adventures.

Take showers in different places and expand your wet souls, my friends!

The surprising art of sitting still

Folks know me as a pretty laid back kinda dude but there’s side to me that’s always on the go, hardly staying in any one place for a long period of time. Maybe it’s the quest of adventure and new things but it’s been ingrained in me since I was a wee one (hence the nickname of “Scooter” because I was always zipping around as a kid).

Thanks to the vagrancies of Lyme disease, the past few months I’ve had to learn the art of sitting still all day during the times I was so weak and unstable I couldn’t do anything — not even read or watch movies because it would give me vertigo.

During those dark days it was a chance to meditate much more often (which also aided the healing process) and spend a whole lot of time contemplating things, watching thoughts roll around in my ole noggin’.

That was mostly a good thing (other than wrestling with moments of depression and the weighty thoughts & feelings that came with it — the healing process for Lyme is very slow so sometimes it seems the light would never come) because with those long moments of idleness came different perspectives and new insights on living a life worth living. I’ll reflect on those on another day.

Getting back to the art of sitting still, what I wanted to share was the moment I was at least strong enough to get outside for a bit, I would (slowly and laboriously) drag a lawn chair into a spot of nature nearby and plop into it, sitting there for at least an hour or two.

That was when an amazing and wondrous worlds opened up — one of my favorite spots was at the edge of a swamp. Initially sitting there you wouldn’t see much other than water and trees. As the minutes ticked by, new parts of nature would reveal itself. A baby alligator climbing onto a log, a water snake wandering by looking for lunch, birds of all kinds doing the same, dragonflies landing on me, butterflies whistling by, frogs hopping and swimming in the brackish water, turtles sunning nearby and on and on.

Because I sat quietly for so long, the wildlife slowly became used to my presence as if accepting me into their world. Some would wander close by, like the white egret pecking for food near my feet.

There were different variations of breezes whistling by, the way the rays of the sun kept changing and shafting through tall trees, ferns and plants below dancing in different ways when the breeze would shift and so on and on.

I was amazed to find in unsuspectingly quiet places of nature so many sensory delights revealed only by being still for an extended amount of time as if soaking in the environment.

I would go day after day after day and each time it was different, nature unveiling a new side of her, further delighting my senses.

This is how I realized there was an art in being still and the magic that springs from it. Wondrous magic that was there all along if I would stop long enough to step out of life and embrace the beloved all around, not just within.

Try it sometime. Prepare for unexpected delights!

Ray

PS. I (and my doctor) noticed a wonderful side effect: I started healing at a faster pace from those forays of stillness in the woods, swamps, and prairies. More magic abound!).

Simply writing daily

I’ve often read that one ought to get into some sort of daily writing routine to turn it into a habit and also to help grease the flow of words from yonder brain.

One thing I excel at is being consistently inconsistent when it comes to writing and blogging. In rare moments I get hot and pour out stuff but most (er, almost *all*) of the time my brain farts cold air and creakily shuts down.

A long time ago I used to be more prolific at writing — I sometimes wonder if I’ve lost my muse. If I close my eyes and squint hard enough to squeeze my memory cells, I think that moment was when I and a great love of mine parted ways onto different paths and the well dried up. It seems to be easier to wax poetic when in love, perhaps…

Or maybe it’s just another one of my lousy excuses to add to the discard piles littering the writing room in my head (that room houses an ornery bastard that always shoots things down).

Either way, I’m going to try again — I only have a good two or three decades left so I ought to try hard even if it might mean falling on my sword yet again.

Why? I miss writing and I’d like to re-form my neurons into a regular, life long habit of putting fingers to the keyboard again. I also feel it will give me more sense of direction since I’ve been pretty aimless at a lot of things in an on/off way.

(I’ve also been holed up for awhile in Florida recovering from Lyme disease so I may as well put some of my idleness to good use, yeah?)

In the article linked above, Furaha Asani says to write anything, whether it might be random thoughts, poetry, fiction, etc. etc. — to simply do it each and every day. She started by challenging herself to publish something every day for a year and did it successfully.

So here goes. Hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow from my keyboard. If not…. you’ll find me impaled on a discard pile somewhere.

Ray

P.S. If you’ve taken on a similar challenge, share! I’d love to hear about your experiences and such.