Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

The Dyer’s Hand

August 15, 2011

The wall of my office is a patchwork of quotations, scotch-taped cutouts hanging from the bookcases every which way. One of them has been reaching out to me for days.

My nature is subdued to what it works in, like the dyer’s hands.
-William Shakespeare

The unconscious works interestingly, in that I have been hearing in my mind the words, “the dyer’s hands.” For days, maybe some weeks, the phrase drifts in. I had a sense of what that quote means to me, but finally thought, “Ok, just sit down and think about this, pay attention. Why do the words keep coming into my head?”

“My nature is subdued…” Start with that. Is nature always subdued to what it works in? Does it mean that no matter where one goes, what one does, nature is both amplified by that and subdued at the same time? I believe it means that. My nature is Nature. It is as big and complex and endless and multivalent as that. Of course it has to be trained, domesticated and subdued to live and work in the human manufactured world.

What part of my nature has been subdued by living alone on a mountain for these past 7 years? The mountain colored everything, like the dyer’s hand is colored. Now I am living in town half of the time. What part of my nature is subdued by being in that landscape? It also colors everything. Doing dreamwork has a hue, being part of a business networking group has a hue, my new Tae Kwan Do practice has a hue, friendships add their color. Is it so that none of these are “me” or my nature, they are the color on the outside, like dye on the dyer’s hand.

So what is my nature? That’s the question. Wash away all of the colors and what do we see? For some reason my psyche has been urging this question.

Perhaps if I live into the question for a bit, I will stumble into the answer, as Rilke suggests.

Contraction and Expansion, Yoga of Life

June 2, 2011

Lately I have been doing a lot of yoga and breathwork – in the Dreams and Yoga class that I offer with yoga teacher Lindsay Wilson, along with classes in Weaverville’s yoga studio with Mary Morgaine Thames, and recently at the retreat in Georgia where a wonderful yoga teacher worked with us. Since moving from Los Angeles, I have only done my yoga practice by myself at home. There is something about doing it along with others that magnifies and intensifies all of it.

In my bed, in that half-awake liminal state, I feel the poses still working on me. Stretch your heart to the sky, shoulders back, lean back. Now fold forward into child’s pose, close your heart into your thighs, rest and protect it. Breathing in, big breath, lean back. Breathing out, let it all out, fold back into yourself. Expand, contract. Contract, expand.

I have been gestating in a process of utter transformation for the last years. I see it now. For 20 years I was a minister, public speaker, traveling constantly, big crowds, public life, living in Los Angeles – expaaaannnnddding  into the world big time. Then I resigned, began doctoral work in depth psychology – probably the most introspective subject there is to study – my marriage ended traumatically, I had a nervous breakdown, moved the mountains to live alone, become a hermit living in the middle of “no-damn-where” as my friend Ruth describes it. Connnntrrraaaaction into interior life big time.

For the last year or so I have been feeling myself moving back into the world, coming out of cocoon state, readying for a new phase. The periods of expansion and contraction are now shorter and more dramatic. Out, out, out I go for days or a couple of weeks, deep into the world; then in, in, in I go contracted back into myself in a big way to balance the expansion and bring myself back in. Out, in. In, out. Out in. In, out. Breathing with the body that is my life. Expanding and contracting the body that is my spirit.

I’m beginning to get the drift. This past year has been very intense as I learn the next life rhythm, but the transformation is happening. I see it and trust it. This is Nature. I am not in charge of Her; She is in charge of me. Nature will take charge of us if we let Her, invite Her, trust and sign on with Her as our Teacher, the Teacher of all teachers. I signed on long ago. Who am I to complain if it is scary and difficult? I submit to Nature with respect.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe out. Breathe in. Life is about balance. Balance is supreme.

My Little Plans

March 1, 2010

I have never bothered to post pictures before, but today, wanting to honor Snow, my captor, I decided to put up these shots I took just a few minutes ago. The one on the left is outside my back door, the one on the right is my sweat lodge on a little knoll below my house.

I wrote an e-mail to a friend to tell her I wouldn’t be able to make it to the art gallery soiree we were planning to go to in Asheville today called Women and Wine, a fundrasier for the gallery; nor did my musician friends who were planning to gather on the mountain last night for fun and music together make the drive – because this, what you see above, moved in. I told my friend, “I am trying to stay in love with Mother Nature, but she doesn’t seem to give a hoot about my plans!” That brought to mind a memory of my spiritual teacher belly laughing as she was talking to us once, saying, “God doesn’t care anything about your little plans!” She could get so tickled, which was so much fun to watch, and the truth of this statement hit me like a little lightning bolt.

I’m not very comfortable using the word “God” anymore as I realize it is too overused, and that very few people have the same thing in mind when they say it, causing its use to distort communication more than assist it. At the time of hearing her say that, though, I knew what she meant of course. Now I generally use less charged words for the same idea, like “nature” or “universe.”

Which leads to my point. Nature doesn’t care anything about my little plans! It seems to me to be one of life’s biggest and hardest lessons. The economy breaking down is destroying a lot of plans. The tsunamis and earthquakes, mud slides and fires – not caring about our plans. How do we situate ourselves appropriately in the context of this much bigger mind of reality? I remember noticing long ago that in Taoist art they paint magnificent, enormous landscapes, with tiny little figures of people somewhere in them on a boat or a trail that you will notice if you look a long time. The Taoist relationship to that huge reality is expressed by the proportions expressed in their art. In Western art often humans are huge towering figures, way larger than life, with their myths and dramas the main expressions in the paintings. Landscapes are by comparison small, distant, lovely backdrops for human affairs.

In Taoist art, you can see right away that nature really doesn’t care anything for our little plans. In Western art, our plans and dramas seem to be the point, nature is decoration. Surely between these two perspectives there is a balance to be struck. I do believe it is one of life’s biggest and hardest lessons. Every night when I turn on the news I hear Nature making her point with all of these challenging natural disasters, most lately in Chile with the tectonic plates under South America moving into new positions. I believe we are not just meant to be victims of what nature decides, nor do I believe in the illusion that we have any control at all. We have a task that we are trying to discover rules and intelligence for in working out this big relationship; how to allow our “little plans” to fit into her “big plans.” It’s an Olympian task. I say this on the closing days of the 2010 Winter Olympics feeling it as such for us.