The theme of today’s blog kind of suggested itself out of the type of energy I have been encountering all week. As some of my readers may know, my “day job” is as a school bus driver and I have several new little people (kindergartners) who don’t yet know the rules of safe bus ridership, so I have been working to stay on top of their edification – and put “order” to their “chaos”. Then my poor husband, who is laid low by dementia, expressed violent temper with a roommate at his residential facility – chaos. The men involved are okay, but I have had to confront again the sense of loss engendered when my best friend and intelligent companion acts in ways that are unlike himself as his disease progresses.
The human mind can forget what troubles it, yet it can remember in remarkable ways actions that facilitate our functioning in life. I have observed firsthand how my own mind can create ideas and images that help me to put “order” to troubling issues, only to have to admit I was wrong as the circumstance revealed itself to be not real. This is a method we frequently do through dreaming, with character creation that allows us to work through unresolved emotions of the day. My husband did something like that, but he can’t remember. The social worker reminds me that the situation is not his fault, but that the result of his extreme behavior is due to fading areas in his brain. Memory is one of our most cherished faculties, as it makes up our programming and hence our personality.
When I visit him, Alan seems to have organized in his mind that I am at our country place and he is staying at our city place. This helps me, because I no longer have to explain to him why I can’t bring him home. He looks forward to my visits, and after short conversation (longer ones tire him out quickly), we simply hold hands, and he wears a happy smile on his face that I am there, while I am often trying to hide tears at the loss I am feeling in order to allow him his joy. Even now he does not like to see me unhappy.
It seems to me that chaos often erupts out of emotion. The order that we place on ourselves in order not to express emotion results in repression and suppression. If we do this long enough, those emotions can come surging out of our Subconscious like a volcano. Putting a lid on volcanoes is impossible to do, so rather than bury my emotions until I explode, I have now learnt to ask myself, “What am I feeling? What seeks to be expressed through me today?” One of the obvious answers confronting me with the situation with my husband is grief. So I have been allowing myself to fully feel and experience my grief.
Something strange has been happening. As the grief passes through me, there is now room to remember Alan as he was with joy. I try to bring these moments with me to the nursing home, and sometimes we are able to engage in conversations around, “Do you remember?” He may or he may not, but he seems to delight in my rendering of the story, and we do laugh a lot. Sometimes I am laughing as I am crying, reminding me of the human capacity to feel opposing feelings strongly at the same time. I find myself liking this capacity, as I feel it indicates that my heart is more open to experiencing the simple art of caring.
During moments of chaos, we learn how to cope. During moments of order, we learn how to play and create. Sometimes creation brings its own sense of chaos, as an idea needing expression demands its manifestation. Yet once that creation is expressed we are ordered in a new way, governed and guided by a feeling or idea we had not experienced until that moment. Allowing this kind of creative expression takes risks, because not everyone is going to like what manifests through us. So it is that we move forward and backward within ourselves, up and down the levels and layers of Consciousness like Jacob saw angels and other folk ascending and descending the ladder to heaven.
The oldest “religion” – shamanism – has at its central cosmology the World Tree, which those who SEE climb in order to reach the world of the spirits. Modern people might scoff, there is no such thing as spirits, but we could simply exchange the word “energy” and we are relating to ideas that very much belong to the world of physics. Spiritual/material and Energetic/physical are not so very different terms. I am in love with the idea that inside of me, my own bio-organism has provided a “world tree” – the tree structured by my nervous system that gives me the intelligence (both emotion and intellect) to rise up and down the layers of sensual perception, to have feelings and to make sense of what I am feeling.
The strength of emotion is like the strength of the most ancient heritage of our brain – the reptile and mammal aspects of our brains that determine fight or flight, feeding or fucking. These emotions are chemicals that flood our consciousness and lead to variations of our behaviors. Ultimately, I believe these chemicals of emotion are as responsible for the highest arts and music of humanity as they are for our more addictive penchants, such as alcohol and drugs. We and our lives are like huge canvases upon which the hand of God paints in many colors the joy and sorrow of our experiences, the validity of our living and our dying and the sacredness of it all.
The yogi sits in silent meditation, but that is just the outward appearance. In his mind, a repeating mantra untangles him from the attachment to the thoughts and emotions that drive chaos and compel order. His meditation is a “time out” from the imperative to act, but when he is done, the discipline he has imposed upon himself will guide his actions toward achievable goals and realizations. Chaos may suggest desires, but ordered thought balanced with developed intuition makes them as possible.