Letters into the human psyche

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I have a fascination with what I call “the human condition”, and this probably charted the course for my training as a lawyer then a psychotherapist. I have taken (guilty?) pleasure reading the emotions and thoughts of others, the whys of their action and words, as they examine their lives in one form or another. Some may call it voyeuristic and over-thinking, and there were moments of these; often it is a genuine curiosity about what makes us tick and tock.

I have written about “Letters of Note” (2013) a compilation by Shaun Usher of correspondence by history figures in different facets of life. I came across his second compilation, unsurprisingly titled “More Letters of Note” (2015) last year.

At the heart of the correspondence in both volumes is the meaning and purpose of life, and love; shared from one to another which demonstrated our shared humanity.

No matter the time in history, our station in life, our wealth, our sexual preference or gender, our racial or ethnic background, our religious beliefs – we love and we seek to find meaning for those transitory moments.

Here is a letter written from mid-19th century Georgia, USA.

And here, a letter from a famous turbulent relationship.

 

Ah, so what is love?

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The politics of water

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“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This well-known Buddhist story told by Alan Watts at the 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College have always resonated with me, in many contexts.

I had said, “I don’t like politics”, “I don’t do politics”, “I am not political”… and while the first remains true, I have come to re-consider my place in my mind, in my world about the latter.

I AM in water, rife with politics and I am impacted by it, like it or not. Perhaps I am at the lower end of the spectrum for the level of participation, yet there is no avoiding it. In fact, for every post, every tweet of gender equality, human rights, I am being political. I am glad to name it. Another self-awakening of a 40-something woman. 🙂

This realisation comes from recent events, namely the lead up to the now Trump Presidency and the Women’s March around the world. It is easy to say, as I have heard from others, that ‘they’ are about America thus none of our (Australians) business or the marches are anti-Trump rather than about women’s rights or they are exercises in futility. Hey, I even attempted to embrace these notions to arrest the listlessness and unease.

Yet it does not bring me peace.

There is a shift in global consciousness, signalled by the uneasiness and anger that I (and many others judging by the response to the Women’s March) feel despite being so far away from the source of the triggering events. The notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’, of ‘not this but that’ no longer hold water, we the people are connected, more so now than ever, and we in all we say and do influence and impact on each other, we are humanity as one.

So my response and the lessons from the recent events are these, expressed through those who came before:

Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next. ~ Joseph M Marshall III

We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. ~ Dalai Lama

Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.

Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.                           ~ Barbra Streisand, “Children Will Listen”

 

Oh, and I have no answer, and I suspect there is no ‘Answer’.  We have done things in fear no matter what it is called, what not try love? What have we to lose?

Life is for living; it is movement, constant and every-changing. Let it be a movement inspired by love.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Do not despair if the answers don’t come immediately. Some answers are only revealed with the passage of time.

Try to love the questions themselves. Do not look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

All along my denial of the political self, I now realise, is not about politics per se, but rather the politics of division, of hate, of exclusion… and even as I am reconciling to the fact “politics” is being played on me and vice –versa, this remains true – love and compassion, understanding and collaboration shall be my beacon. Though I may at times fail, these I strive to be.

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.

~ Joseph Campbell

I am in water.

Namaste!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Contemplation on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving… giving thanks… for what do we give thanks? Today? At this time?

In a time when every change, great or small, is tracked, accentuated, dissected, analysed, discussed… its volume so loud that we lose sight of its actual significance, we lose the measure of their relative importance. Everything is the same, and nothing is the same. The noise causing us to lose our sense of what is true.

So perhaps at this time of year – whether we are religious or otherwise, whether we are alone, with family or friends, whether we are home or missing home – we may carve out a space to contemplate on what is true – the circle of life which connects us andtouches everyone, as it crosses every boundary underneath the sun“.

 

Some say
The walls between us stand so tall
They don’t see there’s just one sun
Shining on us all

I say
We each choose roads to call our own
But none of us is travelling through
This universe alone

And this circle
Just goes on and on
It began before us
It will be here when we’ve gone

And this circle
Just goes on and on and on
Connecting our humanity
Joining me to you and you to me

Seasons
Keep spinning on the wheel of time
We stand we fall
We struggle up

The mountains we must climb
Different dreams
May color what we see ahead
But our lives are strong together
On a common thread

And this circle (circle)
Just goes on and on (on and on)
It began before us
It will be here when we’ve gone

And this circle
Just goes on and on and on
Connecting our humanity
Joining me to you and you to me

Around and round and round and round we go
Around and round and round we go
Love and learn and change and grow
Round and round and round we go

And this circle
Touches everyone
As it crosses every boundary
Underneath the sun

And this circle
Just goes on and on
It began before us
It will be here when we’re gone

Yes this circle
Just goes on and on and on
Someday we will come to see
I’m joined to you and you to me

So to my American friends and readers:

happy-thanksgiving

~ FlorenceT

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

What can we gain…

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What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?
This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
~ Thomas Merton

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Life lesson: I am a human being

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I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.
~ Terence circa 170BC

 

I stumbled upon this. My takeaway is… okay, here’s an aside. ‘Takeaway’ refers to ‘lesson learnt’ or ‘light-bulb moment’ – a term which is rather common in therapeutic circles in Sydney.

So my takeaway from this video is that we, no matter the sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, creed, religious beliefs, nationality, age, talents and abilities, are the same.  We are all capable of the horror some have inflicted, or the love bestowed, or the pain suffered. We are the same in our humanness.

I recall the exuberant youth I was, die-hard feminist exclaiming to a classroom that ‘all men are potential rapists’ – to parrot the words of a renowned radical feminist whose name escapes me now. Marilyn French?

Now, before you get all a-fluster, upset or angry, hear me out.  Firstly, that statement does not suggest that women can’t or won’t. Further, that statement was made in the context of socio-political and legal discourses. The legal definition, at least in Australia, for ‘rape’ is such that only a male person can do so… so yes, the penetration of Y into X.  So, the ‘potential’ part refers to the capability by reason, in this instance, of the male anatomy. It does not suggest probability nor is it definitive. Okay, If you are to return to the provocative statement, can you see what I was referring to? Thirdly, then the corollary was perceived as some to say that ‘all women are potential victims”.  Again, true if taken at face value. Again, it doesn’t mean men can’t or aren’t.

And how did I get here?  Oh right, we all as human beings have the potential to inflict pain, to be cruel, to be selfish… Our shadow follow us. And so does our light. We have the potential for kindness, compassion, generosity, love…

This is humbling. I keep reminding myself in moments of righteous indignance, of snobbish intelligence, of wallowing sadness,… that we are the same.

I know what I can be, and I know who I am.

We are each on our own journey 🙂  What do you make of this quote or even Maya Angelou’s video?

In light and shadow,
– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

How, Then, Shall We Live?

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Such heart-felt words from Tabitha Lord Jorgensen…

Colleen Chesebro ~ Fairy Whisperer

I want to introduce you to Tabitha Lord, who cordially accepted my invitation to write a guest post while I am away on vacation.


Hi, I’m Tabitha.
I took a leap of faith and recently became a full-time writer. As I navigate this creative, exciting, and sometimes-exasperating world, I’d love to share my journey with you. I’m also married, have four great kids, and still teach a little, so I promise writing on various and sundry other topics. Let’s have a conversation about books, blog posts, kids or anything else you want to talk about. Life’s an adventure and I’d rather not travel alone!

I currently live in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where I grew up. In addition to my husband and four kids, I also have a spoiled, fluffy Ragdoll cat named Milo.

My degree is in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and I…

View original post 1,540 more words

Love, the uniting force.

Lovelight
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What unites humanity?  I can’t escape the word ‘Love’.  Much as my social mind says, ‘that is so cliche’, the word keeps tapping on me, gently but persistently.  So I listened and here I am.

I have written about love, and I know there is much more to it.  What unites humanity is beyond romantic love, what unites humanity is Universal Love. Esoteric, perhaps. But this is a test of my understanding of Love, to see if I can explain it simply.  As Albert Einstein said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’.

Universal Love exists without the ego, yours and mine.  Universal denotes an attention away from our narrow world to the world outside of our lives, of our experiences, of our way of being. And this Love we speak of, comes from a place where the egoic ‘I’ does not exist. This Love is encompassing, it radiates from a place of purity, selflessness and non-attachment.

I guess the intellectual mind can turn this into a discourse, a philosophical discussion that is endless. Science will study and test never really reaching an indisputable result.   But you know deep within you this Love I am speaking of. This is the Love we yearn, the Love some of us have glimpsed in our lives.  The Love that does not judge, the Love that has no boundary, blind to colour, race or creed.

I am not sure if I have explained it.  Perhaps understanding Universal Love with the mind is never really the test.  Love is after all a feeling, one in which we emote with different characteristics.  Love is also something we express through our word and deed, without expectation of returns, rewards, praises, approvals; regardless of the subject or object of the Love or dare I say, there is no specific subject or object. There is only being in that state of Love.

The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being.        
Ram Dass

Have I set the bar too high? Have I state my ‘case’ too strong? How do we even approach this state of being Love personified?

I have no answer except this: if you are mindful and still, you will know Universal Love is. Calm and peace settle over you, an immovable equanimity. Loving Awareness and Loving Kindness would be a great start.

And for those of us who needs a little prompt, consider these:

  1. If the feeling is more for your ‘wellbeing’ then it is more likely to not be the Love;
  2. If the feeling is preconditioned on something else or someone else then it is more likely to not be the Love;
  3. If the feeling is limited or restricted to certain things or criteria then it is more likely to not be the Love.

Is this a positive post for BeWow? You be the judge.

Know that this Love exists, and everyone of us has the capacity to be it. Oh, did I not say? Universal Love is positive energy, and we are bathed in it every moment of every day.  Beloved, you are Love.

Being love is a supreme creative act.  Ram Dass

Namaste!

– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

My world is set to right despite…

WSW #illridewithyou
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I am Australian, and no matter how much I tried to avoid the sensationalism of the news of ‘the siege’ yesterday, well it hit me.

Disbelief at first, then the sensation which I have since identified as anxiety.

1. The fearful realisation that the city I live in, part of my world, is not immune to violence of this nature.  The rational part of me says, ‘wait a sec, it’s a lone man in a cafe’. It’s not a ‘terrorists attack’, is it?  What constitutes a ‘terrorists attack’ anyway?  I have no idea but I can not fathom it is decided upon religious lines only. Nevertheless, naive or otherwise, bad things happen. The question is how do I (or how do we) respond?

2. The dreaded certainty of the media circus that would ensue, making  the feeling of ‘unsafe’ worse The notion of ‘one man in a cafe’ was quickly dismissed in the media for more ‘attractive’ words like terrorism, Muslim, siege etc..  And through it all, I could not dismiss the sense perhaps this is being ‘talked up’.  My anxiety surrounds the almost certainty that ‘hate’ would somehow flow.  True enough, calls were heard for tighter migration, deportation of certain migrants, derision for the rule of law, accusations of ‘wrong-doing’ by those within ‘law & order’…the list goes on.

3. The frustration, anger and sadness that once again I am confronted with the ugliness of humanity.  Not just of a person for whatever reasons choosing to take the life of another human being, but also the thoughtless, ill-considered and hateful comments thrown around during and post-incident. I will not repeat them here.  I guess if I could I would hide under a very big rock because I prefer not to expend energy on negativity, to bring attention to things not worthy of attention such as this ugliness. I also know I live in this world and sometimes, I am called to add my voice.  So here it is.

4. The heavy sense of loss and sadness for the lives affected by this incident, and the loss of love and innocence perhaps.

THEN out of sombre mood, this appears on Twitter.

WSW #illridewithyou

This comforts me.

This inspires me.

This, I hope, overrides the many ‘shockjock’ comments on the radio and the fear-mongering appearing in the media.

This is compassion.

This is loving kindness.

 This reinforces my trust in humanity.

 

Fear and Love

When someone warns you that your compassion may not be reciprocated, that is fear.

When someone tells you that you are naive for choosing to believe in the goodness of others, that is fear.

When someone makes you choose between ‘them’ or ‘us’, that is fear.

When someone ridicules your kindness as stupidity or ignorance, that is fear.

When someone treats your loving actions with suspicion and doubts, that is fear.

 

Our compassion and kindness must never be dependent on reciprocity, they are given freely and with love.

So, Fear or Love?  What do you choose?

– FlorenceT

 

© 2014 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

I believe… one day…

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I am thankful for my world. 

At the same time, I am aware and constantly reminded of others’ worlds so unlike mine. For them chaos and violence, loss abounds. 

This is my hope.

One day I’ll see
Men of all colours
Sharing words of love and devotion.

I believe in the people
Of all nations
To join and to care
For love.
In faith, peace and love,
– FlorenceT