The Collective Dark Night of the Soul

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

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Kesha: Poet and Visionary

It’s SUPER HOT today with a fierce Santa Ana sort of heat where every breath is so tortuous you can feel it bone deep, so I’m drinking tons of water (really), working on a few indoor projects, and listening to music.

Since I never really grew up or adulted successfully, I used to sing along with Ke$ha’s TikTok  or Your Love is My Drug and I Kissed a Girl with Katy Perry–I know, I know, can you imagine how embarrassing it was to be that grown up professorial child of mine as a captive audience on the way home from college when I picked him up from the airport?

Gotta vision of me singing?  Love these lyrics: “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack–Popo shut us down” lol…

Tee hee. Oh well, like I told him a few dozen times, one of us had to grow up, and he was IT!

Somewhere along the way while I stayed in this perpetual state of adolescence–immobile, stuck in amber like a 40 million-year-old fly…Ke$ha became Kesha and grew up.

This song.

These words.

This real anguish.

Listen hard. Feel her.

I get it. Oh yes, I get it. Way too much. Way too real for this fantasy-dwelling-timid-forest-creature-rose-colored-glasses wearing grandma. Maybe there’s hope for me and one day I’ll grow up too.

Nah. That ain’t never gonna happen.

Check out these lyrics. Poetry and pure angst. Beautifully painful. Painfully beautiful.

Praying
“Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams? Those horrible dreams that seem like they last forever? If I am alive, why? Why? If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known? I’ve ever loved? Stranded. What is the lesson? What is the point? God, give me a sign, or I have to give up. I can’t do this anymore. Please just let me die. Being alive hurts too much.”

Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, and after everything you’ve done
I can thank you for how strong I have become

‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come

‘Cause I can make it on my own
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known
I’ve been thrown out, I’ve been burned ([Live version:] I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain)
When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name

You brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

Oh, sometimes, I pray for you at night
Oh, someday, maybe you’ll see the light
Oh, some say, in life you gonna get what you give
But some things, only God can forgive

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

 

The Dark Night of the Soul

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When you start hearing and reading this phrase EVERYWHERE, out of the blue, you sit up like a meerkat and take notice.

(And yes, you aren’t imagining things; I did write another post about the word forgive that showed up on my radar. Now it’s the phrase, dark night of the soul. I’ve been trying to finish writing this post for about three weeks.)

During my own personal Bataan death march of this involuntary tortuous journey of soul discovery, I dipped my toe into the maelstrom of an agonizing Weltschmerz.

Since I’m an introspective and insightful sort of person, a swirling thought began to form in my gray matter: why am I seeing these words? (I don’t have an answer yet.)

From blog posts to Deepak Chopra to random articles on the internet, there seems to be a plethora of attention fixed on the “dark night of the soul”, just exactly like I saw wetiko at every turn for a while.

What does it all mean? Wetiko…forgive…dark night of the soul… Is there a connection?

What IS the dark night of the soul?

It’s a chicken and egg sort of conundrum: Which comes first, depression or darkness?

Have YOU experienced it?

What I’ve learned is that this is so true: “Wherever you go, there you are.” You can’t run from yourself, you can’t distract the pain with anything; you’ve got to face it head on and hopefully make it through to the other side.

Are we experiencing it collectively as humankind? Or should I better refer to it humanUNkind…

“If you aren’t in the moment, 
you are either looking forward to uncertainty, or back to pain and regret.
“—Jim Carrey

So I did a little research.

Eckhardt Tolle describes it this way:

The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time.  Yes, I have also experienced it.  It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.  Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level.  The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies.  Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before.  Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.  So that results in a dark place.  But people have gone into that, and then there is the possibility that you emerge out of that into a transformed state of consciousness.  Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that you can necessarily explain.  Quite often it’s from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed.

They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind.  A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer.  It’s a kind of re-birth.  The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die.  What dies is the egoic sense of self.  Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.  Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening.  Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.

The dark night of the soul occurs when you confront your innermost fears and feel them completely and deeply. These are fears that you’ve had, but which you previously kept from conscious awareness by staying busy, using intoxicants, or willing yourself not to think about them.

In a cycle of irony, when we hide our fears from conscious awareness, it’s because we are afraid of our own fears. Yet, when we face the fears, we can see how illogical and powerless they are. That’s when we are no longer ruled or controlled by unconscious fears. It’s true freedom!

For most people, this process involves confronting issues of life and death, the meaning of your life, and whether life is worth living. The dark night of the soul is similar to the initiations that ancient Egyptian candidates for high priest- and priestesshood would endure.

In that culture, you’d be enclosed in a sarcophagus, which is like a coffin, for several days. In that enclosed environment, with no light and just enough air not to suffocate, your mind would terrify you as your fears came alive as very realistic hallucinations.

At the end of two or three days, when the sarcophagus was opened up, if you were still alive, you passed the initiation. Some people actually died from fear, even though it was just in their minds. This shows how terrifying our thoughts can be if we were to really confront them head-on.

In a dark night of the soul, you feel totally alone in the world, completely misunderstood, as if you don’t fit in anywhere. You feel like your life doesn’t matter, so what’s the use of carrying on? It’s painful!

Like the ancient Egyptian initiation, the dark night of the soul puts you in a position of life or death. Some people don’t survive, because they decide life isn’t worth living, and unfortunately, they tragically take their own lives. For some, this suicide takes a slower pace, with the person using toxic addictions to gradually kill themselves.

But if you can stay with the emotions, including the very painful ones, the dark night of the soul can actually lift your whole life to a higher and clearer level.

Nobody wishes for a dark night of the soul, and it’s not something that you can create artificially. Basically, it just happens when you least expect it, usually because something has triggered a deep and dark emotional place inside of you.

Dark nights of the soul, like every part of life, serve a healing and useful function. The dark night of the soul is a mirror that you hold up to yourself so that you can see the contents of your ego’s fears. A lot of the painful emotions you’re experiencing are connected to situations that happened in your childhood. Present-day situations are triggering painful memories.

Don’t numb your pain or run away from your emotions. They’re your teachers! Just keep asking your painful feelings, “What are you here to teach me?”

Ultimately, it will boil down to this: forgiving yourself and everyone who has ever hurt you is the only way to escape the pain. You don’t need to forgive their actions. You definitely should still stand up for yourself and be truthful about your feelings. And you don’t want to stand for any form of abuse. But forgiveness is essential as the ultimate detox. Let go of the past in all directions of time and finally be free.

From Kosmos Journal for Global Transformation:

Anyone may go through a period of sadness or challenge that is so deep-seated and tenacious that it qualifies as a dark night of the soul. Not long ago I was giving a talk at a university when a man shouted at me from back in the crowd: “I’m terribly depressed. It’s been years. Help me.” I shouted back my email address. In his voice and body language I could see that this man was not caught in some passing depression. His life was broken by some loss, failure, or long-forgotten emotional wound that left him in a desperately dark place.

I reserve the expression ‘dark night of the soul’ for a dark mood that is truly life-shaking and touches the foundations of experience, the soul itself. But sometimes a seemingly insignificant event can give rise to a dark night: You may miss a train and not attend a reunion that meant much to you. Often a dark night has a strong symbolic quality in that it points to a deeper level of emotion and perhaps a deeper memory that gives it extra meaning. With dark nights you always have to be alert for the invisible memories, narratives, and concerns that may not be apparent on the surface.

Faced with a dark night, many people treat it like an illness, like depression. They may take medication or go into counseling looking for a cause. It can be useful to search for the roots of a dark night, but in my experience the best way to deal with it is to find the concrete action or decision that it is asking for.

And from Dr. Deepak Chopra:

 

Have you experienced this? Do you think it’s severe depression, mental illness, or is a dark night of the soul  a rite of passage to happiness, peace, and harmony?

Synchronicity

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Like autumn leaves turning color, falling to expose naked branches,  I see the green, golden, and red leafy reminders of the same word everywhere I turn.

When I was with Angel Boy 2.0, we stood in the forest and I picked up handfuls of maple leaves, tossed them high into the air and we laughed as they gently floated down around us.

“More! More!” he squealed. “AmmahAmmah, MORE!” And so I did. And the moment was even more precious as he raced away clutching one of them to keep for the walk home.

The word I see and hear everywhere is FORGIVEness.

On social media, in emails, songs I hear over and over again, in a seemingly random manner or maybe not so random, right?

And this old song, “Heart of the Matter”…is it time to pay attention, to really LISTEN to that inner voice?

Just like those maple leaves, let it go.

‘Nuff said…

 

Walking away…The bittersweetness of it.

Nothing stays the same.

Children grow.

No matter how much you want them to remain babies that simply smile, sleep, poop, and eat, children don’t stay that way forever.

As soon as they begin to move, to crawl, to walk; the rest of their life seems to be dedicated to moving AWAY from us.

I visited sweet Angel Boy 2.0 recently and my overall observation was of his back, moving TOWARD what caught his eye, what intrigued him, and what was the next obstacle to surmount.

No longer a baby, AB 2.0 walks and runs everywhere; his autonomy and confidence is a magnificent thing to behold, albeit a bit scary, too.

He’s fearless, this amazing boy of my boy.

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Contemplating a sea of possibilities

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His confident and empowered stride

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The world is endlessly fascinating

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A boy and his balloon

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The magic of salmon

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My two boys, Angel 1.0 and 2.0

Just Sunday, that’s all…

I spent the entire day with one of my oldest friends. We had lost touch for many years but picked up the thread as if it were only hours between chats, and not the chasm of time that separated us.

It was my fault. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. I apologized and she forgave me.

So simple. True. Honest. Authentic.

Here are three of my favorite things to celebrate and be grateful for on this kind of overcast and cloudy Sunday.

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Death. SO VERY BIG

Before I was Princess Rosebud and Rowdy Rosie, I was a little girl who loved to dance in pink tutus and satin toe shoes.

A sweet and innocent little girl who was very gentle and sorta clueless about life.

Who loved animals (especially wolves and coyotes and foxes and mountain lions and bobcats) but all animals really.

Who never had to face life’s seriously sucky tribulations, cos life was pretty good most of the time.

Especially when there were seashells to pick off a sandy beach. Or someone thought about me and brought home a handful of seashells from one of their vacations.

Seashells make me happy. Butterflies make me happy, too, but that’s a different story.

This is about death. DEATH. Not a metamorphosis.

D.E.A.T.H.

Death is pretty final in a lot of ways. I mean in this plane, on this Earth, when someone dies, stops breathing, heart stops beating…well, that’s pretty final.

Why do some deaths hit us harder than others?

Randomly searching for something on the internet, I discovered that a friend and business associate I hadn’t seen in a long time had died of cancer a few months ago.

I didn’t know. No one told me. How did this happen, that I didn’t know?

The death and the not knowing shocked me, rocked me to my core. I was sobbing. Not him, I thought. Not him. Good men like that should live to be one-hundred-years at least.

(I could tell you how it happened that I didn’t know, I could elucidate, fill you in on all the deets, but then the story would be all about me and not a way, however small, to honor this fine, fine man.)

I heard him say this one thing a thousand times, “Hey guys, here’s just another rusty brain idea I’d like to run by you.”

He was one of those true-blue, honorable, faithful, simply noble, ethical, principled, reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, SALT OF THE EARTH men.

They don’t make them like that any more. Trust me on that. It’s really so simple, when you think about it. Not a difficult way to live one’s life if you know what’s really important.

All men (and women) should aspire to conduct their lives to that standard. A decent man with character and a deep commitment to his wife and family.

A never-give-up kind of man. The very definition of what a man should be.

If you needed anything, Steve was there. Especially if there was food involved. Oh yes, Steve loved to eat, that’s for sure.

I sent his wife a letter expressing my sorrow for her loss and apologized for not knowing and not attending his memorial service.

She wrote back almost immediately.

True to form, he never told anyone of his battle with cancer. Thinking back, I remember he was always showing up with bandages all over his face and head from skin cancer surgeries, but he brushed aside all questions about his health. The cancer spread and though it was quite painful, he never complained.

One day he collapsed and died in his wife’s arms, the only place that was ever really home to him.

I honor you, Steve, and I will miss you forever. More than you could know. This is a big loss, a big death, and my heart goes out to your lovely family.

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Wild Times: Sex, Drugs, and Mammoth Mountain

I have a friend who wrote a book, which in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment since my own book is stuck in limbo somewhere between my head and a few notes in this computer, but this isn’t even his first foray into publishing-he authored Zen and the Art of Surfing, too.

Greg Gutierrez is an amazing human for many reasons. He’s an artist, an educator, a vocal supporter of the environment, and a powerful local community activist.

Also a surfer. Also a skier.

When I first started to read Mammoth Mountain, I was immediately transported back to my own college years when I split my time between San Diego State University and Mammoth, where I lived part of the year on Lupin St. For me, those were spectacular days with tons of snow, skiing from first light to dark. If I didn’t have a ride up to the mountain, I’d start walking and someone would always pick me up. It was a great little community before the whole mountain exploded in condos and timeshares and tourism.

I never met Greg back then–our paths never crossed–two ships in the night and all that, and my own experiences in Mammoth were TAME compared to his, that’s for sure!

The subtitle of Mammoth Mountain is “Follow the 1980’s life of Drew, a pot smoking, thieving, womanizer…”

Now I don’t have PROOF that Drew is Greg…but I’m kinda sorta connecting the dots, if you know what I mean.

I don’t want to give away the storyline or the ending, but this is way more than a journal that chronicles one debauchery after another…there’s serious substance here, a coming of age, a rite of passage, painful growth, self examination, and enlightenment.

He lost his way, his life went off course, but what did he find?

He found himself.

There’s love, there’s a lot of love here, and at the end of the day, that’s all we have. That’s all that really matters. To love and be loved.

And if we don’t love ourselves, we can never truly know love.

P.S. Who should read this book? EVERYONE. 

The Senescence of a Rose

And yes, you can infer by this that I’m also facetiously and metaphorically referring to myself.

My camera’s eye followed this beautiful rose’s life on a newly transplanted bush from conception to senectitude (my new fave word.)

As the petals were soon to loosen, wrinkle, fade, and drop, the next gen formed.

The story of Princess Rosebud.

SIGH.

(Slideshow gallery of photos.)

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Butterflies, Bees, Bunnies, Babies, and Bliss

Everybody needs some bliss; especially ME when tugboat man comes home unexpectedly and then even more shocking, gets a call to return to work WHILE WE’RE DRIVING HOME FROM THE AIRPORT!

It’s not unheard of in the maritime world, but I’ve not really experienced it until now.

Glass half full; we had an enjoyable one-and-a-half days. Thirty-six hours is better than nothing.

It’s important to stay positive and present in the moment, rather than dwelling on the injustice, which would be a waste of time, and TIME is precious.

So he’s gone again and it’s time for a little bliss in the form of Mother Nature.

Breathe deeply and OMMMMMM….

Butterflies…

ButterflyMay172015may2015butterfly3 Bee on buckwheat. may2015bee Bunny trying to get into the vegetable garden. May2015bunnyI also saw a baby bunny running around, but couldn’t snap a pic before he ran under the deck.

Baby announcement!

The ultimate blissful event is the birth of one of my resident hummingbird’s eggs; you can BARELY see a miniature fluffy speck huddled in the bottom of the nest.

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And JUST NOW, the second egg hatched! Could anything be more amazing than Mother Nature?

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Here’s an update: Pretty good close up video of the two newborn hummingbirds:

Ending with the B is for Bliss theme, a boat birdhouse.

At least THIS boat is firmly anchored and will stay in one place, right?

boatbirdhouse After the rain; blue sky bliss.

BlisscloudsGone in the blink of an eye; it’s as if he was never here, except that he fixed a couple of my car’s minor problems and I have more laundry than usual.

Tugboat man should be home for sure at the end of June; at that point he’ll have been out to sea for more than ninety days when it was only supposed to be for six weeks.

Such is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife.

PS All photos, unless otherwise noted, are property of EnchantedSeashells.