Chuck’s Place: Stepping Beyond Our Casings

Emergence... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Welcome Cicadas! Thank you for sharing the journey of your seventeen-year itch. All around us now, we witness you slowly step outside your casings, head for the trees and open your wings to perform the vibrant sound of infinity. As I sit and write, I hear your song blaring in my ears. It stirs my vibrational core, ever-loosening the casings of rigid definition.

We too are beings encased in the hard crust of our human form. Our casings are comprised of the definitions, descriptions, judgments, and incessant internal dialogue that molds us daily into the encased beings that we cling to. Yet, we too are beings slowly releasing our own casings as we move through the life cycle and energetically open to the song of infinity.

All of our cravings in this world are stirrings to loosen our rigid encasements and release our own wings of freedom. Drugs, sugar, caffeine, passions are agents that offer to stir our vibratory energy to shake loose the bindings of our human form. No wonder they are so addictive; we are bored to death with the limitations of our crusty encasements. Unfortunately, all these supposed roads to freedom lead to bindings—bondage and limitation of another kind.

True freedom lies in freedom from the interpretations of our internal dialogue—that which establishes the definition of our world, but most especially the definition of who we are as individual beings, as unlovable, undervalued, and inadequate. We are creatures obsessed with self-importance, the greatest casing to our true energetic nature. The truth is, we are infinite beings filled with infinite possibility.

This week, I offer the sound of the cicada as the song to obtain inner silence. We needn’t wait for the cicada to sing; its vibratory song can be heard at any moment by merely turning our awareness to the vibratory music inside our ears.

Call your intent to hear the vibratory song inside your ears. Then let it vibrate throughout your entire body. This is the song of energy, of your energy body. Allow it to dull the monotonous encasement of the internal dialogue. Hear it; gently allow it to vibrate as it loosens the attachment to the bindings and limitations of the human form.

Find your wings... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Find your wings…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

These limitations are the encrusted beliefs, socializations, interpretations, internalizations that have defined our solid, habitual selves. However, within this encasement lies our true energetic body, which we will all encounter when we leave this world. But we needn’t wait! Our human form can become permeable to our energetic selves to allow deeper fulfillment—NOW!

Let the song of the cicada lead the way.


A Day in a Life: Intent

Occupy bluebird box! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Occupy bluebird box!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

One recent morning we noticed that a pair of wrens had taken up residence in a bluebird box in our yard. What I know about wrens is that their delicacy belies an underlying fierceness. Tiny and cute, they bob and flutter about, but they are warriors of the most impeccable kind. They chirp loudly and incessantly, very loudly in fact, demanding to be heard.

We watched as our new move-ins prepared their nest, poking sticks and grass through the hole in the bird box. When a stick was too long to fit in sideways the wren was smart enough to poke it in headfirst. I wondered if it was mere nature or did they actually have to think about it the way we humans do. The wren did not seem to think at all, it simply did what it needed to do to get the stick in. I also noted their impatient nature. If one of them was inside the box and the other arrived with a mouthful of nesting material, it just could not wait long before opening its mouth, announcing loudly that it was there, immediately dropping its mouthful of sticks and grass. Impatient, I thought, but the wren has so much energy that it didn’t seem to matter. In an instant it was back on the branch awaiting its turn to go in the box, a new clump of grass in its beak. As you can see, we watched them for quite a while!

It was a calm morning, and it was the weekend, and we felt honored that the bird box—probably a little too close to the house for bluebirds to take—was finally being occupied. Suddenly a pair of bluebirds swooped down and a scuffle began. Wrens and bluebirds were on the ground in a swirl of blue and brown; in the branches too, with wings fully extended and cutting, like drawn weapons. There was a lot of noise, the bluebirds peeping and the wrens angrily answering back. The battle raged for quite a while. It was a sight to behold. In fact, other birds appeared to watch. Robins and house finches, bluejays, and even a pair of goldfinches showed up and stood around on the ground, circling the fighting birds like spectators at a wrestling match. One of the wrens even dive-bombed me later in the day. I guess I appeared threatening in some way. Size didn’t matter, they were going to protect and defend their right to occupy!

In the end, the tiny wrens won. Their tenacity, their determination, and their fierceness never waned as they fought off their foes. I was pretty sure the bluebirds would never have wanted the box anyway, as they like their privacy and our human presence so close would have bothered them, but perhaps they just couldn’t resist the call to battle. Like a pair of roaming thugs, perhaps they simply couldn’t resist the challenge.

Afterwards, I thought about the wrens as tiny shaman warriors. Having set their intent to nest in the bluebird box they were not about to give it up. As tiny as they were, they were determined to maintain their ownership. They fought impeccably. As soon as the battle was over they resumed their nest making, assured that the bluebirds would not return for another attack. I paused and thought about myself, about the intents I have lately set. Am I that impeccable? I wondered.

A few days later, as I write this blog, I hear the wrens happily chirping away. I see one of them fly out of the box and the other poke its head out the hole. They are happy. They have great energy. They are firmly settled and working on their next phase of life, becoming parents and raising their young. I feel privileged to have been an observer of this part of their journey. They will not, however let me photograph them!

The wrens seem to live by certain rules. Once a decision is made they uphold it with utter determination, impeccably. They are fiercely protective of their right to live where and how they choose. They are warriors of intent. They also know how to play, how to let loose and sing out, boisterously and without restraint, daring the world to interfere, to try and thwart them from their intent. That, I think, is a warrior’s impeccability—to never break from the intent, no matter what comes from outside, no matter how grave or threatening.

This is what Jeanne asked us all to ascertain in her message the other day, to observe and learn, to determine what the signs and situations in our own lives might mean to us as impeccable warriors, intent on our own paths of change and growth. She asked us to constantly be aware of what is happening around us, and to use it in our inner work. If I had been too busy to notice the wrens, perhaps I might have missed an important message. If the wrens had not fought back they might have lost their home.

The wrens have taught me something about intent, about sticking to plan, no matter what comes along to interfere. By observing their determination to face off outside threat, I understand what it means to fight for what is right. I’m here now; I intend to occupy this space. This is my time; this is my life. This is where I belong and I will not give up. There is a lesson in everything as Jeanne implied in her message. We just have to sit with it long enough to discover what it might be.

Observing and learning from the wrens,

Readers of Infinity: Observe & Learn

Here is a nice message from Jeanne today. A good day to observe and learn, honing our awareness in the process of everyday life and the signs that come to us. Here is her guidance:

See that foxy face confronting me? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
See that foxy face confronting me?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As you continue to work through your issues that hold you back and prevent you from fuller living, hone your awareness. Allow your awareness to begin to guide you. Notice what comes to aid you in your growth and begin to follow its guidance. In this manner you will begin to flow into new and meaningful life.

To hone awareness, simply be observant of all that surrounds you. Look for meaning in the smallest and seemingly most insignificant of events and signs as you observe your life. Look for personal significance in all that comes to you, especially as related to the issues that are most current and most pressing in your life.

Set your intent to be aware of your surroundings and then remind yourself to pay attention to them throughout the day. Observe. Notice what is happening and then ask the self: How is this relevant to me? What can I learn from this? It might be something as seemingly insignificant as a small spider crossing your path. Meaningless, you might think. But think about it a little deeper. That spider might just be the thing to help you crack through your next impasse or resolve your most pressing question about the self or an important decision in your life.

Observe and learn from your surroundings. This is how to hone your awareness. And remember: Everything is Meaningful!

Chuck’s Place: Energetic Fact or Phantom?

What does your conjuring mind look like? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What does your conjuring mind look like?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Riding in the front of the train, we encounter oncoming time, what is factually, energetically happening right in front of us, NOW. Speculation, in contrast, is riding in the caboose, the back of the train, inundated with mindless ruminating on life lived or life possibly to be lived, as the energetic facts of our life—what is happening now—passes us by without our awareness. Speculation plants the seeds of obsession, which in turn generates phantom life—energetic capital spent on an unreal world, an abstract world that runs on our vital energy. Energetic fact disappears as we are inundated with phantom “what ifs.”

Phantom life is generated by obsessional thinking before sleep or upon awakening in the middle of the night. Phantom life is worry, energy given over to the conjuring mind. Phantom life literally sucks the life out of us. Phantom life cannot exist if we don’t fund it with vast amounts of our energy.

In order to perceive the true energetic facts of our lives, we need silence—detachment from the internal dialogue that incessantly conjures our view of the world and all that we encounter. We need silence so we can see what is really there.

Silence is not the absence of noise, nor the absence of dialogue. Silence is mastery over where we choose to place our attention. If we let the mind say what it will, let the noise in the surround remain while we disengage our attention from its activity, we unhook, or de-tach. In this way, we free our awareness.

I offer a few simple examples of phantom thought and practical aids to achieving silence. If I really focus my awareness on an inhalation, I notice that I cannot hold a thought. If I am gripped by a thought that evolves into a phantom story, I notice that my breathing slows to a mere maintenance level as the story takes precedence. If I shift my awareness away from the phantom story that my mind is busy conjuring up and take a deep breath instead, the story desists. The two cannot exist simultaneously.

If I do Tensegrity, the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage, I cannot maintain a thought. If I step into thought, I cannot remember the next move in the pass. I cannot maintain thought and accuracy of movement simultaneously. Magical Passes shift attention away from the internal dialogue, offering moments of silence. Any focused physical movement achieves the same outcome.

If I stare at a candle flame and listen to my internal dialogue, I notice that I lose connection to the flame. The flame remains, however, inviting my attention back, offering the opportunity to burn away my attachment to thought.

In practicing moments of silence, we eventually achieve mastery over phantom life; we hone our energy to be utilized with intent. In silence, we are fully present to the energetic facts of our lives. In silence, our energetic reserves are fully prepared to engage and live to the fullest, in NOW time.

In silence, from the front of the train,

A Day in a Life: I Eat The Weeds

Yup... I eat 'em! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Yup… I eat ’em!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It’s been hot. I’ve been trying to get the weeds pulled and the seeds planted. The dandelions have taken over. I like dandelions. I pick the young leaves and add them to salads and chop them into sautés. I juice them along with chickweed, lemon balm, and plantain leaves. I snip wheatgrass and mint into the mix too. But the dandelions are insistent this year, so I’m letting them take over one section of the garden. I water them and thank them for coming to feed me.

I’m pretty sure that if things got really bad in our present day world I’d find enough food to eat right here in my yard. It’s a grim thought, but the more I discover that not only our food and water sources, but practically everything we make, consume, and depend on in this country is compromised in some way, the more I wonder about us as a people and a nation. I wonder if I really belong here. Should I leave, desert a sinking ship so to speak? Really, I think about it sometimes.

I try not to get depressed about it. I try not to worry about what our children will have to contend with. I try not to think about ignorance and stupidity and aberrant behaviors. I try not to think about unfairness and greed, about the corporations selling us their poisons that make us sick, everything from the food in our supermarkets to the drugs in our pharmacies. Nothing is real anymore, and that’s what bothers me the most. “Just eat real food,” I tell my kids. “Moderation and balance in everything, but keep it real.”

We don’t even treat our fellow human beings as real people with real needs, needing things like a living wage to simply afford the basic necessities. I lived in Sweden in the 1970s, when its Socialist agenda was in its heyday. Olaf Palme was Prime Minister. He’d sometimes walk home to his apartment after a hard day at the Riksdag, wending his way through the streets of Stockholm, greeting people as he went. He even rode the subways like other normal working people. It was really a pretty idyllic society, good intentioned. Sweden lost its innocence when Palme got shot coming out of a movie theater with his wife one night, a place I had been to countless times. Sweden wasn’t perfect by far, but people mattered—children mattered, women mattered, the unemployed and the sick mattered—and as far as I can see they still do. There were no poor people in Sweden, everyone got what they needed.

The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland all lived by the same ideals, that no one should be without the basics: food, shelter, clothing, education, healthcare. Things were affordable, such as housing and food, and a lot of things were free, paid for by the high taxes we all paid, but I always felt it was a great deal. You got what you paid for; it was pretty real in that way. The government delivered on its promises. As an immigrant I received the same benefits as a natural Swede. From day one I had my health card and access to free education. I took free Swedish language courses through a variety of schools, including the University of Stockholm. You had a sense that the government was just like you, the Prime Minister just another working guy, and that you were really cared about.

An overall sense of social justice, responsibility, compassion and respect for fellow human beings prevailed that I have rarely experienced since, especially on a governmental level. The cold people of the north—as they were sometimes referred to—had warm hearts at their center. As a society they were not selfish or greedy. Memories of their own recent history of hard times were still raw and still talked about. Human suffering became the most important matter to address and they found a means of relief. There were a lot of problems too, the homogenous population was fast changing and new difficulties loomed on the horizon, but overall there were few complaints. Everyone mattered.

I noticed one of those obnoxious polls the other day: The Most Democratic Countries in the World! I couldn’t help myself; I had to look. The U.S. got a mediocre ranking, 21 out of 25, but guess who was at the top: Norway, followed by Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. I wasn’t surprised. Back in the 70s, Norway was the first of those countries to ban certain food colorings and preservatives because they were deemed carcinogenic and how could you feed your people something that was poisonous! With no food coloring, things looked kind of unappetizing. It was most noticeable in the street vendors selling gray hot dogs and sodas that were clear in color. We still haven’t banned food colorings and preservatives from foods, in fact we’ve simply renamed them. And as for feeding people carcinogens, don’t worry, there’s plenty to go around! As I said, I try not to think about these things, but I can’t help wondering when the greed is going to be stopped so REAL can become the norm again, when the new buzz word is REAL and it really is REAL!

The Buddhists say to accept ignorance and have compassion. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico say that life is an illusion anyway, so why fixate on it. Both of them say work to free yourself. And so I work to free myself from my own ignorance and from my own illusions. I refuse to get caught in the fear and the worry that comes so easily whenever I think about the earth and the world we have created. I see it as my duty to work on myself, to free myself of the corporate greed, to detach as much as possible from what seeks to draw me in. I decide what I really need and what I can do without.

And so, in keeping with that decision to energetically detach as much as possible, I canceled our cable TV. The bill was outrageously high, and I saw no reason for it. Someone has been making a lot of money off us. We don’t want the meaningless spin and the constant selling permeating our home environment. Even what once seemed to have integrity no longer appeals. I see commercial television as a home invasion and I don’t want it or need it. There are other things to do. We recently cut the expensive car insurance we were paying in half by going with a different company, and our escalating health insurance premium by a good amount too by finding a new carrier. We weren’t getting better service for all our dollars, but some corporations sure were reaping huge benefits! We’ve put thousands of dollars a year back into our own pockets, money we can put to better use.

Very local greens... from my yard! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Very local greens… from my yard!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

So, as I pare down my life, I stay local, as local as possible, REAL local. I support the efforts of my fellow human beings to produce real foods and goods and so I shop at the Red Hook Farmer’s Market and the Red Hook Natural Foods Store where local produce is always available. I simplify. I eat the weeds in my yard. I constantly look to new places to pull the plug on the things I don’t need. It feels like a lot more people are doing this too. Local organic farms with everything from fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses are growing in number, and it’s really good to see. I don’t see it as just a trendy thing, but more as a longterm trend toward taking back what we’ve lost: our personal power as real human beings. All of this local-ness is helping us regain our realness, our compassion, and a sense of social responsibility to the earth and our fellow human beings.

It felt good to be out in the heat, planting my seeds, welcoming them to my soil. The birds sang to me all morning as I weeded and planted. The robin nesting in the rafters of the deck didn’t fly off her nest as I worked just a few feet away from her. She’s used to me now, she knows I’m real and that I won’t hurt her, that I’m just doing what she does, tending my nest, keeping it real.

Eating the weeds,