Saturday, December 15, 2018

REFINING FIRE - WITH AN AUDIO VERSION

We sit and face the fire and the sparks rise to the sky, and at our backs is the dark night of the future. The cold and unknown in the dark behind us. Our faces are illuminated by the bright orange and red that's blazing forth in front of us as the wood of our lives bursts into flames. And, we are laughing and looking across the fire at each other, and talking. That’s how we keep our attention focused on the present and not worry about what’s in the dark and probably looking at us from the dark future forest.
We are a mixed lot and grow in different climes. Some of us are hardwoods, dense, heavy, with thick layers of l’aubier, living sapwood. Strong. Bearing a lot. Occasionally showy. Colorful. You know those sturdy folk by their fire. Their fires are hot.

Others of us are soft pines. Softwood is only water and smoke. It is amazing how quickly our softwood life stories go up in smoke.. Very little heat, lots of ash. And so our life fire, if we have grown too soft, burns the uneventful which barely warms us.

We toss in our pinecones with lots of future yet to be released and planted. New forest re-seed themselves after the fire rages through and burns down the ancient trees. Sometimes I feel like an ancient tree. And when I sit with my friends in front of the fire I see that we burn our pasts. We release those seeds of the future by telling our past stories. And those are the fuel for the New Year’s fire.

Some of our stories are about our victories. Some of the stories are about our defeats. Our losses. Some of the stories are about the things which others did to us. It is good to release those stories that are not strengthening for us. We'll toss them onto the fire pit and watch them burn. Let ‘em go. Let the sparks rise to the sky. Turn them into ashes. Let them go.

WHY AM I HERE?
Sitting around the fire and telling our stories to one another is something that men do, that women do, that people do. We have been hosting fire evenings for years. We invite our longtime friends to come and sit. One would think that, after all these years that the stories would be repetitive, but they're not. Just as the years of our lives are cyclical, our storytelling to one another is likewise cyclical. We peel off the layer of one story at one time on one year on one weekend on one night there is more. Our lives are deeper than we can imagine. The hurts run very deep. In some cases there may be no end to the depths of despair that our experiences have given us. It is good to sit in front of the fire and tell those stories.
Tonight plays a special role in the process. We are held by the darkness.

How much smaller as a people we become when we can't live with the elements – fire, water, wind, and the earth. When we become too civilized we become too small too containerized. Domesticated. We need to be out. We need to be risking. We need to be standing in front of the raw elements. We need to float our lives down the rivers of life. We need to be blown about and buffeted by the winds. We need to be challenged by the snow. We need also to face the fires. Our I-being needs to be in touch with the God of the elements.

There used to be refining fires when things were melted and smelted and created by those who work the metals. Our metals in our hearts and our lives are still worked over. But many of us are not so skilled as craftsman's. When things get hot and we start getting pounded we tend to flee rather than join in the pounding. Let's take this life and pound it into a different shape. We can change, we can grow. But we must be willing to withstand the pain. Stand the heat. So long as we are the cause of our own heat and realize that we are willing to put up with it. The refining fire will burn out the impurities in our character. Smelt the iron of our selves. But we have to put ourselves into that fire we have to load that fire tray coal or our hardwood self which we want to burn.

WHAT DO I WANT?
And, of course, this year is not cold. There has been very little ice and snow. Like sometimes in our lives, we are not challenged. We are not met by opposition. Life gives us a “pass” and there is, seemingly, no resistance. But, the reality does not matter.

We will sit, and drape ourselves a bit less in jackets and the fire will seem hotter. And the stories, when they come, will blaze brighter. But the dark will be just as dark, and deep and mysterious. We know the mountains which we must cross in the future are just as high, and lie over to the East. As we ascend, there will be more snow. And, you know the snow will eventually come. Eventually.

And your future vision prepares for it. Your heart will be glad when the leaden, snow filled skies return.
And your friends return. They have been delayed. But, they have said they would be there. They will come for the fire. The New Year will come, eventually. And you will be prepared. The saws and axes to cut and split the stories are to one side.

You know it will be coming. Soon. And you hope it will arrive as will the unexpected guest.



© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager All rights Reserved

Saturday, December 8, 2018

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI OF CARPET

Long before I ever heard of the Ouberufer Shepherds Plays, I realized there were two general “streams” of people in the world, the Kings and the Shepherds. Each of these two streams view life in their own unique way.  
     Kings are the kind of people who have the lofty mental capacity to look into the starry sky, see the shapes of the constellations, see the movement of the planets and divine or predict when very lofty and highly spiritual events would take place, like the birth in Bethlehem of the King of Kings. No one tells Kings, they knew.
     The Shepherds, on the other hand, are the ones who are busy with day-to-day life, tending their flocks, living rough in the fields, marveling in awe at the starry heavens, sleeping around a campfire, singing, cavorting, having a nip or two, and sleeping only to be told or inspired by an Angel to know that they must to go to Bethlehem and take gifts to the Great Shepherd. Everybody tells the shepherds.
     I am a Shepherd.
     Right out of college in the Vietnam War era, the only job an English major like me could find was something like selling carpet at a company named Carpet Kings in Dallas, TX. It was a “bait and switch” operation run by two guys named Bob and Tony, “sharpies” from New Jersey, and a money guy, their Uncle Bernie, sellin’ to “hicks” (as they thought of us). 
     Like I said, this was the 1970s and Bob and Tony both wore way too much English Leather cologne, way too many gold neck chains, way too colorful polyester shirts, way too tight hip-riding crotch hugging bell-bottom, and had way too heavily greased DA hair styles. They drove big, impressively girl-magnet cars, I’m talking boat-sized cars, like Lincoln Continentals. Not new, but close enough for real comfort and back-seat foreplay.
     They definitely saw themselves as Capitalistic Kings come down south to help us out of our oil money. They hired me, a Shepherd, and stuck me in a showroom at Casa Linda Shopping Center and, after training on how to “bait and switch”, sent me out on sales calls. 
     I took one sample set of cheap, I’m talking really cheap carpet and really cheap vinyl flooring, so cheap nobody would ever buy the stuff (a/k/a “the bait”) and one luxury set. Carpet people will feel the goods. Next time you’re in a showroom, ask he salesperson to show you some samples, and they’ll flip the sample book onto a table and run their a hand over the sample to feel the goods. If you invite ‘em over to your house, they’ll sit in an easy chair, look at your carpet, then slide down to feel your goods. They’re mentally calculating how much per square foot you paid. (We can’t help ourselves.)
     Nobody in their right mind would buy the really cheap stuff I was selling: the carpet was so cheap you could see the jute backing through the “shag-like” yarn.  The vinyl was so thin it was just a little thicker than an opaque, slightly textured Saran Wrap (no offense to the Saran Wrap company, but this stuff was thin.)

CHRISTMAS TIME IS COMING
The State Fair of Texas is held in late October. Companies like Carpet Kings take booths to hawk their products by offering things like drawings for a whole house full of carpet free!  All you gotta do is leave name, address and phone number. That entry form goes to a telemarketing phone room which calls and offers another opportunity to win a free room full of carpet or vinyl if you allow a salesperson to call - no obligation to buy - a “special promotion”.
     It was just before Christmas and I got sent to a “sure sale” in a very poor part of town. When I went in, I met the family: mom and dad and a pregnant teenage daughter and the teenage father, a snarly looking guy who fidgeted, a lot. The daughter was very pregnant, I’m talking uncomfortable, any day now pregnant.
     Mom wanted carpet and vinyl. They had been saving their money and wanted it installed before Christmas so that when the baby was born that the kid could crawl around on something clean. That clearly would be a first.
     If this had been the Oberufer Shepherd’s Play, this would have been the stable. The house was so small that either Mary and Joseph were sleeping on the hide-a-bed or Mom and Dad let the young couple have the bedroom. 
     There were no “goods” on the floor, only “bads”. The kitchen, for example, was a dirt floor. The living room was just old, cheap, splintery plywood that had been painted  brown a long, long time before.
     I drew my little “map” of the rooms. Dad helped me measure with my tape measure. I showed them my “bait and switch” samples of really cheap stuff and Mom got excited. Excited by this? This? This was not “bait and switch”, this was “bait and catch.” The only question from Mom was, “Can it be installed by Christmas?” 
     They had seen the “come on” ads offering the cheap stuff which I was showing. They had calculated the square yards. They had the money in cash.
     I actually tried to talk them out of the cheap stuff. I told them the vinyl could not be laid over a dirt floor. Dad asked that if he and the boy could put down some plywood, would that work?
What did I know about installation? Nothing. I was doubtful. I hemmed, I hawed, in the end, I pointed out every flaw in the carpet and vinyl I could think of, every problem conceivable, and even some inconceivable ones in a very transparent to attempt to save them from their awful fate. 
     And, I didn’t know about the remote possibility of installation before Christmas. We were busy, real busy. But, they were used to companies treating them poorly. They were used to being sent to the end of the line. They were used to only being able to afford the really cheap stuff. So what? By God, it was that mother’s love for that unborn child which outweighed anything I could say or do. Nothing negative was possible. There would be a way.
     Then I started feeling bad because I was judging them, like the mean Innkeeper in the Shepherd’s Play who turned away Mary and Joseph: 


“I keep my house for those 
who have money in purse!  
I keep for tramps, 
a kick, and a curse!” 

     Here I was trying to force my middle-class judgments and values on these good folks. Yeah, the place was like a stall, but it was their stall and it was going to be a stall with wall-to-wall carpet and vinyl in the kitchen and by Christmas! Cheap carpet is better for a kid to crawl on than splintery plywood. Vinyl, even cheap vinyl, was a dream if you lived on a dirt floor. 
    I was the one who had any chance of making that happen.  All I needed to do was go talk with Tony, yeah right. 
The daughter smiled beatifically. The young father-to-be fidgeted. I left them in freedom with samples to look at for the evening. 

IT’S BEGINNING TO SMELL A LOT LIKE ENGLISH LEATHER
Tony’s Lincoln was parked out front with a giggly young woman squirming on the front seat. He was there to get the day’s contracts and deposits.
     “How’d ya do?” he grinned.
So, I told him. I described the house. The family. The mom and dad, the son and daughter. Gave him my little floor map which he closely scrutinized. I gave him the cash which he recalculated. (”Can’t trust an English major!” he winked.)
     “You didn’t make no promises?” he asked.
     “Only to go back and get the samples.” I said.
     “Good boy.” He said.
     All he said was, “Boy oh boy, you say you left the samples?”
     “She’s gonna pick out a color that goes with poverty.”
     “This the address?” he asked. I nodded. “Lemme see what I can do. I’ll pick up the samples.”
     And then he took our other sales forms and left. 
     I didn’t see Tony again for a few days. Things were winding down after Thanksgiving and we knew we were going to be out of work by Christmas. It was okay. 
     The Mother called: “Aren’t you going to come and see how it looks?”
     “Oh, you got it installed?”
     “Oh yes! I thought you knew. Your boss Tony came. He’s nice. Too much cologne, but he’s nice.”
     “The baby?”
     “Very soon.”
     “Oh, Good.” I said, “You happy with the installation?”
     “Yes, very.”
     “Okay, I’ll come take a look.” I said.
     Tony came by that afternoon. I told him the mother called me. He said he recalculated my sales order and I had made a mistake. But he fixed it.
     “What mistake?” I asked.
     “You didn’t order good.”
     “I ordered the goods. I filled out the sales order correctly.” I said.
     “Yeah, well, there’s ordering goods, and then there’s ordering good. You’ll see. Go take a look.” 
     I had no clue what he was talking about. Sometimes Carpet Kings talk in a funny lingo about mark-up, profit margins, goods, thread count, and other stuff.
     Then he laid me off, but not because of the mistake. He handed me an envelope. “Here’s a Christmas bonus. Maybe we’ll see ya sometime.” He took my keys, watched me gather my personal stuff, and then we left.
     I knew it was coming. Sales were slow. I wasn’t earning my draw. There was $50 in the envelope so I was happy.
     I drove over to the family’s house. 
     I knocked on the door and the Mother answered. She opened the door and I was shocked. The floor was covered with some of the finest carpet we sold. And, the kitchen had a real sub-flooring beneath the vinyl. My mouth was agog.
     “Wow.” I said.
     “I think Tony said you ordered the wrong goods.”
     “Yeah, that’s what he said. This looks good!” I said. 
     “Baby’s gonna like it.” Dad said.
     “Yeah. It’s good.” I said.
     Tony never mentioned the Golden Rule, but there it was -- "He who has the gold, makes the rules." Sometimes that's good.

(C)Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager / All Rights Reserved
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Friday, November 9, 2018

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

WHO AM I?
    Mine is a very small, digital boat called a blog which sails on a very big electronic ocean called the World Wide Web. My boat navigates toward very large cyber-constellations called Facebook, Stumble Upon, Twitter and others. Mine is a very tenuous and vulnerable craft which heads out on notions as strong illusions powered by money and profit. These days all of the cyber-constellations are filled with shooting stars and Mega-You-Tube-Astroids used for business purposes. The volume of technology which now includes audio, video and Triple-Tweets swamp small boats like mine.  The single text, "message in a bottle" which my blog puts out one at a time is a relic of the past something which makes me feel like a typographic castaway.
    The reality of the World Wide Web is that it is an actual web of electronic signals carried by Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites which downlink and connect with large networks in various countries around the globe. The LEOs hold  fixed positions over different countries.
    High above the LEOs in the space-time continuum, out in the cosmos are genuine constellations such as Orion, Leo, Capricorn, Sagittarius, and others. Some say the constellations and certain planets are spiritual communities. 
    Many of the folks with whom my little boat travels rely on the genuine constellations to orient themselves for the seasons, gardening tasks, fishing, hunting, hiking and travel in our daily lives on earth. In addition, we rely on the Sun and the Moon, daylight, moon-glow, winds, clouds, and seasons - things which do not exist in the cyber realm.
    My message in a bottle is not a real, physical message in a real, physical bottle. My messages are digital pleas for help, queries, innuendo and encouragement - as the lyrics to a Sting song says: "Only hope can keep me together. Love can mend your life. But, Love can break your heart."(1)

WHY AM I HERE?
    Why does a person send a message in a bottle out onto a very big and complicated cyber-sea such as the World Wide Web? What difference does one small message make in the vast life of Internet users and the very few numbers of readers of my blog? Would I have more chance of actually delivering a message to someone if I were to put a note into a real bottle, cork it, and toss it into the beach I recently visited in Maine?
    On occasion I get some indication back that someone has read a post. This closes the loop on the cyber communication process. One may have followers for Tweets. So you feel  something of two-way communication slowly grows. The software for the blog tells me that of the 1,000 castaway visitors a month, 500 are new – and 500 return to read some more messages. So, we can take comfort in knowing "...you are not alone at being alone."(1)
    I'm using a few lyrics from the song which Sting wrote many years ago, "Message In A Bottle". The song has millions of sales/uses. Sting gives us an image of billions of bottles washing up at his location in response to his sending an S.O.S. - "Hundreds of millions of castaways looking for a home." (1)
    It seems like many of us are castaways in our digital age. It's almost as if the LEO net over our head and the gizmos which capture our attention, create in us a deep longing for the truth - for the real - for authentic relationships.

WHAT DO I WANT?
    It is ironic, but not at all surprising that Sting, the man who authored "Message In A Bottle" is new putting new messages in bottles. A few years ago, Sting met and worked with a good friend of mine named Alan York who died not too many months ago. Alan was a master Biodynamic (BD) gardener and viticultualist. Alan and I worked together on the American BD Association Board many years ago.  We swapped stories about growing up in Texas and metaphysics. 
    Alan had been the consultant who helped Sting bring his vineyards into Biodynamic practice. One of the things that one can say with all certainty is that Biodynamic wine or juices deliver a "message in the bottle". Allen devoted his life to sending messages in bottles.
    The message which Biodynamic wine or juices send is one of Truth and Authenticity. The practices seek to unite the forces of place, nature, Sun, Moon, Constellations and the morality of the grower and wine maker. In addition, BD incorporates spiritual practices aimed at supporting the health of the soil and plants - the grape in this case. If done correctly, you can experience a qualitative difference in each taste. Quality, vitality, and health are not bad living messages to take from a bottle.
    So, I am sending this digital "message in a bottle" post to all of us who feel we are castaways adrift on this digital ocean. Join with me in connecting with those who help us reconnect with an authentic life - as above, so below.

NOTES:
(1) "Message In A Bottle"

(c) Copyright 2014, Jean W Yeager
All Rights Reserved

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

MORALIC ACID


WHO AM I?
  I am someone who believes that there is way too much “Moralic Acid” being thrown around today and what we need is to be inspired to add “Moralic Catalyst.”


  The term ‘Moralic Acid” was coined by Frederiche Nietzsche (1844-1900) to describe a process of getting free of oppressive moral influences the type of which guided many moralistic social movements of the 19th century.


  According to H.L. Mencken, Nietzsche said that these organizations “thought morally” and judged people as either “good or bad.” And, they had a “moral way of acting” economically, politically and socially as well through such movements as: “Temperance”, “Social Purity“(birth control), “Eugenics” and Anti-Suffrage.


  Nietzsche was all about individual freedom. He said that these groups were a “moralic acid” because they dissolved individual freedom through their actions.



WHY AM I HERE?

  “Moralic Acid” is again at play by groups who insist on applying their “morality” to everyone. “Moral behavior” to them is whatever they wish to do based on their religious beliefs. This applies to individuals, small groups, political parties, states, countries; all of whom are “morally justified” to take action against anyone else who is not within the sect, church, or philosophical “stream.”  


  Their morality fuels behavior through which they seek to get obedience of those “others” to their particular creed. Today “Moralic Acid” groups are working economically into public politics in states like Indiana so that discriminatory actions may be legally permitted because of “freedom” to have your own “religious morality”, and is politically armed as in the case of Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims. This positional thinking justified by morality” is at work around the world.


  Now that “Moralic Acid” has surfaced again, it is time for us to call it what it is – Morality used as a toxic weapon as justification for abuse unto death of others.


  In life, acid causes living micro-organisms to pull back from it in the physical situation. In community life, “Moralic Acid” does the same. It causes people to flee the social situation or get burned.



WHAT DO I WANT?

  I would like us to apply a “Moralic Catalyst” to combat the over abundance of “Moralic Acid”. A catalyst is a substance which when added to a chemical composition, causes a profound change to the mixture without itself becoming part of the mixture. Many times it causes a separation of ingredients.


  Nietzsche’s solution was to push toward individual freedom, power and perfection. If one became a “Superman”, one would be above “Moralic Acid”. The mixture of power and individuality in the hands of “moral” extremists did not work out so well in Nazi Germany.


  Perhaps we need less power to individuals whose morality takes away freedom and we need a catalytic element of community-based morality. 


  A “Moralic Catalyst” containing community moral ideas such as mutuality, forgiveness, tolerance, and respect will balance and neutralize out the "Moralic Acid." These are catalytic elements which may change the dynamic in the current Moralic turmoil in any community. Add them to debates and confrontations. They are the substance of Love.


  We need to add these – and soon.



© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

PINBALL CHOICE



WHO AM I?
I have been rolling downhill on my old-style, electro-mechanical pinball life. I bounced from bumper-to-bumper, location-to-location, job-to-job, crisis-to-crisis, and person-to-person. Did I really control any of this or did I really only control my desire-flippers at the bottom?
I am now propelled by the gravity of aging and the inertia of my vanities. I am now realizing that I am unable to really alter the linear direction of my descent toward “Game Over” which prior events have orchestrated. Even the speed of my fall is cumulative. My rolling silver steel ball of personality appears out of my control. I watch all that is going on behind the glass game-top and wonder if I have become a “deaf, dumb blind kid” like Tommy.
Can’t I choose anything? Do anything?
Then again, do I really want to choose? Or should I simply let the events choose? That’s the easiest. Less effort, right? Watch my little steel ball go straight down and disappear out of sight. Then I can curse “what they did to me”, those stupid bumpers. Blame someone else for my fate, my lack of opportunities. The lack of wealth of my parents, genetics that gave me an “eecch” brain. Maybe whine about the obviously rigged game of life which is not on the level. Oh sure, there were inclinations, mine on the inner and the inclined game table on the outer. And, after all, I chose this game.
And I was inclined to try to affect the outcome. I shook the table, nudged it – hard (careful not to “tilt”). But, basically, a pinball life is three balls, flashing lights, sounds, points rolling on the board as you stand there somewhat confused, unaware, na├»ve, numb in my heart and alone. Yeah, I flipped my desire flippers and occasionally kept the ball in play.
Choose. Huh? Yeah, right.

WHAT DO I WANT?
Let me brood in my dull anger for a moment, okay?
Do I want to choose? Yes, I do want to choose. And, I realize that if I choose, then I will pay for my choice. I will suffer. I do suffer. Your extra replays don’t come free. But, I’m brooding already, right? I have a few more games racked up on the counter – a few more years before “Game Over.”
     Deprivation because when you choose, you only get one thing – not both. I have to pick one or the other, poverty because I can’t have both (or the many). There will be labor, conflict, looming fear, addiction (to my desiring. Desiring? Hell. Longing!), regret that things will not be harmonious, rejected divinity, failing physical capacities, pissing myself. Maybe denial is easier. Just let me stand here like Tommy – deaf, dumb and blind. But, Tommy could play. Am I a player?
     Suffering. Suffering to be myself. A warrior, a player, chooses to define her/himself from the others. Can I be hostile? Independent? Push back against the inclined table of life? I can be hostile to the amorphous, undefined!
     I long for the One Thing. The One Thing we have in our hearts, our True Self. The others told me that real success was getting my steel ball into the 1,000 Points Hole. Roll your ball into that Hole and score big time, lots of lights, sounds and chatter. Woo-hoo! (“You get a replay!”) And, then the 1,000 Points Hole ejects you, shoots you across the table.
That other thing which warms your heart? That True Love? Where is that? Don’t seek that. There is no choice, they say. Stick with the 1,000 Point Hole and replays. You are what you are, the game is the game, the table is what it is, and that is that. True Self? True Love? Not here. Not in this game. This is a closed system. There is no place to go for that.

WHY AM I HERE?
I am here to awaken the True Self before I die. Before you die.
“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me...” I am a child of the 60s in my 60s. What time is it? Am I late for a very important date? “When the Moon s in the 7th House...” Is this the dawning? I have I missed it? When was that Millennium? Y2K?
Is it ever too late to transform? If you don’t transform yourself, life will transform you. So, you have to go from the closed system to an open system.
If I am a steel ball, I am iron. Iron is malleable with enough heat. With enough passion I will undergo the agony of change. I will stand between the opposites where I’m normally not inclined to go, and feel the power of resistance. Resistance to my passion cranks up the heat. With enough passion, resistance and friction, I can change. Form a blade. A sword. The One Thing to become, my new self. Someone who does not just roll mindlessly, who can overcome the inertia of the past. A blade does not roll mindlessly. A blade cuts you away from the amorphous which clings.  Change - the one precious thing to do - the act which grows more fierce with each sun rise.
True Self awakens in the sphere of cause. Outside the box. Off the table. Choose to be the gravity, your self-motive. This is how we roll.

Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved

TH3 SIMPLE QUESTIONS: Slice Open Everyday Life

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