Contact

A few nights ago, I awoke at two in the morning covered in sweat. Uncomfortable enough to do something about it, I went upstairs to turn on the AC and stumbled down the hallway, the urge to get back into my bed overwhelming as always. But this time, as I walked past the back door, I was abruptly drawn to go outside and look at the stars.

Despite the strong pull, I had to stop for a moment. Was it safe out there when I was home alone? It is easy for me to feel alone in the middle of the night, even with someone sleeping close by. What was lurking in the dark? Ever since a nightmare I had years ago of a mysterious, malicious man coming at me in the night towards my house, it was difficult to not be scared of being in that doorway, let alone walk through it.

Once I shook myself out of the dazed sleepwalk, I quickly became aware of how silly this was. It was a beautiful, clear night and I’d be a fool to not enjoy it, if only for a moment.

I sat on the deck stairs, the air soft from land that emitted heat of the summer sun. I live right behind a highway, and it had never felt as still and quiet as it did then. I could feel the world sleep, and for the first time it brought peace instead of loneliness.

Suddenly something caught my attention, a flash of light in my left field of vision. I turned towards it, thinking it was a shooting star that I had missed, and I saw it again, this time as just a flash. “Hi!” I called out happily. Right then, a huge meteor flew across the sky. I laughed with a giddy lightness, and smiled at the thought of a small, grey alien with those giant characteristic eyes casting a stone across the waters of Earth’s sky to meet my salutation. It felt a lot like Interstellar, when Cooper tries to deliver a message to his daughter across time and space through a medium that surpasses all realms of our current understanding. Whatever was out there, I felt warmth and company in the light-polluted dampness of night.

  Upon reflection of the moment, the feeling of soft support and company was strange, given that it was scary to go outside alone in the dark in the first place. Once coming back inside, I realized my basement was more spooky than my backyard. The yard had a horizon that I forgot about, a backdrop with pinholes of light from other worlds calling out. It was a cramped space that I hid in that made me feel safe. Outside, I felt love and wonder. I questioned if people would change if they were forced to sleep under the night sky again. It’s strange to think that although we’re afraid to go out there due to exposure, it is actually more embracing and kind than the box we keep ourselves locked up in for comfort.

Contact with boundaries internal and external are necessary, breaching thresholds that harbor love and wonder, the sky a symbol of the frontiers of our minds, our psyche. External boundaries may even mirror internal ones, and so crossing one reciprocates the other. As they say “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”  –Hermes Trismegistus 

It is not just about putting ourselves out there just so we don’t excessively shelter ourselves. It is about making contact with the divine, whatever that may be for each of us. It’s about looking out and wondering what is looking back, and what they see. It is about feeling the softness of our frontiers, not just their occasional harsh, unforgiving nature. Despite whatever lies in their crossing, the ultimate is love and compassion.

I walked back down stairs to my bed, forgetting to turn on the light to the staircase, holding on tightly to the railing when I judged the last step. When I got to the bottom, I felt it level, and walked off onto trustworthy ground.

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Life as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

I wince at the roar of machines churning, the walls of my basement shaking. Others are numb to it, but to me this defilement of the environment is likened to a dentist drilling into someone’s gums, the churning teeth and veins the same as butchered wood and roots. It is all a bloody, gory mess either way. For me, this is what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

For those who consider themselves a HSP, loud noises and large crowds are a common deterrence, but for someone who is spiritually and emotionally connected to the Earth like me, the abuse the environment takes every day is a particular nuisance. It’s not easy being a HSP and living where I live. Now that it’s summer, someone in the neighborhood is always cutting down a tree, pounding down into the earth to get rid of it’s roots for some project out of self service. As if they don’t have enough non-indigenous plants that require loads of chemicals and water rather than using the space and resources to feed themselves, Earth’s ultimate gift to humanity. I’ve always said that humans are a species that rake up leaves so that they can put down fertilizer. Everything we do is backwards and without consideration.

Where I live, the population is 7.6 million, higher than the country of Norway, on a piece of land that spans 118 miles. It wears on someone like me, and there is not a passing moment where I am desperate to leave the bickering, angry people who do not even realize just how unhappy they are, that life is not a fixed state but something ever-changing and separate from their perceived reality. It is the collective unconscious that I seek to escape, the people who do not want to ask questions, who do not work on themselves and merely exist for empty pleasures.

On a side note, I’m here because there’s no longer a place in the country where a recent college graduate can live off of minimum wage while looking for a job in their field (if you know of a place near the coast, let me know).

Most are numbed, and raised to accept the desecration of nature. They are completely disconnected in their minds and hearts, although not in their physicality as science refutes this. Atoms in your body are derived from the universe, with our planet being our closest relative. Everything is recycled and necessary for a healthy biome, and since humans live here and were created here, they are not above this.

As a HSP, I feel this without a choice, and I walk around with a wall around me just so that I don’t get sick, but this is no way to live. I sometimes wonder if I don’t know who I truly am, as I’ve never been able to live in a constant outward expression of authenticity, although I’ve been doing the best I can to slowly put pieces of myself together to see the whole picture. Walls make it difficult to reach out to anything, to open up and experience what is left, or meant to be experienced.

Perhaps what is worse about everything is that us highly sensitive people are also expected to not be bothered by these things amidst a world of desensitized zombies. It is not normal to be on edge, to be tired, to not want to go out into loud clamoring nonsense. I hear the voice of the collective unconscious, the voice we’ve created, it says “Now go behave and party your evenings away until you no longer have the capacity to think or feel. You do not need real relationships, only people to pass the time with. Also, make sure you have a job that supports this habit, and don’t forget the gym membership. Running on a treadmill for 2 hours burns more calories than a stroll through nature. You’ll need that from all the drinking.” Now, I never partake in this atmosphere because it is in complete dissonance to my being, but it’s a constant roar that can be heard in the background, a thriving culture for much of the human population.

If by any chance you are a HSP and have a blog, I challenge you to write a post about what it’s like for you. Include whatever you want in it, whether it’s a focus on what deters you the most, or additional thoughts on the matter. Tag me in the post or let me know so that I see what your input is. If you don’t have a blog, let me know by leaving a comment.

Featured image by Ryan Wilson 

Facing the Blind Deaf Stone Alone

“…the sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I do know that that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head…” – Primo Levi


Let me just say, I hate this sculpture.

I don’t know where it came from or why it’s there. All I know is that I’ve had to look at it almost every morning for three years. Three years and thankfully not four, as I spent one year in California, which only seems like a dream now.

It is displayed up on a hill that the express bus passes on its run from the South parking lot to campus. Every morning I saw this wretched thing and questioned what it’s supposed to mean. What’s the point of a concrete swing frozen in time? Why is it pale yellow? I don’t know what the actual intentions are for it, but to me it symbolized something very cynical, dark even. Like a warning sign to anyone entering campus, there’s a subliminal message of fruitless efforts, inhibition of joy, and an overall sense of hopelessness. Fruitless efforts for when you’re on a swing but the chains are fixed. Joy of a favorite pastime activity taken away. Knowing that even if the thing were to come to life, you’d only go back and forth indefinitely, until you got off. As of 5/20/16, I got off this swing and walked away.

It must be very hard for others to understand, with the great reputation for “higher education”. I understand this, and I also understand that this is my journey and you have your journey, and there aren’t going to be equivalencies at ever turn. But I mean every word when I say this was the hardest part of my life. To me, this was a time when I was thrown into a dark room with no light and no exit point. It was like being stuck on a road that never ends. I strapped myself into some sort of machine that looked like Kerry, but was not Kerry, and went about my life in the way that was asked of me. I didn’t feel like my life was my own. All efforts I put forth were washed down the drain so consistently that it brought me to the point where I even questioned if there was some divine intervention putting all it’s strength into sabotaging my plans and putting me on an entirely different route. It put a veil between me and the rest of world so that when I went to push, nothing moved. Every visualization of of trying to become something was squandered, and no one who knew me saw it. I don’t know how they could. When you’re moving through a similar medium, and people experience something entirely different from what you are, it is almost impossible for them to put themselves in your shoes, and so on top of everything also came isolation and loneliness.

Thankfully, when I turned away form the world and went inside, I found something. It was Metanoia, a light in the dark, something with potential disguised as something small and ambiguous. It was a seed, and it’s this seed that I’m going to water and nurture from now on.

The human race is dissonance, a cacophony of emptiness. People castrate their consciousness with alcohol, drugs, sex, money, and comfortable routine. Being even just a little disconnected from that in developing years allowed for an authentic emanation of self. This sets me apart more than anything else from my peers. It just may be the disruption in the pattern that made my efforts ineffective here. I found essence, and thats all I want to experience now, untainted by the vibrational garbage drowning it out and forcing it under. I look around to see that family and friends have not been as lucky to have a center. Or am I the unlucky one? Facing the blind deaf stone alone, it sometimes feels like I was placed in some sort of solitary confinement born out of the collective unconsciousness. When you enter, you begin to live another life entirely. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, I’m not accompanied with anyone who has the capacity to see me, or know what it is I’m trying to achieve here. I’m up against so much right now. I’m up against my unconscious peers when I seek enlightenment. I’m up against my genetics which was born out of generations of people who were afraid to take risks and lived comfortably numb, asleep at the wheel as my brother likes to put it. I have no role models, or examples to follow. I have no way of navigation. I have no finances. I only have a vague sense of the home that lies somewhere on the other side of this, far, far away. I desperately want to get there. I am uncertain, but determined, and maybe I needed Stony Brook University for this reason, to be plunged into darkness so that I would no longer tolerate anything but light, and everything that comes with it.

To all those listening, thank you, and I love you.

 

Artwork credited to Niken Anindita

The Freedom to Choose

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

  Hello to all my loyal followers, and hello to any newcomers.

   Now that the spring semester has begun, most of my time and energy will be funneled into school, especially since I am trying to secure my graduation for May. This unfortunately means less  posts, and allotting any free time I have to writing my novel, so I apologize for the lack of posts over the next few months.

   I’m finding that this is a very unnerving time in my life where there is much uncertainty for the future, and fear of this unknown. It is not so much the typical scenario for all youth where there is a dilemma in not knowing ones purpose or passion. Its more of an anxiety brought on by the apparent lack of opportunity after a life of trying to produce just the opposite. This discomfort brings me to what I wish to talk about today.

   I see it in others and I see it in myself. Very often we believe that we are stuck in life. We don’t think we can get out of our career choice, our job, our relationship, our geography, our finances, or anything at all. Perhaps the mindset comes from knowing that these situations were completely circumstantial, which often is the main factor controlling where we end up in life at some point, despite our best efforts, and despite what we’re told about things like hard work and perseverance. But recently I was reminded of something, and it prompted me to take my own advice.

 

   I’ve seen horrific things that people must endure on this plane of existence, things I will not go into detail. I’ve been fortunate enough, and thankful for having a life in which I did not have to go through these things, and yet still be able to learn something from being a bystander. What I’ve learned from these people is that there always is a choice, no matter what. There really are no excuses.

   I must convey what making a choice actually entails here. When you are depressed for example, you do not simply decide to start feeling better and make it so the day after. This is what many people mistakenly say to others, especially those who have never been through great hardship (or for those who have and see this as a way to avoid their baggage rather than working with it and truly moving on). Change doesn’t work like that here. For some, it takes an entire lifetime to bring forth some manifestation, or a change in destiny. For these people, it was between that and never breaking free, and they chose freedom. With this, you are presented with the option to let life happen to you, or to gather up some courage for the long haul. I suppose everyone is different, but I  would rather have a life trying to get somewhere. I would not want to give my power over to circumstance. I do not believe thats what I, or any of us were meant to do. As the saying goes, “After all, none of us are getting out alive anyway”. In the end it didn’t matter what occurred for the people who took control of their destiny. What mattered was that they acknowledged their position, had a conversation with themselves, and started looking for a way to make a change. They evaluated what was worth taking and what was worth leaving behind.

   I have no idea if this will strike a chord with any of you at this time. Perhaps it does for some time in your past, or perhaps it will somewhere down the line in your future. Either way, I felt compelled to say something about this.

   For me personally, there is this feeling of being lost, but not in life, in another way entirely. I recently heard someone present the question “Where is my Joy?”. Yes, where is my joy? Where is that old friend? For me, it is misplaced in the distractions and the checklists and the obligations. I warn myself not to disconnect from the path that leads me to my bliss, because when I do, I could temporarily lose my way back to that. This is where I find myself now. Overcoming this may be the way to dislodge myself from the clingy sap of self doubt, mistrust, and disappointment.

   Perhaps getting back to oneself in this way is not as complicated as it feels. There’s a song by my favorite artist Aurora I wish to share that resonates with this.

   In her song, it is extremely frank, and yet so eloquently put.

   “I know I can. Thats why I do it.”

 

Featured image credited to Folkert Gorter

The Landscape of Metanoia

I know the expression “old soul” gets thrown around a lot to explain those who seem wise beyond their years, but I don’t quite see it this way. For one thing, it has the connotation that these people are better than others, more advanced. This isn’t true and simply doesn’t feel right. Just as our human age is an illusion brought on by the sensation of time, I do not believe that our souls are any older or younger than one another, but that we are all in fact the same age.

In the same way that all the matter we see had a beginning, with its atoms taking shape and dissolving back into its rudimentary state, consciousness also had its spark of life that unleashed everything all at once. So what creates such a dichotomy between ignorance and wisdom amongst ourselves? How are the two able to exist simultaneously?

In order to explain this, I am brought to the landscape of Metanoia (for more information regarding this word, visit my About page). Just as the Earth has its peaks and valleys, there are highs and lows through this medium of experience that I am writing about.

As we began to travel, we all went separate ways. With different circumstances to face, ranging from troughs and valleys covered in vegetation, to mountain heights towering over all that is, a person is altered and conditioned. In some of these places, you might not be able to see the sky above, where your world is contained and dense. Like tunnel vision, all you can see is what’s immediately in front of you. In this sort of environment, the feeling that there is only what you see becomes very convincing. Naturally, the illusion begins to make more and more sense, and anything else a far off reality. When we no longer think that there is more, we get lost and prohibit ourselves from experiencing anything further. Generations upon generations of this can birth a sort of limitless ignorance that is almost impossible to escape. This is how false evils are created and perpetuated, delusions are free to run rampant, and people stumble farther and farther away from the truth they once knew.

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But with the landscape of Metanoia being as dynamic as it is, this is thankfully not how it is for every soul. Fields reveal a horizon that lead to somewhere, and a sky that offers the possibility of infinity. Those who find themselves in the ocean can see this sky as well, but must constantly tread water. Some struggle up onto hill tops and mountain treks, where the understanding of what everything is comes with complete clarity. There are brave souls, whom I admire the most and associate most heavily with, who are trapped under a dense vegetation, deciding to climb the tallest trees in order to get a better view, driven by the desire to orient themselves.

With the diversity of the landscape comes the diversity of experiences. What is gained is a unique mark, the fingerprint of the soul, and we are lucky for this. With diversity you can be sure that there’s an individual, or perspective unique to your situation, and thus has the means for you to get to where you need to go. It is as if you came upon a stranger who has traversed the section of land ahead, and can give you advice, or even a map. You can also do the same for others along your travels. This is why it is important to have such diversity and to understand that there is no one route, or one truth. This cannot be with the condition of the landscape. This is why we must embrace our differences, as long as it doesn’t hinder the journey of others, and encourages the trek we have ahead. It is both varying and unified, more connected than separate. While the paths intersect in some places, and diverge in others, they’re all headed towards the same thing.

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Photos credited to Daniel Ranger and Kathryn Beals 

Lost

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“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” -Wendell Berry

This quote came to me at the right time of my life through a book I’m reading called “Small Victories” by Anne Lamott. Life is feeling strange, not that thats new. Its not because of my own inability to recognize my surroundings, or a lack of understanding of the world. Its not because I don’t know myself or who I am.

Its because I don’t know how to recognize myself in the context of my surroundings.

Ive determined that this is what it means to be lost. And I am writing about it now.

A girl is born on a different world, facing a unique societal structure that is different, but not so different, from our own.  Everyone born in this world has a one track existence that is determined by certain biological characteristics. In this way, each individual serves the greater good of the whole. They operate quite happily, and quite smoothly in this way and have done so for thousands of years. But like what happens to us, genetic mutations occur, and Xenia is one of the people born with an abnormality that makes her purpose unclear.

And so this girl goes about her life realizing that to be lost is not necessarily the inability to recognize your surroundings. Its to not know what it means to be you, or how to be you, when your environment is not giving you any clues, and seems to always go against the grain of your own instincts.

My particular problem is that I can’t do anything unless its genuine, but is that really a problem? Yes. Let me tell you why.

I refuse to listen to what I should want and what my interests should be. I don’t think people realize just how heavily their interests are influenced by the people they are around. Just living here can make you into something you’re not as the entire world is constantly trying to convince you that you need what they’re selling.

You need this education, with this means of transportation and this technology, these clothes, this appearance, this lifestyle, these things. All day every day since you were born, you are bombarded and become a product of the corporate world, and there is not much that can be done about it.  All that can be done is to go with the flow, and do the best you can with what you have (which is a lot, I am not being a glass half empty kind of person, I am merely pointing out what goes unnoticed most of the time).

Living in a world like this as a person that does not naturally go with the flow of his or her surroundings creates a sense of this lost feeling I’m talking about. There is constant questioning of how any part of the self can exist here successfully, and what parts of the self are the right ones to apply.

Making connections with others becomes increasingly difficult, as you drift away from the crowds that want and enjoy things that just aren’t fulfilling to you. There is a constant feeling that you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing, and constant worry about making it look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are going and where you want to go becomes your identity by the time you get to your junior year of high school, and into college. It is like the world I created in my story, where your purpose is defined by the tasks you perform.

I don’t know how to end this thought, as this is an early point in my journey and haven’t had the time to digest these feelings. I suppose the best way to conclude this is with the quote I started with. I don’t know what I’m doing, but perhaps thats just a necessary part of the initiation.

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Milestones

Sometimes success is a milestone, and sometimes success is removing the word “possible” from the prospective notes of your future novel. For me, this was a note of a minor detail that is far off from what I am currently working on. But now I know that the plans I made for this part are solid, and no longer needed it. So “(possibly twice)” became “(twice)”. I make these adjustments in small increments over time, and they accumulate. This whole endeavor feels like its taking forever, or feel like it will take forever. So this is why I am saying this today, that success can be a milestone, or erasing a word from your drafts. Milestones are born out of these events anyway, aren’t they?

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