(A Care-Share Book)
(Prints to 38 pages - 85 K)
This Free Download E-Book is offered because there are many who find themselves in the situation which it records They often feel alone in a mix of feelings difficult to explain to those who have not had similar experience."Journal Of Change" was written during a recovery period following the death of a dear friend,whom I had cared for during a final illness. I have given copies of this Journal to friends in similar situations. In each case, they said it helped more than anything,because they knew I had felt as they felt. They were not alone in that sea of confusion that is common to such times. Sometimes, such a simple sharing can make a great difference. It is offered now in hopes that it may reach others in need of such sharing. That is what Care-Share means.
Please understand as you read these pages - I absolutely had to face these collected issues and mine some meaning from them. I was at that 'place' in my life. Nothing in this "Journal" was written from the sidelines looking-on. I learned many valuable things from the effort. One thing learned is that victory isn't always a glorious event with bugles and fanfare. Sometimes it's the simple act of assimilation of experience, then getting up and going on. The wonderful thing is - it happens all the time. It's the history of Humanity.
Entry November 11,1989 - The decade of the 1980s draws to a close. I look back in an effort to comprehend the present, and eventually envision where-from-here.
Dear Ed, my companion of ten years, has wearily departed, taking his leave at the last without any display of struggle, or longing to linger. In fact, he had years ago set forth in a notarized paper, in his own choice of words, that there was to be no artificial prolonging beyond his obvious 'time'. We had often discussed these matters without morbidity, and he had often conveyed to me his readiness to depart. The weary, heavy, weakening body, and 88 years of the psycho-mental wear-and-tear of this troubled world, had brought him to a longing for release.
In view of my awareness of Ed's thoughts and feelings, and the slow decline of his faculties, I had thought I was prepared. I had not anticipated the vacuum his departure would leave in my life. I had thought many times,through those years, as to how I would weather the change, and what might be done to prepare for the time. I had even planned , in a vague way, to devote my remaining years to writing, which had been an avocation of years. Now - suddenly - only a great emptiness remained, which touched all aspects of my being, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
What remained was an ache in the heart that found no ease, except in facing the real, deep, issues and questions,such times of loss focus for us. It was a 'spiritual growth' process that must be gone through. No other way offered remedy. A silent, inner letting-go, which must leave us both with a sense of peace, love, no separation in the 'inclusiveness of Spirit'; a clear, compassionate realization that for a time our paths must diverge. This cannot be done hurriedly, nor anxiously. It requires a willingness to 'wait out' the processes of healing and clarification; a faith that Spirit, as pro-progress Life, will answer the needs of both, and healing will happen.
Often others interpret such actions as an unhealthy, negative period of distress. Out of genuine care, they may counsel us to ..."get away for awhile...forget...close it out of mind...". There may be those for whom this is wisest, I don't know. But, for me it would not work.
I know that this depth of feeling cannot be ignored, fled from, or denied, if a lasting, healthy adjustment is to be made. Spirit would teach, deepen, and broaden us at such times if we will seek that wise counsel. It must be 'gone through', lovingly, but not morbidly, and not with selfish clinging. Then - our emergence will mean that healing is thorough and deep, with no hidden pockets of dark depths to reappear as psychosis, or physical illness.
These are the reasons I seek to understand these transisitions so common to our human experience. This is why I have elected to begin these papers with the closure of the 1980s, although we soon move into the 1990s. I must find some closure to this season of confusion, before I can again move forward.
Entry November 12, 1989 - At first, after Ed's passing, I moved in a numb limbo. It was an odd,troubling experience, that I couldn't picture him in my mind. I had spent the past ten years, seven days a week, day and night, with this person who was very dear to me. Now, suddenly, I was a stranger. I looked at the familiar rooms, and felt no sense of familiarity.It was as if ten years had been wiped from memory. I had had similar feelings, when others near to me passed away. Yet, I had no choice then for pause to adjust, I just kicked in to some sort of automaton mode and clicked on through the days. At this point, I was too physically weak to even do that. I was told this was not uncommon at such times.It is a 'defense mechanism'. Everything but the bare, necessary, but unconscious, body activities shuts down, refusing any awareness of the flood of loss. Then, bit by bit, after awhile, the feelings are allowed to cross the threshold of consciousness, to be experienced and resolved, at a measured pace.
It was some time before this second stage began. And it was only after that point that I began to write these entries. At first, I couldn't imagine writing. That had become as remote an interest as if it had never been a lifelong companion. It seemed so meaningless to scribble words, when I had nothing to express but this great depth of numb emptiness.
Then, gradually, patterns long established began to re-emerge, and, as I had done through the years, I began to sense that to record the experience, and define the nature of these depths, might someway help in discovering answers,and lead to healing.
How many times these words had come to me in the past ! Again I found myself amid in-depth sharing of an experience known to humanity through time. Maybe a few such words could offer a companion touch to others in such times. It might be a small contribution to our collective understanding to record this time of transition. Thus - the title "Journal Of Change" was born. Change is what I know lies ahead, although I have no idea of what its nature will be.
And so ... I begin to follow this tendril of purpose, which offers a motive for continuing. A tendril which wanders through an obscured terrain, and leads to ... I know not where ...
Entry November 18, 1989 - Days are a string of routine activities; small things that make up the basic order of day-to-day. One dresses, and moves through the rooms. Talks on the phone. Cleans the house. Provides the body with food. Rakes the yard. Visits with friends. Attends to business matters. Listens to music, or whatever offers quiet relief in the void. And - time passes.
For now, these things are done in automaton fashion, requiring little thought, but are probably useful to sustain a vague sense of order and stability. There is no zest to them, but they have a certain therapeutic value.
However, there are other duties which are done because they are necessary, but which touch the not-yet-healed wound. These are the business matters of the world which are attendant to death. Here, a numb, aching sense of unreality sometimes overwhelms one. One must confront the flood of paper which seems to reduce a dear life to documents and figures. Then - ashes in a small container - intensifying the cruel sense of reduction. Many times these past weeks, I've stood in naked pain and cried out - "what are we ?!"
Bit by bit - through effort - I've turned from the ashes, and directed thought to envisioning the freed spirit - liberated - renewing in a glad companionship of Spirit.
Then, there is the slow process of sorting clothing and personal items no longer needed by the departed one. The streaming passage of these 'mementos' to friends, and the benign transfer to Thrift Shops is attended to, all with the thought - "Yes - Ed would want that to be given to those who might need it". It is amazing what a symbol fragment of mortality, such as a set of dentures, can do to one's efforts to retain composure. Over and over such events of distancing go on - and time passes.
Whether it is ever expressed in a definite way or not, these experiences do not leave us where they found us. If there is someone not so closely involved to handle these material rituals of passage, it may help some, I don't know. I had to do it myself. Inevitably this time results in inner changes, which travel with us into the future. They can evolve into compassion, or shrink us in bitterness. They can become faith, or doubt. They can bring about a victory of understanding inclusion added to the fabric of our soul, or the tear we do not, or cannot, mend. An honest facing of the experience in faith is necessary to health at all levels. Time passes. Meeting the days in faith, brings healing to both. We must welcome the wisdom, and seasoning, but reject the bitterness.
Entry November 29, 1989 - I'm sure that should I attempt to express to those who inquire - "How are you"? - the serious questioning and thought that has been my constant companion these days, they would find my presence a wearing weight, and interpret the whole process as self-pity.
It really isn't based on that at all, and I too would be repelled if it were. Life seems to focus us on these issues for a healing purpose, if we respond in that attitude. Life will then help us search the depths. Spiritual aid will come. If we choose to ignore those promptings, and too soon pretend an adjustment that is not true, we have only potponed the confrontation.
There may be instances when postponement is essential. The individual is not stable enough to go through the in-depth process. In my case, this was at a cumulative stage.Previous instances when I could not devote myself to the in-depth adjustment had not been resolved. This was at a state when I had to face my cluttered depths, for healing.
It is a necessary time of transition, which I have resolved to experience in as conscious and responsible awareness as I can. No doubt,as so many express who have lost loved ones, the Holiday Season, which is now upon us, amplifies the sense of loss. We compare so many things to - "this time last year -" Yes - Ed was here then, I could see him, touch him , talk with him. But deeper thought tells me that to look back and hold him to that time, or wish he were still here, as then, would be selfish. It would mean to chain him to the infirmity and misery of a body of ageing and diminishing faculties, which had become a prison to a weary soul.
And so - I turn thought forward as best I can, and set him free. I find that the more I move into the present, and toward the future, in both thought and activity, the less sense of loss there is. Sometimes, I seem to sense him, free, and moving in another dimension.
I must not look back for him. It is the future he advances toward. He's just gone on before me.
Entry November 30, 1989 - I've had company these past weeks; an understanding friend who has also recently lost a loved one, a relative of Ed's. We didn't spend our time in lengthy discussion of our feelings. There was an ease of interaction which was qualified by mutual understanding that we shared this place of adjustment and healing. There was a silent understanding that neither of us preferred to fill hours with forced entertainment activities. Yet, there was no morbidity, or even solemnity, just the natural flow of day to day. Now and then we would share some mutual memory of when we were all together.
They have returned to their home now. Suddenly, this old house seems huge, empty, and strange again. In a day or so that feeling will lessen, and this odd sense of trying to move in a time-warp void will ease. For now, I make a list of immediate chores needing action. Further down the line in the parade of days, I'll attempt to clear away collected clutter, schooling myself over and over that I cannot retire to a freeze-frame life. I certainly could not help dear Ed by doing so.
I must associate both of us with the moving present, and the future, the stream of Life in which we all move, in one dimension or another. Dear friend, be free, and renew ! You certainly have earned a time of R and R !
Entry December 1, 1989 - My heart aches like a lost child. It isn't a very sophisticated thing I'm feeling. It isn't unique. It certainly isn't new. It's woven into the history of the human race, and it's older than time.
I look back across years that have been a series of partings. Yes - I know this sounds contradictory to the preceding entry. This process seems to move back and forth, like the shuttle of a loom; past - present - future - past - present - future. It seems it's all a weaving of some pattern of meaning which will become evident - eventually.
In 1970, both Mother and Stepfather passed away within two months of each other. My dear old friend Rudhyar departed in 1985, as did my little spaniel, Missy. In January 1989, my oldest sister made her departure. Ed's stepson, Chuck, passed on in June, and Ed in September - of 1989. The cumulative effect is what has brought me to this realization that I must arrive at some conscious comprehension of the larger meaning of death.
1970 had left me like a castaway on an unknown shore. It seemed as if there'd been a cardiectomy performed. Only an aching hollow remained. But there was no place, and no time, for a needed reflective effort for healing. It was a matter of putting one foot ahead of the other, day by day, and moving on down the Road, trying in whatever way one could manage, to justify one's continuing. There were places and times along that stretch that surely weren't very successful in that respect. The crutch of drink left one worse off, with more problems, and diminished capacity to meet them in a constructive way. It was all downhill.
Then dear Ed came along. Our problems were similar; heartaches and stumbles. At first we were like two porcupines all bristled out. We each had more than one scratch in the first few months. Gradually, we drained our defensive hostility through chaotic days. Privately, we each prayed for strength and harmony. Help came from "Upstairs" somewhere. It took a crisis to change the course. Ed was hospitalized with damages from drink. A good doctor laid it on the line in plain language. "One more drink and you could bleed to death !" The choice was life or death. We got off the greased slide. How many times we've both sent up a prayer of thanks for that deliverance !
Ed and I evolved a mutual-support relationship. We understood each other, and how we got where we were. Our years together brought Spiritual growth to us both. We shared the basic values that time has a way of distilling and reducing to essential meaning. It's no wonder that his departure was like major surgery, and part of me went with him.
No wonder that sometimes now, in the middle of the night (it's a little after 3 A.M. as I write this)I waken with this ache in the heart. It hurts that we just can't see beyond that veil to know that all is well with our loved one, who has journeyed to the 'other side'. Our bodies are mortal, and have need of the senses to confirm presence for them. So - in the middle of the night, when we are at low-ebb vitality, these feelings well up, and must be faced.
With me, it is like a child reaching out in the dark. I pray like a child prays. No - it isn't a very sophisticated feeling at all. I can't help but wonder if we don't all feel like a child sometimes - in the middle of some night.
Nor is thought very sophisticated at such times. Oh, intellect has its theories and formulas, even a few are true, maybe. Intuition counsels and comforts, like starlight on desolate plains. One listens respectfully, and knows that in some enduring part of our total Being there are answers and healing, and meaning. We just can't feel them through and through yet. This is where Faith comes in. We gather our ragged resolutions and raveling certainties about us and move on, in Faith that eventually a warmth of assurance will come.
To weave thought and feeling together with meager and trembling faith, is to find someday that we have woven a comforting mantle of knowing faith . Then - the greatest comforter of all - Love - can transform our lives, soothe our soul, and crown our thought with wisdom. Dear friend, this child in the dark has faith that healing will come to us all - in time.
Entry December 2, 1989 - What is the solution to this empty suspension ? What I speak of is not just lethargy, sloth, ennui, or disinterest. All of those could be remedied by effort, resolve, and will. This is such an emptiness that even in forced activity, no sense of participation in life , or accomplishment of any value, results.
What is done, is done in unconscious repetition, and hardly even registers as an aware action. Due to this, no memory of the act is recalled usually, and I find myself constantly checking to see if I've taken care of necessary chores. I am aware that this condition of unconscious routine exists, and that it troubles me to observe it. I can only assume that this condition is something akin to trauma, or deep shock, like the mental-emotional numbness that sets in after long periods of acute stress. Part of this may be amplified by the state of exhaustion I was in from the care-taking period itself.
I'm sure some readers would ask now, why I'm going into such detail. I speak of these experiences in such detail because I've deliberately resolved to record this process, in hopes of understanding the interworkings. It is for the sake of examination, and - hopefully - somewhere down the Road, understanding.
The same sense of emptiness and distance is in these actions as in others. I know I am not the only person who has experienced such odd innerworkings. It is because I know it is an old, common experience that I feel any understanding of it results in some possible aid to those in similar situations, if for no other reason than knowing that such feelings are shared. It is another thread of empathy, which we share as humans. Any small understanding of it can help us better understand each other.
And so - despite little real sense of present success, I have a motive for continuing, in this search for in-depth understanding of a bewildering experience. I will move through the motions, expose myself to the world around me in as normal a way as possible, and await a rebirth of meaning.
It always comes - eventually.
This is probably a good place to mention something related to these writings. It explains why this means is a relieving outlet for me, when it might not be for others. This is another addition to a lifelong collection.
The title I have given to a continuous "journal of passage" kept through years is "Places And Times". What else would best serve as title for each of our life stories ? This activity has been my 'confidant' for years, it is only natural that it would also answer that need in this situation.
In all entries, through many recorded 'places and times', none were ever accepted as finalities, or destinations. That also applies to these present entries. Not for an instant do I accept this confused emptiness as a finality. There is a hollowness to these days, but I know they are not without a purpose.
This, I truly believe. The better we can come to understand our own passage, and share in-depth experience with others, the more we can be a conscious, functioning, agent of LIfe in a true pro-progress sense. We dare not disallow such times, labeling them as 'negative' with no positive value, if we are ever to be 'whole', in the sense of 'healthily whole'.
Now, even in this place that seems so without direction, there is an increasing awareness of humanity moving through time, as a marvelous mystery - an extended family. There is a sense of continuance, and faith beyond definition, even in questioning. Something beyond knowledge, will, or desire.
There IS a 'peace beyond understanding'. I have touched it briefly, and do not have the control to remain there. But - it is truly as described - beyond understanding.
Entry December 5, 1989 - Trying to move on down the Road. One step, then another, and another, and another . . .
I've been sorting an accumulated clutter that collected during the time when anything that did not require immediate attention was postponed for more important matters, especially the personal care of, and companionship with, Ed. That took precedence over all else.
We knew that his time of passing was near, and the stress of the situation made it necessary to exert effort to maintain a normal exchange between us. At a time when it was of more value than ever before, we could no longer just 'chat', which was once a sustaining event. Ed's hearing was almost totally gone, even with the hearing aid. I had to shout for him to hear me at all. There is no way one can do that and sound in 'chat' mode ! It invariably conveys a sense of anxiety, or impatience, to the person being addressed. Even when Ed could hear me, he had trouble following any long, involved statement. Conversation became limited to my minimally worded, jerky phrases, and his blurred murmurs.
A series of minor strokes called "T-I-As" by the visiting nurse, was altering Ed's awareness of time and circumstance. Spasmodically, he could no longer understand the normal processes of daily life in this world. By now, we had the hospital bed, (with my bed next to it) - the potty chair bedside, a trapeze for him to move himself some (which was rarely successful), and he was using diapers , and eating baby food.
We also encountered something else the visiting nurse had a term for -"sundown syndrome". It was an odd personality change that Ed seemed to go through at night. He would become belligerent, disordered in thought, disoriented, and hallucinatory. I was told this was common to stroke victims. Nothing pleased him at such times. Constant demands were asserted over and over, and as soon as they were attended to, it was forgotten, and the whole series of demands began again. Sometimes, this went on all night, and for me, rest was impossible. I had been trying to do housework while he slept. I learned I must sleep when he slept, to get any rest.
This was such a contrast to Ed's normal, easy-going personality, that it was hard to imagine the same man there. Eventually, we had to have help in order to keep order in regular 'sickroom' matters, and routine household chores. Finding such help was delayed.
It was hard to find under any circumstance. It was especially hard to find reliable persons who would work for what we were able to pay. Such care had become a specialized field. Even those who had no special training could not live on minimum wage if it were their sole source of income ! After some unhappy education in the matter, we finally found a trained and dependable helper willing to work for what Social Services would pay. Bless you, Clarice ! You were a God-send !
During the periods of mental confusion and stress, there were times when Ed lashed out at me in ways that hurt. Again, thanks to the visiting nurse's explanation, I was able to realize that it was not really Ed doing that. It was the stress of the time, and his diminishing faculties.
However, nothing Ed ever said to me hurt as bad as when I was cross with him because nerves had compounded stress, and lack of rest left me frazzled. Clarice was not there at night, when things were most hectic. It left me truly perplexed and ashamed that I could become so cross with Ed, when I wanted more than ever to bring peace and love to this time. What was happening to us ? !
Late one night, after such an outburst exchange, I was a shambles of confusion and sorrow that this could happen to us. I prayed for patience, and help for us both to understand, that we might weather this storm. It wasn't immediate, but when I finally lay in my bed next to his in nervous exhaustion, too tired to struggle anymore, and he had finally slipped into quiet sleep, I began to get an insight as to what was happening. The 'cords were being broken'. He had to want to depart, and I had to be willing to let him.
This may sound strange to those looking on, who have not been through this particular ordeal. Those who have, will understand. Or - if they have not yet been able to understand that stormy season of 'pre-departure', it may bring them a peace and insight greatly needed for healing.
That experience can be one of the most heartbreaking parts of the situation. It has probably left many a distraught soul shipwrecked on a lonely island of guilt. I have since talked with other persons who have 'been there', and also came to this understanding - at last.
These memories come now with a tender affection. Healing has come to this recall also. Ed had cried out to me in perplexity as to his own actions. However, he too must have had such an insight come. One morning, after a particularly difficult night, I had commented on the 'rough night' we'd been through. He said - "We probably will have such times from now until I cross over."
Now - as I begin to sort the accumulated clutter of these rooms, I find I'm also clearing away accumulated confusion, hurt, and sorrow, of those last months. In fact - I feel we're both doing it - together.
Entry December 12, 1989 - Awoke this morning with a thought running through my mind - over and over -'There will come an end to sorrow'.
At first, I had decided not to record the inner equivalent of this cold, grey, windy morning. "Who needs it ?!" was the responding thought. It could too easily be judged as negative yielding. I'm sure there are those who would judge it as such. But then, I decided if I am really going to be honest about this process, it should all be recorded.
That recurring phrase reminded me that there are places of weight and sorrow on this Long Road we all travel. It's as unreal to deny the fact, as it is to accept such times as the only reality.
An unreal emphasis on 'positive thinking' has left many poor struggling humans feeling guilt and failure, because they cannot instantly demonstrate perfection. As long as we are growing, we will be encountering unfamiliar territory, which requires a period of adjustment. At such times we often experience imperfect results of the novice.
In my own experience I've found it to be much more help for a friend to say -"Yes - I know that place - and how it all seems from there - we just 'walk on' - understanding will come as we grow" - than to attempt to display a false cheer, or refuse to view such learning experiences as what they are.
Sometimes people get 'positive thinking' confused with the 'ostritch method'. I've never known a head-in-the-sand tactic to solve a problem. I believe that real positive copeing is accepting that sorrow, confusion, and tragedy are often just facts of existence so long as we are human. However, they cannot hold us unless we view them as finalities, or refuse to acknowledge the 'facts', and so must resort to constant flight from fact.
I certainly don't enjoy misery, nor think it is the only way to learn. I certainly do believe 'faith' is something we all must employ. Walking through with Faith (even if it be the wavering stage)eventually brings strength, wisdom, and compassion. Refusing to deal with the depth of such experience leaves unfinished business to be faced, sometime, somewhere.
That is why I will not omit these dark moments from these records. They are offered to those who will know them as a compassionate hand offered for times of trial. The dearest and wisest people I've known did not refuse to recognize the shared depth of human experience. They faced such times, and moved on, wiser, stronger, and more compassionate. One who knew such trials and had great understanding of our human condition, did not deny them, but said - "In the world you have tribulation..." No one ever was more honest with us.
Entry December 17, 1989 - I would like to be able to say that, by now, understanding and order has returned to these days. However, that is not the case. I have postponed making entries, even though I felt a need to set down my feelings. What I had to express seemed repetition to the excess. But I have come to see there are subtle nuances of change. To explain the general nature of these, I decided to write this today.
The feeling of displacement has not lessened. In fact, at times it has intensified. I believe that now that I am more familiar with what I once came to totally unprepared, I can express it in a less confused way. Sometimes, I move about the house like a stranger. I remember when Ed was here; it is his home. I've spent ten years of my life here. I'm aware of all these 'facts' mentally, but there is no feeling in recall. No sense of familiarity with the surroundings, which should hold some warmth of association for me. It's like living in a void.
Although it isn't an exact condition, it's a bit like an amnesiac, who suddenly finds theirself in a hollow of time, unlinked to past or future, and with no defnite connection to present, as related to their own life. It requires a constant study of even the most common factors; simple associations that are taken for granted by those aware of threads of continuity in their life, on which they have strung memories to reinforce identity.
I have no theories as to just what this condition means, or where it leads. I do have glimpses of a Life we share which is much vaster than the fragments of time and space in which we wear a particular form and name. I can't express it any more distinctly than that at the moment. I'm not sure that I will be able to later. I think it is an Awareness that enfolds us all, but which we forego while in physical form, for the sake of a focused functioning. However, when we cross the threshold, and the physical is shed, or its faculties compromised by stress, perhaps that Awareness reasserts in some more sensitive area of consciousness.
Perhaps this is what that 'spirit' I knew as 'Ed' now moves in, and is the fuller Awareness he wakens to now. It may not be an experience unfamiliar to the more subtle aspects of our Being, but it is a strange experience to our physical bodies, moored in time and space. Except to those of special training. For now, I move in sufficient normality to attend to the essentials of this world.
Entry December 20, 1989 - Grief is like a wound that must be allowed to bleed until it has cleansed itself. There comes a time when such is no longer a part of the healing process. Past this point of purpose, continued bleeding becomes a sign of an unhealthy condition. This does not mean we will forget the beloved one. Good memories should remain a treasure of our lives. Recalling the smile, the voice, some scene shared, words of humor and wisdom, are good to continue as remembrance. There comes a point when we should begin to exchange the sorrow of last days, for the good memories. It is liberating for both.
I've tried to remain open to this experience, both for Ed, and for myself. Sharing a transition as experienced together. I have prayed to be a help, not a hinderance, to him. My own ignorance of what was really taking place often caused worry. Could I in some way cause him harm by my ignorance ? I suspect most people in such a situation, suffer with this puzzle. Nothing but Faith can console there.
I've recognized that the aid of a higher, wiser power than my own present awareness is needed. I believe that this openness to instruction and guidance, has made it possible for me to be guided through these dark halls. Note - I did not say -'taken out of' - but 'guided through'. Both depths and glimpses of a brighter 'beyond' have come in right proportion to my capacity to handle and assimilate healthily. I have no final realization, just a comforting faith, but I do believe that will someday become a liberating realization.
There are probably aspects of both type experiences which would have been difficult for me to properly assimilate in my present state. I'm aware in a vague, undefined way, of these more extensive aspects of both shadow and light along the Road. Also, I have learned that, when we seek the counsel of Spiritual levels, we receive a loving and wise aid. We are led according to our unfolding capacity to comprehend.
Gradually, we learn to neither balk in fear, nor push too hard into strange arenas. We learn to 'walk on', at a steady pace, listening for counsel of our Inner Guide. I am still learning, trying to listen, and heed.
Entry December 27, 1989 - Christmas has come and gone. Everywhere east of the Rockies spent it in ice and snow. Snow in Houston. Snow in Florida. We've been in the 20s at night, 40s through the days. Heavy overcast since Sunday - Christmas Eve.
My friend, who was here for Thanksgiving, came again on the 20th to spend Christmas and New Years. We both spent Christmas in bed with the flu, as I suspect half the country did. I think we've rounded the corner to recovery now. Ed and I used to call it 'holiday-itis' - it just seemed to go with the season.
Our next-door neighbors, a steady, stable family, moved out December 1st for the rural area north of here, known as the Mesa. A better place for kids to grow up. Today , someone has pulled a trailer along side the house there, so I guess we'll soon be having new neighbors.
A little dog has adopted me ! He's still a pup - about 7 months or so. He's a lot like a yellow Labrador, with maybe a bit of Whippet. Has that lean look like a runner. He looks enough like a little dog I once had, named "Fawn", to be a reincarnation. He's full of puppy vim and vigor, with all the usual laughable antics, and lots of love. I call him "Cheval". He seems to accept that name, already answers to it. Ed would like this little guy.
Right now, we've got a bit of a problem. Pat, my visitor, has a little Lhasa-Apso (spelling?) and a kitten. No real hostility. It's just that Cheval is so rambunctious he comes on a little too strong to suit the smaller ones.
Still feeling puny since the flu, so back to bed for now.
Entry January 6, 1990 - Well - the 1990s have arrived. I guess this is now "Notes Of The Nineties". I don't yet feel like it's a new leaf though, still things to clear from the late 1980s. Some people will probably think this is all overemphasis and self-concern. I don't think anyone who has been through it deeply will. They will probably welcome the company of this often bewildered Journal record, and even have patience with what seems to be repetition.
Today, I was re-reading "Wayfarer's Handbook", especially the paper on "The Inner Desert". It seemed to apply to this period of change in several ways. There have been recurrent periods through the years to which that particular paper would apply, so it isn't a totally new experience. However, there are certain differences which increase the sense of 'vacancy' within. This is probably due to the long term care period which preceded the final separation. It usually leaves one empty on many levels. They are held together by the need of the patient, which is the pivot of all activities. When the patient finally passes, the caretaker often collapses, because that essential pivot is no longer there.
Also, due to my age, there are physical changes which have to be adapted to in a very basic sense. At 62, I don't have the physical stamina of younger years, but that isn't the main difference I refer to now. Time, experience, and increased focus in interests of a non-material nature, have resulted in a reduction of physical enthusiasms and interests, which might have helped to fill this 'void' in the past.
The physical nature has been 'weaned' from so many interests of the type called 'sense occupation', that withdrawal of focus of psycho-mental faculties to cope, leaves one adrift, and empty to a degree greater than earlier years. There are no immediate diversions of any sort that have even trivial value for renewing zest. The 'toys' of mundane living no longer serve that purpose.
This is not without a compensation,though it is of a variety more appealing to the mental nature, than the physical. Past associations with any spiritual, or mental, pursuits, leaves a legacy of curious and investgative quality, and an outlet through this written expression. This results in these notes, which might not have been set down, had I been more physically focused. In a way, I am fortunate that this was instilled in me at an early age.
These tendencies also suggest that interests have become more 'vertical', and less 'horizontal'. I have a growing longing for something I cannot define. It doesn't seem to be related to the Awareness referred to in the previous paper. It may be just a natural period of unfoldment we come to in later years. Sort of a product of 'seasoning in experience'. It may be that the focus is drawn from 'horizontal' interests to focus on vertical growth, as a natural Spiritual unfoldment. Older philosophies considered such a transfer of focus as an intended process of later years. Our youth oriented society today,in many ways, interferes with this process. This results in a meager 'seasoning' of our later years, rather than the mellow ripening of the Soul known to Sages.
No doubt, if we pay attention to the process, it will become clearer further along. One thing I do believe as a result of this present experience, is that we should learn to go into later years gracefully, with an attentive effort to understand the intention of the process. Reacting with an attitude of flight from the issues of internal adjustment, may actually abort our spiritual maturing process.
There is a great value to the counsel of "The Inner Desert" to keep a Journal. This is a valuable habit to have established in times of great change. It develops a skill to organize our concepts, and grow as we learn,in a way of 'conscious participation'. It can aid us in understanding Life's "Rites of Passage". I know it has been a great aid to me, to express my feelings in a way I could privately examine them.
Entry January 12, 1990 - I've been keeping a record of 'passage' since I was in 9th grade. Most of the first 7 years or so were a process of developing a form suitable to work-a-day lifestyle. There was often little free time to be reflective. As time passed, I discovered that poetry and verse (yes - I do make a distinction) were excellent forms, as they provided brevity, and also allowed the 'gestation' period between collecting responses and the expressing of them.
In the past, both crisis and quickening have been recorded only after some degree of harmony and resolution had occurred. Then, the resulting statement was essentialized in poetic form, rather than in detailed analysis. In this present instance, there is examination in detail, during the outworking. Retirement years have allowed time for a lengthy reflective process, and the accumulative nature of the issues made such a process essential. This has resulted in insights which, though not totally new, are more distinctly stated. So, don't think this is a clinical analysis, and I am a detached observer. This means of expression is a long-standing one with me, and serves the expression. But it is like self-surgery on one's-self, not without pain and uncertainty.
Two months ago, I made a list of various projects intended to direct thought and activity into a course both necessary and constructive. This was mainly in reference to household matters. I taped the list to a cabinet door, where it would catch my attention first thing each morning.
First on that list were three words as a general summary of the detailed list: SORT - CONSOLIDATE - ORGANIZE. It was my intention to handle these matters with an energetic and well-ordered campaign. I planned to be rewarded at the end of each day with visible progress. In other words : I wanted to be in command of the situation according to my 'personal' concept of what needed done. However, I had requested Upper Level help to get through this difficult time, and the view from Upstairs is quite different !
Hitches, and hold-ups, and tangles arrived in a steady stream. Visible evidence of results have been slow and difficult to achieve. My general emotional state did not produce energy or order to apply to such. The Holiday season also contributed to a sense of suspended activity. Then, there were physical problems, a bout of the flu, an old back problem, and general lack of stamina.
I was beginning to wonder if I would ever follow through with all those 'good intentions'. In fact, I was developing a guilty feeling for failure to do so. Most of what I'd been able to do, that was on the list, was to make these entries from time to time.
In between, an awful lot of time was spent in a sort of 'embryonic review', and very serious thought. Nothing that onlookers would credit as accomplishment with tangible results. The guilt feeling was mounting.
Then - this morning - a realization finally got through to the outer consciousness ! I'd been working on those projects all along ! Except they were 'interior' ! It was by no aware design that SORT - CONSOLIDATE - ORGANIZE headed that list ! Yet, that was exactly what I'd been doing inwardly all the time ! As I said, priorities are viewed quite differently from Upstairs ! This inner work had to be done before I would have the clarity, and organized energies, to devote to outer activity.
The stress of our times seems to reduce the time allotment for such inner activity. Often, steeped in the 'action addiction' of current society, we fail to recognize its value enough to insist on making time to order our inner life. We pay for the deficiency in breakdowns and breakups !
The importance of this has certainly made a keen impact on my awareness these past months. I have a background of inner listening established via my writing avocation of years. Yet, the full import of these processes as health issues was not realized until now.
I have an accumulation of years to work through, yet such is probably reduced due to my Journal keeping. No wonder those who have had no such private manner of searching their inner world, often are shattered by an experience that forces them into it ! I came to this in a shambles, and can only empathize with those for whom it is totally new !
This realization is not the end of the "Journey" -but it does provide a sense of order to a process that at first seemed chaotic. Finally, a clearer view of a puzzling time. Sometimes it takes awhile, and a few set-downs, for Spirit to get through to the little-self mind with the statement - "Hey ! I'm working here !"
Entry Jannuary 16, 1990 - There's another discovery, that has more meaning than might be obvious. A strange experience of these days is "ambivalence'. There's an urge to go forth, followed by an urge to withdraw - again and again. There's a longing for mystical Unity, and a desire to seek keen mental focus. A haunting call to seek out natural surroundings and affinitize with Nature. And an urge to concentrate on serious studies. All are most likely a Spiritual form of 'growing pains', 'embryonic review' - pre-birth syndrome.
There's a pull to find the "Presence" in everyday activity and exchange, accepting the flow of the 'zeit geist', and also a longing to transcend all surface longing and trivial concerns, by forming the 'arrow of consciousness', in ascetic concentration. There is the inevitable attraction to the dedication of the Long Road and companionship of fellow Wayfarers. There is the sometimes melancholy longing to lay down the weight of world sorrow, and withdraw. All of these contrasts are part of Life. They have been experienced before. They are not new. What is new is the rapid rate of fluctuation.
Before, a period of outgoing was followed by a period of assimilation. This allowed a natural, and needed balancing: experience and assimilation. Flow and ebb. Centrifugal and centripetal motion. However, there was a longer span of each process before the 'tide' changed. The swing of the pendulum was wide. Now, the changes are matters of day and night, hour to hour. Obviously, at some point they will blend at center.
Part of me senses this fluctuation in bewilderment, and part 'observes' in distant, but compassionate understanding, and consoles. It is the 'observer' who writes this. I benefit from that. The 'observer' views it as a moving shuttle weaving threads of experience into the fabric of 'Soul'.
The 'observer' knows that the pendulum analogy would continue until there was a rest at center. However, that is not to be in an immediate sense. On down the Road - yes - there will come a point at which rest-at-center applies, but there is still a lot of Road to cover, while the continuing back-and forth weaving of the mantle of Empathy goes on daily, preparing the future robe of Awareness.
Considering the sequence of thesis-antithesis-synthesis - it has been reported that one usually begins the period of 'synthesis' somewhere around the 56th year. This may involve a change of attitude, values, motives, priorities, catalyzed by some event in the life. This may be a critical event, or simply an accumulation of experience which one needs to sort through. There is a need, usually a desire, to review,and consciously reflect on past experiences, to distill meaning and value. This doesn't happen instantly. It often marks the whole period up to the 60th year, and sometimes beyond. If one has a busy, active life, the urge may be delayed until an inner pressure, or outer event, brings it to a point where it can no longer be postponed. This is different from the mid-life crisis, which is a result of physical changes.
I sense that I have now entered this period, and 'synthesis' is the process at work in my inner life. The culmination of the years with Ed, his passing, and the fact that I am now in my 60s, all combine in a classic example of the 'synthesis' period.
Previous experience can now begin to be consciously interwoven. There is the focus on sifting, sorting, and grading, process associated. Flaws and errors must be corrected or deleted. These are the early stage processes of coming years. Whatever contributions the years ahead bring forth will be tinted with, and woven of, the threads that endure.
May the artistry of Spirit weave a design of true worth, beauty, and meaning. How effective such contributions will be , as value to others, will depend on how effectively I am able to attune to Higher Awareness. For now, the link with Ed, is still a tender spot. Moving on is not something I can do easily yet.
Entry January 23, 1990 - More and more I understand that the 'ambivalence' mentioned earlier is related to the 'synthesis' process. There is a regenerative characteristic to it. There's been a long session of sorrow, weight, and weariness, like a collective heaviness. The awareness that today there are people actually dying of sorrow. So many gentle ones trampled. It compounds to a weight difficult to handle.It sometimes suspends one in a 'frozen' state. Even to move is a challenge. What to do, is a puzzle.
It's one thing to observe this apart, through vision that sees beyond these times to a brighter future. One can feel the swell of inclusive compassion, yet be strengthened by the broader, more inclusive vision.
It's quite another thing to feel wave after wave of world sorrow wash through your soul, stinging, yet cleansing the wound of personal sorrow. Words from Joel come to mind at such times..."Call a solemn assembly ..."
Then a slow current of that Love beyond sentiment is sometimes felt, and the whisper that one can become a conduit for that healing current. Like circulation returning to a frozen body, a promise of renewal trickles through the soul, slowly spreading through network of total being.
But it takes time for such hints to become permanent qualities. It's not a matter of back-on-the-feet-and-off-again. It's like a continuing therapy, cleansing, transforming obstructive thought and habit, defining direction, reaffirming faith. What I have called 'ambivalence' is increasingly revealed as a quickening Pulse of Life.
Entry January 25, 1990 - Odd paradox, how our efforts toward harmony in any group sense begin with problems precipitated by that very activity.
Outlined principles, ideal patterns, promising vision, are presented , and received with enthusiasm. Then - in the first steps of trying to externalize the concept, we come up against hard corners of separateness ; conditioning factors of background and experience we have all been shaped by, at least in a surface sense. As our egos and personalities come together , we find we begin with 'raw materials'. Like rocks or raw ore in a tumbler, we collide and grind against each other, until the hard, crude qualities are loosened, chipped away, and the gem stone within begins to show through.
This is no sudden accomplishment. In a way, it goes on collectively through time. To individuals, just trying to work as a group toward some goal,it often comes as a surprise. It proceeds, tumbling after tumbling, washing after washing, grinding after grinding. None exempt. None special. Until, finally, cutting and faceting time arrives. The special quality and value of each is revealed. Then - the gem is ready for a defining 'proper setting' in a crown of purpose.
A reader would probably ask now what this has to do with Ed's passing and my immediate focus of adjustment to that. I asked myself the same thing when these ideas first arrived. Now - I know they are metaphors for all procedures of refinement, and unfoldment, of the human soul. Every life-event that stirs our soul content goes through this process in greater or lesser degree. So do we progress, as individuals, and as a 'species'. Individually and collectively, it is an often repeated process. Through ages. Out of the past. Into the future. In time, both method and material are refined.
How does this relate to the present problem ? Why do I need to be aware of it ? Because it's part of the therapy process to be reassured that even the rigors of life have purpose and meaning.
Entry January 26, 1990 - Not only have these thoughts been presented, but now I experience a first hand sample of the subject. This has been precipitated by encounters of late in the immediate neighborhood. As polarizations begin to increase and intensify, one cannot avoid being touched by 'friction' of various differences. This is regardless of how 'inclusive' one's own concepts are. Suddenly, friends and neighbors may display outbursts of ethnic bias, intolerance, and various types of prejudice. I don't refer to the simple right of asserting right of choice as to lifestyle. I refer to hostile and aggressive acts.
Obviously, the potentials for such attitudes were there all along, and increasing pressure of our times brings them to the surface. A few months ago, it might have been noticed as a brief, unemotional assertion called forth by some comment or news item. Today, such issues are more strongly emotional, and more widespread. Are we having an epidemic of xenophobia ?
Two tendencies seem observable, which might be called 'root elements'. (1) The fact that in times of crisis, both individuals and collectives tend to revert to the most basic set of inherent characteristics/instincts for survival. These usually have roots in the collective past, and are of some form of 'tribal' quality. If not that, at least they are ego-based,and fortified with a special mindset. Whenever such responses act in a collective sense, and become unified around a strong personage, who acts as leader/representative, they become a 'power-bloc' of some degree. In such form, they can continuously re-energize the mind set.
(2) The search for a 'scapegoat' assumes frenzied proportions, and rationality disappears. The useful 'scapegoat' must come from the ranks of the 'other'. The 'other' is whatever faction has become identified with threatening characteristics of any nature which disturbs the accustomed system of operation, which is seen as necessary to sustain the 'status quo'. This is the recurring concept of the 'invading barbarian' at the gates. It is a 'routine' occurrence at the beginning of new cycles.
We see it now. Over and over one encounters an increase in such erupting attitudes. It becomes difficult to inject reason into such thought. The observer who sees these tendencies increasing, yet is not swept into biased attitudes , becomes a rarety. The paradox is that the more inclusive one becomes, the more enmity they attract, in such periods. Becoming aware that behind-the-scenes elements exploit such potentials for chaos, one wonders how they are to confront such a potential tide. What sane course of activity lies open to them ?
It has long been known that shadows precede the dawn. Many view this as far into the future. They are no longer on the distant horizon. Now the shadow falls across today's doorstep.
Entry February 4, 1990 - Taking time to LISTEN. It isn't easy. Distractions intensify. How will I meet the bills ? What to do about needed house repairs ? If I just had someone with whom to talk things out. If I could just get out more. Confinement and loneliness compound and seep in with thoughts of futility. How, and if, and what if - laps away at the days like muddy water. When Ed passed away, the bank account was about $30. There was insurance to cover his funeral arangements, with almost $500 left over. His car was sold to have enough to get through till my pension started. I couldn't drive it anyway.
He passed away in September 1989. I do not turn 62 till next month, and can then draw my Social Security pension. However,for now, financial issues are down to the wire. If I had had to relocate after Ed passed, I would surely have been in a nursing facility of some sort. I was too depleted to work at any schedule, and had no transportation anyway. It was a blessing that I had only this 6 month period to get through. In trying to clear thoughts, effort and assertion seems to roil the waters all the more. I miss Ed terribly, but would have no desire to hold him from going on. There had been too much discomfort, he deserves release. Sometimes, when I finally sink back in the chair, exhausted, staring out the window at a bare winter tree, calm decends. There's a lesson in that tree. Slowly, a clearer perspective reviews the situation with calm. The soul heaves a sigh, consciousness rises to 'overview'and, at last, real listening is possible.
Problems have not vanished. Elves and fairies did not come to attend to the chores. But things are now viewed in proper perspective. Energies are freed of 'anxiety paralysis'.I make no claim to being able to 'abide' in such awareness - but I KNOW it exists. No-one will ever convince me it is impossible, even though it takes time and seasoning to learn to 'wear' it regularly. It is worth setting as a goal.We discover ways to handle what can be handled with available resources. We realize that some of it is not worth worry. If it were never done, Life would still go on without loss. Some, will take time, and be accomplished by stages. Ingenuity, essentialization, and patience, are the healing tools that taking time to listen reveals to us. Often, we are only able to come to that place by exhaustion in outer struggle, like the insolvable riddle Zen masters give their disciples, to exhaust the outer mind. Someday, we will attain a receptive listening whenever we feel the need, and slip into it gracefully for refreshment. Then we will know what is truly meant by "Practice of the Presence".
Entry February 11, 1990 - It has become very important to me to essentialize. I have a great need for clear definition of purpose and process. This is something long postponed. It is an inner focus there was no time for during past years. Now it must be done. There is a deep, pervading,growing awareness that I am in a transitional stage of this lifetime, which has long-term implications. Essentialization is a necessary preparation for the next step. It will determine the quality of future action. I am trying to co-operate with the essentializing process. This will transpire through my being as a natural growth process, willingly or unwillingly. We come to such times several times within a lifetime, but don't always recognize their meaning. We need to consciously participate to have most benefit. But that isn't always easy to do.
I perceive there are non-essential aspects of my life, which are of the nature of excess baggage. They are small, but not trivial. They have a potential to be serious hinderances, because they drain energy and attention from important aspects. I need to assess my priorities.
Some of these problem aspects are like 'ghosts' from the past, which must be blessed and freed. Some are tangles of trauma, which must be unraveled and healed. Some are habits of conditioning, which result from our adaptation to current world environment and times. The latter have been retained as a sort of 'garb of passage', but must now be shed.
It may seem odd to some, to dwell so long, and in such detail, on an involved process that I regard as a natural unfoldment. The point is that conscious participation enables us to better retain, and benefit from, any new stage of awareness. This enhances the quality of our individual contribution. We need to feel comfortable with the gradual, and recurrent,nature of these processes. They are a hidden form of "Rites of Passage".
Entry February 15, 1990 - Several years ago (about 1960), I suspended all serious type reading. I had always been an avid reader, and preferred serious studies about Life and its meaning. In the various studies, there were always points and aspects I found valuable, but also, usually, some crystallized limitations which left me dissatisfied. Self-examination,in an effort to determine if the problem lay within myself, or within the presentation, left an attitude of tolerant neutrality regarding both possibilities.
Eventually, I realized what the basis of my unrest was. I had a deep, persistent longing for'direct inspiration'. Something within insisted that a direct linkage to Source should be the eventual result of all outer teachings. Yet, many organizations developed a dependancy on systems and ritual within the seeker. My belief that 'direct inspiration' was not only possible, but intended, solidified more and more firmly. I am not saying that everyone should abandon groups which offer a fellowship of faith and search. I had spent years on such a course, and believe it was an essential process. However, Intuitive promptings were suggesting that it was time to embark on a course of direct attunement with Source. I should suspend all such serious reading during the effort. This was to prove to my own mind that subsequent Intuitional realizations were not just subconsciously recalled remnants of previous reading.
During the period which followed, it was stressed that writings were to be in basic day to day language. I see the underlying purpose of this now, to a degree not always possible at the time. Experiences of that period provided a threefold schooling, which would be useful to future activity. (1) Development of keen awareness of the inner-workings of an aspirant toward 'attunement' goals. (2) Development of empathy for the trials, stumbles, and confrontations, which serve as antithesis testing. (3)Development of expressive writing to an essentialized, condensed, form. I have come to believe that these relate to future work. However, I do not yet know specifics of that intention.
Entry March 19, 1990 - Eventually,the emphasis on writing, and focus on essentialism, resulted in collections of poetry. Poetry is very special to me. I love the way it can distill an experience into essence, and the brevity it allows, makes it very useful for those who must spend most of their time making a living. These qualities also make it an excellent means to express the life of the 'Wayfarer'.
Sometimes I employ meter and rhyme. Sometimes I have used free verse. Both are good ways to express an experience in condensed form. As 'gestation' over a period precedes writing, this too worked well for the years of 9 to 5 work. That could happen while I went about daily demands. Poetry usually follows assimilation of the experience, and is a 'distilled' view.
This intense , detailed, examination of changes following Ed's departure, is born of a deeply felt groping toward understanding and solace. It is the first time I have spent such an aware period during inner assimilation. As phase after phase leads to a sense of his 'release into Spirit', the tangles within my own time-space bound nature slowly unfold. Distillation is now becoming possible, and poetry has begun to flow as a liberating, healing, emergence. I've not recorded the step by step process before, as I am in this Journal.
Don't think I mean a final and thorough comprehension of the confrontation with death has occurred. All that has occurred is to come to feel a bit more composed about it. Who can say how enduring even that is ? But - there is a subtle awareness that we all abide in the bosom of LIfe. We do not always realize this. Realization comes in glimpses and stages along the Long Road. The healing that comes with greater Awareness is an unending process. Our task is to be more aware of it, and more willing, conscious participants in our unfolding.
Entry March 21, 1990 - As mentioned before, through these months there's been an undertone of 'review', for purposes of cleansing and clearing. Some of it has been painful; some very heavy; some exhausting. Yet I know that the underlying purpose is healing and renewal. Such periods are encountered in greater or lesser degree all along the Way. However, they are often experienced in a vague, unconscious way, as feelings of unrest, depression, dissatisfaction, and confusion.
Regenerative success, release, and renewal, are an eventual outcome to some degree. However, for greatest success of the process, and for regenerative effect to be lasting and stable, conscious attention, and effort to cooperate with the process are important. It is this that is referred to as 'conscious participation'. This is not a forced action to precipitate crisis, it is simply exploring crisis which arises in our life from time to time. I heard someone say once that 'crisis' is a word which could be replaced with 'catalyst' in many situations. That may very well be true.
'Conscious participation' does not mean a hovering, fluttering anxiety, or over emphasis of the "I" sort (though you may be accused of that by some !). It is really more impersonal, detached but compassionate , observation, as one explores the dusty attic and musty cellar of one's psycho-mental accumulation.
Some may interpret the concentration they observe as an ego focus, but in this activity one is only observing one's-self as a fellow human, without ego association. Without this attitude, the weight, sorrow, and guilt, of errors of the past can pull one down into a quicksand futility. We must learn to be compassionate toward our own shortcomings, and toward others'.
In a way, it is a reverse form of vanity to expect perfection of ourselves to an unreal degree, considering we are human. We can prepare ourselves for Transformation, by an inventory of flaws, and letting go of hindering traits. But the Transforming Power will come from a Higher Level, when we are ready. Not until.
Entry March 22, 1990 - Last night, I dreamed of going through a file drawer. Each card pulled, brought a scene of the past to mind. I could see, with understanding, the problems of veiled awareness which surrounded the actions of those involved in each particular episode which came up for review. It did not take great effort to forgive (even myself) when it was clear ' "How small we are - how little we know -" as the song says.
The process is not yet completed. Pain and weight and sorrow cannot be entirely avoided, for it is the very soul, heart, and mind, which the Physician probes. Yet - there need be no overcoming sense of futility. This is a healing therapy. Many have known this 'place'. Many will yet come to know it. It is LIfe bringing us to renewal. Life, healing Itself.
Entry May 18, 1990 - It takes awhile to disengage from the momentum of years. At retirement borderline, you think,"Now I'll have time for all the things I've wanted to do, and never had time to do." But - it takes effort to pull away from work habits of years. This was a bit of a surprise to me when I encountered it. I'm learning something of the adjustments required of retirees !
This is when you really begin to discover how much the years have changed you. Not just in the obvious physical ways, but also in the inner ways you might have been totally unaware of until retirement. When retirement years begin, you may find yourself on the threshold of an inner journey. At first, you may feel like you're in a void. Many of those things you once envisioned as filling these years, now seem trivial, unimportant, even uninteresting. Time and experience have made changes in your values. This may be unanticipated !
No longer harnessed to the work-a-day world,the 9 to 5 schedules and concerns, you may find yourself imposing new routines in your life, to establish the traction of regimen. This may, or may not, be rooted in genuine purpose. It may only serve as the well-known 'security blanket'. In that case, it signifies we really don't know how to set new values to our time usage. After the fishing trips,scenic trips, lazy laid-back first month or so, many retirees begin to experience a transitional vacuum, psychologically. If they are not the type to sit down and sort out their thoughts and feelings, they may just shift into an automatic -"I've got to have something visible to do" - attitude, and get busy setting up another 'visible framework', without any other definable reason.
So long involved in structured schedules, routines which served visible commerce and production, we are often completely out-of-touch with inner activity, at this point. Yet - that is the very activity needed to begin our launch into purpose and direction for our later years. Inner activity is important to distill quality of thought and feeling, that only years of experience can provide a basis for creating.
It is especially retirement years that offer such an opportunity in the most socially acceptable way. In the past, this period was recognized for that very value. Much of the wisdom of those years has come down to us in writings, art, and just the mellow testimony of graceful ageing,as the nurturing care of Grandparents with the young. It's a shame that this special value of ageing years is not more broadly understood and accepted.
Some people have been aware of their inner life all through their lives, and have insisted on time usage for it. These are people best prepared for retirement years, who will best be able to extract meaning and value from that period. There are others, however, whose lives were so unceasingly pressed with mere survival demands, that they could find no real'free' time, even on holidays and weekends.
What is called 'recreation' today, is far from the suggestion inherent in the word : "re-creation". Today it is almost totally physically focused. The general tone is 'flight from' -for both recreation and entertainment. Many of us have lost the art once used to bring order and renewal to our inner self. I must confess to a lack of it in my own make-up. Which is probably one reason I reached this crossroads of having to apply attention to the process. The combination of that accumulation and Ed's passing made it essential. I was in overload. Our lack of time spent in quiet reflection is widespread today. We are paying for it in cumulative stress, and frazzled nerves.
Retiring to the inner self for reassessment, re-evaluation, relaxing, and renewing psycho-mentally provides an enduring result of steady vigor and clarity. It leaves us better able to cope with life's duties and daily problems. It's a puzzle to me,that the Medical field is doing research to understand reasons why people who have a basis of Spiritual faith have an average of better health. Even if no Spiritual influences were involved (But I do believe they are !) just the pause for prayer, and inner quiet, would make a difference !
Yet, the present standards of value for time usage, are usually based on visible activity. To insist on time usage as needed for restoring the psyche, often arouses resistance from some quarter of our lives. At times, we are even forced to sever ties, or alienate friends, in order to have access to such.
To the person whose past experience has served to bring them some degree of maturity, or 'spiritual ripening', it is essential for a sense of fulfillment, that their later years have meaning and value in some sort of 'summary' contribution. This may be visible, or of a subtle variety. Whatever, they will have a clear concept of its purpose and value. It will be regarded as their 'legacy to the Whole', whether they call it that or not. It becomes evident in all this that, for some, a type of 'sabbatical' period is needed, to gain a clear vision of what the latter-years function will be. I have certainly found it to be so,in my case.
Fortunately, there is a two year period in which no relocation decisions are either necessary or possible. It is a much appreciated provision needed to recover. Despite the business and legal regulations that caused the situation to be as it is, I cannot help but see a wiser provision behind it than Ed and I would have arranged, had we been able to conduct matters according to our personal view of what should be done. That was impossible. Yet - what a blessing it has turned out to be. A very valuable period for healing has been provided, because I could not relocate at this time.
Entry May 31, 1990 - Although this entry is dated May 31, it is June as I type it up. I mention this because I'm aware that these next two entries mark the end of a certain adjustment period which began with Ed's passing in 1989. They are the ending pages of this "Journal Of Change". Now begins a more focused activity of applying the awareness learned these past months. There is no formed plan, but mentally there is a clearer base to work from toward renewal. What follows only describes what I sense about the 'point of departure' toward the next phase.
I think that much of what is called "New Age" is actually only re-runs of the past as psychic recall. As in the formation and unfoldment of 'seed' periods, at the end of any Cycle a form of "Embryonic Review" seems to be characteristic. It is this that I believe is now evident in much called "New Age".
In the Wayfarer, this process should probably be lived as consciously as possible, according to the capacity of the individual, in order to retain clear comprehension and meaning of the concluding Cycle.
However, it should also be understood as a 'forerunner to the New Age, not yet the true 'arrival'. In the general collective it is presently mostly an unconscious process, manifesting in nostalgia fads, the search for genealogical 'roots' etc. We are ALL distilling and condensing 'seed' of one sort or another. This process of "Embryonic Review" occurs during the condensing into seed, and the unfolding of the seed. Amid the Cycle review, we see many manifestations of ideologies, myths, cults, and rituals, which smack of re-surfacing species-records. And we play out the 'finale`' drama.
Personally, I think that too great an emphasis on ritual can be a spiritual trap. In many cases, it is a dangerous detour. In some attracted to ritual, there is a strong desire to manipulate, and ritual is put to less than spiritual use. In some, it is a bit like programming a computer. They are making ritualized programs, which may become so automatic at some point, that they become complexes of qualified energies in the unconscious,and usurp the conscious will. This would be an amplified potential, when the individual is subjected to stress to the point of exhaustion of the conscious mind.
I believe it is much safer to realize that Life itself is a ritual. We are ALL mediaters in a constant exchange with each other, consciously, or unconsciously. If we simply monitor our own actions and reactions, trying to maintain good character, and consideration of others, we are storing the best of possible patterns in both our conscious and unconscious faculties. Such qualities of character will do most to ensure a healthy psyche. The Golden Rule really is good common sense, viewed in this respect.
I believe every Wayfarer must clarify their concepts of their values,motives, and goals along the "Way". Once we have a clear view of this compound attitude about Life and our role in it, it will condition the daily factors of passage.
Entry March 1992 - It's been almost two years since the last entry.In that interval,I have gained a sense of what the next stage of my life will be about. Now it is time to turn face forward, and try to live these 'summary' years with meaning. Synthesis will be the tone of whatever form of expression results during those years. The tone of 'synthesis' is slowly emerging, but has not yet gathered a strength of rhythm. Now I must focus toward the next step, to establish flow, then rhythm will evolve.
Regarding the "Places And Times Collection" - it is important that any future reader understand the intent of these writings. They were not written with any idea that the experiences recorded were 'unique', but that they would be generally reflective of the purpose and process of the life of the conscious Wayfarer.
Often we experience the highs and lows of the Journey unaware of just how many share our general type experience. The Way is sometimes a lonely Road, because we lack such awareness. Always, when various experiences were recorded, it was as one representative of places and times known to all who walk the Road. Many have acted as such representative voices, and left markers along the Way. Many do so now. Many will do so in the future.
Now, it is time to record the summary years of passage. There is no present preconception as to how this will unfold. So, I close this brief "Journal Of Change", which covers only one small phase of Life's most constant experience - Change. Ed has gone on ahead. Now - I must go on.
July 2000 - What eventually evolved from the changes has become "Future Folk" Music. It is a way to offer "Songs For The Long Road". Other publications to be out later are: two more sections from the "Road Song Papers" - "Places and Times Poetry Collection" - and other writings. (bc)