Tag Archives: possibilities

The Forest for the Trees: Doing What We Do Best

16 Jun
silhouette of a man during sunset

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

The Forest for the Trees: Doing What We Do Best

By Kathy Custren

 

The Forest for the Trees

Part of what intrigues me so about The Conundrum these days is that there are people, very good people, who have such a difficult time with discernment. Oh, vision clarity is not the issue. Unlike yours truly, many can see perfectly well without the aid of corrective lenses. But somewhere along the way, one’s visual acuity or ability to process what we see is called into question. We can describe it as not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Take the issue of life—a large topic, to be sure; but there are those of us who are unable to see the fullness of life. We may have many salient points about the sanctity of life and how important it is to live a good and virtuous life. In our zeal, we hit all the important points about how miraculous and precious it all is, but at some point after that, we fall off from truly committing to the full picture. We see the tree just fine, but not the forest in which it sits. In fact, there is probably a logging project going on not that far away. Forest for the trees, forest for the trees…we struggle with borders and boundaries on a regular basis, and while we tussle over these ill-defined lines, the sand shifts under our collective feet. We are at a point in time where we cannot avoid dealing with our collective consciousness in the forest that surrounds us. –And make no mistake, the other animals in the forest are watching our every move.

Why is it that we are unlikely to equate the taking of, by way of example, a potential human life, with as much gravity as we could the life of an existing tree? Do our rose-colored glasses need that much correction? Try as many do to argue the point, “but it’s only a tree,” a life is still a life, right? We feel pressed to provide rights to one type of life over another. Perhaps this is our problem—the stigma or prejudice we assign to life itself. We hold one type of existence differently than we do another, and this is what permits any number of atrocities to take place. Welcome to our world today.

 

Playing God, and Other Sundry Pastimes

You see, the issue is not in condemning or annihilating the forest, but in playing god…in thinking we have the right to pave the way—whether it be for profit or some other ‘way of being.’ Ultimately, we are taking one life for another, which is the condensed version of selectivity. As imperfect as we human beings are, where do we get off (a) taking life, (b) telling others they cannot take away life, or (c) enjoying the ability to create life in the first place?

The gods of yore (read your mythology) were keen on the entertainment aspects we puny humans once provided them, and probably still do. They are just a lot quieter now with their storytelling, seeing what their folly has wrought. And while on the supernatural topic of dimension and timelessness, we must remember the concept of reincarnation/karma, which speaks to the transformation of energy and the ability we will undoubtedly get to perfect ourselves if we so choose. We are so wrapped up in the physical that we tend to forget the spiritual aspects associated with being here…the forest for the trees, yet again.

So quick are we to point, ridicule, and stigmatize others, that we cannot see the forest ourselves. The interconnectedness we share whoosh! goes over our heads. The one planetary home on which we exist has cycles and timelines much greater than our own, and rather than paying attention to that story, we would much rather inflict our own narrow view. Bottom line, when we disrespect life it has a way of coming back around to haunt us, ultimately.

 

Into the Mix We Go—Now What?

Our forebears tried to warn us; they have left clues if we care to take notice. But, our collective visual problems come into focus yet again. We have trouble seeing correspondences within our own age, in active and real time, let alone thinking about ‘the past.’ We tend to leave such analysis to the history books that end up being rewritten to mask the atrocity of our impact on the planet. So, we should worry about ‘the future;’ and rightfully so. There is a shifting role of ‘the bad guy’ in the story—the antagonist—that should keep all of us on our toes. No matter what name we call that character, be it the devil, monster, disease, death, or any number of labels, we fear its presence and fight to overcome it, whatever “it” may be.

This fearsome, fighting mentality leads us to assign ‘war’ to just about everything, and look at us today. We have wars against drugs, crime, terror, “the other” or “the stranger,” and the labels go on. Forest for the trees again; as we are busy fighting wars, there is much collateral damage; so much for the sanctity of life. We tell ourselves that we are fighting a war to at least provide an excuse, as we drill down even further into the personal lives of people who, for a variety of ‘personal’ reasons, would choose to not let another life be born into this existence. Data drives the human machine as much as profits when it comes to caring: health care, life care, what is the real cost of the medicine that keeps us alive or that keeps the lights on at night? Suicide numbers are actively on the rise, so the choice point becomes crystal clear to many—and can we really blame them? Can we? When it is their choice between ‘this life’ and whatever takes place on the other side?

Hypocrisy aside, can we just let these people sit with the pain and reach that conclusion for themselves? Might we at least make the idea of simple existence a little less painful; perhaps cause a little less suffering? We are talking much more than just feeling an occasional pang of anxiousness here. Our collective pain reaches the level of our collective soul and cries out for attention. When we are unable to sleep at night, all of that suffering must go somewhere. If we really wanted to make a difference on a larger scale, why not target the bomb and weapons makers that annihilate entire swathes of living things off the face of the planet? Why choose instead to make life even more miserable for one who is carrying an unborn without the means to provide for it; or who come to our shore seeking asylum from even greater terror and death? We say we want to change lives, but am I and so many others missing the forest here? What support are we giving people who are here up to the point where pregnancy and one new life becomes a larger problem for “everybody?” Where is our humanity when one more hungry mouth to feed becomes unbearable? Nature has its own way of finding balance on a variety of levels, and let’s just contemplate that one a moment, shall we?

 

Social Media: Processing the Horrible

There is an overarching reason why social media is so consumer-driven. When we consider that we digest more than just nourishment, we cannot ignore the use of virtual reality to process some horrible things. For all those who avoid the internet like the plague, there may be some comfort in that; if not denial. For those of us who are online throughout the day, every day, we worry about the effects of over-consumption and how it might play on us psychologically. Plato’s cave? What is real and what is an illusion?

  • Fake news (from those ‘in charge’) to distract us from horrible changes; many of us would knowingly be in the streets…911…’false flags’…missiles on the way to Hawaii – an oops with deadly results.
  • We ‘elect’ people into positions of governance but fail to direct (provide feedback to) them; instead we get on social media and share memes and thoughts, thoughts and prayers, while few of us attempt to advocate for change or—heaven forbid—actively do something.

Social media goes beyond advertisement…we are not just sharing ideas on the newest restaurant in town or our favorite recipes or sports teams…we use it to process news on all levels, local, state, national, and international. Recent storm damages, wartime skirmishes, human trafficking, and animal poaching and abuse, all find space between the photos we share of our latest meal, Suzie’s school concert, or Uncle Joe’s traveling dart team. I am grateful for the ability of social media to bring us together and share ideas, so let us use this technology wisely. We must bring about great change if we really, really want to make this world a better place.

The way we all process the most horrible parts of our existence means that, in the midst of “all” the things that assail our senses, greater numbers, greater attention, greater energies are spent in managing our time and attention. Can we spend time better by being off the virtual reality and back in the real world and work? We must deal with both the offline and online versions of ourselves—the real and the spiritual combined—and what we bring into this world. So, time and change must apply to both.

 

What Price, Love? The Real Cost of Our Humanity

Is it me? I grew up under the now liberal(?) Christian notion of people loving one another, being a helper, and doing what we can to make the world a better place. So, seeing overwhelming inequality and suffering mixed in a culture of war and death does not sit very well with my psyche—how about yours? We know we can do better. I come from a time, not that far from this present moment, when people were taught to be kind to each other—where bullying, graft, and greed were seen as evils and faults to eschew rather than inspirational parts of our personality. It is not an ‘ego thing’ to care about others; in fact, we might say this lack of empathy is another human failing that we must address.

It goes beyond ‘to each his own,’ and if it means taking a hard look at what we call our borders and boundaries then let’s do that—maybe it is the right time? Here in the United States, I still like to think the founding fathers had it right—we either unite as one or we die alone. We are stronger together. The natural order does have us looking at the real cost of what it means to be a human alive today, and the price is as incalculable as the unspeakable name of God. Both were once revered and sacrosanct; today, both God and life are trivialized—both subjugated to the realm of control, and quite uncomfortable to wear.

When we lose sight of the forest, we also lose sight of its value. When we lose the knowledge that unites us, we separate like a rogue cancer cell might, enveloping and annihilating the health of the surrounding area and all within it. ‘As above, so below’ comes to mind. We have a collective body of pain and trauma to address and heal, and now is as good a time as any, timeless beings that we are.

Join with me in my fervent and daily prayer: Heaven help us, until we can help ourselves and each other.

 

Mother, Sister, Writer, Editor, Advocate, Optimizer, Cosmic Interpreter, and Devotee of Positivity, Kathy Custren writes about The Conundrum since 2007. Connect with “Consciousness Live” on WordPress and Facebook. With united hearts, let us move humanity forward.

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Acting to Prevent Human Misery

25 Jul

Acting to Prevent Human Misery

by Kathy Custren

 

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” –Eleanor Roosevelt

 

First Do No Harm…First Do No Harm…First Do No Harm

“You are under arrest.”

Imagine waking up to hear these words. It gives us pause to think about being arrested. Much like The Conundrum, it brings conflicting sensations to us. Beyond the sensation of ‘What did I do wrong?’ is the idea of being withheld from being around others for some extended period. Incarceration and institutionalization have extended ramifications on the human psyche, so we seek to avoid this type of situation as much as possible.

 

The frustration that comes from being arrested in some way is not something that works well with many of us. We dislike being barred, restrained, or otherwise told no. Whether individually or collectively, we want to be the ones to place those boundaries, draw the lines, and say when enough is enough.

 

Because what is ‘enough’ can be different for everyone. One person may not be able to stand making their way around a track one time, while others run with hurdles freely. The unique gifts we each bring to the game of life are part of the overall balance of things; yet we tend to focus on what is lacking. Rather than enjoying the bounty we have, we attach to always coming up short, and blaming or stigmatizing those who “bring us down.”

 

Proactivity – What Lies in Knowing and Understanding

So, being proactive is part of our DNA, so to speak. Why invite trouble, heartache, and suffering, when we can seek to avoid it? Why persevere with pain and suffering when there are ways to eliminate various problems?

 

Thinking ahead and designing for the future, is something that gives us a lot of enjoyment. Knowing that we have a well-thought plan of action is helpful to us. We budget time and money to achieve our goals. We consider the ‘what-ifs’ in life and provide for emergencies or contingencies that we know are inevitable.

 

Famine, drought, and disaster are as inevitable as death. In human and world history, there have been any number of catastrophes that cause migration and loss of life. Would we sit on our laurels knowing that what we have could be wiped out at any time? Or, would we seek to somehow make disaster a little less threatening, knowing its inevitability?

 

Flight or Fight – Responding to Trauma

Many are familiar with the ‘flight or fight’ response. When faced with a traumatic situation, we choose to either fight what is challenging us or run from it…live to fight another day. Each of us does what we can, ultimately understanding that it may not be the best option, but the only one we can make at the time, under the circumstances.

 

Yet, we seek to demean or diminish those who are dealing the best with the circumstances they have. None of us truly walk in the shoes of another—we cannot be them. We can only seek to understand, and perhaps commiserate, that ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ We are either on the donating or receiving end of charity. What goes around comes around…as is the way.

 

Disrupting our comfort level must be something we do every day. If we yearn to stay in, go out. If we want to laze around, get busy. And if we encounter a need, by Jove, let’s do what we can to bring comfort instead of adding to the misery.

 

Beyond the fight or flight is the flow—the giving aspect that there is always more. Once we recognize this ‘flow to things,’ we may understand much more about what it takes to respond to traumatic events. As we struggle to understand and comprehend the great mystery, we get small hints of resolution that we really must heed.

 

Systemic Failure; Structure Remains

So much of what we envision when we think of the destruction of something, whether it is an old railroad line, building, society, or an ecosystem, leaves us with gaps we know are there. The abandoned railroad may have chunks of line missing, but we can tell what it was. An abandoned warehouse could be missing most of its windows or machinery, yet it retains a sense of its former glory. Society itself has many holes…cracks through which vulnerable people fall at an alarming rate. And as the world changes entire biological structures as seen in various epochs, the basic elements remain the same.

 

No one system is perfect, and the structure that upholds it may still be hanging on, but all these gaps are things we could address. Holes in infrastructure could mean there is work to do. We rarely think about quality control when it comes to social or world situations. From patching up a pothole in the road to repairing a broken friendship, there is always room for improvement.

 

Death and destruction are a part of life; they are the dark times amid the light. Understanding this inherency is something upon which we would rather not think, because that requires planning, too, as much as living does. We may not have much of a say in our own demise, but ignoring the fact that it can happen at any time is one of those ‘unlikely events’ that tugs at the back of our mind.

 

The Natural Order and Ages of Humanity

All individuals feed into the greater [good] of our existence, still we fail to see “them” as being an integrated part of our greater wholeness. We use the idea of rivers running to the ocean to describe the natural order. In much the same way, we say all spiritual roads lead to God. The systems we have in place operate as part of the natural order, and serve the larger whole accordingly. Oh, humanity! The same is true with each other.

 

Over time, we identify with these various levels of growth and change. Each generation takes this upon itself…as a yoke of sorts…to break free of the past, of our families, of our history, to start afresh. Consider correspondences to the seven ages of man, the seven chakras of the body, or heptatonic/diatonic scale in music. There is a natural progression, sequence, order, and structure that exists, to which we may apply any number of creative things.

 

When we defy or deny this natural order, it causes all manner of discord, pain, and suffering. As we mindlessly use and abuse our way through life, we mindfully choose to bring pain upon ourselves and others. Some of us cannot help it, since it is all part and parcel of the balance we embody. It should not surprise us that we can identify imbalances in the natural order because these will become evident rather close to home.

 

In our struggles, the choices we make become ever more critical. We feel they are tied most precipitously to our sense of existence. One wrong decision when we have little cushion to fall back on can hurt a lot. Rather than making the wisest of choices with an eye on the prize of future goals and achievements, we are left to decide between the lesser of two evils, or which one will hurt less. This fear-based, restricted stance is a different vantage point from which to operate, entirely.

 

How did we get this way? How can such an advanced or progressive society find itself in such a morass of degeneration? It is dichotomy at work once again. All part of the magnum opus of life; of which, we get to experience but a very small part. As in alchemy or the nearest rainbow, this natural progression is a constant reminder that there is always more beauty to behold. We. Can. Turn. This. Around.

 

What Holds Us Back? Class? We Do, We Do.

“So, wait,” you muse, “if there is always more, then why does it feel as if we are headed towards an ending?” Ah, indeed, there are many endings. Just as there are many beginnings. Balance says there are just as many opportunities for making good choices as there are to make poor ones. This may be especially true if the sum of our choices yields little in the way of true advancement.

 

Sure, we can point to any number of technological advancements. A bounty of progress, built upon years of research and development, high capital expenditures, plenty of commerce, travel, trade agreements, contracts large and small, and decades if not generations of toil and sweat. Where would the CEO of Exxon be without the toil and sweat of the Appalachia coal miners? Where would Apple be without the lowliest of workers hired to solder tiny parts together in a clean room somewhere in China for sub-minimum wage?

 

This advancement of ‘things’ comes at the cost of other things, and people. There is no doubt about it. As we deplete one aspect of our planet’s resources, as we manipulate the materials to suit our fanciful ideas, is there much thought given to the sustainability factor? Humanity excels at tremendous waste. We become the very embodiment of the cancer that invades our bodies, in much the same way we wreak havoc upon the Earth.

 

What if all the fossil fuels we use and burn so rapidly were buried underground for a reason far greater than any our greedy little minds can imagine? We ignore the indigenous who warn us of our lack of foresight. Shoot, we ignore evidence in front of us that exist in the soulful mirrors of the eyes of our fellow beings. We dare not look; treat each other with great ignorance; with a distain and ugliness that drives others away. Do we really feel safer this way, reinforcing the ‘illness’ that ego-driven greed has led?

 

Brick by Brick, We Build a Wall

In our confined freedom, away from others, we can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Until we realize it is too late—that we have traded what was our life for a jail of our own design. Gates and walls once again reign supreme as methods of both division and presumed safety. For all our interconnectedness, we are driven farther apart. Our children and the most vulnerable and sensitive among us bear the battle scars to prove it as they die at their own hand with each passing day.

 

The folly of walls built by empires in years past do not seem as ridiculous now, perhaps? We hold still others in prisons for far lesser crimes than we allow large corporations to continue doing with reckless abandon. Why, it is an industry—good ‘decent’ work in all these penitentiaries. We taint the most valuable of resources so that every bit of nature carries a premium price, for the greater good, of course.

 

Our drive to excel causes anxiety that contributes to a wide range of mental problems, but we dare not admit this because of the stigma mental illness continues to hold. Decades and generations of apples not falling far from diseased trees does not contribute to a quality orchard. While there may be fewer ‘institutions,’ many people in pain are behind bars, suffering, seen as ‘less human’ than “we are.” Dare to help, and be considered ‘part of the problem.’

 

‘But it is not all horrible,’ we console ourselves. ‘Look at where all the tax money goes. Plus, there is Patreon, and PayPal, and GoFundMe, and all sorts of ways we help each other now. We can join with ‘the big buys’ and sponsor and subscribe to our hearts’ content. Nobody has to know the depth of our generosity. And the churches, all the churches around the world—that’s their job, after all, these non-profits and people who care.’ Except there is a deep economic imbalance that exists. The needs far outweigh the fulfillment…there is always more need, too. How do we reconcile this on a balance sheet?

 

Brick by brick, we build a wall around our hearts, minds, bodies, homes, and countries. To extend ourselves wholeheartedly becomes somehow unbearable, as if cancelling out the good that caring does. To give ourselves unselfishly somehow feels alien to us. At the same time, an odd inclination in what is left of our reptilian brain hints that this could be the very path to humanity’s salvation—to not go the way of the dinosaur.

 

We close ourselves off from each other, then take drugs to numb the pain. Worst still, we close off one thought from the next, compartmentalizing our lives in such a way that juggling becomes the norm. How can we possibly think in a logical manner when we cannot connect the dots? Yet we dare hope to be healed and for all beings to be at peace.

 

Connecting the Dots for the Whole Picture

Puzzles can be fun, you know? A favorite growing up was ‘connect the dots,’ where you started on dot-1 and drew lines to dot-2, and dot-3, and so on. It might have been 15 or 20 dots later before the entire picture was complete, but those lines of connection were what made the image happen. Real life is just as uncomplicated, and just as much fun.

 

Why, then, do we make it so complicated? Is it because we cannot bear to extend our heart energy, that resonance that rings true? What happens when we reach out and connect, dot-to-dot, person-to-person? And what happens if somebody were to touch us? That is energy right there, that carries long-term memories with it. We can choose whether that energy is positive or negative. We can even make a difference and add positivity, to make it better. Again, it is up to us.

 

Yet when it comes to the heart, better seal that sucker up tight, unless you want to be labeled a ‘bleeding-heart-liberal.’ We cannot abide the various images that have been drilled deep into our subconscious and feed our ego. Keep, conserve, retain what is yours lest someone else “take” it from us and cause scarcity that threatens what we know.

 

We cannot possibly hope to help anyone who feels help in any fashion is a weakness. This stigma adds further harm to the pain and misery that exists, but try to explain this to someone who says they have done all that they can. This pessimism and negativity does not allow for miracles to take place. How can they, when we put up a barrier that says, “No!”

 

Constant Evolution and Arrested Development

Nature devises constant evolution; ever-changing and adapting to suit the most optimal outcome. Building walls is our feeble attempt to remain disconnected, despite what nature shows us is the interdependence of all that exists. Our spiritual teachings imply there is more beyond this material world, so even when ‘this’ is over, there is always more.

 

Do we allow this arrested development to continue? Shall we stifle and snuff out our brilliance to save face? If someone is not too proud to beg, will we give them an even harder time of it by placing even more restrictions and stigma on their already bowed backs? How many hoops and red tape will be enough to satisfy? Will we give any more at all, or have a holly jolly laugh at the absurdity of making them “try harder?”

 

Or, will we see that ‘but for the grace of God go I?’ Will we become a channel of peace and share openly instead of doing it behind closed doors? We seek transparency in so many things today, yet hide ourselves away from what makes us most uncomfortable. We would rather not see the homeless, the addicted, and those in need, until we join their ranks. As Joan Osborne wrote:

 

“What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us?

Just a stranger on the bus

Tryin’ to make his way home?”

 

Nearer My God to Thee, indeed. How close could we be to understanding so many of life’s mysteries, by making just the right connection? As precious as we feel life is and can be, we remain oblivious about our role in it all, and how we can do better.

 

We spend valuable hours, days, and months focused on the parade featuring a man with orange hair who claims to be a leader and does not lead; on this man’s family; on a cast of characters who come and go almost as quickly as they do in the City of Oz. It may well be the next nail in our collective coffin of displacement, this lesser-of-two-evils choice. We must eat our sin, while those who require our time and attention most fail to get the help they deserve. All while the travesty of our folly plays out before our eyes to keep us constantly and mindlessly entertained.

 

I mentioned ending earlier, and this too shall end with an impassioned plea for sincerity and justice. It’s not much, but is not easy. The words of other writers echo in the chamber. Let them resound in our hollow hearts and maybe turn that emptiness into something more—honest, open, and fair. For those who lack the means to say so for themselves, I humbly beseech we continue to do more, not less, for each other.

 

Let us act to prevent human misery and avoid heartache. As with everything else, there’s always more.

 

“In a world whose absurdity appears to be so impenetrable, we simply must reach a greater degree of understanding among men, a greater sincerity. We must achieve this or perish. To do so, certain conditions must be fulfilled: men must be frank (falsehood confuses things), free (communication is impossible with slaves). Finally, they must feel a certain justice around them.” –Albert Camus

Snarky Tone of Gossip

28 Jan

Buddha - WordsA recent article containing a palpable, snarky tone of gossip prompted this entire look into something we might call ‘positive expression.’ Writing ethics are something to which not every author chooses to adhere. Being a writing aficionado, it is a mindful decision to share words in such a way that they are given proper use.

Words most often serve to inform, and if they carry other intent behind them, for fun or profit, it might be good to dig a little deeper. They may convey a particular message and bring the reader’s attention to a subject. Clearly, not every writer can be categorized as a ‘responsible’ one.

word prism FirthPutting words to paper is a form of creation. Scribing gives words life, bringing ideas into existence. As the person wielding the implement with some measure of skill, there is an element of propriety involved. Perhaps, authors have a moral obligation to create something that adds to our experience instead of rendering an abysmal effort not worthy of garnering attention.

Does that sound harsh? Certainly, writing may be considered by many to be a harmless activity. People write things down all the time, whether the words are read or not. We can always choose not to read ‘drivel.’ It is very empowering to be able to express one’s voice in written words. From words of praise to grumbling complaint, the way we utilize the written word has a lasting effect on anyone who intercepts them.

Having an opinion is each person’s prerogative. Communicating one’s opinion is something that can be labeled a mindful action. Is the opinion we seek to convey something that will help or harm? Is it true or a lie?

truth slapIs it okay to “suppose” or otherwise leave hints, or (as some might describe) artfully bend the truth to suit some purpose? There can be a fine line separating exposition and propaganda.

Like any form of energy, negative writing changes and lowers the tone of our vibration. It darkens the very atmosphere in which we live. The greater the readership the more widespread that change or infection can cover.

This can classify communications containing gossip and innuendo as malicious and harmful to our existence. We may not consider that such words have a major impact. Is it okay to hold this sort of idle chatter in our own head? What kind of an effect might that have on the way our ideas or other mental processes take place? Consider how it affects our heart, the very core of our being.

The bottom line is that putting those negative thoughts out into the world for others to experience does nothing to further our humanity. In fact, we might wonder what retards our interactions with others or why they take such a negative turn. We can be doing so much to further ourselves, if it were not for the time and energy wasted on words that do not move us forward.

Words forgivenWith all that said, could doing mindful writing bring us to a better place? Could something as simple as effective, positive writing help to turn things around? Can peace be spread by the use of words that help, heal, and raise our vibration instead?
It certainly opens up the world of possibility. As a writer and blogger for the past few years, there is much to be said for the purpose and intent of putting words together with fidelity and in an ethical manner. While not every person takes the Hippocratic Oath, we can appreciate and mindfully choose to do no harm.

Why not put the words in our blogs and messages to good use?

Namaste ~ Blessings!