Life is vulnerable.

Dear unknown friend, 

Shame is the worst of all poisons I know.  

Sometimes childhood memories come up and I feel like I was burned with a red iron and the pain remained...I was just a small boy and I didn't know how to defend myself. I won't go into details. Being overwhelmed and at times paralyzed by fear, whilst knowing that you are male and that you should fight - even to be defeated, but fight... made me feel ashamed for life. 
I was an orphan of mother, the son of a father who seemed to have been burnt in a similar way. Not the kind of father who would have supported, encouraged, taught me how to fight. He was, like I am, an hyper sensitive being, the kind you would protect, even when you are a child, by not confronting him, by leaving him alone... 

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 I remember the fear in his eyes. Not always but often. I remember the day my two year old sister fell into a river. I remember him, hesitating, taking off his jacket, not knowing what to do with it, before another man dived into the shallow and cold water, retrieved the floating girl and ended up wrapped up in blankets, the hero of the day. I felt ashamed as well. I was 7 year old. I didn't venture into the river either. I just sent my cousin for the adults and watched. 


 I remember another day when my father did intervene. My sister was standing on the trunk of the tree, bees or wasps were surrounding her, and she was just frozen. I shouted: Run! Run! ... and the one who ran, dispersed the wasps with great windmill style gestures and got his daughter away from the nest was him. My father somehow redeemed himself on that day...

 I felt so panicked inside when these boys talked to me with a maliciousness I didn't understand. I remember I saved as much dignity as I could. I didn't burst into tears, I didn't fell on my knees, I answered back with a few words... I don't remember what. But I didn't fight. I could hardly move. I could only stay frozen with these horrible feelings running through me. They didn't beat me. They were playing with my fear. That was the worst they could do. They made me feel ashamed for life. 

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 I was just a fragile and sensitive kid who did not know how to handle his fears. I remember being scared by a little dog, a very little dog. Somehow I believed that many beings could attack me and tear me into pieces. I remember my stepmother mocking me, again and again, and my father saying nothing, doing nothing, whilst I was just trying to escape the small dog. These kinds of moments burned me.  

 But life, my friend, is just life. What burns is that I still believe that I should have been strong, courageous, prepared to face any outcome, even if it was being bitten, broken, disfigured, dismantled, and fight like a worthy little male warrior. I was just an emotional, sensitive and vulnerable kid; I am still an emotional, sensitive and vulnerable being; life makes some beings this way, and when I'm able to be humble and kind enough with myself, with my father and with all vulnerable males life makes, I'll be healed. We also have qualities, and even courage at times. 

 The greatest the fear, the greatest courage is needed to master it. What we feel can't be measured only by what's going on in the outside world. What we feel is also created by the universe inside... Hypersensitive people have a nervous system that's different from the average neurotypical nervous system...This is not an excuse, this is a reality...

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We don't have to know our lessons before learning them. We don't have to be strong warriors without support and training. We don't have to be heroic from dawn to dusk, from birth to death, without even flinching. Even if I was a coward in an hypothetical past life, even if I fled in terror in front of enemies, leaving wife and children behind, even if I really was what the shame of psychological traumas tells me I was, even if I was the last one to attack the wholly mammoth when I was a hunter amongst hunters in prehistoric times, all I can do now is learn, step by step, how to be a little bit better and ask the Great Spirit for help, because without the Great Spirit's help, we all fall at the bottom of the swamp if this is what we need to learn...

 Life is vulnerable. That's just the way it is... 

I am being a tree...

Dear unknown friend, 

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Today I don't have much to say because  I am being a tree. 

I have roots. I pump water and stuff and that makes me feel alive. 

There are waves waving in the mental space but nothing worth hanging on to for too long... 
I am being quiet.

There are a few things that feel a bit tense and knotted inside but that's OK, I am not going to attack my inner tensions with an axe, I'm too lazy. 

If we accepted the fact that this planet is a cosmic psychiatric hospital, along with the fact that we are not here as doctors, we would already feel better. 

Now, even if we hallucinate that we are the doctors, that's OK, it's just a symptom. Nothing to worry about. If we want a reality check, are we able to get out? The doctors can go in and out at will, they've got the keys. Can we? 

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 Are we able to get out of the vicious circles of anxieties, desires, fears, misunderstandings, mental blocks, worries, anger, spaghetti?  Can we escape and fly? 

 

Sometimes, I do get out. 
Sometimes, I am a tree. 
 

I wish you stillness in the middle of your madness my friend...
 

Calm down, it's just a game!

Dear unknown friend,

How is life treating you? 

Life is a game. I don't mean that all the suffering doesn't matter. It does.

What I mean is that we are like players sitting at a table over a board game. There are rules.

However, we have forgotten that we are playing. We believe we are these little characters interacting with other little characters on this board we call world. The more we win the more we enjoy the game. The more we lose the closer to remembering who we really are we become. 

 

Sometimes, in order to solve a problem,  we need to disengage and remember... 

 On the board,, when we suffer we react with coping mechanisms. We take refuge in our heads, we overthink, we drink, we eat, we find all kinds of ways to relieve temporarily the suffering, we blame, we take it onto others...

 

But if we are able to calm down in the middle of our own suffering, even for a short moment... we may be able to access a different "state of consciousness", a level where we know how to change the course of events...

 

There is a little story which is about precisely this:

An elephant is crossing a river. Just in the middle of the river he loses an eye. The eye falls at the bottom of the river. The elephant panics, shouts and stamps around. "My eye! Where is my eye! I can't see my eye!" The water gets muddy. All the animals gathered on the banks shout at the elephant:

"Calm down! Calm down!"

But the elephant keeps being like:

 

 

"My eye! My eye! I can't see my eye!"

Eventually, he gets tired, so tired that he hears the animals and calms down. He stops moving. The water slowly clears up. With his other eye the elephant sees his eye laying between two rocks at the bottom of the river. He picks it up, put it back into place, and move away....

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That's where we are my dear friend. We are players who have forgotten we are playing a game, we are in pain and we keep troubling the waters because of our pains, and we have even forgotten the rule that says that when we calm down, we can save ourselves.

See you in the world of dreams!

 If we were suddenly allowed into paradise

 Dear unknown friend, 

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 Are you well? Do you feel the emotional coldness many of us feel? 

 When divers go deep, their bodies adapt to a greater pressure. When they come back to the surface, they have to make decompression stops - otherwise they could die... 

  If a Bedouin finds someone dying from thirst in the desert, they don't gave them a lot to drink. They give only a few sips.  

 The inhabitant of the desert knows that the thirsty guy would swallow the entire gourd if they let them, and they would die from the shock. So, in spite of their supplications, they let them wait for more...

 When it is freezing cold and you spend some time outside without gloves, after a while your hands get used to the temperature. The painful moments happens when you come back inside and warm up your hands... 
 
"That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing"... What we experience in the physical world always teaches us some truth about the invisible worlds... 

 I once reassured a friend who had great difficulty in being surrounded by people. She craved company but she couldn't bear it! I had the same problem...

 When we catch ourselves not wanting what we believed we wanted, whilst still wanting it when don't have it, we, human beings, have a tendency to judge ourselves. All we understand is that there is something wrong with us. But no, there is nothing wrong... 

 The big mistake you make only once when coming back inside with cold hands in winter is to turn the hot water tap on... It burns! Even cold water feels warm when our hands are even colder...

 It takes time to get used to the warmth again, and able to enjoy it. 

 Sometimes  life is lonely. When we find the way back to human warmth, much to our surprise, we can't stand it.  It's normal. There is nothing wrong with us. 

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 If we were suddenly allowed into paradise, it would be a terrible trauma. 

 Now, the great news is that approaching paradise slowly feels like paradise....  

Calming the emotional storm

 Dear unknown friend, 
 
 One of my best friends was an atheist. I believe in the Great Spirit. However we enjoyed sharing our thoughts and talking about our beliefs. We enjoyed sharing our feelings as well. We understood each other and loved our conversations.

 There is no need to agree to understand, no need to convince anyone to chose another path than the path they have chosen for themselves. I am not an atheist, but who knows, maybe in another life, I will chose to be one? 

 I am a Christian but I rarely use the word. I don't go to church. I don't believe in all the stuff they tell you to believe and how you should feel and behave... I am a Christian because there are a few things in the Gospel that speak to my heart. I am also a story teller, so let me just tell you a Jesus story. A small one. 

 Jesus was in a boat with his friends the disciples. He was sleeping. The weather turned bad. Soon there was a storm rocking the boat. The disciples were very scared, and Jesus kept sleeping. They woke him up in a panic! 
 "Hey! Jesus! We're going to capsize!" 

Jesus stood up in the boat, opened his arms, told the storm to calm down.... and the storm calmed down! 

 This was the story. I hope it was not too long! 

 Maybe it is literally true. Have you ever had this feeling of being somehow connected to the atmosphere and felt you could ask the rain to wait a little bit for you to have time to go home? Then the rain apparently held on and started pouring down just after you passed your door, saying thank you!  

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 Of course this can easily be called "pure coincidence" and dismissed, but sometimes it happens and even though you can't prove it, you feel you're not alone...  At times, the same kind of experience repeats itself again and again, the rain, the bus, the person you meet just at the right time at the right place to tell you something you needed to know... sometimes life seems to flow harmoniously, as if orchestrated.... so why not? 

 However there is another way to understand this story. Whether it is true or not doesn't matter actually. This story is also a symbolic story. The storm is an emotional storm. The boat is our body. Jesus is our heart, and the disciples the parts of us that feel overwhelmed...  
 When we wake up, we become able of to understand others, including those who hurt us...  When we are emotional like small children we feel angry, scared, lonely, abandoned, worthless, resentful when we are not treated well. It's normal to feel awful when we are hurt. It's as natural as a storm. It is a storm. 

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 We shouldn't feel bad about feeling bad when we feel bad; it only make things worse when we beat ourselves up for not being loving and peaceful. 

 The storm is natural and we need to become supernatural. By this I mean understanding someone else point of view and their feelings, along with ours. This is enough to calm down an inner storm. Understanding is all we need. Understanding is love. 

 The philosophers of old used to say: "Know yourself" 
 Today, many repeat: "Love yourself".  
 It's the same thing really. 

 Feel well! 
 

2 Bullies on the Bus.

Dear unknown friend,

I was talking about scapegoating in my last letter, and a memory came up afterwards.

 

One day of last autumn, I was on a bus in London, on my way back from a gardening job. Two seats in front of me were three boys in their school uniforms. Two of them were sitting and one was standing in front of them, in the area near the bus doors. The two sitting ones were playing with him.

 

The game was not friendly. He let them do, though. He didn't try to put any distance between himself and them. One grabbed him by the tie and pulled, throwing him out of balance... but they kept talking together, like school mates do. Then the other sitting boy grabbed his hands and twisted them, until the poor boy asked, in a low voice... "please...."

Later, the first bully took the boy's hat. He tried to get it back but the bully didn't let him. He claimed he would throw the hat through the window at the next stop to see the boy getting off the bus, picking his hat and getting back on the bus before the doors closed...if he had time. The bully kept pretending he would do it.... but didn't. When a bully plays with a scapegoat, you know, they play with their emotions.

 

I was observing, feeling spiky butterflies in my stomach. I was wondering if it would be a good thing to intervene. The scapegoat looked so familiar with his bullies, so accepting...

 

But then I saw him take a fifty pence coin out of his pocket, offering to pay to get his hat back. The bully pretended to throw it through the window again. I grabbed the hat from behind. -Surprise! I threw it to the boy who said "thank you" without looking at me.

 

I said out loud:

"You look like bullies!"

The little bully answered:

"Oh shut up!"

I insisted. I said:

"You heard me!"

 

He told me to shut up again, I repeated he had heard what I had to say again, and I let him utter the last useless word.

 

This stopped the bullying anyway.

 

A bit later, he told me: "We know each other!..." as if this justified anything. We, human beings, have a tendency to believe that more is permitted with those we are familiar with. In a sense, it's true, familiar ways are ways we can't use with anyone. Does that justifies violence? Of course not.

 

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I answered, a bit stupidly "I hope so!" as if things would have been worse if they didn't. Never mind. I had named the behavior. Naming is like switching on the light in the shadow...Shaming is not necessary.

 

Nobody else, on that bus, had said anything. I don't blame them. In our world, we are blaming far too much, and not understanding enough. Maybe on that day I did the right thing. I don't always do. If I took advantage of this one right thing I did to point my finger at others in an accusatory manner, I would just perpetuate this habit of putting others down to feel better than them...

 

We need to be kind with ourselves and with others. We don't do spontaneously the "right things". We need to become aware, we need to overcome fears, we need to fail quite a few times before one day, we do or just say the right thing for once... and it's OK. It's life such as it is. We're learning...

 

May we all be happy!

 

I wish you to feel good as often and intensely as possible!

Take care.