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Meanderings

View from this evening’s meditation

…on Lake Newnan in Gainesville, Florida

Categories
Meanderings

“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.

Categories
Meanderings

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.

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Meanderings

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!

Categories
Travels

Heartbreak in Mexico

A couple winters ago, in an effort to avoid an incoming cold snap, I moseyed on down to San Felipe to camp on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

I heard about a quiet, somewhat remote campground from a few other nomads who were there and enjoying the warmth from their waterfront campsites. I ended up meeting four fellow souls for the first time as we met up there one by one and settled in for what was to be a nice, calm, warm, and enjoyable few weeks there.

A lovely couple ran the camp for a local family who owned the land. The husband was Mexican and last lived in Hawaii where he met his current wife so it made for an interesting and lively combo. I warmed up to them right away because of their kindness and generousity in making sure I had everything I needed as I settled into camp.

The other nomads were from different places, all in the States. I met them through their blogs sharing their travels. One was stopping by on her way further south, the rest of us were just escapees from the cold.

The first few days were blissful — the campground bordered a preserve so it was one of those places of sublime beauty that had a quiet intensity to it. I spent quite a bit of time exploring the preserve in my kayak and by hiking on the cliffs overseeing the sea.

With Christmas day approaching, we all decided to cook up a grand feast where each of us brought something to dinner. The host couple took care of organizing and rounding up everything needed, including setting up a dining room with a large table to fit the six of us, including our hosts.

It was going to be an authentic Mexican Christmas dinner with warm laughs and a sharing of common bonds and stories so I was really looking forward to it. Everyone seemed to get along and I felt close to the host couple for taking me around town and meeting their friends and family. Bonds were already deepening in a matter of days.

On the big day, we were all rustling around doing our own thing preparing our portions for the Christmas dinner.

Then BOOM! I felt a door slam hard and a big argument erupting from the campground kitchen area. I saw several of the nomads bolting into their own campers and the host simmering in a corner. Being deaf, I had no idea what happened so I walked over to the host. Shocked, I saw angry tears in the husband’s eyes and the grave stillness of his wife.

My heart sank when he told me he had been accused of stealing one of the nomad’s bags of shrimp bought for the dinner. The other nomads ganged up on him about it, further inflaming the situation.

The host swore on his life he hadn’t taken anything. He was so angry and upset at being accused. It hurt to see the sadness in his wife’s eyes seeing her husband suffer.

I was dismayed to see accusations fly so quickly without taking the time to get to the bottom of things, especially after we all had seemingly bonded so well…

In an effort to save the day and our special dinner, I attempted to mediate and see if we could find out what really happened. My fellow nomads were not interested; their minds were made up. In fact, they were packing up and readying their campers to move out abruptly.

All this chaos on a beautiful beach on what was supposed to be a very special Christmas evening broke my heart. It was further broken by witnessing tragedy inflicted upon the couple and broken again by the non-willingness of my own fellow nomads to let calmer heads prevail and sort the situation out.

After everyone left, I ventured over to the host couple, offering profuse apologies for everyone and expressing my own sorrow at how it all unfolded.

The wife stood up and said she wasn’t going to let this ruin a special night and asked me to stay for dinner for the three of us. She strode off into the campground kitchen to finish it up. By then her husband had calmed down somewhat although I could still see the anger in his eyes.

He told me in Mexican culture it was a deep abrogation of honor to make an accusation like that and he took it very personally. They are a couple that weren’t well off by any means and honor was important to them… only to have it taken away with no proof of any sort.

Just at that moment his wife came back, holding up the missing back of shrimp. It had fallen out of sight behind a bag of vegetables in the fridge.

I sighed heavily. While it was good to find the missing shrimp, it didn’t make things any better because the damage was already done, esp. in the couple’s hearts.

I asked how much the bag was worth. Six American dollars, she said. All this drama and honor taken over a bag of shrimp worth six bucks.

Despite all that, we ended up having a very nice, quaint Christmas dinner and talked the evening away over wine and stories of each other’s lives, further deepening our own bonds.

The moral of the story? Maybe it was prejudice, I don’t know, but it’s wrong to make accusations based on speculation and gossip. It’s wrong to jump to conclusions and not to at least make an effort to get to the truth.

Instead, a lovely couple’s honor gets stolen and their hearts shattered. All over a $6 bag of shrimp.

(Names were omitted for reasons of privacy)

Categories
Meanderings

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