#4 COLOR

Color is story
we find in the doing of
the every day.

Elizabeth L. Crawford 11/2/21

Note: Laughed when I pulled this journey stone today. I’ve spent most of the last year making and coloring these designs. It is a form of active meditation and has a tendency to bring forth a great deal of
the past, often changing the story we thought we knew.

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Making Peace With Pink

Creativity is a healing element built into the human psyche. That statement is a corner stone of my personal belief system. And it is built on my own past experiences.

From a very young age, I hated the color pink. There were lots of reasons for that and they multiplied as I grew up, got married, had four children, initiated a divorce, and spent seven years getting two Bachelor degrees, one in History and the other in English.

Guess we have to go back to those earlier beginnings. I have a younger sister. She is thirteen months younger than I am, but very different and is her own individual self. From early on, I was a bit of a tom-boy. As I’ve said before, my Father made me his fishing buddy when I was eight. That definitely strengthened those tom-boy elements. I was a risk-taker and a dare was always a definite challenge that I most often at least attempted.

And then there was Christmas. My Mother often treated my younger sister and I as if we were twins. We got the same gifts. One big difference. She got the blue and I got the pink. That was the beginning of my dislike for the color. And it only grew over the years. I am now 75 years old, and it wasn’t until recently that I finally realized that Mom might have been trying to curb all those tom-boy elements within my personality. Quietly without any direct words.

I did ask her a few times why I always got the pink. Mom wasn’t good at confrontation, so the only answer I received was something about what seemed right to her at the time. It didn’t help. I was the only one in the family with soft brown hair. The others took after my Mom with much darker, black hair. To my sense of things, it only seemed that the pink would look far better on my younger sibling. And my eyes change with the color of my clothing, from blue to a surprising green. The pink just didn’t work for me.

That lesson helped with my own children. Instead of fighting their tendencies, I tried my best to encourage their particular interests. My son had quite a gift for drawing, so when he asked if he could paint a mountain lion on his bedroom wall, I said yes. And was highly pleased and impressed when some time later, he showed me the full sized wild cat leaping from his ceiling toward his bed. It was awesome.

My middle daughter, unbeknownst to me, had written some poetry. At the time, I was out of college and had received a few awards for my own attempts in that arena. She had brought a poem to me to read. It was a hard one, aimed at me and her deep dislike of my person. But, instead of dealing with the essence of her angst, I very carefully showed her how to improve the piece and strengthen it with a few word changes. My choice to honor her request, rather than react to the subject matter only seemed to anger her all the more. Sometimes you win, other times, you don’t.

But, my degree in History had deepened my dislike for the color pink. It had somehow come to represent the deeply flawed definition of all that was female. A definition that was aimed, {I thought), at keeping “Her” in a lesser position, always needing a male to validate her existence. Always needing “His” approval, guidance, and control. I had been in college during the first Women’s Movement and it was a deeply embedded aspect of my own awareness.

Now, I’m just an old woman who spends her time creating designs to color. In doing so, I have purchased a wide variety of pens and markers, and each of the sets I have bought contains a wide variety of different hues, including pink. And, to be honest, I have actively chosen to avoid that part of the color spectrum until now.

These designs often speak to me, telling me their particular preference for a color scheme and pink has never been mentioned. I usually sit with a design for a bit of time before I begin. But, this design simply said, “It’s time to do the pink.” I was shocked, to say the least. And hesitated for a few days before beginning. But all I got for my hesitation was simply the word Pink. And that got me to thinking about my own history and my deeply abiding angst toward the color.

I could no longer, as a colorist, hold my very deliberate angst against a completely innocent member of the color spectrum. So, I began and simply let my own abiding sense of hue take the lead. And was grateful and pleased at the outcome. I actually like the results. Actually find myself grinning and even laughing at my own antics. Pink is back in its proper place and I am glad that she is.

Elizabeth Crawford 8/14/21

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Creation Story II

I had no reason to be ashamed of my scar. Once my hair grew back in, it wasn’t visible. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t haunt me in other ways. In quiet moments, I would find myself running my fingers over the lumpy bumpy skin that now replaced what had been before. No one thought to help me actually see the thing, that came half a life-time later. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of it and all that it represented.

The entire family had been traumatized on some level, yet we never really spoke of it. Back then, it wasn’t considered that perhaps we could have used some psychological help or, at least, some direct adjustments. Life simply went on and it wasn’t discussed. I was home and that was that. But it wasn’t, not really.

Although I was home, I was restricted from any and all physical activities, for at least the first month. That meant my Dad had to carry me wherever I wanted to go. If he was busy, I simply had to wait, or ask someone to get me whatever I wanted. There is a condition called “learned helplessness”, and I learned it quite quickly. And continued to use it, unwittingly, until my children made me aware of what I was doing. But, I still have a habit of collecting things around me, within easy reach, so I don’t have to get up and go to another room to fetch them.

And then there were the nightmares. I had no idea that individuals who are abused or traumatized, often have what are called “night terrors”. Scary dreams that can paralyze their ability to move freely and keep them almost frozen in place. I didn’t learn about that until I was middle-aged and working with abuse victims. It helped me to end a cycle of repetitive nightmares that had haunted me since childhood. By doing some research on dreams, dream work, and learning how to unravel those messages from my subconscious mind, I was able to halt their recurrence completely.

One of the repetitive dreams was about the bathroom in the lower apartment where we lived. To get to it, I had to go through the kitchen and into the bathroom, located at the very back of the apartment. There was a shed attached to that part of the house, and it often held creepy sounds and soft bumping noises. I’d awake having to go to the bathroom, but scared to be alone and that isolated. So, I’d wet the bed. Absolute no-no. But it was the nightmare, more often than not that awoke me. In it, I would step into that bathroom, only to find my own body on the floor, and the end credits (like those in a movie) rising to some very sad and mournful music.

The doctors had discussed the possibility of death with my parents. Perhaps even they thought I was too young to understand. What I knew of death was what I saw on TV. It was the end of the story, the movie, or the program. That body, lying on the floor and all that sad dreary music. Nothing, no more, it was the end. I did accept the punishment that occurred when I wet the bed, which was to remake it fresh from scratch. I didn’t tell anyone about the dream, it was just too frightening. And my person was under a microscope already, I didn’t need any more attention. We moved into a bigger two-story house, with a bathroom upstairs as well as down. That put an end to the dream and the bed-wetting.

One of the nightmares stayed with me well into adulthood. It didn’t occur regularly, but when it did, I would wake up screaming in a panic. In the dream, a strange monster, huge and inhuman, would stand at the end of my bed, slowly reaching for my feet, with the intent of rolling me up in the blankets. By then, I had done some research on dreams and dream content. And I suddenly knew where the dream came from. In an attempt to keep me quiet and still, while I was in the hospital, the nurses would frequently come in and “straighten” my bed. They’d fold the blankets over my feet, in an attempt to keep me still and quiet. It didn’t work well. As soon as they left, I’d sit up and pull my feet out from those tucked in blankets. And to this day, I prefer to go bare foot most of the time.

It all took time. Time to grow, to learn, and to become.

Elizabeth 5/27/2120

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Creation Story 1a

I need to do a bit of backtracking to get this story straight and from the beginning. When I was four years old, I was involved in an accident. I was outside playing with my sister on our sleds when my father started reversing out of the driveway. The snow was really high, and there was lots of ice on the sidewalk. I slipped on the ice and landed face first beneath the back wheel of the car.

Long story, shortened, my parents were told that I needed surgery because a piece of shattered bone was protruding into my brain, creating a blood clot. They were told that I had about a fifty percent chance of surviving the surgery, and odds were that there would be some form of brain damage akin to Cerebral Palsy. Although I came through the surgery fine, my doctor called me his “little miracle girl”, I do believe there are members of the family who are still waiting for that “brain damage” to appear.

And, if I’m honest, I have to admit that I might be the most questioning person of all when it comes to just how this brain of mine works. I know that I often both see and hear things differently than others around me. It has been said that when you come close to death, even for only a few moments, you might bring back gifts from that side journey. I have to believe that because my entire life is just this side of a miracle.

All of my beautiful natural brown curly hair was shaved off. My mother was told that it might be a good idea for me to wear a football helmet for the first year. She nixed that and found a very tightly woven knit hat for me to wear. Something I constantly managed to lose or misplace more often than not. And even now, after all these years, I still don’t like wearing head gear of any sort, and seldom do.

But perhaps the deepest wound that resulted from all of that was my own doubts about my mental abilities. Was I doing the right thing, was a constant background song playing through my thoughts. How could I trust me to know which was which. Could I ever be sure that any part of my behavior was the “right” sort of thing to be doing? Was I even capable of knowing right from wrong? Not an easy way to exist from day to day.

I had a very difficult time accepting anything, because I so doubted my own perceptions. And I was forever asking questions. It never, back then, occurred to me that my deeply embedded curiosity was actually a sign of a very healthy and active mental state. My need to understand wasn’t a matter of self-doubt, it was simply me being a healthy individual. Learning to trust one’s own person, takes time and lots of reinforcement. And that again, started with my Dad.

I had to wait a long time to get those answers. Almost half of a life time passed me by before I knew that my mind works just fine. Even better than many of those around me. But that is another piece of my own Creation Story, some of which will be addressed next time.

Elizabeth Crawford 5/15/2021

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Creation Story 1

That opening quote is true, but it still seems like a more than harsh reality. The Creation Story that dwells inside each of us begins here: in this moment. Stop for a minute, and simply think. What are you willing to sacrifice to gain that story? Because that Story dwells in only one place: inside of you. How can you share that story unless you take the time to explore it. That can only happen if you take the time to learn it. And however long it might take, are you willing to sacrifice those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and yes, even years to learn it?

It took me a long time, many years in fact, before I only recently put all of the pieces together. And many of them came while I was engaged in coloring (that form of active meditation). It all started when I was about five years old. I really liked music and began to sing. And was very surprised when others would stop what they were doing to lean in and listen. I was far too young to know what they were noticing. To be able to sing a song, I had to memorize the words. But, I didn’t know that I was also pretty close to pitch perfect. Singing wasn’t something I had to work at, it was just something I could do, and did.

I had no idea that I was training my memory muscles. I had to listen to a song about three or four times, but then knew it all the way through. I was always singing something. I would wake up in the morning with a song in my head, and would be singing it for most of the day. But then several things happened. It was winter, and we lived across the street from a City Park, that created an ice rink every winter. My brother, four years older, was going to go skate. Saw me looking wistfully at his skates, and asked me if I’d like to go with him. I was about eight or nine and rushed to say yes and gather up an old set of skates. When we got to the rink, he took off with his friends and I was on my own.

Those physical muscles did not work as easily as the memory ones. None of us were aware that I had a spinal condition that worked against smooth, let alone, elegant physical movement. That came much later. So, my brother was off goofing around with his friends, while I struggled into the skates and then tried to stand up and yes, glide. Wasn’t working, and I was getting pretty tired just trying to stay upright. But then my brother and a few of his friends skated up next to me. Paul, my brother, asked if I needed help. I just nodded, so he grabbed my hand and began towing me around the rink, his friends on either side of us, skating right along with us. I need to correct that. They were skating, I was just hanging on trying to keep my feet under me, being pulled around the rink.

But then one of Paul’s older friends, asked, “Aren’t you the one who sings?” I nodded my head, and he asked, “Can you sing us something?” I was just a bit confused so asked, “What do you want to hear?” And he said, “Do you know any popular songs?” To which, my brother replied, “She knows most of them.” He named something on the top ten list and I began singing. Here I was, in the center of some of the toughest guys in the neighborhood, being pulled around the ice rink, singing. All the guys joined hands and we were strung out across half that rink. And there were more requests. I felt like I was in a movie. Some way to learn how to skate, and before they all left for wherever, the original guy who asked if I was the one who sang, handed me a nickel and said, “Thank you.”

Later that year, near the end of summer, the Park had a Talent Contest. My younger sister, who often sang harmony with me, and I entered the Contest. Many of those same guys were in the audience and when we finished singing, they whooped and hollered and clapped loudly. We won first place. After that, whenever we attended a function with a live band, my Dad would go up to the band and insist they call me up to sing. It scared me to death, but I did it for my Dad. I knew nothing about music, couldn’t read it, let alone tell the band which key I needed, but somehow it worked itself out. My brother and older sister took music lessons, she on the piano, and he on the accordion and later the piano. When I asked my Dad if I could do the same, he told me, “Honey, you don’t need to play an instrument, you are the instrument.” It took me years to understand what he meant and just what those words came to mean to me.

Deep within me, I realized that Dad meant the singing, but it sort of hurt that he turned down my request. But that little girl lived deep within me. My thirtieth birthday was coming up. For the first time, I bought myself a gift, a brand new guitar. I belonged to a prayer group, at the time and two of our members played. One of them agreed to come to my home, once a week, to teach me how to play it. His price? A home cooked meal. And I learned how to strum along to many of my favorite songs. Eventually, I had to stop because of the tendinitis in my fingers. I gave the guitar to my oldest daughter. She has a powerful singing voice, but also suffers from MS. I believe the guitar, as well as most of her possessions were thrown out or simply given away after her fiance broke their engagement because she had become a long-term patient in a nursing facility.

But, that brings me back to what my father said to me about “being the instrument”. Each of us is an instrument. It doesn’t make any difference how we learn the story, but we are the instrument that is always playing in the background. Making decisions, choices, about who we want, or think, we need to be. Some of those choices and decisions might not be the best ones possible. But we learn as we go. And how and why we learned whatever we know, is an extremely important part of becoming whatever instrument is playing in the background. I started keeping a daily journal and did so for almost forty years. That also really stretched those memory muscles. I still grab a notebook, on occasion and simply write down whatever is going through my head. I find that it really helps to see what I am saying.

Until the next time: What instrument are you becoming?

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Color

Yes, I have not been here for a while, once again. I was writing, just not prose. Last month was April, National Poetry month, so I was busily attempting to write a poem a day for the annual Napo journey. It is the journey I take, have taken yearly for at least the last ten years. And let me be very clear. It is not an easy ride, let alone accomplishment.

This year seemed far worse, for several reasons. The first one being that my birthday happens in the second week of the month. That usually doesn’t present a problem, but this year was very different than all the others. You see, I turned 75, and was in a slight state of shock the entire day because I now had to admit that I am officially “an old woman”. A divorced, mother of four and grandmother of seven, who lives alone and is definitely comfortable being a hermit, but an “old woman”, part of the “fragile” element within our society? No, thank you.

Added to that was the very real fact that I hadn’t written any poetry for about a year, and didn’t realize how rusty those skills might become over time. I had been too busy editing and finishing up the details of my “poetic” memoir. And the time just simply passed me by. But, I became very aware of that, the first week of Napo. All of a sudden, this thing that I did, with seeming ease, wasn’t at all easy anymore. The words that had always seemed so eager to join in the dance, no longer seemed even willing to stand in the dance hall within reach of this suddenly old woman.

And again, that might have been because when I finally typed up the last page of the Index for the titles in that memoir, I turned to another favorite, almost forgotten pastime: making designs to color and then coloring them. And I was still doing that when it was suddenly April. That might sound like an excuse to many, but it isn’t really. I had worked hard and long on that memoir and I really needed something else entirely to help me settle down and just relax. And the coloring seemed like a great solution. So much so, I really didn’t want to quit. Not even for Napo. So, I didn’t. My mornings were filled with attempting to write a poem to be posted the next day, but my afternoons, and most of my evenings, were spent in coloring, as well as making even more templates to which I could do the same.

Coloring is a creative activity, no matter how old you might be. And like most other creative activities, it can quickly become a form of active meditation. The hands are busy in repetitive motions, leaving the mind to explore its own landscape of memories, feelings, etc. That, in turn might lead to an “ah-huh” moment, or several of them. Some type of deeper understanding and even acceptance. In other words, healing. And because of that healing energy, the activity can be both settling and deeply satisfying. It certainly was all of those things and more for me, throughout the month of April, as I unknowingly spent some amount of time looking for, and finally finding the poet person I am.

By the end of the month, I was back inside the dance hall, seeing the words slouching as they leaned against the wall, trying to appear all nonchalant, but just this side of desperate to get my attention. Saying, without speaking, “Choose me! I want to be a part of this.” But, the coloring also led me to a memory, an important one. Perhaps even a foreshadowing of what would come to be my own totally unknown and questionable future. I’ll leave that for the next post.

Today, I want to encourage you to find that healing creative activity within your own person. It might be coloring, or something else, that others don’t see as something of deep and abiding value. Something that you simply enjoy doing because it makes you feel both good and comfortable. Something you might have stopped doing because you were too busy, bringing home the bacon, or just getting ahead in some manner.

Each of us has a Creation Story within us. How we became the unique individual that we truly are. That story is the medicine, the healing agent, we are meant to share with the world around us. But we can’t share that medicine unless we know it ourselves. And surprisingly, many, if not most of us, really don’t know the full story.

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Turtle Island

Yes, I have been missing in action. I’ve been engaged in another activity. I’ve been coloring. Designs that I made years ago, and even a few new ones. It’s a very long story, but the activity is one I enjoy and brings a huge assortment of added benefits. There are those who would simply dismiss it as no more than “child’s play”. But, children play for a reason other than just the fun of it. Playing puts them inside the process of learning. For instance, sometimes they play house. In doing so, they try on the roles of the adults around them and may find that some of those roles are fun, perhaps have much deeper meanings, or even allow them to consider the fact that they might not want to grow up at all.

When we, as adults, choose to engage in similar activities, we are also putting ourselves in the way of a learning process. Perhaps no more than learning what works or doesn’t. Actually, when I started this design, I simply wanted to see how many different shades of blue I could put on the page, and how they might or might not work together. I have acquired, over the years, a rather huge coloring box, of different types of coloring pens. From simple Sharpies, to real brush water color pens, as well as a few odd ones simply because they interested me in the moment.

The great part of such an activity is that it can swiftly become what is defined as “active meditation”. The hands are busy in repetitive action, and the mind is free to roam through its storage chest of memories and what those memories can bring forward all these years later. And that is exactly what happened here and how this particular black and white design turned into Turtle Island.

Somewhere, in the midst of all those different blues, I remembered my closest friend from High School. She was an incredible artist, while I remained no more than a dabbler. She and her large family were of Native American descent. Members of the Oneida Nation, which has land just west of the city where we lived and went to school. We were both a tad bit on the rebellious side, and yes, we did get into a bit of trouble now and then. My parents thought she might be a bad influence on me, while her family had similar thoughts about my person.

We together did lead a sort of rebellion (my idea) at the High School. We gathered the very best of the female Art students and demanded that we be allowed to take Drafting, a “boys only” class. We got what we wanted and she and I ended up in the class together. The other girls were separated and were kept singular in each class hour. Not nice, but the school was, I think, trying to teach us something. It didn’t work.

But Mary and I drifted apart after school. I got married and moved to a city three hours away. Had four kids and started divorce proceedings because my husband was an abusive alcoholic. And I applied and was accepted at the four year University in our neighbor city.

I loved college. Although I was almost forty when I entered, I thrived in that environment. It was where I realized that I wanted to write. I had lots of encouragement from instructors and fellow students. At one point, I asked a Philosophy Instructor if I could do an independent study with him and write about how myths and legends affect the structure of communities and nations. He gave me cart blanche, simply told me I could do anything I chose.

I had already declared a major in History. And I decided to combine a History assignment and the Philosophy study. I was doing an American History class at the time and thought it might be interesting to look into some Native American myths. Came back to my home city for a week and called out to the Oneida Nations Museum to see if I could get some information. And was absolutely amazed that the woman who answered the phone was my old friend Mary.

We set up a time and got together at the museum. She helped me gather a few books, but then recited the Native American Creation Myth and how the North American continent came to be called Turtle Island. She also explained how the Oneida Indians received their tract of land for their support of the Colonials in the Revolutionary War. All of that came back to me as I was coloring the above image. An incredibly rich store of memories, but also a reminder that when I choose my own path, things seem to come together in ways no one could or would ever imagine.

And that still remains true. I’m thirty-five years older now, but I needed that reminder. And I love that it came while I was playing with the color blue.

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Rebirth 7

You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul
You’ll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you’re my best friend
You’re in my soul

This is an old song and perhaps not as well known as the others I have used to introduce this series of essays. Further more, I couldn’t find a video that would transfer here to this site easily. Although I am not a particular fan of Rod Stewart, the performer of the song that hit the number one spot for a brief moment, I would be remiss not to include it amidst all these words and music about rebirth. Rebirth comes in all kinds of disguises, shapes, and on many different levels. This one, for me, was one of the most important ones I have experienced because it altered my sense of everything around me and that of my own person.

While I was still in college, I met and made friends with a much younger student. That particular story is far too long to go into here, so I’ll just say that she was an abuse victim, and I became her protector. By that time, I was well established on campus and was a volunteer advocate at the newly established Women’s Center there. She was almost half my age, but taught me so much about genuine love and healing.

We both enjoyed taking long lazy drives through the country side, and at some point, she introduced me to the hawks that populate this region. I was immediately enamored and started reading up about them. I was astounded that I had missed this year round resident and simply knew nothing about them. Our drives after that were always in search of the hawks and other wild life.

It was almost an entire year later, and I was alone that day. Had driven out in the countryside, just to find some down time. I parked the car in a turn about off the road and was just sitting there listening to music playing softly on the radio. By then, my new friend had bought me a pair of binoculars and I reached out and picked them up, just to see what I could see. As I slowly scanned the further region around me, I spotted a lone hawk perched on the higher tiers of a utility tower. I zoomed in on her and was shocked to see that she was staring straight back at me. That was impossible. She had to be almost a quarter of a mile from where I was sitting in my car. And yet, she seemed completely aware of me, almost leaning toward me from where she was perched.

That’s when I became aware of the music, softly playing from the radio. As the chorus of the song came on, I swear she began to bob to the sound of the song, never taking her eyes off of me, the entire time. I knew the song and started singing the words: “You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. You’ll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you’re my best friend. You’re in my soul.”

I had been doing some research on Native American culture for a paper I had to write for a History class. Somewhere, in all of that reading, I had come across the concept of a spirit animal, that might attach itself to a particular individual to be a guide and teacher. It was always the animal who did the choosing. And although that thought crossed my mind, I immediately dismissed it, only thinking that was far too preposterous and presumptive to be true, after all, who the hell was I to even think of such a reality?

I drove home slowly, and never mentioned the episode to anyone. Yet, it seemed that wherever I went, the hawks would appear, in the air, sitting in tree branches, or utility poles alongside the highway. Sometime later, a good friend gave me a set of cards, created by Jamie Sams, and entitled “The Medicine Cards.” There was a group of people gathered around, perhaps for my birthday. I opened the deck and shuffled them thoroughly, finally picking one single card. I flipped the card over and it was The Hawk. Everyone started laughing because they were familiar with my affinity for that bird. It was the deck that helped me understand because the message of the hawk is to “Always remember who you truly are.”

My young friend eventually left my home and created her own life. We remain in contact on Messenger. At one point, she sent me this photo that she took in her backyard. It very much mirrors the image I saw through my binoculars all those years ago.

I have written about the hawks many times. This is one of the first of those poems:

In The Way of The Hawk

Remember the first time
I realized I might never again
feel the weight of a man
resting against me. Loss,
sharp and heavy rising
from belly to chest, expanding
until ribs might crack.

On occasion, that thought
still surfaces, swims to shore
leaving light footprints
on sandy beach as they move
inland, where

a hawk drops from her perch
and earth reaches to swallow.
She unfolds her wings,
unwinds the wind, becomes one
with air that surrounds her.

Slow rhythmic circles of lazy
pleasure celebrate fact
that she can:

Fly alone.
Solitary.
Singular.

Hawk would laugh at absurdity
of words I used to fear,
until she appeared to imprint
her pattern across my years.

She is.
I am.

“This,” she would tell me,
“is all that matters.”

And this one which was written years later to a prompt that asked us to take full sentences of prose and turn them into a poem:

https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/the-hawk-and-i-were-hunters-this-morning/

And last, but not least, is this piece of mythopoesis:

https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/love-loves-difficult-things/

As I said at the beginning of this essay, rebirth comes in all kinds of ways, and with different meanings. But it always begins with sitting down alone and getting to know the one individual we really need to know. My message is the same as that of the hawk:  “Always remember who you truly are.”

Elizabeth Crawford 8/25/2020

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Rebirth 6

 

This piece of music is one of my all time favorites, so it belongs here amidst all of these words and music about rebirth. But, you might ask, what does being “Comfortably Numb” have to do with rebirth? And I would have to respond, “Everything.”

Granted, the song is about using drugs to obtain that numbing reality, but drugs are only one avenue to obtain that affect. As human beings, we are only one of the multitudes of creatures that inhabit this planet. But, like all those other creatures, our bodies are made to be receptacles of incoming information that allow us to move through our days and to survive into the next one. Our very skin is made up of sensors that telegraph information to us about our surrounding environment so that we can remain safe within that environment. It tells us when the weather changes and alerts us to what and how to respond in any given moment.

Have you ever felt a prickle of fear flash down your spine, or down your arms in the form of goose bumps? That prickle of skin is meant to warn you that you might be in danger. Whether or not you heed it is entirely up to you. It is always your choice. And some among us are always more sensitive than others. Their radar is simply more finely tuned. If you like to read, try Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear.

As I said above, this piece of music is a particular favorite of mine. On my thirtieth birthday, I bought myself a guitar and took lessons. I did learn to chord and strum, but the guitar solos in this piece are so far and away from what I could produce, they couldn’t even begin to be put in the same category. It just means that I probably appreciate them more than some others.

But the words here are even more important. And I am definitely a word person. These are the words of someone seeking to numb themselves to their own environment in order to somehow survive that very experience. And yes, that little pin prick will accomplish that but how much more harm will it do? It is far more apt to end that life altogether than to enrich it.

We all have learned ways to numb our-self from different aspects of the life inside and outside of our beings. Food, alcohol, buying and spending, and the list goes on and on.
But that numbness can cost us a great deal in relationships and other areas of our lives. It might be distracting for a time, but it can cost a whole lot more than we think. If we become too numb, we may lose our ability to emphasize with others, even those closest to us. We might even lose our ability to connect at all, on any meaningful level.

More important, we may lose the ability to connect with our own person. That individual that it is most important for each of us to know and accept. Most often in childhood we are taught how to make our-self acceptable to others so that we can belong and be a part of whatever society exists around us. But then we grow up and realize that we are an individual with thoughts and feelings that don’t always align with those others around us. Does that make us unacceptable? To others, or to ourselves?

We all have memories unique to our own experiences. Those memories are important in helping us to choose what type of individual we would prefer to be. They can and do help us to make choices that satisfy our individual preferences. Some of us must win at whatever the cost or situation, while others are surprised if they ever win at all. And unless we actually do the work of exploring those memories and their effect on the whole picture, we may never learn how to be other than simple raw material that has not been given either shape or dimension.

I, personally, would prefer to be a unique, even a colorful individual, rather than a blob without any identifiable definition. That is not to say that everyone around me will accept the individual I am. Some never will. And for a few, my chosen individuality will threaten them. That is their problem, not mine. However, because I spent a great deal of time and effort studying human behavior, the better to understand my own, many individuals don’t realize that they often telegraph their silent inner intentions in sometimes very obvious ways.

The first time I encountered such behavior was half a lifetime ago, when I was in college. Another student decided I was her only competition to the position she felt she alone deserved. So she decided to set me up to take a tremendous fall from grace. It backfired on her and she was ultimately called before the faculty of the department where both of us were seeking majors. She was told, in no uncertain terms, that if she didn’t stop her behavior, she would never graduate and would have difficulty finding another university to accept her. This all took place without my knowledge and I didn’t know about it for several months after it had happened.

But, I learned a great deal from that experience. 1. That I could actually be a threat to anyone just by being me. 2. That success wasn’t always a wonderful and glowing experience. 3. That if I stuck to my own sense of what was best for me, the Universe would and does lend a hand in seeing to it that the appropriate outcome would happen, because the Universe operates on a sense of balance. And 4. That it is best not to get too comfortably numb at any time.

In the song, the singer says that when he was young, he had a dream. But now the child is grown and the dream is gone, because he has become “comfortably numb”. Taking the necessary steps to fulfill a dream is damned hard work. And in far more familiar terms, “If you snooze, you loose.” But that is never an excuse for harmful behavior towards others. When we do it wrong, we need to admit that wrong and even apologize for our own bad behavior. If we don’t, we harm ourselves as well as the other.

I am currently watching reruns of NCIS. The lead character is named Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and he has a list of rules that he uses to teach his other investigators. One of those rules has always bothered me. It goes something like this: “Never say you are sorry, it’s a sign of weakness.” I don’t agree. I much prefer to believe that a sincere apology is a sign of growth and strength. It also engenders healing for both parties involved. And it might actually lead to healing the breach that has occurred. But, even if it doesn’t, I believe it allows the two individuals to walk away stronger for the experience, no longer numbed, but more fully aware. And that is always a good thing.

The pandemic and social distancing has altered our lives in so many ways. However, it is not an excuse for bad behavior. Rather, it should be a time for quiet contemplation and a further growth process. Taking this time for a closer look at how we have become the individuals we are is perhaps the very best use of our current experience. Allowing ourselves to explore what and how we have become the who that we are is never a waste of time or energy. As a writer, I would sincerely encourage anyone who is reading this to take a break each day and write down what is bothering you most and what you might do to alleviate that reality in a positive manner, giving yourself a chance for even a small sense of rebirth. Give yourself the information you need to survive and even thrive in the midst of an unknown reality.

My other suggestion is to explore any creative activity. Several years ago, I engaged in line weave drawing. I filled several small sketchbooks with just such images. They were done in pen and ink and one does not need any particular artistic talent to do them.

I then tried putting them through a kaleidoscope app and had a lot of fun making them into full sized templates I could color.

Each step in that process kept my mind alert and active. Free to roam through memories and further ideas. Far away from numbness of any kind. I was playing, having fun, but also being very productive. I have a large number of these templates and am more than willing to share them if anyone is interested. Just contact me here in the comments section, or on Facebook messenger.

When one gets involved in any creative activity, even the simple activity of coloring, that individual is strengthening the mind, keeping it alert and active, but also allowing the body to relax and find comfort. The very opposite of “Comfortably Numb.”

It certainly can’t harm you and it is far better than becoming so “Comfortably Numb” that you stop breathing altogether.

Elizabeth Crawford 8/19/2020

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Rebirth 5

 

I don’t talk to angels. However I have been known to speak with dragons. And although they are very different creatures, they hold one thing in common: very powerful wings. Which means that like all winged creatures they are a symbol of spiritual messengers because they inhabit the realm between heaven and earth, carrying messages between those two very different locations.

I have written about the dragons many times. Have even been interviewed about them and my association with them. If you are curious, just type the word “dragon” in the search engine on this site or on my Soul’s Music site: https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

You can read that interview here: https://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2017/08/blog-of-week-elizabeth-and-her-dragons.html#comment-form. Personally, I found the comments after the interview far more interesting than the interview itself. It was intriguing to realize how many individuals were curious about the subject matter.

However, that is not the topic I wish to discuss today. I have been talking to dragons for many years. I have come to believe they are the outcome of my own strange story. I was raised in a strict Catholic family and attended Parochial school for seven years. I heard a great deal about “guardian” angels. And, if I’m honest, wasn’t much interested in them. Figured that because of my messed up mind, I probably didn’t warrant one. Or, if one actually had been offered the job, he or she, probably left in haste after a few months of trying to “fix” me, to no avail.

That sort of changed in my early thirties when I tried to put on a practice of quiet meditation. It didn’t turn out to be quiet. I began to have spontaneous imagery encounters with wild creatures, beginning with a huge tiger who told me that his name was Pain. That story may be found here on this site and is listed under the title of “A Tiger Named Pain.” A few years later, I discovered that I had created a Personal Mythology. Whew!

But, it was still years later, after being involved in a Grammy Nomination that I began to teach and also began to have encounters with dragons. I really preferred them to the idea of guardian angels. Only realizing, much later, that the dragons were another form of the same.

While teaching, I did mention the dragons. And was asked, on occasion, if I could introduce certain individuals to their own dragons. I did that. And it was surprising to see the sheer exhilaration on their faces when they simply closed their eyes and were confronted by their dragon. I would immediately tell them to ask for the dragon’s name. Names are a form of definition.

Which brings me to my current topic. Last week, while searching through old files, I had an encounter with a very different dragon. Not different in appearance, although he was one of the most beautiful of his kind to appear to me. I followed my own rule, asking him for a name, and that’s when I got rocked back on my heels. He told me he couldn’t tell me his name, because he belonged to another individual. That shocked me. I have never had a dragon come to me that belonged to someone else. Actually, I didn’t think it was possible.

But, then he began to change, growing smaller and shabbier by the moment. But maintaining direct eye contact with me the entire time. He was shaking and appeared to be afraid. I have never encountered a dragon filled with fear. And I didn’t fully understand what he was there to tell me. He raised so many questions and left me with absolutely no answers. I was on my own as far as trying to figure it out.

I knew the individual because the dragon mentioned him by name. Two different avenues of thought had resulted. Was I in danger somehow, or was he? I did make an attempt to talk to the man, but he blew me off.

So, I’m here trying to write it all out and see if I can’t find some kind of solution. I haven’t, and may never do that. I simply have to accept that reality. But, that in itself is difficult, to say the least.

For me, writing has always been therapy. Writing and music. They go hand in hand. The song that opens this essay came to mind when all of this current experience happened. It is a definite favorite and has been for years because it reminds me of a certain chapter in my own story that has yet to be completed. It denotes a sense of rebirth. A new way of thinking and being in this present moment. We must accept that sometimes the answers simply might not come and find a way to continue without them. Find a path that doesn’t do harm to ourselves and others.

The pandemic and social distancing has created just such an experience for most, if not all of us. We have so few answers and the future is simply one big question mark. Do we lose ourselves in this new world without any real answers? We don’t have to. We can choose to simply learn how to live inside the moment instead of running away from it. Like the song says, “Don’t be afraid. Close your eyes.” Breathe in and out gently. “Lay it all down.” Then give yourself a treat and find a sunrise full of hope and new inspiration, right there inside of you. Stand still and let it reach out and surround you with its warmth and comfort.

Who knows? You might even see a dragon in that new light. If you do, tell him or her that Elizabeth says “Hi, and welcome.”

Elizabeth Crawford 8/10/2020

 

 

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