I Went to the Woods

It is possible to break me, you know.  I don’t believe in sympathy ploys for comfort, so that’s not what this is.. but people just need to realize that everyone they interact with has a breaking point.  I spend most of my online time finding ways to share my thoughts, and those of others that I run across, on having a life in motion and regaining lost quality of life.  It’s TRULY okay that there are stretches of no one asking how I am doing (I am in no way asking for that), and I won’t generally reveal a lot of detail to just anyone that asks anyway.  I am admittedly socially reserved and for many good reasons.  Just don’t assume that I am impervious to stress.  No one is.

If I have become reticent, there is always a reason behind it.  That may be purely personal as in something that I am going through of my own, or it may have been triggered by a social interaction.  As I move forward in my own time in chrysalis, I find the unpleasant side of many people less and less tolerable.  I’m not saying that to be mean, but to point out that we ALL need to evaluate how we present ourselves to others.  I don’t eat much sugar anymore either.  When I do, I really do not feel well.  The longer I am removed from consuming it, the worse the reaction becomes when I do.  For those of us trying to rebuild our health on a foundation of choosing a mental lightness, and “yesses” each day… choosing to move forward, rather than slide and flounder… choosing not to wallow, and not to rage unnecessarily… for us, contact with the anger and negativity that some people generate is damaging.  I can choose my own mindset for the day, but I have to also be aware that the friends that I surround myself with will generate a field of energy that can be healing, or can be draining.  I don’t have anything to spare, honestly.  Running my Pages and Groups (Facebook) are not just a place that I choose to give, but also a place that I can go to recharge.  As I share my thoughts and any inspiring stories that I have encountered, I am also lifted by it.  These are good things.  Even a chat with a friend can be a good thing.  What I have found however is that some present a pretty face to the world and it is a façade behind which lurks dark and murky waters.

Life is always the best of times and the worst of times.  That is the essence of life as far as I am concerned.  In the extremes we find our balance, but only when they are embraced as reality.  I keep a netsuke (Japanese carved bead) of a skeleton, and a Happy Buddha statue of the same size side by side in front of my monitor at my desk.  They are antithetical creatures, but both so very important in their coexistence.  From living history (reenactment) of 16th century German Landsknecht, I learned that they were a people of living to the fullest in every given moment.  They considered themselves already on a short track, already essentially at death, and therefore wasted nothing of their time and pleasures.  They were given permission by their Emperor (Maximilian) to wear colors ordinarily forbidden to common folk for this reason, without concern of sumptuary taxes.  Red, black, white, royal blues you name it.. whatever fabrics and amounts – in a time when that was not allowed for anyone but upper classes and royalty.  Use them they DID.  Life for them was brutal, but also a celebration of indulgence.  Skeletons and skulls are a part of the art of the time because death was not the avoided topic that it is in modern society now.  It was frankly accepted.  The Happy Buddha is a definite display of abundance, and a free spirit of joy.  In Tai Ch’i many years ago I learned an exercise by that name that demonstrates the position these images and statues portray.  It is supposed to promote good health and your mind is to be centered on good thoughts while performing it.  You smile and look upward.  You breathe.  These two little guys are aiming at the same things, but they sure do not look related in the least.  They remind me about Yin and Yang, and the balance we need which are two sides of the same coin.  That is the essence of life, indeed.

Sorting and organizing my camping gear is a bit of work after a year of not using it.  There are memories to sort through as well.  That alone can sap your energy and leave you feeling drained, weary, and fragile.  I am going because I am past my healthy limit, and I need to clear my head.. disconnect the RIGHT way and clean the slate.  Sometimes nothing but basic ritual amongst the trees and time spent down in the dirt, tending a fire, listening to bugs, and talking to the water will make anything better.  I had a Teacher many years ago.. an Elder… that would tell me I was thinking too much and to go wash my face in the creek so, I am going to go do that.  Since I don’t have a creek in my yard like he did, I don’t get that opportunity nearly often enough.  I am headed someplace new.  That’s always an adventure.

I have spent the last year in particular facing down some demons.  Sometimes it is a brutal fight, and other times it is with a grim but gleeful grin… whether I am wildly charging them or simply staring with calm confidence in my newfound position.  In either case, I know myself, and who I am, and of what I am capable.  Those demons, as it turns out, are my muses.  Muses for an artist or a writer come and go and I find myself wondering if it is us slamming the door shut on their noses, trying so desperately to escape from pain and reality.  Face it.  Really… I mean face it.  Until you face it down, you will always be cowering in the dark, behind a closed and locked door, fearful of experience.  Until you come to terms with the hand you were dealt in this life, you will always be enraged and imbalanced, out of control.  “Mental illness” is pretty common throughout history in artistic people.  Is it any wonder?  We are the ones that see beauty in madness, and fire in pain, and color in darkness, and can sort it all out into a fantastic image to illustrate the chaos as well as natural order (same coin) that we are carrying around inside.  Some of us are just more vivid than average man, and we have a need to express it powerfully.  We wear our red, and black, and white, and blue, in silks and fine woolens with pride and sometimes terror.  We confuse our friends, but hopefully enrich them as well.  We have to find our level of acceptance, without sliding into complacency.

What goal that takes work can you set for yourself that is major and long-range?

What goals that are stepping stones can you set for yourself that will take less time and effort to achieve?

Every choice you make moves you somewhere.  The question is, is it moving you forwards or backwards?  Is it a lateral move?  Existence can be carried out in laterals and by simply lying down in the mud.  LIFE however is a generating force and it must stay in motion, producing PROGRESS and growth.  Otherwise there is failure, and wither, and eventually death.  I have walked through a living death myself.  An existence wherein I found no light, no direction, no hope, and I let go of everything tethering me to my gifts and callings.  This was not the abandon from fret and rumination that gives you a peace to sleep at night.  This was a cut cord from a desire to even wake – if I could even sleep at all.  I was not in motion, nor did I have the will to embrace it again.  My suggestion is.. if you are in that dark pit, don’t shut off your engine there.  Get up.  Get moving.  Climb.  Fight.  Claw.  Scream.  Do what you have to in order to put yourself back into positive motion again, or you will fade there and be gone.  You may think that’s what you want, but believe me it is not.  On the outside of that dark place are all the people that love you, and they want to partner up with you to help you move forward.  The first move is yours.  Choice:  Anger.  Light.  Where are you headed?

I am headed to the woods.  Thus I can continue to say…..

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”


Face Down Demons


5 thoughts on “I Went to the Woods

  1. Reblogged this on JuJu's LUPUS and commented:
    I think this is my favorite post-not because it is so motivating (it is) but it is the perfect example of your “Chrysalis”-even your artistry in prose seems more vivid lately-definitely descriptive reading! Loved it- & loved it best of all because I couldn’t help but be enlightened at your flight!

  2. I think this is my favorite post of yours-not because it is so motivating (it is) but it is the perfect example of your “Chrysalis”-even your artistry in prose seems more vivid lately-definitely descriptive reading! Loved it- &; it moved me most of all because I couldn’t help but be enlightened at your flight!

  3. I loved how artistic this was. You have very deep thoughts. I too, have come to realize that there are too many forces pulling us down to gloom or “death” and we have to fight to get away from them. What are things that you have done that have helped you to get away from this? Thanks again for the article. I really enjoyed it. Hope to you back from you.

    • Thanks, Abbey. I had to make clear choices about how I take care of myself both inside and out. If I’m too overloaded, I just leave the city for a day or two as I just did this week. Traffic noise, neighbors, barking dogs, all of it gets to me after a while. So, I get away. I have not had TV service for over 5 years. I don’t need it. I don’t need a reason to sit that much. I watch selected programs online because I have internet, and to have more than that is just unnecessary. If I have that much time, I will spend it outside seeing things myself rather than through someone else’s eyes – because for now, I still can. When I can’t anymore, then I may feel differently. That time has not yet come. I have been a Tai Ch’i practitioner for over 25 years and it has served me well. Moving meditation. It calms the mind and strengthens the body, and it teaches you balance, both physical and mental. I believe in practicing some form of self discipline, whether it be silent meditation or martial arts, as self maintenance. I choose to be minimally medicated for my health issues as well, rather tackling them from a dietary perspective FIRST, which often negates the need for further treatment anyway. Beyond all of that is simply a choice that you have to make. I no longer wished to be a victim of my circumstances. For some people it takes longer to reason that out. To have any quality of life, that is important decision… just not wanting to be there anymore.

  4. Thank you for that. I love that you said that you have to make clear choices to take care of yourself both inside and out. And to get rid of any negative or unnecessary things in your life. I truly believe that this is how we can see the good and light in the world. Which will lead us to more good things. I need to remember to take time for myself more and see all the good around me. I desire to be as triumphant over life as you are. Thank you again.

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