Shifting Gears for the Climb

I first noticed it early this morning around 6:30am. Then by 9am, it became more obvious, and by 9:30am I was certain that I could tell it was actually happening: We were slowing down—time-wise. Time seemed to be passing much slower this morning than it had been previously. I’ve been doing a lot of “not-doing” lately, so I know when time is passing even slower than it did yesterday.

The closbik on hillest analogy I can manage to what is likely occurring is to compare it to the mechanics of a ten-speed bicycle as the rider approaches a steep hill. He shifts to smaller gear sprockets so the speed and energy expenditure of his feet-on-the-pedals rotations remain pretty much the same, but the sprockets that best handle hills are smaller diameter, making the bike tires do fewer revolutions—meaning, less ground is covered per foot rotation but pedaling is still fairly easy on the rider.

My assessment on this perceived time slow-down is that we were likely downshifted for the incline ahead—slowed down in motion and effort for the difficulty of the slope that we are attempting—which could be associated with consciousness ascension or just the general collective shift to a higher state of being.

I might have just blown off this perceived time discrepancy as fertile imagination today had I not noticed a similar phenomenon maybe a couple years ago—one day it was like everything around me suddenly time-dropped to a slower noticeable pace and my normally accurate internal clock went haywire with the discrepancy until I adjusted to the change.

Back then as today, the clock on the wall had hardly moved 15 minutes when my mind’s timer kept saying “This can’t be. At least an hour should have passed. How can it have only been 15 minutes?”

And it wasn’t just me noticing it back then—others noticed the same thing and wrote abike gearsbout it in their blogs. So I’m expecting this “gear-down” today to be acknowledged as well. I think we’ve just been down-geared for the difficulty of the climb ahead.

I have no idea how long the path up this steep hill might be, but hopefully the scenery at the top makes the extra effort worthwhile.

Let me know if you notice time moving slower today. It should be interesting to see if others picked up on it.

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Purposeful or Purposeless?

treeheadTalking to a friend yesterday, we were commiserating about our daily/weekly activities or with me, the lack thereof, and I mentioned that energetically, it seemed to be a very strange time for me—a time of considerable inactivity—of feeling like I’m sitting on the sidelines patiently waiting for something that I have no idea what I am waiting for. She belly-laughed at that statement knowing that first and foremost—I am NEVER patient!

That was the first clue that something strange was happening, not just in my life, but everywhere. I’ve suddenly developed patience? The world seems to be flushing itself down the toilet, and here I calmly sit beside it, handing it more toilet paper?

Very odd.

I then mentioned to her it was almost like I was in a near-perpetual state of meditation where I participated in the activities around me, but with total focus on the mundane actions of living—shutting out all exterior stimuli, meaning: the world does its thing and I just do mine.

But you know how the mind is, it will not let anything rest, so my mind then questioned this present mode of not-doing: is this ‘waiting on the sidelines thing’ purposeful or purposeless for me (or for anyone)? And does it have to be one or the other?

Right now for me, all I know for certain is that it simply IS. That may be the whole point of the unintentional exercise. That Just Be aspect may be one thing to talk about or even to aspire to, but quite anlife swimmersother thing if you are actually living it.

In essence that’s what I am presently doing—I’m NOT DOING, I am JUST BEING. And I have to tell you honestly—it feels very strange!

However, right now, it also feels very necessary. And I’m assuming that it isn’t just necessary for me to be not-doing. It’s something we all may need to “not do” at present.

I’ve been around long enough to know that throughout our lives we will fluctuate between periods of joy and sorrow, hopefulness and helplessness; times of feeling so alive with life gushing from our every pore, and a time of feeling despair so deep that it nearly swallows us.

To be alive in this Earth plain of existence means that we will ALL experience these emotional roller coasters during our lifetimes: riding the extremes of happiness and sadness, up and down, over and around, until one day we hit this “Just Being” zone.

If you also are feeling this right now, don’t worry. This isn’t depression. This is the ‘in-between place’ in human emotion where you feel like you’ve become the willing observer to your life—the spectator/passenger riding beside an unseen driver, while you tour an amazing, never-ending landscape of sights too beautiful to capture in words.

So you just sit back and take it all in without judgment—just riding along in awe at the grandeur and scope of everything passing befdog on a rideore you, to the right and the left; fast approaching ahead and falling away quickly behind.

There aren’t many times in my life where I’ve willingly accepted that passenger seat. But right now, I do—knowing that on this particular trip, I am just along for the ride; and wherever our vehicle is presently headed, that is where I am going as well.

Wake Up Alice! …This Rabbit-hole Trip Is Getting Old

Alice and rabbitTo say that this is a very strange time is the understatement of the age. The degree of pot-stirring in previously untouchable subject matter is both mind-boggling and jaw-dropping. It is totally cringe-worthy!

And as much as I would like all the world-wide chaos to settle down, and for the world to be a calmer, more enjoyable living environment for all of us, I also think I understand part of the necessity that it is the way it presently seems.

I wasn’t kidding earlier about the disruptive and penetrating energies coming in now being similar to lake turn-over in my post of “Upside-down and Sideways.” Energetically that’s what this really is—a time of skuzzy-bottom content rising to the surface for purification and clearing—which is neither pretty nor pleasant for anyone; especially for the fish—with which we now have a much closer association.

The Paris terrorism situation has created a reactionary back-lash that now resembles bait-the-bear. And you know what happens when you entice the bear with a juicy morsel tied to a nearby tree? Sure. The bear can’t resist the tasty temptation, and it becomes an easier target to catch/kill. I understand that part. But I have a few questions, as well.

Is this nasty situation creating over-reactions on both sides of the free-speech, “no subject is off-limits” issue? Yes.

Is this “cover-as-bait” really a calculated tactic that only time will show whether or not is effective in drawing terror cells out of hiding to “avenge” the perceived publicized insult?

Was that the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff’s main intention with the latest cover art—to draw out the terror Voltairecells that still might be hiding nearby? Hmmm…..I don’t think so.

I think they were just standing up strongly for freedom of speech, which is their right, as it is anyone’s right to decide their own beliefs and opinions. You don’t cower to a bully—you face them down at the start, or you will be constantly cowering ever afterwards. That is what I think the magazine’s staff were doing—just taking a very strong stand for their own freedom of speech. How their actions were perceived, is up to individual interpretation.

Did the Pope need to chime in with his two-cents worth on punching someone who might be insulting his mother or his religion? No. But he did. Talk about mixed messages in that little media exchange…. “violence is never acceptable—but I’d punch you if you insult my mother or religion.”

So where does that leave the rest of us who are on the sidelines, watching this mess unfold as it is likely going to unfold—violently, gruesomely, and chaotically in nations, states, and cities world-wide? Yes, we are simply shaking our heads and expecting the worst, but all hoping that this world society grows up sometime soon and stops taking itself so seriously. It’s like living through adolescence all over again.

On the other hand, that same energetic lake turn-over effect that throws everything into chaos also brings the forbidden subjects to the forefront of public attention to see whether there really is a smoldering fire within them, or just a lingering, still-smoky, half-wet pile of leaves there that hasn’t yet burned through all the combustible material.

It is loudly emphasizing the basic questions of what makes any religion the basis of a deeply-held belief; and are the religious beliefs/doctrines justifiable if they pit one group of people against other groups of people?

Red QueenI would expect these issues and subjects will become mainstream topics for the next year or so, as we will likely have more opportunities to examine their reactors’/detractors’ actions and reactions to the on-going saga.

Personally, I request for someone to PLEASE show Alice the way out of this never-ending rabbit-hole, or at least please nudge her awake. The Red Queen is getting a bit out of hand here.

The Puzzle

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere long ago that I love putting together jigsaw puzzles—in fact, the more pieces, the better. This time of year when the snow is blowing hard and the “wind comes sweeping down the plain” as it does in Iowa, as well as Oklahoma, it provides a lot of reflection time while contemplating how many layers of clothing are necessary to simply go to the mailbox at around zero degrees.

So puzzles be my thing in the winter. They provide mental challenge and keep my fingers active searching for similarities in color, texture and shape. I think I have about 20 boxes of them now, and every winter I pull them all out, one by one, and obsess over them hour after hour until each is completed.

Then I make myself wait at least a day after puzzle completion before I crumple the pieces all together again, stuff them back into their plastic bag until next winter, and pull out another one to start. (My thing must be in the challenge, rather than the completion. I don’t linger long on accomplishments.)

I view thisIMG_5089 dismantling aspect as similar to the Tibetan Monks creating their multi-colored sand paintings. If you’ve never witnessed that amazing process of creation and dissipation, it is well worth your time.

After the monk’s reverent acknowledgement of their sand-mandala’s completion, and after adequate “beauty and unity” contemplation time, the monks then ceremoniously gather all the brightly-colored sands into a single cDSC_0167ontainer and bless the local rivers with the sand mixture that had once been their total focus and purpose for being, during those awesome hours of unified cDSC_0186reation.

Likewise, I always bless the large, plastic storage box beneath my card table with mine, at least until next year.

Why I’m mentioning this puzzle fixation again is that yesterday as I’m nearing the “last hundred pieces” point (meaning 9/10ths of puzzle completed), I was looking at the remaining vacant space in the puzzle frame and eyeing the pieces remaining to be appropriately relocated into the picture, and thinking “If Life is metaphor, what is the metaphor that I am displaying here in what I am doing?”

It was easily seen that I had left the most “difficult to determine differences” (3D) section of the puzzle to the last where there were fewer pieces to choose from, which meant greater likelihood of success in selection.

At this point, my eyes were tiring and with fewer pieces on the table, I switched to a comparison strategy with the remaining shapes—which means I put all the pieces with knobs at top and bottom, on one side of the table, and the pieces with knobs at the sides on the other. Then I lined them up in columns so my eyes could more quickly slide down each column looking for tell-tale differences in knob size and location on the piece.

Depending on the puzzle design, some have only two basic shapes: knobs at top and bottom, or knobs at the sides. Other puzzles designers have the most contorted, no-two-shapes-the-same thing going that make this type of categorizing impossible, but this puzzle allowed for comparison columns. That was my end-strategy for completion.

“How does this apply to your life?” my mind kept prodding. “What is YOUR end-strategy for completion?” (Oh, now THAT put a different twist to that life-as-metaphor-thing, didn’t it? Yes.)

My end-strategy for completion as demonstrated by this metaphorical puzzle presently under my nose:

  • Subtlety….it’s about subtle differences now—about detail and finesse—the aspects you might have overlooked before when there was too many choices.
  • Now I looked for subtle color hues and picture clarity or fuzziness per piece—individual distinction and color blends.
  • I simplified the selection comparison process—to be easier on the eyes and mind.
  • I had a specific area left to finish, so I narrowed my focus and attention to further sub-dividing the section left to work into even smaller areas until one area was completed, then I moved to another section and did the same. (That “sub-dividing and conquering” thing.)
  • I also savored the selection of the last ten pieces because I knew that what was left was the end of my time with this puzzle, so I carefully scanned the choices before reaching for a possibility. I’m more selective of friends now as well.

As I now stare down at the completed puzzle—a white-ish Bavarian castle surrounded in fall foliage, backdropped by blue mountains and baby-blue sky with puffy white clouds—all 18” x 23” of it, I think of what my friend said when she saw me about midway into it: “Why are you doing that one? It’s not very pretty. It doesn’t look very fun to do.”

And I think, well, once I start a puzzle I don’t quit until I’ve finished it. Maybe that IS the metaphor of my life here. It may not be very pretty or much fun, but it’s mine—it’s MY puzzle.

It’s really not the end-point that matters in life, since the end is pre-determined for all of us. What matters most in life is in how well we face each challenge along the way, and how we make all those seemingly-random pieces of our life fit together into a coherent picture by the end.

Life for all of us is a challenge to be accepted, deciphered and made sense of in the best way that we can.

We frame our lives in the context of not-so-random pieces brought together for a purpose. The challenge for us is in determining that IMG_5049purpose before we complete the puzzle. Hopefully we all can do that—make some sense of our own puzzles before the end. I hope you can. I’m still working on mine.

Photos by Angel Lyle, Davenport, Iowa