My son has two dogs. My daughter has two cats. So that is the best I can claim in the grandchildren department. Most of my friends are my children’s’ ages – certainly old enough to have produced descendants, yet oddly – like me – mostly interested in creations of the mind and spirit.
Though certainly I respect the adoration and pride grandparents experience for their offspring’s offspring, there is not an ounce of envy in my heart; indeed some of these very doting people confess that one of the perks of grandparenting is sending the young ones home to mom and dad at the end of a visit.
Having stated my status, I will now relate a most pleasurable afternoon I recently spent as proxy grandma to three Asian kids!
The backstory begins in Singapore a couple of years ago, when my dear friend Rebecca Low, a speech coach and motivational speaker, invited me to co-present three workshops with her at the National University of Singapore. Rebecca graciously extended the trip to include several weeks of visiting and sightseeing. During this time the staff involved at NUS was most helpful and hospitable.
One lovely woman, Ily Tang , and I formed a bond that later continued via email. Last November she wrote to tell me that she and her husband, Wee Wah, would be visiting Princeton and other Eastern universities in connection with their work as part of a student exchange program. They would be bringing their three sons, Niken, aged fifteen, Nimoe, twelve, and Nizon, three and one-half. Could they come for tea? Of course! What do the boys like to eat? Sweets. The date was set for Dec.1st.
Fortunately my apartment is designed so that I use the second bedroom as a den, complete with sleep sofa, coffee table for refreshments and all-important TV set.
MY CONCERNS CONCERNING ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE BOYS WAS FOR NAUGHT. EITHER NIKON OR NIMOE TOOK OVER THE REMOTE AND THE THREE SETTLED IN TO WATCH THEIR FAVORITES WITHOUT INTERFERENCE FROM THEIR PARENTS OR ME. SNACKS WERE ARRANGED ON A WICKER TRAY TABLE. NOTHING EASIER!
THE GROWNUPS GATHERED ROUND THE ROUND DINETTE TABLE TO SIP TEA AND SNACK ON PINWHEEL SANDWICHES AND ASSORTED GOODIES.
NOT A PEEP FROM NIKON, NIMOE OR NIZON!
THE ONLY OUTBURST OF THE AFTERNOON CAME FROM THREE AND A HALF YEAR OLD NIZON WHEN ONE OF HIS BROTHERS TRIED TO REMOVE AN IPHONE CLENCHED IN HIS TINY FIST. OH YES, HE KNEW EXACTLY HOW IT WORKED!
NOW I ASK YOU TO IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO WITH THREE AVERAGE AMERICAN YOUNGSTERS.
I’ve chosen to use this visit as an illustration to talk about basic cultural differences I've observed and experienced between Eastern and Western norms of interpersonal relations. Perhaps it is best noticed at opposite poles of the age spectrum.
If I had to sum it up in a word, that word would be RESPECT.
I respectfully submit three vignettes, well aware that all rules have exceptions.
PLACE: A NYC BUS Nanny occupies a seat while next to her sits a three year old. Elders, some infirm, stand; usually too embarrassed to request that nanny hold her non-paying charge on her lap so a senior can sit.
PLACE: A CITY SIDEWALK Several young mothers pushing prams form a barricade across the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into traffic in order to pass.
PLACE: A RESTAURANT Diners looking forward to a pleasant meal and good conversation are instead treated to the howls of an infant, whose parents unapologetically allow everyone to share their domestic disturbance as if the family were eating at home.
The same holds true for tipsy, loud voiced adults, perhaps the same ones who believe that to be heard one must shout into a cell phone.
HERE ARE A FEW PITHY REMARKS TO ADD TO MY OWN
I have a respect for manners as such; they are a way of dealing with people you don’t agree with or like. Margaret Mead
Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any. Fred Astaire
Recently a friend undertook the daunting task of, inch by inch; spring-cleaning her compact apartment with the intent of discarding what was neither wanted nor needed, then assigning each object a place of its own. Until, of course, the next catharsis.
It’s a system that works on a lot of levels. As I empathized with her arduous endeavor, we explored the inherent blessings lurking in the process of choice.
One of us – or maybe both – burst out with ”BLESS THIS MESS!!!”
MESSES COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES AS WELL AS DIMENSIONS – PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL CLUSTERS OF THOUGHT AND CONDITIONS.
ALL CONGESTION IS DEFINED/CONFINED BY OPINION: OUR OWN, AND THOSE OF SOCIETY, FAMILY AND FRIENDS. SOLICITED OR OTHERWISE. SOME SYNONYMS FOR MESS ARE CHAOS, CLUTTER AND CONFUSION.
SOME OPPOSITE CONDITIONS ARE CLARITY, CLEANLINESS AND CONGRUENCE, WHICH ENCOMPASS THE EXACT REQUIREMENTS NEEDED BY THE MIND THAT CREATED THE MESS, IN ORDER TO CORRECT THE CONDITION.
THIS IS SOMETHING OF A CATCH-22, CONSIDERING THAT ALBERT EINSTEIN FAMOUSLY CLAIMED THAT NO PROBLEM COULD BE SOLVED BY THE MIND THAT CREATED IT.
BREAKDOWN PRECEDES BREAKTHROUGH
This is a widely held axiom which corresponds to the observation that it is always darkest before the dawn.
I cannot vouch for the source or scientific accuracy of this adage, though based purely on personal experience it proves reliable.
One can be in a mess without being in a stew, though a stew qualifies by definition as sort of a mess – assorted ingredients randomly cooked together. So it appears that life, contrary to appearances, is arranged according to unseen logic and unknown connections, mirroring and determined by who knows what. Just as pulling on a particular strand of yarn might unravel a knotted sweater, so might a seeming mistake inadvertently prove to form an integral piece of the pattern.
WHO AMONG US IS SUFFICIENTLY WISE TO DISCERN KERNELS OF TRUTH TOSSED IN THE TRASH ALONG WITH THE RUBBISH? BECAUSE OUR VISION IS 20/20 MOSTLY IN HINDSIGHT, UPON REQUEST WE ARE GRANTED THE GRACE OF DIVINE GUIDANCE TO GLEAN THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF.
As my friend, beginning at any arbitrary point, muddled through her stuff, seeking harmonic arrangements, she, as a student of human potential, was most likely aware of following dictates of discernment from her Higher Self.
As I contemplate possible outcomes of certain life altering scenarios playing out currently in the theater of my ego mind, I have choices. If I believe the terrifying images on the screen of my mental observation to be Truth, merely watching them may be too fearful to contemplate. If I deny my perception, I crown myself Queen of De-nial, risking my sanity.
If I choose instead to acknowledge my predicament as an opportunity to invoke the protective presence of my Highest Self, designer and co-creator with God, I can then elect to learn whatever lessons are prescribed for graduation with honors from this earthly correctional institution.
The Mind that will lead me to a higher level of understanding sees the entire panorama of purpose from a vantage point that encompasses All. Picture yourself standing in a throng of celebrants on New Years’ Eve, each vying for the best viewpoint from which to watch the festivities. The jostling of the crowd determines and distorts every attempt to see clearly and move freely. Then a helicopter flies overhead. Imagine being instantly transported to its cockpit, surrounded by sound equipment, every variety of camera lens and crew members trained to anticipate and facilitate every eventuality.
YES THERE IS A GUIDANCE SYSTEM WHICH COMES FREE OF CHARGE WITH EVERY MORTAL MODEL! BLESS EVERY MESS!
Lately there have been a couple of books about the out of body experiences of two scientists (Dr. Mary Bell – “To Heaven and Back”) and Dr. Eben Alexander - Proof of Heaven”). Both authors are neurosurgeons who have reversed their long held clinical beliefs regarding the finality of death as a result of personal experiences.
When our broken bodies and brains depart Earth for the dimension we designate as Heaven, could this be comparable to sending a totally totaled automobile back to the factory for restoration rather than to rot in a a grave/junkyard?
The car has served us faithfully, hauling us around in exchange for fuel and maintenance. What if vehicles were rewarded with a chance to rest, a new carcass (pun intended) and an opportunity for further service?
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT OUR DIVINE CREATOR IS SO SHORT SIGHTED AS TO FASHION A COMPLEX MULTI-FACETED BEING SUCH AS MAN – TO SAY NOTHING OF THE INTRICACIES OF FEMININE WILES AND WISDOM - THEN TOSS IT ASIDE FOR AN UNSEASONED MODEL? WHY WOULD HE/SHE PUT SUCH A LIMITED SHELF LIFE ON LIFE?
NO DOCTOR OR MIDWIFE EVER OBSERVED AN EXPIRATION DATE STAMPED ON ANY BABYS FOOT. WHEN THE BABYS’ BOD WEARS OUT, COULD
IT GO BACK TO THE FACTORY FOR RENEWAL?
THIS MAKES AN EXCELLENT CASE FOR RECYCLING!
IT IS CALLED REINCARNATION!
In previous blogs I have referred to perhaps the original major influence of my life, a book I received as a young child titled JIJI LOU, subtitled “The Story of a Cast-Off Doll”, by Luline Bowles Mayol. The narrative tells how Jiji Lou, a rag doll who had seen better days, along with a broken china dog named Nebs, were tossed into a garbage can because their mistress’ nurse had deemed them a disgrace to the nursery.
They were rescued by Jenks the Junkman and taken to Junkland, a haven for cast-off toys, where all arrivals were restored to original condition by the Make-over Man.
Newly inspired, Jiji Lou and Nebs make a pumpkin home for all the baby dolls in Junkland!
IT CANNOT BE MERE CHANCE THAT ONE OF MY PROFESSIONS WAS IMAGE CONSULTING. I PROVIDED GUIIDANCE FOR CLIENTS DESIRING MORE SUCCESSFUL CAREERS BY ADJUSTING THEIR DRESS AND DEMEANOR. LATER, I FOUNDED A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION (SUITABILTY) WHICH ASSISTED DISADVANTAGED WELFARE RECIPIENTS AND AT-RISK YOUTH TOWARD FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AND IMPROVED SELF-ESTEEM.
JIJI LOU REMAINS MY ROLE MODEL AS I REINVENT MYSELF FOR PERHAPS THE SIXTH TIME. NOW I CALL MYSELF A LIFE TRANSITION COUNSELOR.
ANOTHER MENTOR FROM GREEK MYTHOLOGY IS PERSEPHONE, BELOVED DAUGHTER OF DEMETER, GODDESS OF THE GRAIN. AS PERSEPHONE GATHERED FLOWERS IN A FIELD, PLUTO, GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD WAS SMITTEN WITH HER BEAUTY AND ABDUCTED HER TO HIS DARK UNDERWORLD KINGDOM. PLUTO EVENTUALLY STRUCK A BARGAIN WITH THE INCONSOLABLE DEMETER, PERMITTING PERSEPHONE TO DIVIDE HER TIME BETWEEN EARTH AS DEMETERS’ DUTIFUL DAUGHTER, BRINGING SPRING AND SUMMER, AND HADES, WHERE SHE REIGNED AS QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD, LEAVING EARTH BARREN IN AUTUMN AND WINTER.
IN YOUTH I WAS MAMAS’ LITTLE GIRL. IN MY VERSION OF PERSEPHONE'S STORY, I SEDUCED PLUTO AND WILLINGLY WENT WITH HIM TO HADES, HIS HOME. HADES IS A METAPHOR FOR THE SUBCONSCIOUS, WHERE I LEARNED TO NAVIGATE ITS’ SECRETS AND MYSTERIES, MATURING INTO A WISE WOMAN AND GUIDE.
In today’s’ culture, many Persephone women attempt to remain “The Eternal Girl”, as she was called, reluctant to recognize that wilted flowers are dead. Only by burying their innocence, can women embrace mature wisdom, finding a deeper joy in new roles as national treasures and trendsetters for upcoming generations.
JIJI LOU’S STORY BEGINS WITH A POEM IN THE PREFACE OF HER BOOK:
Now, Jiji Lou was a cast-off doll. And her troubles, you must admit, Were many and great, But she’d never state That she was aware of it.
And Jiji Lou was a shabby doll, And her clothes were faded and torn, But she never grumbled And never groaned, And she never looked forlorn.
And Jiji Lou was a homeless doll, And as timid as a mouse, But she worked with a will And a smile until She had built a pumpkin house.
She was always happy, she always smiled, She was always brave and true, She was kind, she was good, She did all that she could,
Now, that’s a lesson for you.
AREN'T WE AS A SPECIES WORTH AT LEAST AS MUCH AS JUNK?
I am literally starting this blog over. Having written a hundred words or so under the title “Shifting Sands" – then saving it to be continued after doing further research on my subject – I returned to find the file had "vanished”. Since this is technically impossible, I figured the blog was hiding in plain sight, signaling that Plan B would fare better; a different title...a new beginning.
Plan A was to talk about the shifting sands of time, inspired by the prophesies of the ancient Mayan calendar, which many assumed predicted the End of Time on December 21, 2012. Since the sun rose once more on December 22, clearly there was need for an alternate interpretation.
Though our topic remains essentially the same, let’s assume that, rather than the prediction of an apocalypse actually happening, destroying our physical universe, the end of the world meant the demise of long held, cherished and finally – at last – obsolete belief systems.
IT’S GOOD NEWS FOR THE GALS! ACTUALLY IT’S GOOD NEWS FOR THE GUYS TOO. AFTER CENTURIES OF MASCULINE DOMINANCE, THIS CHANGE SIGNIFIES A BALANCE OF YIN AND YANG RATHER THAN THE OPPRESSOR/OPPRESSEE RELATIONSHIP OF THE WAR BETWEEN THE SEXES.
SCHOLAR, LECTURER AND AUTHOR DR. JEAN HOUSTON, AMONG MANY OTHERS, HAS SPOKEN AND WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THIS SHIFTING PARADIGM, RECENTLY UNDER THE AUSPICES OF “WOMEN ON THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION.” EXAMINING MY OWN BELIEF SYSTEM FOR CONSISTENCY AND LOOPHOLES, I AM NOW HOLDING PREVIOUS ASSUMPTIONS TO THE LIGHT FOR FURTHER EXAMINATION; FOR INSTANCE; DO I REALLY STILL BELIEVE THAT ONE MUST ENDURE PAINFUL CHALLENGES TO GROW SPIRITUALLY? ON REFLECTION, I AM WILLING TO LOOSEN MY MINDS’ GRIP ON THE ACCURACY OF THIS AXIOM! IT IS NOW CARVED IN CLAY RATHER THAN STONE;
CLAY IS EASILY DISSOLVED.
Oscar Hammerstein said it as well as anyone in his superb lyric sung by the King in “The King and I”:
There are times I almost think
Nobody sure of what he absolutely know.
Everybody find confusion
In conclusion he concluded long ago
And it puzzle me to learn
That tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know,
Very quickly he will fight…
He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so!
…..is a puzzlement!
SO IF THE STRUCTURES WE GREW UP BELIEVING TO BE SOLID AND EVERLASTING SHIFT WITH THE SANDS OF TIME, PERHAPS WE CAN LOOK FOR HOPE IN THE WORDS OF IRA GERSHWIN:
TAKING A PAGE FROM ONE OF IRA AND GEORGE GERSHWINS’ WORKS FROM THE “GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK”, “OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY”, LET’S TWEAK THE MEANING OF THE MESSAGE FROM ROMANTIC TO AGAPE (SPIRITUAL) LOVE, SINCE AN EVERLASTING CONCEPT OF COMMITMENT IN RELATIONSHIPS IS NOW ALL BUT EXTINCT:
It’s very clear; our love is here to stay.
Not for a year but ever and a day.
The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.
But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay.
Together we’re going a long,
In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble
They’re only made of clay,
But our love is here to stay.
WALKING ON SHIFTING SANDS FEELS INSECURE. TO STAY UPRIGHT ONE MUST SHIFT IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT IS UNDERFOOT. IT’S LIKE DOWNHILL SKIING, WHERE LEGS AND HIPS SWAY AND KNEES BEND TO ACCOMMODATE THE MOMENTUM OF THE SLOPE, PREVENTING THE TUMBLE THAT RIGIDITY AND RESISTANCE WOULD CAUSE.
THIS NEW ERA – THIS NEW BEGINNING – BECOMES DANGEROUS IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO THE FEAR/RESISTANCE WE BRING TO THE ADVENTURE. WE MUST LEARN TO ACHIEVE BALANCE AND HARMONY IN OUR LOCAL AND GLOBAL COMMUNITIES.
Lately I have been concerned - I refuse to say worried – so OK – worried - about a seemingly threatening issue. Though experience has repeatedly taught that rescue always arrives in the nick of time from an unexpected direction, this dark cloud hovered above me, dark and foreboding disaster. At such times I follow my own rules, keep calm, retreat to my safe center, my position of witness - using the promises of Psalm 91 as a protective buffer.
These words came to me Thanksgiving morning as I huddled under the covers:
I say to you: Fear not. Go to the Light. Light is Love.
Your errors are forgiven. All is forgotten. You are Free.
More wisdom continued.
Dwell in the Light of Certainty.
FEAR is IGNORANCE.
My animals have taught me so much. I remember my eight pound Pekinese, Princess Yin, as a precocious pup, afraid of nothing until one evening she burst into agitated barking. Upon investigation, the object of her terror turned out to be a nightshirt that to her must have had a frightening shape, which I had hung over the bathtub to dry. I took it down and she saw that it presented no threat.
Yinnie understood that it was harmless.
Children learn early on that Halloween witches and the fearsome Wizard of Oz exist only for their entertainment.
Boogie men are easily banished by nightlights.
Indra, a close friend and fellow traveler, offered this instruction as a ritual which can help change a worried, non-productive mindset:
Gather documents representative of your dilemma(s).
Place them beneath a lit light (lamp, candle) of your choice.
Tell them that they are returning to the light of Enlightenment.
Bless them on their way.
OUR MINDS OPERATE SOMEWHAT LIKE WATER FILTERS WHICH ARE DESIGNED TO ELIMINATE ELEMENTS DETERMINED BY THE EGO TO BE DETRIMENTAL TO ITS’ AGENDA.
IN RECENT TIMES PAST TO THE PRESENT; PHOTOGRAPHERS PLACED FILTERS ON THEIR CAMERAS WHICH ALTERED EFFECTS OF COLOR AND LIGHT UPON SUBJECTS. IN THIS DIGITAL AGE, VISUAL RESULTS ARE LARGELY CONTROLLED BY HUMANS USING COMPUTER PROGRAMS.
MEMORIES OF PAST EVENTS EFFECTIVELY SCREEN OUR PERFORMANCE, FORMING A BLUEPRINT FOR FUTURE PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR. EVERYONE SEES THE PRESENT IN HIS/HER LIGHT OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL PAST, ENSURING MORE OF THE SAME CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
IT IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED BY BEHAVIORAL PSYCHOLOGISTS THAT REPETITIVE BEHAVIOR INDUCES A TENDENCY TOWARD REPETITION. THIS CAN BE CONFIRMED BY OBSERVATION:
IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU ALWAYS DID, YOU WILL ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU ALWAYS GOT. THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RESULT.
Soaking in a soothing bath is one of my fave places to receive guidance; in this instance, insight for a way to reinforce the significant message of this blog. Certain that greater minds than mine must have contemplated this theme, I turned to my faithful servant, the internet.
SO THESE GEMS CROP UP: We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them. Christian Nevell Bovee
Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace. Lester B. Pearson
Fear always springs from ignorance. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ignorance is the parent of fear. Herman Melville
LET’S GO A BIT DEEPER. “A COURSE IN MIRACLES”, (PUBLISHED BY THE FOUNDATION FOR INNER PEACE), IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN DICTATED BY JESUS TO HELEN SCHUCMAN, A JEW WHO WAS ALSO AN ATHEIST WHILE SHE WAS A PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. THE TEXT CLAIMS THAT ALL EMOTIONS DERIVE FROM ONLY TWO - LOVE AND FEAR.
SCRIPTURE STATES THAT:
THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE. BUT PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR….. John 4:18
SO CLEARLY, KNOWLEDGE BANISHES IGNORANCE ALONG WITH ITS SOURCE, FEAR, RESTORING LOVE.