Training Wheels

Bike, Cycling, Child, Training Wheels

I believe in inner guidance and have relied on it quite a bit in my life. Whether through dreams, clear nudges, or sometimes in direct contemplation or lucid visions, answers to questions I am pondering often provide clear direction for my growth and development.  Reliance on inner guidance is not an abdication of personal responsibility and agency; it is simply a matter of developing and utilizing our innate human potential for connecting with our own higher viewpoint or spiritual awareness that is available to anyone at any time. 

Last week I was walking with my dog Sophie for our daily exercise around the neighborhood. I heard the voice of a man calling out:

“Stay to the side of the road! Watch for cars!”

When I looked to where the voice was coming from, I saw a small boy, maybe five or six, riding on a little bicycle out from his driveway, followed by a man with a slightly greyed beard whom I presumed was the boy’s father or perhaps his grandfather. Then I saw the boy’s bicycle was equipped with training wheels. His mentor was coaching from behind the young boy, helping him learn to ride a bike.

I watched the man and boy as they rode up the road, side by side up to an intersection where they turned off into the same performing arts parking lot that Sophie and I were heading to for our daily walk.

Person, Man, Child, People, Grandfather

A bit later while Sophie and I were still moving about at the arts center, I saw the boy come racing out on his training bike from the box office area; I mean, really fast for a little boy learning to feel comfortable on a bike.

“Very good! Now, put on your brake! Be careful!”

The boy did as instructed and applied his brakes gently but firmly; he came to a definite but not too hard of a stop. Then father and son continued back toward their home again, with the father following in the rear, allowing the boy to be in the lead yet knowing he could rely on his mentor’s guidance as needed.

Duck, Pond, Lake, Mama, Nature, Water

Watching the boy learning to ride a bike reminded me of how my Dad taught me to swim. We had a backyard pool. He had the hose filling it for the season, but he brought me into the pool when it was maybe three or four feet deep. First, he just held me up and gently let me go, telling me to use my arms to stay afloat. Next, Dad pulled a few feet away from where I was holding onto one side of the pool, and he asked me to swim to him. Then, he pulled further away and further, each time asking me to swim to him. If I was too afraid to try, he would move closer that round. Finally, he was at the opposite side of the pool and I was able to cross the great waters to reach him!

This is how inner guidance generally works with me. It lets me do all I can on my own, but when I need help, I know I can always call on what I perceive as my inner Guides for support, protection and guidance.

Fantasy, Portrait, Root, Moss, Forest
images are from pixabay.com

As I have been reflecting on this gift of inner guidance after watching the boy learn to ride a bike, I realize how a good part of working with inner guidance involves developing self-reflexive awareness. We learn to look at ourselves as a mentor, guide or Master might look at us; so we maintain a higher viewpoint and can self-correct as well as receive direct inner guidance as needed. This can help us build self discipline and somewhat of a more objective viewpoint about our own attitudes or actions.

Please note that I have added a new feature to the blog in the right column. You are invited to engage with the journaling prompts in the Better Endings SEED STORY prompts. Enjoy!

Pink Flamingoes (Set a Sign to Follow Your Heart)

Flamingos, Birds, Couple, Pair, Flight

Some four to five years ago as I was just beginning to consider the prospects of retirement and relocation, I decided to set a private sign that I would see if I was meant to relocate.  I chose pink flamingoes as my token sign because this image was not very common where I was living then in Colorado.  I have used this approach one other time and it was very effective then, so I made my inner postulate to see pink flamingos as an affirmation it was time to leave and hopefully with some indication then of where I should move to after my retirement.

I did start seeing pink flamingos more frequently than I had noticed them before, and sometimes at odd times. Not that this sign was a major impetus for retiring relatively early, but it did help buttress my resolve.  This sign seemed also to show up in ads and such in a way that suggested a certain direction of movement: back East rather than, let’s say, to Florida (though that was not out of the question for me and is where pink flamingos might be more expected). 

Flamingo, Bird, Silhouette, Pink, Nature

I retired except for part-time online teaching in 2018 and relocated to New York state, near to where one of my sisters lives and at the time near where my mother was in a nursing home. This was home turf for me since I had moved Out West from Buffalo, NY over forty years earlier. I first moved to one town I had researched online, Ithaca, for about 9 months. It was nice and I was happy to be able to continue teaching there part-time, but I soon realized it was not my final retirement destination. I started seeing pink flamingoes again when I thought about moving elsewhere, and that next move was to a lakeside community in Canandaigua, still in the Finger Lakes, translated from Iroquois as “the chosen place.”

My second move was also good, and I enjoyed lakeside living for a year and a half in a small, nestled community of largely retired folks like myself. But when the pandemic struck, I started feeling restless again, and isolated in my remote little patio home, and I realized that this was still not my deeply sought destination.  I started visiting and thinking about my original, high school hometown two hours away, a quaint but active community centered around a performing arts center and nestled near a river and a lake, just across the border from Canada.  I sold my lake house, packed up and moved with my pets again, to rent the house where we are living now.

Flamingo, Water, Pink, Sky, Bird, Sunset

I am Back Home (at least in the physical world sense), and it is exactly where I want to be.

A few weeks ago, I went for breakfast at a great little diner up the road a bit from my new home. Although the diner is in the countryside and not very near to any body of water, I realized the theme in all the pictures on the wall was pink flamingoes! This time the sign felt like a confirmation: that this is where I was meant to be moving to, all along. Since then, I have been seeing pink flamingoes quite a lot in my little hometown: at stores, in peoples’ yards, and lately, filling the screen when I turn on my desktop computer.

I haven’t always thought that this practice of setting up a personal sign and paying attention when you see it works. I have had other friends who have used it effectively for themselves through the years, and now the two times I have used the approach, it has worked very well for me too.

Flamingo, Dusk, Sunset, Roseus, Nature
images are gratefully from pixabay.com

But why?  The practice of choosing a private sign is I think a way of working with your own inner guidance or with your higher/ superconscious awareness.  It sets up a suggestion that lets your unconscious mind and your spiritual consciousness work together in tandem; it can align you with your deeper Self, with your own inner compass, helping guide you to find your own North Star.

Deer Vision

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I have had two waking dream concepts recently about my monthly question of ‘Why Am I/ Are We Here?’ I realize now they are two facets of the same idea: “Bubble awareness” and “Deer vision.” Both refer to living mindfully in the Now. Let me begin by exploring Deer Vision, as it seems most relevant to my probe.

In the rural environment I drive through where I am living now, white-tailed deer are abundant. They are such exquisite Beings, playful and loving in their close family groups, able to dive and leap in play with one another. One of my greatest concerns is that I never want to hit one as it would be crossing a road. So, I try to drive always with Deer Vision: looking far enough ahead and driving at such a speed that I could slow or stop in time to avoid injuring a deer.

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Deer Vision also means for me to consider and emulate how a deer sees. Such soft, intelligent eyes these white-tailed deer have. They often make eye contact with me as I stop for them to cross or as I slowly drive past. I imagine that how a deer sees is in energy forms, perceiving and assessing the intentions or consciousness of other denizens of the forest.

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This brings me to the broader notion of Bubble Awareness. From fencing I learned how important it can be to maintain a 360 degree awareness, forming a protective but fluid  ‘bubble’ of attention. This allows responsivity, let’s call it, the flexibility to advance or retreat in the moment without having to consciously “think” about it. When the alter (i.e. the opponent, in fencing) and self are both operating at a high degree of this sort of awareness, the ‘bubble’ envelops them both and they are in it together. I used to call this a ‘peak experience bout.’ But the principle extends to life in general.

I am Here, in part, to exercise Deer Vision within the perspective  of Bubble Awareness: to be attentive and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the Moment, for myself and in relation to all others.

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images are from pixabay.com

To be sure, being (only) human, I do not always achieve or maintain this ideal awareness. The other day while driving and actually mulling over Deer Vision at the time, a beautiful little chipmunk darted out in front of my car. Although I tried to slow down and veered slightly to avoid hitting the chipmunk, the car did run the chipmunk over. Darn!

My very act of trying to avoid the chipmunk may have been what caused the accident to happen, since s/he could not adjust to my change in speed or trajectory. Likewise, when “trying” too hard in life more generally, I often err in my human relations, too. Darn! So, patience with myself, acceptance of my limitations or the limitations of the situation as I/ we aim to see and respond, better.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

Happily Ever After

 

lover holding hand walking on the beach

What do we so love about classic love stories? We call true love of a romantic sort ‘kismet’; two wandering souls find in each other a magical congruence or mysterium coniunctionum that lifts each of them to greater at-One-ment not only with one another but within their unified Selves or however the story defines the enhanced quality of these ‘charmed’ lovers being able to Live Their Dream, Now! (i.e. to “live happily, ever after”).

Mythology and literature, drama and film and poetry—all artistic forms of expression—are replete with the image of predestined lovers finding each other and in the process, finding or completing their Selves.

Many of the great love stories bring major change into the lovers’ lives. They thought they would “settle,” but no, the Universe has another plan for them. They stumble upon each other as a form of serendipity and as if it is unavoidable, they take notice and take the plunge! “Happily Ever After” awaits—so we are told anyway—just around the bend.

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Let’s review some modern love stories from cinema:

Casablanca

Here Bogart as Rick Blain sacrifices his own feelings of devotion to Ilsa, an old love, for the better, higher interests of all concerned. His heart changes as a result; he drops remorse for his earlier loss and attains a higher perspective.

An Affair to Remember

Here Deborah Kerr (as Terry McKay) finds her one true if unlikely love while on an ocean cruise, just before each of them is scheduled to marry the fiancees awaiting their return. Both are willing to make sacrifices in order to ultimately be together. Cary Grant (as Nick Ferrante) renounces his inheritance to earn a living through his art—forging a more authentic Self in the process—while Terry almost sacrifices the love affair altogether after suffering an accident that paralyzes her. She wants to be whole and able to carry her own part if she is to deserve to marry Nick. But Kismet has its way, weaving a pathway by which these predestined lovers are able to unite in the End.

Sleepless in Seattle/ You’ve Got Mail

Nora Ephron produced a pair of similar contemporary tales of Kismet, even casting the same two lover-actors with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  Sleepless in Seattle alludes back to An Affair to Remember, having the lovers eventually connect, as based on that film, at the top of the Empire State building, achieving an apex of higher connection. With You’ve Got Mail the star-crossed lovers meet online as well as outwardly, needing to each transcend their Pride (Joe Fox) and Prejudice (Kathleen Kelly)—yes, based on that Jane Austen allusion—before they can earn their own balanced love that will suit them from then forth, “happily ever after.”

Universe Background

In all three of these ‘classic’ films, Love does more than simply triumph by bringing appropriate partners together into longterm romantic relationships. It cancels the inappropriate, immature relations they had been settling for or holding onto in memory while preparing each lover to gain self-realization so that their ultimate, true marriage can ring true and benefit the Whole of their families and worlds.

Do you have a tale of kismet to share? I welcome your insights and stories!

Giving ‘UP’ — The Way of Surrender!

 

A Month of the Best of Better Endings, ‘First Principles’Day 7:

Giving UP! — The Way of Surrender

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Never Give Up, but you can always give UP—or, surrender—to attain Better Endings. Giving UP means, to me, releasing a problem or an attitude to a Higher Force and Higher Awareness, however you choose to define that. “I give UP!” releases my attachment to a situation or to a specific outcome. Then, what is truly needed or appropriate is free to manifest.

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Surrender. What a concept this is, riddled with a dual character. A warrior might regard surrender as a failure of mission, although it allows for them to survive to another day. I imagine the Wicked Witch of the West on her broomstick, spelling out “Surrender Dorothy!” in the sky over Munchkinland. “Never!,” we think. At the same time, though, surrender is a path to freedom from attachment; letting go, or letting God. Surrender your fears and anxiety; be willing to “Take the Journey!” Here’s the double entendre: what if the witch’s message was actually a positive invitation to Dorothy, a wake-up call in the form of a waking dream?

When we hold tightly to a fixed position, attitude, belief or desire, we might be limiting our flow of creative potential and insight. Release your grip just ever so much to be open to the Way. I had a Quaker friend who used to tell me, whenever there was any confusion about what next step to take, “Way will Out!”

So, Give UP; surrender to your higher awareness; Way will Out!