DEEPLY AWAKE – SHIFT Last night, I worked what will have probably been my last shift at the hospital which has sustained me since April. I practiced with some tough characters: the controlling charge nurse, the uppity nurse I went to lunch with and appreciated good reasons to never do lunch with her again. I had an hour and a half nap. I drank lots of decaf. I ate cheese. I smoked in 18 degree weather. And through it all, I was unaffected. All through the night, I surprised myself by finding myself feeling so neutral. And when I was not neutral, I was feeling brotherhood. Appreciation. I was seeing the humor in things, I joked and I found that just by talking, just by opening my mouth and making sound, with the one change being that nothing I thought or said was offensive or harmful to myself or others, I saw how much ease I was creating. Funny how the pushy charge nurse decided against her plans and wishes, and spent her nap break just hanging out with me, while she crocheted and I played video games. I saw the borderline mental health worker ease, and the conflict we'd previously had just felt erased. I never remember that event, but she does. She was relaxed last night, more easy, less constricted. Still guarded, but I know that's her stuff, not mine. I felt oddly transparent. I think I am experiencing what I have been praying for through this whole transformation: to be so clear, so uncluttered emotionally, mentally, socially, that I am not even there. Transparent somehow, clear. Nothing sticks, everything blows through, leaving nothing broken or undisturbed. Being so complete with stuff that when confronted with the conflicted, angular, incomprehensible or unhappy, I feel nothing within me, just the sensation, but neutrally, without self reference, and without temporal placement. The experience is. And then it is something else. And then it is something else. The only time I did not publish a Deeply Awake after feverishly spitting one out was yesterday. I was so inconsolable yesterday, puzzling so hard over a most vexing koan, and I decided to write that process. It was a train wreck, not least for its dis ingenuousness, but more, for its mundanity. It was spinning its wheels much like I was spinning my soulic wheel, over and over these ancient unhappinesses, these ancient misunderstandings. Have you noticed that trying to solve a problem by ruminating and obsessing over it just deepens the pit into which the monstrosity has fallen, the pit into which you know that you must eventually descend into, in order to rescue and resuscitate a broken part of your self? The more you worry over the ting, judge it, judge self for judging it, oh, it makes for such a complicated hall of mirrors, and there is no relief there. None. Only more worry, more accusations, more self recriminations, more disappointment. Somehow I got myself away from that particular abyss when I got into my car and headed off the work. I finally disengaged from a problem without solution, a problem which was causing such internal distress that the only relief I found from this distress was self loathing, and this, of course, is no true solace. Only looks that way from the inside. At work, I saw myself in context, and I am really quite in love with me in context. By the end of the night, I realized that my worrying, my ruminating, well, that's a habit. It's a dumb choice I make, and it's an uneducated choice. It leads to unhappiness, lack of trust, fear. I want to talk a minute about a framework Bbashar has constructed to explain the states of anxiety and fear. He says that this buoyancy, this natural joy and those moments when you are simply brimming with love for yourself and with all creation, well, that is our natural state. That's how we are supposed to feel all the time. What creates these eddies, these pools of worry, fear, dread, well, that's this natural exuberant joyous energy being fed through a belief system, a perception, which distorts the natural happiness of our souls. Think of the beliefs which create fear as the thick tangle of hair and crud in the hair trap in your shower. The water can only flow the path of least resistance. And your shower turns into a bath as the dirty discarded shower water flows off of you, unable to drain off, making a cold, filmy pool instead of being something which brings you a feeling of cleanliness and release. These beliefs are the problem. Not the backwater, and not you. Well, not you directly. But let's face it, it was your hair, your crud, and your inattention which created the situation to being with. I started to really apply this idea in the hours before leaving my house for that shift last night. It is a freeing concept, and it deactivates all the crazy in the most fantastic way! So, there was that loosening. And then, through the night, I realized that some of the energetic eddies I'd been buffeted with lately were from saying goodbye. Just unplugging, mourning or grieving or completing things. I realized that this was, indeed, probably the last shift at that hospital in this lifetime. Never say never, but it is highly improbable that I will do another shift there. Next week, there is a new job, a new set of colleagues and a brand new paradigm of expectation. And I just don;t care. This is my last night here. I can face anything, I’ll be fine no matter where I find myself. And, thinking on this further, I realized that the Deeply Awake I wrote and didn't publish last evening before work was a goodbye. It was a long essay on my realization, when attending a nanowrimo event, that right now, right this moment, I have written enough for a book. Boom. There it is. I wanted to write a book. I have written a book. Yep. Boom. There it is. And on my smoke break after my two hour paid nap, I allowed “them” to be heard again. I haven't heard my monologue for several hours, and was withering on the vine. And there, in a cloud of frigid smoke, I finally heard them again. It's nice having them here in my heart again. It's an odd thing, this voice. It comes from my chest, from my throat, from my forehead, altogether, as a triad, and the words are not sound but a funny form of electricity. Pre-sound, maybe. But very translatable, and always dead on. Here's the thing about admitting to “hearing” voices. We all hear voices. And we all act from a place of internal dialogue, as silent and pernicious as some of our voice over talent is. When people do things that are self-destructive, counter-intuitive, mean spirited or selfish, they are doing it because they have convinced themselves that this is the proper course of action. If these particular voices I hear form chest, throat and head told me stuff that was nonsense or led me into trouble, I would, by now, know that, and would seek to avoid listening. But the voices I reference are benevolent. They always tell the truth. They always inspire and encourage. If I am to always obey some sort of internal mandate, why not let it be from my higher angels? And there the higher angels stood, smoking with me deep in the night, and this is what they said: You have failed to grasp that this is coming to a conclusion. It has been shielded from you. It's too big to take in all at once. But dear heart, this is nearly over. Things are changing, and nothing is as it seems. There is magic in the air. You don't completely understand that in just a few weeks... well, just enjoy it, dear heart. Please just enjoy it. Don't take it all so seriously. Please just lighten up, and the next time you want to come down on yourself for anything, just don't. Don't engage in that. It's much like when you decided you would no longer engage in rumors. You just stop one day, and you don't worry about the fall out, because it is the right thing to do. Just stop, dear heart. It really is ok to smile. It is fine to relax into this. Everything is changing. They sort of hugged me energetically, and I didn't feel the struggle anymore. I no longer had the worries I had previously. I can love everyone, I have no reason to fear anything, and all is right with the world. Today is the 11-11, and I feel like this is another tribe's holiday, not mine necessarily, but I am so glad that people are gathering around the world today, honoring moments which are outside regular time. Moments which, by their very configuration, stand above time, as monuments, markers, gates. Mine is the 12-12. I am starting to plan that day now. Of course, it will unfold as it should, but I am beginning to consider the intent with which I want to walk into these coming weeks. It is hard sometimes to maintain this double vision of mine. But the littlemind is finally extricated from its throne of power, and I am loving it into balance. The shadow parts of myself are absorbed, and I am strangely, calmly whole. These months have been a study in extrication, rocking myself out of crazy notions and distressing beliefs and misunderstood data. That is the first phrase this voice of mine said, the first mandate of its existence, I think. “That is a misinterpretation of the data,” they said, and continue to reiterate. A misinterpretation of the data. Bridging this chasm, and being aware, as I am now, of different meanings, far off understandings, the immediacy of this world has waned. Adrift from the collective consciousness, I rebuilt myself, with such wonderful, miraculous help. But the rebuilt me interacts with things differently. The physical dimension had begun to lose its fascination, and this fascinating process I have know,n of abandoning conventional meanings and expectations, doing things my own way, thinking my own thoughts, finding new and fascinating friends and things to do. This has been a journey. This morning, as I was letting those last 45 minutes tick by, helping the patients as best I could, I had ample time to sit and look up at the tree growing in the courtyard. Up its branches reach, and once again, I could feel its entangled, ancient wisdom instruct me. Yes, a lung is just like a tree, the working tissue are the leaves, and it is not the bark or the strength or the endurance which makes the tree viable. No, the things which make the tree live, the things which actually sustain the tree, are the fragile, countless leaves on that tree. And what if, my voice asked, your physical incarnations are just like the leaves on a tree? Your Oversoul, your higher self, all those sturdy, durable things which you have been falling in love with, thinking they are the point, well, they are the point, in a way, but, do you see how all of this is interrelated? And do you see, dear one, that it is the leaf which is the point of power? Without the leaf, the tree dies. And yes, not every leaf is perfect. Some are malformed, some are ugly, some are huge, some prematurely fall to the ground. But each leaf is instrumental. Vital. And this, my love, is your being. You are the tree. You are rooted in God. And these lives, these moments of great despair and confidence and love, these lives are what makes the tree live. Without these experiences in density, I would be less than I am. And every single life, every single moment spent focused on a leaf's duty, being that leaf as best I can, this is the real work. As I let them minutes tick by, I let the floridly psychotic patients do their floridly psychotic socialistions, and I communed with that tree. I began to feel a lifting, not only of mood, but of my spirit. I matter. This crazy life of mine matters. And I am trunk, branch and leaf. I am sky and water and earth. I matter, I am beautiful, and I am growing just fine. That's it. That was my shift. And now, on the 11-11, I will eat dinner with my dad again. The last time we all ate, it was another big meditation day. And there I was, spending it with my dad, eating a cheeseburger. I will do that again tonight. That will be my church. Being kind and being present with my dad and my sister, my son and all the ancillary people, this is my church tonight. And I will worship dutifully. Joyfully. Peacefully. I will fill my belly, and I will return home, and I will sleep a deep slumber with angels and trees and ships and lights. I will continue, in some form, throughout. I exist. I matter. I have said enough goodbyes the last few hours. Now I walk into a different moment, a different me, realized as a tree, as a receiver of voices, as clear and transparent transmuter. I have changed. This was, and is, the shift.