It is dangerous to take human freedom for granted, to regard it as a prerogative rather than as an obligation, as an ultimate fact rather than as an ultimate goal. It is the beginning of wisdom to be amazed at the fact of our being free.—-Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, 1966
It is so easy to take our freedom for granted. For those of us who were raised in countries where freedom is the basis of our life we don’t appreciate how rare it is. Freedom should not be considered a noun. It is a verb. It is something that we must strive for every single moment. It could be snatched away from us so easily. We must see it as a very fragile gift that has to be nurtured. If not it will be gone.
Don’t take freedom for granted.
Happy fourth of July!
Do you ever feel as if you are on a roller coaster? That’s what my life has felt like lately. I hate roller coasters. As a child I loved them and went with my father. I’m not sure when that changed but I will not ride them now. Especially all the crazy ones that have shown up lately.
Physically it seems as if I am up one day and down the next. At least I am not constantly down. For me, it is best when life feels settled. Right now settled is many moons away. Company will be here for the week-end. My grandson, his wife and another couple who are their friends. We live near the beach and I am sure we will not see much of them but I am glad they want to come.
The thing is…it’s hard having company here but also had to turn away the loved ones you want to see. It’s a conundrum. So they will be here and I am set to push all stress away and just enjoy.
We miss so many things in life if we are struggling with our own selves and can’t enjoy the wonderful things that we could be doing. When this happens it is time to “center down” ( I have used that before….a Quaker expression meaning lower your Chi) and plan time for yourself to step away for a moment and gather yourself together.
So until the week-end I have no stress related things planned. I will enjoy each day and be ready to enjoy the visit and not miss out on a wonderful moment.
These special moments in life are too important to miss. Family and friends are what matter and we can’t afford to shut ourselves away from that. It won’t come again.
Today for some reason my mind is blank….or struggling for clarity. I thought about this poem written a while ago and offer it here.
Deep in the closets of my mind dark secrets are hiding I have not seem them for many years
I stand and look at the doors and fear to look inside to let the light shine in
The fear is not of pain but something far more frightening the fear of myself
the real me hiding all these years the me no one can love the me I cannot accept
God, help me to fling open the doors and with broom in hand throw out the secrets
and dust off the person who has been hiding in the dark
Yesterday I read an article about the newest drug craze. People are buying flower seed and using them as drugs. Apparently some seed have an ingredient that is similar to LSD. I guess it is far enough away from the 60’s for them to not remember how those drugs work. LSD was a big deal in the 60’s. Timothy Leary was the guru who encouraged people to try the drug. He wanted everyone to “take a trip” and experience altered reality. For some people it did what was advertised. For others it produced a “bad trip” and not only did people do things like try to fly off of buildings but some kept experiencing “trips” for years after using the drug once.
I have never wanted to be out of control. That may just be an issue for me but I had no desire to try mind altering drugs. Native Americans and primitive peoples have used various plants to reach an altered state. However, I don’t think they have done it for fun but as a religious experience.
I am sad that there is such a culture of drug use. There is a big problem with opiods. Some of the drugs that we use for anxiety and depression are being abused by those who don’t have any problems. It worries me that so many people need to escape their lives by altering their brains.
I don’t know if the problem is any worse than it has been in the past. Maybe we have shifted from emphasis on drugs like morphine and invented new ways to dose our bodies. Whatever is the problem, abusing out bodies is not what life is about. I have no idea how to help but I wish I could.
Today there was a terrible tragedy in our area. A C 130 military aircraft crashed just after takeoff. They have not said yet about survivors but a video of the crash (taken by someone who heard the aircraft and thought it sounded funny) shows the plane going in a nose dive. It seems unlikely that anyone survived. We have not heard how many were aboard but somewhere between five and nine crew.
It is amazing that it crashed on a major highway and didn’t hit any cars. I guess in every tragedy there is some light. My heart goes out to the families of those soldiers. Their lives will never be the same. “What a difference a day makes” (from the song). It is so true. We can never be sure of a next moment, next day, next year. We make extensive plans and don’t know if they will happen.
If we spent our days worrying about what will happen next we would never leave home. When my youngest daughter was 15 years old she flew to Japan as an exchange student. We let her go far away. At that time a passenger plane was (I think) accidentally shot down and I didn’t want her to go. My husband pointed out that we can’t stop living for fear of what will happen.
Many people have talked about how fruitless worry is. We are not living if we spend our life in fear. We must live and make life worthwhile.
Lately I have been thinking about good and bad emotions. Good emotions run the gamut from a simple flash of a decent day to full blown joy. It is easy to see the negative ones. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, sorrow….I could go on. To counter these we can use the positive things we don’t often see as emotions: safety, relaxation, strength, gratitude, pleasure, satisfaction, friendship, kindness, and assertiveness. (From the article How to Tap into Your Light by Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality and Health)
Most of these we don’t equate with emotion and so we don’t key into them. We don’t see them as positive emotions. We don’t focus on them. That is a major part of the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to come home and relate a story about how uncomfortable I felt doing a mediation than that I did a good job. I let the good feeling be lost in the negative emotion. We tend to hang onto the bad feelings and nurse them. We are unwilling to let them go. Think of how often you have been angry about something and just kept bringing it up in conversation or dwelling on it. For some reason we must enjoy holding on to them.
When we don’t let go we experience physical changes. Negative emotions can cause an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. They can decrease our resistance to disease and lower the ability of our immune system to function. They allow our bodies to attack us with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, asthma, ulceration colitis, migraines and irritable bowel. Oh, what we do to ourselves.
We have to learn to focus on the positive emotions and use them to overcome the negative ones. To do that we need to remember what they are and see them when they come. The list above can be added to I’m sure. It’s easy to see how we think when I realized that I had to find that list and couldn’t just come up with one from my head but the negative emotions were right on the tip of my tongue.
I think the most important piece is to be aware of what you are feeling. We can’t change it if we can’t recognize it.
As the song writer Johnny Mercer said “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”
I began this blog to follow me through changes that I need to make in my life. I don’t know how much progress I have made but there has been some. My anxiety is more under control and I have begun some new habits that focus me.
I have enhanced my prayer life which had slipped considerably. I have added “praying in color” which is a book that my daughter gave me a few years ago and I never pursued it. This has been a wonderful thing for me. I am not in the least an artist but it if wonderful to take colored pencils and create prayers. I am doing them on black paper and enjoy creating light from darkness. I can also look back (they are in a spiral sketch book) and see who I have added to my prayers.
I do occasionally do Mandalas and love doing those. They help me when I am in crisis. For me, they consume time and I have to feel the need to do one. I have saved these also and can look back over trials and tribulations. It is helpful to see where I have been and how far I have come.
Prayer is a real way for me to “center down.” Meditation for me is also a prayer. I don’t do that enough.
Since writing this blog I have encountered so many wonderful people who have understood and encouraged my journey. I have been enriched by reading their blogs. The community is a comfortable and comforting place to be.
Thank you all.