When Are We Our Most Powerful?

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” Plato


I may have found someone else’s “other half,” who knows, it happens. But I believe the parts are interchangeable and after years of reckless folly Larry and I have refashioned ourselves. Now we fit together quite nicely, as if a favorite pair of jeans, or those bands of gold we wear around our ring fingers. #couplesgoals

We have opposing views as one would expect coming from two sides of the same coin, but both of us have learned how to back-peddle quite skillfully, and we’ve become accustomed to spending time in each other’s shadow. Oh, and at high noon, when both of us can enjoy the sunshine, that’s when we’re at our best.

We’re up at the lake this week, it’s my final week of teaching remote before we go back into the classroom, and we thought while they’re in the middle of demolishing our house we might as well sequester ourselves up at the lake. It’s remote, it’s quiet, and while my other half has my back what could go wrong?

I’ll tell you what, someone took a bite of forbidden fruit, and has been jettisoned from the garden. It was a earn your bread by the sweat of your brow sort of thing.

Larry has to return to the Bay Area, duty calls, he awoke in the dark to make the long trek back home, and still be able to make his early morning calls from his home office. Which ended up being quite difficult with all the ruckus going on around him. Who knew jackhammering old tile could be so loud? He had to sweat it out so to speak.

I got up leisurely, Eve like, and was delighted to find a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen (did I mention he’s my better half). The fact that I can stay in my pink slippers all day and still teach my classes is making me giddy. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yeah! Pretty soon I won’t own anything but slippers! #RetirementPerks

As I’m putzing around the house, tidying up the kitchen, folding laundry, preparing lessons on the Paschal Mystery of all things, I start thinking about the snake that suddenly appeared in the house last summer, and those huge spiders that took shelter in my closet during fire season.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me? I have no control over my thoughts and worse my “better half” deals with the spiders and snakes. I deal with dust, decor, and plant hydration. I also get a little nebby with the kids when necessary and occasionally get a little manic over a tidy shower. St. Teresa says it is of great importance not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts. And she’s a saint.

As I push away images of venomous animals, the next thought I am struck with has to do with all the obscure noises I usually ignore, but now sound menacing in the presence of such absolute silence. I’m isolated, not in the COVID sort of way, as in there are no neighbors in adjacent houses or across the street. I’m not sure why I think a murderer should decide to take me out precisely when my “other half” is away, but we’ve been watching the Night Stalker on Netflix, with a strong “lock your doors” theme, maybe I should rethink the pink slippers.

This is how my mind works, it’s untamed, as if a zebra or wild boar. I have no way of filtering my own thoughts or illusions. Thank God we can’t read each others minds. Can you imagine the chaos of deciphering your own thoughts from that of your “other half?”

“Cheryl, we don’t need another scented candle, book of poems, or bunny ring holder right now. Can we just go an entire month without an Amazon box landing on our doorstep?”

“I didn’t order anything (yes, my cart is full, but I have not proceeded to checkout).”

“You didn’t have to, I can hear your thoughts, and by the way I deleted your entire cart.”

“Well guess what Buddy? I also know what you’re thinking and let me just say that’s not happening for a month either.”

Bahaha

Amit Ray says beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful. He came up with some Om meditation and now he claims with a little practice we can filter our own thoughts. Obviously he hasn’t been watching the Night Stalker.

The fact remains, our experience of the world is limited by our mind, it’s our only tool for encountering reality, and making any sense of it.

I’ll admit this, my mind as a muscle has atrophied. I’d like to blame COVID, Zoom, or too much coffee but my mind refuses to exert herself. She’s become lazy during the pandemic and does not walk her talk. She sits cross-legged on the floor tries to chant. Total fail.

We have no concept of our full potential.

Sam Harris explains it this way, you know how the stars at night in the city are invisible due to all the light pollution, but when you’re up at the lake the sky is congested with so many stars and constellations it’s sort of mind-blowing. I’m summarizing people, work with me. Sam claims the potential of our minds to observe one’s reality is similar to that of a city dweller, who doesn’t even bother to look up because they’ve never seen the night sky in its full splendor and glory. Imagine that.

Mindlessness, my personal malady, is the city dwellers, because we don’t know what we’re missing. Those of us who have observed a sky without light pollution can never undo the experience, this is how it is with the mind, and apparently meditation.

Harris says distraction is the normal condition of our minds. Most of us fall from the wire every second, toppling headlong-whether gliding happily in reverie or plunging into fear, anger, self-hatred, and other negative states of mind. Meditation is a technique for breaking this spell, if only for a few moments. The goal is to awaken from our trance of discursive thinking-and from the habit of ceaselessly grasping at the pleasant and recoiling from the unpleasant-so that we can enjoy a mind that is undisturbed by worry, merely open like the sky, and effortlessly aware of the flow of experience in the present. Booyah!

Sharon Salzberg has a much simpler explanation, she says it is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. Its never too late…

Meditation is deceptively simple but extraordinarily profound says Sam Harris and he should know he has an app.

So I’m giving myself a 30-day challenge to spend a brief amount of time every morning using the Waking Up app on my iPhone and exploring the benefits of meditation. I’m four days in and I’ll let you know if it “illuminates” my current reality, or if this city dweller can experience the vastness of the mind regardless of night stalkers.

I think this is all very Platoish, like in the myth of the men who have been chained in a cave throughout their entire lives. The only thing they can see is a the cave’s wall. They have never been able to exit the cave. They also have never been able to turn around and see the origin of the chains which bind them.

This might be the origin of the old ball and chain trope?

However, behind them there is a wall and a little farther still there is a bonfire. Between the wall and the bonfire there are men who carry objects. Thanks to the bonfire, the shadows of the objects are projected onto the wall. Thus, the chained men can view them.

Plato believed there was a relationship between physical things and the world of ideas. The shadows are their only basis of reality, but it’s a false reality because they refuse, or are unable to turn, and see beyond the shadows.

Does this remind anyone else of the modern day man-cave?

So frickin metaphoric and as you know I love this stuff.

The good news is there is a simple way out of the cave. It is sitting silently while witnessing the thoughts passing before you. Osho says it takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, because you are not the mind, you are the witness. This is what Zeus was afraid of, when we expand our vision beyond the self we validate each other, and this is when we are our most powerful.

I’m Living in the Gap, between the witness and the mind, care to join me?

Anecdotes:

  • “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Plato
  • “The Way to do is to be.” Lao Tzu
  • “Meditation needs no results. Meditation can have itself as an end, I meditate without words and on nothingness. What tangles my life is writing.” Hélène Cixous

28 Comments

Leave a Comment

    1. Hi Rebecca, I love this comment, “it can get quite interesting and at times frightening for those innocent and unaware around me.” I so agree, the strange things I actually think about rarely see the light of day, except when they leek out in the blog! Sometimes my sister calls and asks if I need a pedicure? Warmly, C

      Like

  1. Those fears of snakes and sounds in the darkness are what keeps us surviving. If you had no fear of anything like that, you would most certainly be an ‘easy target’. 🙂
    As for slippers, make sure you get some with a hard sole, and sheepskin lining. They keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and priovide ehough strudiness to take you to and from the outside to collect those Amazon parcels. I swear by mine!

    My favourite footwear


    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make a good argument about the importance of fear, I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of my wayward thoughts, just disturbed how they appear when I’m alone? I don’t want to become another Jimmy! Okay, as for the slippers, thank God Larry can’t read my mind, I have a pair in my cart by days end! I also believe these might be sturdy enough to outrun a “night stalkers,” if need be! Thanks for the tip Pete, warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When Phil used to do night shifts I’d imagine someone breaking into the house so many times I used to go to bed with a heavy glass candle stick under 1 pillow and a carving knife under the other. Had some explaining to do the day I forgot to put them away 🙂 I love slippers too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fraggle, it’s the same with me, my imagination takes off at night, and before you know it I have myself strangled, stabbed, or worse! Now I never went to bed with weapons but I did put chairs under the door handles! High tech security. Love my slippers too but clearly I can’t outrun my thoughts in them! Warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Crystal, I always feel your amazing energy embedded in your words, but I agree, when we really see each other in a positive light we are indeed powerful. And by the way, I can’t wait to hold your book in my hand and watch you put your amazing energy into the world. Warmly, C

      Like

    1. Hi Kim, that helps me imagine you so much clearer, and might I add your better half is the luckiest guy on earth! I think writers are often at the mercy of their imaginations, but absolutely meditation and slippers help. I’m hoping to have a little more control over my thoughts with a little practice and focus? We’ll see. Warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post. I like the expressions “creating the gap” and “living in the gap”.
    There is an expression in Sanskrit which describes the state of being a witness – thatastha. Thata means bank and stha refers to being stationed. Be like a person sitting on the banks of a river watching the flow of water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Vaidehi, I love the state of being a witness, thatastha, what a beautiful image, sitting by the water’s edge and watching it flow. I love being by the water so this expression actually gets to the heart of who I am. Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Diane, you crack me up! I normally jump for joy when I have the house to myself too but if I know I’m going to be alone overnight I start dreading, dreading, dreading right smack in the middle of the day. I blame the person who jumped out of a closet in the dark when I was a kid and damaged me for life! Could have been a dream? Enjoy the weekend Diane, C

      Like

  4. I’m rooting for you with your meditation challenge, Cheryl, and the only thing I’d add is that while I agree with Sam Harris’ and others with the idea that the mind has been taught to habitually entangle itself in discursive thought, some meditation experts suggest that the mind’s actual, true nature is the expansiveness beyond discursive thought, the open sky with billions of stars. They suggest that this is where the mind comes from, the field from which it comes. I’ve found this framework helpful in my own practice. Weird as this sounds, I think of it like taking my dog to the dog park because that’s where my dog feels happiest and most at home–my mind is the dog, the expansiveness is the dog park and my practice is my love for my dog. (I don’t actually have a dog but I do have a mind and let me tell you, it seriously needs to get out.).

    Like

    1. Hi Mary Ellen, thanks for cheering me on! I’ll need it, I already missed a day. I love this “the open sky with billions of stars,” is where the mind comes from and is seeking to return. But I have to add if the true nature of the mind is that of a dog at the exclusive dog park, I get stuck with the way in which they greet each other? Bahaha. I too need to get out more too but I’m thinking Hawaii, Italy, Portugal! Thanks for collaring my mind and walking me to my happy place, you can’t see but I’m wagging my tail, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great life observations Cheryl. Marriage is the ultimate expression and “test” of trust, compassion, and selflessness.
    My path in life has exposed to me that in effect, that a thriving marriage isn’t lived ‘Ying and Yang’ style, inside a circle with opposing sides and colors but rather in a three-dimensional triangle, where the couple makes up the two sides and the all-powerful creator of the universe God is the supporting base.

    Experiences in life have brought me to a place of understanding that this existence seems to be designed to continually add challenge to our ‘place’ within it: getting older and all that it entails, watching our kids grow beyond our control, seeing our sense of freedoms and abilities diminish, etc., etc. As humans, we naturally rebel against it all, sometimes in small ways, and sometimes with more passion. And we also seemingly cry out emotionally by challenging those closest to us, knowing that they matter, but also to reprove that we are accepted by them, no matter what.

    In this perpetual rebellion of later adulthood, apparently, many of us often seek to gain power over the things we see as controlling us or threatening us. This dimension of existence we live in also seems to have a knack for making us feel threatened when we fail to control them: be it spouses, snakes, spiders, creepy sounds at night brought on by the wind as it skims across a lake, or simply the obscure point of just living, which is to continually experience self-actualization because of the experience.

    Scented candles and meditation are soothing, as is a scented Epsom salt bath, and new stuff plucked from the cart and moved to the purchase stage can be temporarily satisfying.

    But in the end? Only the truth can set us free and bring us true peace.

    “When Are We Our Most Powerful?” I believe the answer is when we are nearest to God. Simple as that.

    Hopes and wishes that your Easter season is rewarding. May peace be with you neighbor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Chris, hope all is well with you and yours. I love your vision of a strong marriage with the partners managing two sides of a triangle that includes God, a trinity of sorts, that allows for a strong bond. I love that. With every child we added to the family I feel as if we create another dimension to that ever changing form of our marriage as they each add not only the stability of the relationship but they expand the love. Well, and sometimes they get the entire contraptions free falling right over the proverbial edge! It’s a good thing we have an amazing stabiliter! Controlling my thoughts is another conundrum, I’m an imaginative type, and it’s gets the better of me at times. I’ve learned to write myself out of the worst scenarios my mind has embellished and that’s my secret. Writing has really saved me in so many ways. I also agree I’m my most authentic self when I edge closer to all that is good and holy. A blessed place to be for sure. Thanks for sharing your truth and wisdom Chris, I so appreciate your thoughts. All my best, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mama Lava, glad you enjoyed the post! I’ve been feeling so distracted and scattered lately, I blame COVID, all these Zoom calls has zapped my brain! I’m hoping recovery is painless! All my best, C

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply to indianeskitchen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s