Category Archives: Shadows

That Feeling, it will not Leave

Where do you hail from,
you shattering feeling
flying on wings of doom,
harbinger of sapping horror?

It all seems so perfect right now,
the sky is pure, clear and blue
and high noonday sun sparkles,
distant snow-capped hills.

Spring arrives,  a bit unsure,
Winter birds actively seek
elusive bugs and sluggish worms
among pink buds and greenings.

Surely senses don’t lie so,
all must be well with the world
bathed, exploding, in delight
of so much beauty and peace.

But that feeling, it is not leaving.
There’s pain in my heart,
my food tastes of sawdust;
childhood nightmares are back.


The Shared Mind

a vision, by Sha’Tara]

It is difficult at times to determine if a vision is good or bad. I suppose it can be argued that it’s all on how it makes you feel, or the effect the memory of it has. In any case you may find the following entertaining, interesting, perhaps even intriguing. Perhaps you even know what this is all about.  Perhaps this is also a part of your reality.

There was a girl on the street. A quite ordinary looking girl in scuffed runners, faded jeans and an oversized blue sweat shirt. Her dark hair was tied in a loose pony tail. How old was she? You don’t ask a woman her age.

She was kneeling by a broken vase someone had heaved out of an open window.  It’s possible it had simply fallen. There were stems of dried, long dead flowers scattered all around, and some spots of rust coloured liquid spattered the cement under the broken pieces.   Water or blood?

I watched this girl very carefully, though she could not see me. I was using a wide power pole to hide behind so I could observe the scene without disturbing anything, neither her thoughts nor her movements.

She picked up the broken vase, and carefully held it as she arranged the pieces so it would look as if it was still in one piece. It had been painted over with a cheap imitation of mother-of-pearl. So, rule out the possibility that it had been either a fancy or expensive item.  She picked up the dried flower stems and put them in the vase. Then she stared at it, unmoving for several minutes.

I waited and wondered. What was the girl thinking?  Doing?

You know those balloon things you see over the heads of people in cartoons?  I saw one of those over her head.  I saw what she was thinking.  She wasn’t thinking in words, or perhaps I didn’t know her language, but what I saw did surprise me.

There was an image in the balloon.  It was of the vase she had so carefully reassembled.  A man in an outlandish uniform was holding the vase, and it was filled with the most beautiful bunch of red roses.  He was handing it to a woman.  The woman was veiled, her face hidden behind a white lace and her hands, as she reached for the vase, were covered by white lace gloves. In contrast, she wore a floor-length black dress with a high collar. They were standing in a large room and I could tell from the man’s uniform, the woman’s dress, the curtains and pictures on the walls, that this was of another time, and of another part of the world.

What kind of past life memory had I come upon?  What old love story was being brought forth from the nether worlds by this strange and unexpected vision?

The girl on the sidewalk slowly let the broken vase slip from her hands and its pieces spread out as before.  The balloon image vanished.  She got up, holding her right hand over her eyes, found her balance and looked around.  I had stepped out from behind my hiding place and when our eyes met, I saw her eyes welling with tears, and more running down her face.

Her lips made a surprised “O” and she turned abruptly, running away from me down the street.  I looked down and there was nothing on the sidewalk, just the dirty, old, cracked cement. No broken vase, no dried up flower stems, no rust-coloured stains. Down the street, no woman running.

I knew instinctively that I had no need to go running after her and try to glean the story from her.  In my mind I knew I had seen her thoughts because I was one of her “partials” as my people explain it.  A piece of her mind linked to mine.

I will find her again and I will get the story (if I want it), whether in a restaurant, in a dream, in a vision, in a walk by a lake, in a memory, even in another life, in a lovers’ embrace, none of those particulars matters.  We are linked in a shared mind, that’s what matters. It’s what I needed corroboration for: the shared mind theory.

More on Thinking

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

Let’s start with an interesting quote provided by Charles at The Vale of Soul-Making,

Sometimes with the most intense pain a paralysis of sensibility occurs. The soul disintegrates–hence the deadly frost–the free power of the mind–the shattering, ceaseless wit of this kind of despair. There is no inclination for anything any more–the person is alone, like a baleful power–as he has no connection with the rest of the world he consumes himself gradually–and in accordance with his own principle he is–misanthropic and misotheos. — Novalis, from “Miscellaneous Observations,” Novalis: Philosophical Writings, translated and edited by Margaret Mahony Stoljar . (State University of New York Press; First Printing edition, February 27, 1997)

While this is going way beyond my own perception, there is an interesting parallel.  There are people on this world who have become highly empathetic.  To develop that sense “in the raw” on a world so full of violence with so much of it gratuitous and totally unnecessary, is to come face to face with a suffering, a pain, that never dissolves.  The uninitiate plunged into this maelstrom of awareness will have her feelings torn apart.  Everything will remind her of the many horrors taking place literally everywhere, and she will suffer the effects of those horrors in her mind, day and night.  These effects will spread into the body.

The above quote speaks of someone who, like many who have been severely tortured, in order to survive has developed a “paralysis of sensibility” to the ever-present pain that must of necessity lead to complete despair.  Those who cannot do that quite often commit suicide: it’s the only way out, unless one turns to drugs, alcohol or some form of institutionally established violence.  It is easy to see how both, misanthropy (hate of mankind) and misotheos (hate of God or gods) can flow from this condition because it’s a blame place. 

I’ll backtrack a bit: how does one become an empath?  It’s dangerously simple: one first becomes a thinker, then a deeper thinker, then an absolute thinking force.  Thinking, after all is the only real way to interact with life if we would be intelligent, sentient and self aware beings.  Thinking is the core of the human experience.  Those who do not, or cannot, think for themselves; those who fear their own wild thoughts, are not human.  At best they hover a few degrees “above” the mental state of animals; at worst they are psychopaths.  They can only feel their own needs and desires.  Everything and everyone else is there to satisfy those needs and greeds.  Not incidentally much of what passes for “love” on this world remains in that category-had to throw that reminder in… 

Thinking about the “human” condition changes all of that for the thinker.  It opens up endless possibilities hitherto closed to the mind.  It frees the imagination so violently extracted from most minds in early childhood.  This is all well and good, but if thinking makes one aware of the things of earth, that must include the blood-filled vat of violence constantly fed and religiously maintained on earth, and that must lead to despair, or to the frozen mind state and eventual self-consummation described in the above quote. 

I can truthfully say that I am an empath.  I arrived “here” through a persistent drive to know the why’s and wherefore’s of people’s need to express their lives through various forms of violence – some done to themselves, most done unto others.  Prior to a fortuitous intervention by those I call “the Teachers” I had reached a point of mental trouble deep enough to force me to make a pact with myself that I would terminate my life.  My mind was held in a vise of pain from negative awareness, and eventually that pain reached into the body, attacking its weakest parts.  Being at least as strong minded as my mother (who not incidentally committed suicide at age 46) for the same reasons I was then experiencing, namely that life was unbearable pain, I decided to do the same.  It was logical.  I had seen her try drugs to ease her pain, to no avail.  I hated drugs, and still do, so I would not go there.  Came the fateful day.  Came the unexpected intervention, rescue, and equally unexpected healing. 

In a flash of understanding I realized the vise had been unscrewed, yet my awareness remained the same, even augmented.  What had changed?  I was given a chance to become a compassionate being.  It was a whole new way to look upon the world.  I felt my hate, my anger, gradually fade out, to be replaced with something totally new to me: Joy and Sorrow (deliberately capitalized here).  Imagine how much thinking I had to do in those days to keep up with all of that; with the changes I was experiencing, and troubling everybody else around me with. 

I need to make two points here.  The first is that such a change made me anathema to my familiar society.  Within a couple of years I was forced into a divorce, holding on to nothing except a job, which kept me from being on the streets.  Old friends evaporated.  Frightening, exhilarating, crazy, out of control life.  Yet I didn’t mind so much, being busy experiencing a “new” healthy body and finding my newly awakened mind experimenting wandering through a much greater, ever-expanding cosmos. 

The second, much more important point is about Joy and Sorrow.  The usual understanding is that joy is just an aspect of pleasure.  Sorrow is an aspect of suffering, or pain.  This is more than a wrong interpretation: it’s a grievous error, as I hope to point out.

How does one discern that Joy and Sorrow are different from the usual layout of pleasure and suffering?  Again, the same argument that says compassion is completely different from love:  motive changes to selflessness.  Where there be selfish moves or motives, there you will not find either Joy or Sorrow, though you will find their imitators a plenty.   This is where some really deep seated lies of the Matrix can be exposed.  Joy and Sorrow  result from a personal choice to become a compassionate being, in other words, a selfless being.  These three then become one, none of them being connected to the selfish “id” or “ego.”  Compassion destroys the egotistic personality.  From that point on, the compassionate person no longer feels the need to experience selfish pleasure, or to avoid personal suffering, but do note this: only in cases when such experience or avoidance would in the least way cause loss to another – for it is wise to choose pleasure over suffering, always and suffering is not a normal or natural part of living a life here, so it should be avoided.  What is of crucial importance is that quest for pleasure and avoidance of suffering must in no way contribute to another’s loss, discomfort or pain.  The reasoning for this, though quite obvious, is usually not understood by those who do not practice compassion.  What  sort of person always puts the needs of others before her own?  The fully responsible individual.    

The compassionate being is an empath.  She does not operate from selfish motives but seeks to ever expand her behaviour into altruistic expressions.  These expressions then become her very nature.  Her goal in this is to meld herself into her choices becoming one with them, an avatar of compassion. 

Allow me to “wax poetic” for a paragraph here: 

The compassionate, the empath,
Joy-full or Sorrow-full
never resisting the currents
as the waves of the sea
respond to winds and currents:
a human bridge between light and darkness
that a new species of the human family
may take its first timid steps,
learning to walk between worlds,
neither fearing the darkness,
nor clinging to the light.

The more we seek to join with extremes, the more we must suffer the ever-present need of some form of violence within our emotions.  Violence isn’t engendered in darkness anymore than in light – violence expresses from the need to experience extreme behaviour, whether directly or vicariously.  Two things promote violence: fear and hubris.  Two weaknesses the compassionate empath no longer encounters in her own mind, or heart.

Our type of life demands duality – we need to finally accept that because without duality there is no balance.  Just as opposite poles of a magnet cannot be “reconciled” or joined together, so it is foolishness to speak of light overcoming darkness or vice-versa. 

Why not abandon the endless, pointless quest for the high or the low; for heaven or for hell?  We can become shadow beings, living freely and fully between opposite forces that are there but to maintain an in-between space for us – in perpetual balance.  Two solutions to two major Earthian problems would immediately happen: end of war and maybe more importantly, end of misogyny.  Would it not be worth a try, or even any amount of personal sacrifice, to reach this place? 

I’ve said these things before, many times, and I know I will continue to say them until I no longer can.  My point in all of this is to clarify some bits and pieces of the many misconceptions people hold about so many things.  Might be worth giving it some thought.  At this point in our failing civilization, what have we got to lose? 

I tell stories, I’m not an advice giver – that never works.  Having said that, secure in the knowledge that no one will follow it and later blame me when the proverbial doo-doo hits the equally proverbial fan, let me give you some advice (don’t you just love contradictions?).  Let me give you  a key to understanding the process involved in being a change agent. 

When you go on to ponder a solution to a problem, or talk about it, or write about it, or even do something about it, keep this in mind, it will save you much disappointment: look back upon history and your own personal experience and ask, “has this been tried before?  If it worked, is it still working?  Is it gaining strength, overcoming the negativity it was set up to do?”  If your answer to these basic question is a clear “no” then you need to come up with an entirely new solution.  Warning: if you insist on fiddling around with any aspects of the old “tried and failed” solutions, no new way will show itself.

My sincere apologies for that “finger pointing” ending.  I don’t know how else to communicate this point emphatically.  In any case, only those so inclined will take it personally.  Small consolation, but better than nothing…

“Energy medicine is powerful, all right.  I had a magnetic healing session a few weeks ago and I was stuck to my refrigerator door for two days.” — Swami Beyondananda. 



[a short story   by Sha’Tara]

A restless wind whispers softly in the spruce on the edge of a small lake. Brightly shining stars and distant, paling northern lights cast eerie shadows in the late summer night. A great horned owl calls, answered by the howl of a timber wolf echoed over the waters. A startled killdeer gives its plaintive cry, repeated several times, then silence again. Glowing softly, a small campfire throws its own little stars into the night, their flickering, sinewy path changing to the mood of the breeze. A young woman sits near the fire, staring, unmoving, her dark eyes reflecting its dancing light. The minutes pass slowly as the stars trace their endless circle around the tail of little bear.

At a  chosen moment the woman stands and throws some broken branches upon the fire, watching intently as the flames leap up, crackling, hungry. She begins a slow dance around the edge of the fire, her bare feet moving through the drying grass, her footsteps blending with the lapping of wavelets on the shore and the sighing of the wind in the branches. She hums in a low monotone, unintelligible words passing her lips. Gradually, the song becomes more forceful. Proudly throwing back her head, her black hair cascading down her back, she lifts her hands up and starts chanting. The song rises and falls, hauntingly moving, echoes of ancient voices seeking words to an as yet unformed hope.

Her dance takes on a rhythmic pattern, her knee-length dress swaying as she approaches the fire then steps back lightly into the darkness of the trees, to reappear from another direction. Her voice rises above the trees, flowing through the rolling hills…

From the midst of the flame, a form takes shape, graying head bowed, hands held in blessing. The form addresses the dancer: “Daughter, what are you doing? Why dance with danger tonight? Why seek death? You are the hope of the people. Would you tempt the white man again and be accused of witchcraft? Would you die in his fire too? You summoned me… now answer me!”

Swaying gently, without looking at the flame, the song dying on her lips, she answers the vision: “I am your daughter. I cannot be otherwise and I have your heart also. You died to save me, mother, though I never asked it of you. Now, you are Fire Spirit. You live in the heart of the volcano at the centre of creation and possess the gifts of life and healing in full measure: would you deny me my own birthright and refuse me my homecoming?

There is nothing left here, mother. The people are ashes, spirits without homes. Those who remain are slaves eating crumbs from the hand of their conqueror. Should I fear a moment of pain and I too become a slave?

No, mother! Do not try to dissuade me. Tonight, I dance with the spirits under the stars. Tomorrow, I will dance in the fire. Then I’ll come to you and together we will prepare the medicine for the wandering spirits. We will rise with the breath of the sun in our mouths, awakening the land, shaking the ashes of the people in the winds until all becomes one and life pulses freely in the land again. I’ll see you tomorrow, mother…”

The flames died down and the vision vanished. She took up her chant and her dance, delighting in a myriad of physical sensations heightened by the knowledge that this was her last night on earth. In the morning, her relentless pursuers would find her. The angry new god would have his victim and enjoy a short-lived victory over the past. From his fire she would rise to become Fire Spirit and wrest the future from his bloody hands.


The Cursed Year, the Year of Bliss

[short story, by Sha’Tara –  part 5]

“The very large story”

5:30 AM.  I’ve just returned “home” and without even bothering to lock my door, I’m at the typewriter.  I need to unload all the information that has stacked up in my head during my night’s ramble. 

You want to know where I really was?  I entered the labyrinth; the lower intestines of the City.  My fingers type: there are no flowers here, no angelic music or happy songs around the family table.  There are no lovers walking hand in hand whispering sweet nothings to each-other.  Nobody is standing in front of some girl’s apartment and singing, “On the street where you live!” under a full moon; no emotional balcony scene.  It’s not that kind of place where people meet and greet before entering the muted sanctuary of a church for a service.  And it’s not the kind of place where people rush in a pub from the cold and order drinks for themselves and their friends. 

It’s the kind of place where the well known writers of 19th Century Europe found and collated the material they used to write their dystopian novels.

I’m not going to emulate or plagiarize Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens.  This is some hundred and fifty years later after all and you would expect things to be very different now.  So I’m going to write what I saw.  What I heard.  What I smelled.  What I felt.  You will fill in the blanks with your “what if’s” and I will not care how, or why, you question it.  You will pen letters to the editor and pompously write: “It’s their fault!  We all make choices in life.” Fine, it’s their fault.  Have it your way.  And now that you’ve passed on the blame, does it feel better?  Yes?  And how long will that last before you have to tell yourself more lies so you can justify spending a hundred dollars on a hockey game while children are raped and babies die of neglect and old people die in their unheated apartments just a few blocks from your well-lit arena with the heat flowing from hundreds of radiant heaters to ensure your temporary comfort?   Oh, Canada!  You think you’re a cut above, don’t you.  But you’re not.  

I continue writing:  I had penetrated into that murky world of the City far enough to have to step around a dead dog.  Even his ghost was silent and didn’t bark: let sleeping dogs lie. Even in the cold the smell was unbearable and I moved away quickly.  Then I heard some crashing in an alley.  Out of the mist a couple of people of impossible age or gender staggered out into the street.  They stared or glared at me and after imprinting that image in my head I turned away as casually as I could and walked on.  I wasn’t followed. 

And I realized then that here, I was just another ghost going about her business and nobody would care as long as I stayed out of their way.  Those who could care, or pay attention to my presence were either sleeping, or taking care of some other business – for the time being. 

I heard a scream in the night, a woman’s scream, and swearing, cursing, a threatening male voice.  More screaming, more banging around.  Then a child’s scream joined that of the woman and a man came out of a front door silhouetted by the light in a hallway behind the door.  He had a pair of torn jeans on, nothing else.  He stared at me and I stared back at him. 

“What the fuck you lookin’ at bitch?” He practically growled his words.

“Not much.  Why do you care?”  Says a voice that came from my mouth, but it wasn’t me talking.  Couldn’t be me, or could it?

“Fuck off, mind you own business.”

I feel cocky now.  I want to engage him on his own turf, see where this is going to go.  “I am minding my own business.  I’m standing on a public street, not on private property.  That means I’m minding my own business.  No law against looking, listening or smelling from any public place.  Check it out.”

“Smart ass cunt.  I outta step down there and teach you a lesson.”

“Why don’t you then?”  That anger rising again.  “Any lesson you could teach me I already know, make no mistake.  Maybe I can teach you a lesson, and any lesson I teach you, you’re going to wish you hadn’t asked for it.”

“Oh yeah?  Like what?”

“Ever wondered what it’d feel like to get castrated?  Just asking.”

“What?  What did you say?”

“I think you heard me loud and clear.  What’s your answer?”

“Fuck you!”  He turned back and re-entered the place, slamming the door.  End of that conversation.  And I ask myself, would I have castrated him if he’d tried to “teach me a lesson”?  An overriding part of me says, absolutely.  Give ‘em what they ask for.  And perhaps I should have forced the issue, made him come down to the street and disabled him.  Then I could have gone up and checked on the woman and her baby.  Is there a line drawn somewhere in the darkness that tells you if your are moving in the right or the wrong direction?

A car approaches, radio blaring, moving slowly as if the driver is looking for something.  I back off into the shadows, just in case, but not fast enough.  A car can hold a lot of people.  I’ve never done more than the one-on-one.  I hear someone call,

“Hey, I saw you, bitch, where’d you go?  I got a twenty here for a blow job…”

Loud, drunken laughter from inside the car.  I back up surreptitiously behind a garbage bin that smells of decomposing meat.  Because of the cold the smell is bearable.  I wait until the car resumes its predatory roll and walk carefully out of the shadows.  A cat meows sadly.  No door opens; there is no reply.  Is it mourning a dead mate?  Perhaps.  I walk on, death on my mind.  And experience some creeping sadness which I discount as a sign of weakness at the moment ‘cause I can’t afford that luxury.

Car wrecks along the streets, smell of rotting garbage and smoke from burning oil and rubber – probably a car torched somewhere.  I see a glow, too far to investigate.  I hear footsteps ahead of me and this time I hear conversation.  Into the shadows again, listening to an argument.  

“I saw the money first, it’s mine.” 

“I killed him for it – makes me partner.  I want half.”

“I’ll give you a quarter of the take.  I could’a got it without having to kill the rube.  You’re a jerk-off.” 

“Who you callin’ jerk-off, dickhead?” 

“Take the hundred and get lost or get nothin’.  I’m sick of you hanging on to me.”

“And I’m sick of you, tight-wad.  Half.  Now or I cut you.” 

A blade flashes in the pale light. 

“With that toy?  Gimme a break.  You threaten me, you get nuttin.”  I hear a tussle, some grunting and a muffled cry. 

“Aw shit, you stabbed me.  I’m bleedin’.  Where you goin?  Don’t leave me like this!”  Footsteps fade out in the rising fog. 

I step out of the shadows and perhaps at the moment I’m a guardian angel, if not a terribly effective one.  I check on the victim sprawled half on, half off the broken sidewalk.  I can see blood as black oil oozing from under the victim’s side.  He’s doubled over, panting feebly.

“What’s happened here?”

“Need an ambulance, I got stabbed, mugged.”

“You’re the guy who killed the other guy your partner robbed.  Tell the truth and I call the ambulance.”

“Yeah, it’s me.  I did.  Now call, please call, I’m dying here.”

Please, I thought?  They can say “please” when they really need your help and are helpless.  I found a half decent looking place, pounded on the door until it was opened and I was looking down the barrel of a shotgun.  I put my hands up.

“Look”  I said, “I’m sorry for disturbing you but there’s been a mugging and stabbing just down the street and I need for someone to call an ambulance.  Give them your address and I’ll wait in the street for it.  Try to find out how long before they can get here, please?  Tell ‘em the victim’s dying.”  And I slipped him my card from the newspaper for added weight.

“OK, wait in the street, I gotta lock the door first.”

“Call and let me know, will you?  Please?”  I heard the deadbolt lock snick shut.

And he did, and I did and the now dead body was carted away by the ambulance and I got a ride to the cop shop, free hot coffee and met some talkative and curious cops.  There were two questions on their minds.  One, what was I doing on the street in that part of town at that time of night?  Two, could I be persuaded to go on a date?   

One, a veteran on the force, took me to an all-night café and we talked – a lot.  Maybe you won’t believe this but this guy didn’t come on to me.  In fact he talked a lot about his family, and his wife of 15 years and some of the stuff she put up with because, he said, “She loves me.”   I didn’t know what to say to that.  Love?  What’s love got to do with any of it? … I thought.  I kept that to myself.

He asked me about my job, and I told him I was a freelance reporter and after eyeballing me carefully again, he said, “Hm, really!  Well I really, really would like to know what you think you’re doing walking around that particular neighbourhood in the middle of the night.”  He looked at me intensely and said, “You’re just a girl.  You should be home with your family.  You don’t even look old enough to hold a real job.”

So, in a rare moment of trust, like talking to an old priest I confessed to all the years, I told him my whole sordid adventure, except for my real identity and age and I saw tears in his eyes.  I apologized for making him sad.  He wiped his eyes and smiled.  “I’m a cop, Helen, I don’t get sad, but I can get emotional.  Want to know what I think?  You should have killed those two bastards – except of course there’s the guilt after, and they’re not worth it.  You did good, girl.  Take good care o’ you, Wonder Woman.  See ya around.”  I felt warm inside, like having a shot of brandy.   

[end of part 5: the very large story]


Take my Hand, Daddy! a short story by Sha’Tara

By way of intro to this short story, first I wish to say “thank you” for all the likes on the other stories, essays, etc. as they tumbled into this place.

I’ve been very busy lately on a volunteer job in the interior of B.C. (Canada), a place called “Rock Creek” where a wild fire roared through a year ago and burned down several homes.  So I went with my friend Vic Janzen, who is with “Mennonite Disaster Services” to help complete a house the organization had taken on in conjunction with “Habitat for Humanity.”  “We” (that is, MDS) supplied the labour and Habitat supplied the materials along with whatever the uninsured home owners could provide.  So the house was built, and this is what it looked like when we left yesterday.  A very pretty, basic, utilitarian house any family would be happy to live in.  If you look closely you can see the scorched dead pines all around the property.  (The pile of bags is insulation to be blown into the attic later.) 


Rock Creek MDS and Habitat house.

And now, the short story: 

Take my Hand, Daddy!           [a short story ~ by Sha’Tara]

Imagine a winter afternoon of this northern hemisphere, by a small town nestled almost silent among dark, brooding mountains.  The sun slips behind a mountain top and a shadow covers the waters of a wide river rippled by a bitter east wind.  A couple of golden eyes land and begin their usual systematic team hunt, diving, surfacing, diving.  These little ducks know their world well, choosing areas near enough to shore to take advantage of gentler, swirling currents, allowing them to dive faster and capture their prey, small fish also using the constantly reforming whirlpools to find food.

The edge of the river is forming ice now, not deep nor wide, but the bite of winter frost is not only in the air: it penetrates into the dark, fast moving waters.  The shore at this place, now cut through by the harsh shadow of a mountain, is made up of round rocks, large at the edge of the water, an edge normally under water – but this is winter solstice and the river is at its ebb.  Further up the shore the rocks change to large round gravel, then up the banks, into smaller, looser gravel.  Remnants of a recent snow fall tuck themselves behind and between the stones and form a dirty white blanket full of tears and holes among frost-burned grasses along the higher banks.  Such a stage leaves no room for doubt as to the time of year being dramatized.

There is a small parking area here where I sometimes stop to eat my lunch, read, or just observe the passing of a time-slice and whatever event it may contain.  I like the quiet of the place and on this day, the weather being bitterly cold with high clouds keeping the air moist, few people care to stay around.  A couple of cars drive in but there is nothing exciting or colorful enough to keep anyone’s attention for long and the damp cold drives them away again.  The pair of ducks, the male a ball of sharp black and white patterns, the female of a uniform brown, are a bit perturbed by the few onlookers and choose to be safe, moving their theater of operations farther away from the shoreline.  

The sun has almost crossed the mountain top and the shadow slides across the river, revealing a lighter shade of water as the incessant chop refracts the slanted, weak, gold-tinged middle-afternoon sunlight.  Far to the east however, no clouds have yet appeared and the sun has unlimited vistas to illuminate.  The higher mountains throw off the glory-glow of their snow-covered spires to grace a clear icy-blue sky.  

There is a wide gravelly path that leads from the parking area down to the river’s edge. While it remains in the gray shadow cast by the mountains, a very large man wearing a black woolen toque, a heavy dark-red mackinaw jacket and faded jeans tucked into unlaced brown work boots begins to descend along the center of the path.  To his right walks a tiny girl child, wearing what looks like dark blue cord pants tucked into white boots.  She has on a pink parka and a pair of pink mittens with small pompoms attached dangling from the coat’s sleeves.  As the couple begins to walk over the loose gravel, the child gingerly extends her short arms to maintain balance.  The heavy-set man, hands pushed deep into the folds of his mackinaw, seems totally unaware of his tiny companion, lost, it seems, in his own thoughts.

The little girl struggles to follow him, obviously with great effort.  Finally, barely able to stand, she extends her left arm to the large man, the reddened fingers of her hand splayed to express her need for help. 

In my mind, the image freezes there, as if someone had pressed the pause button on the TV’s remote. 

The man ignores the child, the child holds out her hand, confident that the man will be moved to help her.  In that slice of time, I sense a re-enactment of billions of such events over history.  I feel the energies involved; the times when they worked and when they did not.  The abandoned, and the re-united.  The dead losers and the restored winners.  I see mankind’s drama endlessly moving up and down, like the tides.  I feel my own helplessness, kicked out of the drama to find my place among the spectators of which we are too many.  

Does the man stop to take the child’s hand?  Does he pick her up in his arms to carry her to an easier place where she can walk without help?  Does he realize it is too cold to be walking there, at that time of day, with a child, and does he return to wherever they came from?  

All I heard in my mind was the child’s extended arm saying: “Take my hand, daddy!” 



The Dream: a Train, a Frozen Prairie and Forbidden Knowledge

             The Dream:  a Train, a Frozen Prairie and Forbidden Knowledge
[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

I could hear the steel wheels clacking against steel rails, the sound made harsher by the intense cold of the Great Plains prairie in January.  Outside, snow had drifted and crusted in shallow drifts.  Here and there, shafts of brown grass stems poked through and small white birds clung to them, feeding in the killing cold, some twenty degrees below zero plus wind chill.  We went on and on across flat fields and frozen marshes and eventually night fell and only the rattling of the wheels remained.

It was a dream, one I’d had before and may well have again.

Dreams are funny ways for the mind to give itself reminders about important matters. 

This important matter is about grieving.  I realized coming out of the dream that I personally know nothing of grieving.  Oh yes, I’ve lost people, even close family people, but inside there was no such thing as what people call grief.  I don’t feel loss when someone dies, I just feel a need to organize the situation so things can get back to “normal” as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Don’t dwell on the oat crop wiped out by an early frost.  Don’t dwell on the dead cow that slipped through the ice of the pond and drowned.  Don’t dwell on the dead body in the next room.  Don’t wear black.  Remember… and record.  That’s what matters.

And from that dream on the cold wind-swept prairie, looking at the hard packed snow sparkling in the wan sun and those incredible little birds eking a living from dry grass stalks in such bitter cold, I also realized that I don’t know love.  I don’t know what is meant when people talk about love, any kind of love.  At best love seems to me to be a special type of friendship, at worst an annoyance; an impediment to the full enjoyment of life and a trap full of dangerous and debilitating attachments.

Grieving, loving: emotional entanglements.  People will say that it is necessary to take time to grieve for “their” dead or departed loved ones.  They will say that without love the world would be a terrible place.

But I don’t see it that way.  Grieving is admitting one’s insistence that death is an end of life.  It means that whomever has died is gone forever and nothing can bring that person back.  But why would you want them back?  Were they so precious, so important, so much a meaningful part of life that it now has a hole in it that can never be filled?  That isn’t true at all.  People are simply not that close except for very rare instances.  Rare indeed are those empathetic individuals who carry their loss through their entire life. 

And about love, seems to me that if people didn’t insist on promoting an emotion called love, they wouldn’t be so keen on expressing hate either.  These are symbiotic forces: hate cannot manifest where there is no love, just the same as “god” cannot exist without its arch-enemy, “Satan” or the Devil.  Duality.  Of necessity we live in a duality concept.  Everything is reciprocal, but why promote one over the other when all that means is that it amplifies the other automatically?  If shadows frighten, turning up the intensity of the lighting isn’t going to do the trick, quite the opposite.  Turn off the light and the shadows disappear.

Life should be engaged, yes, but never emotionally.  Emotional people are shallow beings.  They live on fumes and never really get to experience life in its deeper layers or its higher spheres, they’re too busy staring at the little surface ripples and blemishes on life’s surface.  They’re too busy examining their feelings and giving them politically correct terms to make them acceptable even when they are not.  Grief is surface stuff.  Love is surface stuff.  Hate is surface stuff.  Finally, faith is the most shallow emotion of all.  Faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen – except for the fact that faith provides neither substance nor evidence, just wishful thinking.  Faith is assuring oneself that wishing upon a star will make it happen.  Do you have faith?  When was the last time you caused someone to rise from the dead?  Faith is believing that the wished-upon star is not only aware of our wish, but in a position to grant it.  All vices and corresponding virtues are emotionally-driven.  They can’t even overcome addictions – so what good are they?

Duality functions from reciprocity.  That is how all of man’s forces operate: push-pull.  Give-take, take-give.  All things being equal, that would work well enough.  But man’s world is a world in complete chaos, rife with inequity and injustice.  The give and take is neither honest, fair nor equitable.  Within man’s controlled status quo, reciprocity, or reciprocal energy isn’t a tool, it’s a weapon.  Every deck is stacked and the house always wins.

We need something better.  For the living we need something better than love.  For the dead, we need something better than grief.  Grief is useless: it’s never stopped anyone from dying and it’s never helped the survivors.  Life goes on.  More often grief is akin to guilt.  “I should have been there.  It’s my fault.  I should have done more.  I should have been nicer to him…”  As for love, the living deserve better.  How long ago did man learn about love?  Thousands of years at least.  And during those thousands of years has the world been made better by love, particularly by institutionally mandated love, as in religiously, piously directed love?  That’s a rhetorical question, and I rest my case with these three condemning words: it has not.

In the dream sequel, I am an observer.  Years have passed over the earth.  Long ago the trains stopped running across the prairie.  People died off and no one serviced the tracks.  Gradually they sank into the ground and the marshes and now nothing remains to indicate that once there were trains taking people across those plains.  But the wind still blows, the snow falls and makes shallow encrusted drifts.  The harsh cold turns the snow to ice crystals and the sun still makes them sparkle.  Here and there tufts of dead grass still poke through the snow and as they shiver in the breeze flocks of small white birds still cling to the stalks and find their sustenance to survive the winter.

I found it interesting that these things survived man, without loving, without grieving.  They survived on instinct and a knowledge not made chaotic by useless concepts.  They survived where man could not because man wanted to know more than nature was capable or willing to reveal without correspondingly taking responsibility for what accrued from that forbidden knowledge.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep, or taste no the Pierian spring…” (Alexander Pope)

But man has tasted that Pierian spring, and too few drank deeply of its waters.  I.e., man chose to build an entire civilization without taking any responsibility for the consequences.