Tag Archives: Reflections

I Am so Ready!

I Am so Ready

(thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

No matter the number of years I’ve thought about it and meditated on what it means to me, the idea that I am ‘so ready’ for that final breath is still, well, stunning. I’ve given myself the freedom to speak openly about my ‘impending’ death for some time now even if it causes a frozen lull in most conversations.

Why would someone speak about dying? Some are simply fed up and think, ‘enough is enough’ while some, if rarely, are eager to join up with their chosen loving deity or whatever. That’s not how it is for me.

Am I dissatisfied with the conditions of Earth as imposed upon it by a ruling species unwilling to control its power and take responsibility for its actions? Certainly but that does not drive me to despair, quite to contrary, since I have an impeccable solution to such problems.

Do I think that I’ve done enough and it’s time for a much deserved break from the merry-go-round and the pig pen? No, quite the opposite: I know I haven’t performed to the best of my abilities and there is so much more to be done. I know that my sudden “departure” would currently leave some people in the lurch.

No, my sense of being ready does not come from selfish motives. It comes from an innate knowing. It comes from a bursting of joy having something good and tangible to take with me after a wonderful day at the fair.

The fair is still going full bore; I could stay and play some more but speaking of bore, any fair will get boring if it goes on too long. I don’t want this to go on past the point where I can enjoy it. I don’t want to just sit in the car as the night falls and the lights come on only to fade.

There is a sense of fullness that is driving me, today particularly. I want to enjoy that quiet if passionate, fullness. I want to enjoy one accomplishment in particular: detachment. There is nothing, and no one that has the power to hold me here. I am the one with the power, all of it and that means I have also managed to get a handle on self empowerment.

I choose, I decide, no regrets. I gave myself a purpose for my life henceforth and that purpose is anchored within my own nature now. Like Leto Atreides II choosing to forfeit his humanity in order to become a sand worm, the Fremen deity called Shai’Hulud, I have forfeited my humanity (or perhaps gained it!) by turning myself over to becoming an avatar of compassion.

This is done now. What comes next, is next. I live in the joy of this accomplishment. I was taught even as a child that it is possible to change one’s nature. I had to prove it to myself and the answer is, yes.

“Life Aboard Ship”

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

Star date: 190623-I haven’t spent as much time on this as I would have liked to but I am choosing to post now rather than wait two weeks when I return from an “Island” job. There is no internet where I’ll be working, though I will be doing some limited blogging on my cell phone. “Enjoy” this bleak story – it is what my heart is showing me these days.
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“Maybe what I really need is sleep, he said to himself. A sort of twilight of living, with only the background sound of Beethoven audible. All the rest a blur.

No, he decided; I want to be! I want to act and accomplish something. And every year it becomes more necessary. Every year, too, it slips further and further away.” (A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick)

I awoke, as does everyone sooner or later, aboard a strange craft, a ship that sailed through emptiness, bound for nowhere; a ship that would never find a port of call or ever crash on any shore. I knew this long ago, although no one ever spoke of it. In the daytime, the closest non-ship entity one could see was, of course, the sun. At night, if one happened to be on deck, one could see the stars out there, forever out of reach, the ship never getting any closer to any one of them. Sometimes one could see the moon, and although much closer than any star, or sun, it too remained aloof, at an unreachable distance.

One did not board the Ship, one was born on it and was automatically made a member of the crew. Everyone on board was crew, no exceptions. What you did as crew was determined by others and their perceived, claimed or stated needs.

Since Ship itself was quite automated, there really was nothing to do as far as sailing it. So crew served crew until that was the only thing that anyone knew how to do. The more people were born on Ship, the more it all became self-serving, with those who became leaders demanding more from their underlings. Of course the underlings had to find ways to please their masters so they learned to delve down into Ship to find resources that could be made into objects that would please or titillate the masters. Most of us became resource extractors, all to stay alive, some to seek promotions.

I don’t know the exact day, but an idea came to me: what was the point of all that? Who were we all, why were we on Ship and where were we going? I stopped my drilling, much to the annoyance of my partner, and sat down to think about this.

Where did I come from? Nowhere. Where was I going? Nowhere. What was then the point of my existence? There was none. Even if I found the strength and motivation to fulfill and surpass my quota of diamonds; even if I finally got a promotion, I would be old and near death by then. What could I expect then? Nothing. I would cease and my body would be thrown overboard, as all were except for the Captains and other rich and powerful who had themselves encased in crystal caskets and buried with much pomp and ceremony down the empty shafts of what had been our most productive mines. The shafts were then sealed and commemorative plaques put on the entrances. I leave the question with you: how much better off were these rich dead than the dead flung overboard?

Although I would become one of the outcasts, I left the mine and went up on deck to feel the noonday sun and the wind; to hear the waves beat against the hull and listen to the endless sounds of people everywhere talking, laughing, crying, cursing, praying, cheering and some even singing. These people were, in a sense, alive, but what is life without purpose except to satisfy the immediate, to seek a bit more pleasure or to avoid punishment for any and all reasons? It seemed to me that they were simply going through the motions of something they believed in, not as happening now, but as some sort of hope that it would happen by and by.

I do not need to tell you that there were many varieties of official and quasi-official beliefs aboard Ship that most people adhered to. The gist of those beliefs was that one’s soul would go to another ship once separated from one’s dead body and life would be vastly improved in that new place. The new masters would be benign and merciful… of course.

I asked myself why people believed such things when no one could furnish any evidence of their truthfulness? There was a simple enough answer: why not, when life on Ship was general misery and pointlessness and there was nothing better to believe in? If nothing came of it after one’s death, one would be none the wiser. Meantime this bit of hope made life’s tenuousness, fear and misery a bit easier to bear. It was a simple mechanism grossly exploited, of course, by those who pretended to know about life after death. 

Without dependents being an outcast is not as bad as it sounds. You can use your skills to help others and be paid back in food, clothes and temporary shelter. Survival is not difficult when one has been toughened in mining for diamonds deep in the lower bowels of Ship. On deck at least there is a pretense of freedom; there is fresh air, water can be skimmed from water barrels, left-overs and discards can be looked through before they are incinerated or recycled.

Thus I lived the later years of my life and thus I discovered a new ‘connection’ to Ship. It came to me gradually that Ship was talking to me, had always been talking to me but the people noise had blocked Ship’s communications from my mind. Now that I had more freedom I could, and did, move away from people whenever possible and in relative quiet I heard Ship.

I hadn’t known that Ship was aware of what the people were doing on board and in particular, how they were damaging Ship by their greedy delving for ever more esoteric ‘resources’ below deck and down, down, into its deepest accessible bowels. Ship’s voice was sad.

‘You are killing me,’ she said to me in an old woman’s voice, ‘and when I die, you will all die too. That should be obvious to as intelligent a race as yours but somehow your lack of purpose has deadened your understanding of cause and effect. Where are your logicians? Where you philosophers? Where is your empathy? When those things die, you die. No intelligent, sentient and self aware species can guide itself without logic, philosophy and empathy.’

What happens now, Ship?’

‘Like you I am going to die. My lifeless hulk will continue to haunt this orbit for millions of your years. Perhaps, in time beyond time I will return and bring it back to life again so I can be another ark. Perhaps.’

‘Everything, everyone, on board will die then?’

‘Yes, everything.’

Compassion and Empathy versus Chaos and Violence

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

One day, never mind the season, in a fit of pure madness you say to yourself, I want to become an empathetic being. Do you consider the consequences of such a desire should you proceed upon that path? No, because in the very beginning you naively assume that being empathetic is just plunging deeper into that wonderful feeling people call love.

So there you have it: you are going to become a more loving person and naturally, you will feel great about yourself and naturally everybody you know will come to love you more and more the deeper you struggle up that golden path… or is it down that rabbit hole.

Young people who want to choose a path of “goodness” are very naive. I can attest to that. This world isn’t programmed to accommodate goodness although much is alluded to it and those who by some miracle of whatever, walk that path come hell or high water are often considered heroes if they are considered at all. Usually though, they are considered fools, dreamers and conspiracy theorists. I can add, they are also considered pains in the royal social ass and untrustworthy, i.e., they have a tendency to get off the social bandwagon at the most inconvenient places, often where the scapegoated targets of the bandwagon riders happen to be hiding and surviving, to give help and support instead of sticks and stones.

Becoming empathetic is a great inconvenience which leads one to self-sacrifice (oh, shudder!) and sometimes to persecution and martyrdom – things that give great feelings of courage while reading dramatic fiction but are rather dreadful to experience in real life. What the naive youth does not know is that becoming empathetic means living a compassionate life, not a loving life. It’s not only a very lonely path that demands untold forms of constant bits of self-sacrifice but detachment from serious personal relationships as well. I think we can agree that youth does not lend itself well to taking such measures. There are expectations, both natural/physical and social that mitigate against walking the em-path!

Is this short essay another of my reminders that compassion/empathy is not at all the same as loving? Unequivocally, yes. These are not the same thing though recently I have made allowances (how grand of me to do so!) for love to ride along with compassion/empathy if in the last wagon on the train, basically along with all other baggage that would have been better left on the platform before boarding.

Compassion (which is necessary to understand the pain caused by the empathetic life in a violent world) is doing with feelings coming as a consequence of one’s acts. Love is feeling with doing coming as a consequence of one’s feelings. It doesn’t take a genius, or a degree in philosophy to recognize which one will give lasting, meaningful results.

If one’s actions determine the direction one’s life is taking, that can be guaged long-term. I call that purpose. If one’s feelings determine the direction one’s life is taking, there is no possibility of ever knowing where one will end up. I call that chaos.

What made me choose to develop an empathetic way of life through living compassion is, I do not like chaos. To paraphrase myself from a recent comment, living compassion in a violent world is like carving a homestead in the wilderness.

Nature ‘lovers’ who rely on their feelings to interact with nature will not see ‘nature’ as chaos. Raised on a real homestead in a real wilderness of northern Canada in the 1950’s has given me a real sense of chaos versus the kind of order our type of life requires to survive. We are not wild animals integrated with nature – we never have been and never will be. We require some sort of order out of chaos to survive and live normal lives.

Compassion which gives life to empathy, is order within gross man-made chaos. Compassion is the ultimate enemy of violence. The spirit of violence which I call ‘evil’ cannot share space with the spirit of compassion. Anyone who seeks to become, or thinks of herself as compassionate can easily know if that is a belief, or if it is true: if she harbours any residual desire within her mind for an outcome achieved through violence, compassion has not nested there yet.

The Question never Asked

[a poem by   ~burning woman~   written by Sha’Tara]

Is there meaning to believe in?
I’ve done all I could to absorb this world,
to understand people, no, not just
people, but this world’s life.
I’ve seen and felt its endless struggle,
its romance with beauty and with horror.
So much drama but never an answer
to the eternal question.
You may ask, ask, and ask; you may
shed tears of raw pain, of sorrow, of anger
and the world is awash in mute noise.

I’ve seen cats fight and children die in war,
heard and read the boasting, seen the posturing
over beads, trinkets and ticker-tape money
and walked streets I thought were painted red
but it was always the blood of innocents,
no thin red line but a widening swath
leading to a pile of skulls and scattered bones.

Rats ran away as I came near as if I’d been more
than a nameless ghost in an endless dream.

I can see, I can hear, I can smell and
I can feel. As if that could ever be enough!
I have observed, weighed my thoughts
to realize they were too heavy to bear;
looked in a mirror to watch myself age
as in a time-lapse scene
from angst of birth to relief of death,
its in-betweens sprinkled with flashes of joy
stolen from the ever-dying landscape.

And all I ever wanted was to ask
the one question never asked before;
the one question no one ever dared ask
or no one ever thought to ask: the
one that answers all others – how
presumptuous to believe I could
formulate such a thing, that I
could discover the meaning of life or,
if you will: the meaning of meaning.

Toast and Jam

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

Sometimes I want to just say, “fukitol” and go on to finish my life, echoing the sentiment expressed in the movie The Answer Man: “Hell… is other people.”

That’s a bit extreme. Let’s just say that hell is most other people, is that better? Just kidding. Actually I don’t believe that other people are hell though after many of them have passed through here, after experiencing an Earth reshaped into man’s image, who needs hell?

That being said, it’s not at all what I want to express here today. I want to return to my favourite topic, compassion, but I want to throw something new in the mix: love.

I know that love is not something new for Earthians, but it is something new for me to bring up as I expound some more on the concept of compassion. I’ve already established to my satisfaction that love and compassion as totally dissimilar concepts. I’ve gone so far as to claim that love works against the person who would express herself as a compassionate being, and I have explained it thus: that love is exclusive whereas compassion is inclusive; that love cannot exist as a stand-alone concept (what would be the point?) whereas compassion does, and must. Love is dependent, compassion is for the self empowered. 

Could I look at these two concept in a less extreme way?

The usual response to love and compassion is predictable: mostly the two concepts exist as indistinguishable in the Earthian mind and they get totally confused. I realize that is due to programming and that is why most people cannot get a handle on compassion because they cannot separate it from love. Why should they when they remain convinced the two are interchangeable?

Imagine that you own a car and you are stuck with servicing it to make it work. You remember that certain fluids are needed for the machine to work. Two main ones are gas (do they still call it petrol in Britain?) and coolant, or a mix of coolant and water. You have the two fluids but you can’t remember which one goes where. So you say, oh well, doesn’t matter, I’ll pour this one in here, and that one in there and the car will sort it out. Clever that… until of course the car dies because you put the coolant in the fuel tank and the fuel in the radiator.

Let’s use a different analogy for compassion and love and how I see how these things get confused. Let’s say “toast and jam.” Compassion is the toast and love is the jam. That’s how the Earthian mind perceives it. Toast can be a stand alone food, but jam, not so much. Nevertheless the Earthian emotional heart, or mood trend setter, prefers to have jam and not bother with toast. When people speak of love, it’s jam; a taste good, feel good thing. If they have to have toast with it, so be it, but it’s the jam they hanker for.

Personally, sticking with the analogy, I have no problem having toast without the jam but generally speaking it’s the other way around for most. Toast is bland, often crunchy, somewhat tasteless and it needs help. Enter jam. Love.

Now imagine that most people choose to just eat jam for breakfast because they don’t like toast. Some diet that, huh? Not very healthy.

Without carrying this on from the sublime to the ridiculous, let’s give it some thought.

Our World is Essentially a Violent Place (or if you wish, How did I discover myself here from there?)

[scattered remembrances from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

This may come across as a strange piece of admission but…???

When we are young we live as if we were immortal. That is a truism except that for some of us, we do not want that immortality which translates as eternity. It demands responsibility we have no idea how to deal with.

Some of us are born watchers, observers of our world, perhaps because at birth we partially broke out of the programming, or because it didn’t take. So what do we see, or to be more personal (and honest) what did I see?

I saw that the weak and the meek get the raw deal. Though I sometimes saw the other side of the coin what hit home was its dark side: the fear, the hate, the distrust, the anger – the IN-JUST-ICE!

I cringed when the parents fought each other and there was no place to hide except under useless blankets if I couldn’t get dressed quickly enough to run for the barn and hide among the cows, not for protection but for their warmth and so as not to have to listen and feel the “terror” taking place in the house, a terror that could quickly turn against me as the convenient scapegoat.

Then I got older and saw that the family squabbles resembled the world squabbles only these were on a much greater scale. I was learning responsibility too at the same time. More choices.

Mine, I judged, was a harsh world with little leeway in terms of forgiveness. You made a mistake, you paid a price, often way beyond the weight of the mistake. The same was true of nations and races; of the poor and for the powerless gender, all claims and propaganda to the contrary.

I so desired to do away with myself but what to do? I had a life and my religion stated unequivocally that if I took that life I was damned to exist in a burning hell for eternity: again, no escape, not even the warm flank of a milk cow there. I would stare at a pitch fork and try to imagine what it would feel like to be endlessly prodded by that as a punishment for something I had done out of despair millions of years ago. I would also know that despair was another mortal sin that was added to my punishment, of course.

So no escape, just choices. I saw and felt pain, my earliest recollection. Then I saw jealousy and senseless expectations. I saw injustice and how it nurtured fear, doubt, distrust, hate, anger and brutality. Where in that did I fit in? Nowhere, but since there was nowhere to hide from all of it, and as my knowledge expanded exponentially, I sensed a growing awareness of the essential brutality of the world and I was forced to make hard choices.

I saw two: I could choose to accept and suffer the arrows of injustice upon myself and for the most helpless of the world (I did not know that was known as being empathetic) or I could fight back. Fighting back meant using violence, no matter what word is used to hide that fact and using violence meant losing my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted but it seemed to be the only logical choice.

At the beginning of this journey and still much in the dark as to who I was and what I would choose to become, I chose anger as my companion and then violence just seemed to make sense. It took several years before I realized that my reliance on anger was eating me up and then came more guilt: was I committing suicide? I wanted to leave this world desperately but was I willing to risk the potential consequences? I had already sacrificed my heart to one choice, would I lose myself for eternity?

The frightened child had grown into an adult. I had learned to bluster my way into the adult world even if I felt I were an alien or something altogether weird. I hid my real thoughts and feelings and expressed only those I thought would make me seem normal and acceptable. I used ideas and words from books, magazines, the radio, songs, sermons, political speeches, and that seemed to satisfy people even though it polarized them. For a time I was a complete stranger to myself but at least I had some mental peace, a pretense of belonging and discovered I had accessed some power.

I might continue this and explain how I came to the edge of my own personal black hole and found myself inexplicably pulled out of it.

Reaching for Awareness

[short story by   ~burning woman~  written by Sha’Tara]

“If it is true that we only live a small part of the life that is within us, what happens to the rest?

What could, what should be done with all the time that lies ahead of us?

Is it a wish, dreamlike and nostalgic, to stand once again at that point in life; to be able to take a completely different direction from the one which has made us who we are?

The fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one planned to be.” (quotes from the movie, Night Train to Lisbon)

It was, he figured, around the middle of the night. He’d crawled out of the warm sleeping bag to stand outside and look at the night sky. The stars were slowly revolving overhead, only he knew it wasn’t the stars that were moving, but himself riding his wild planet through space and time. The thought made him feel vulnerable, fragile. Who am I to be standing here alone to witness this incredible sight? A couple of dozen years have gone by already since I was born and what do I know? I don’t even know why I was born. Happenstance? That’s it? I’m here, feeling this incredible surge of life just because, and no reason for any of it?

He thought about that as he began to shiver and long to crawl back into his little tent and the sleeping bag with its residual warmth. “I think therefore I am” he said out loud. “Well, that’s not good enough anymore because really that is meaningless. What I need to establish for myself is not the realization that “I am” which is pretty obvious and need not be stated, but “Why Am I? That’s the point!”

It was early Summer and the river level was still rising. There was the smell of fresh leaves and muddy waters flowing over mud banks and through thick grasses. You could hear the waters hissing as they flowed by the little island he’d chosen for his stay: it had just enough room to pitch the tent and bring the kayak safely out of the water. He knew “his” river, that the little island would not wash away. For the time being it was his own little private world surrounded by water. He’d chosen it as his sanctuary, a place to be alone and away from people. A place to think in ways not possible among others.

He had given himself this gift. He already knew that from here his life would take another path, go on another tangent, new ideas coalescing in his mind to foster yet another nature even if his body chose to remain essentially the same, ageing and eventually dying. That, he understood, was the way of things on Earth, “but not for me” he would say and watch friends and family walk away from him, afraid that his madness might be contagious.

“I’m sorry, Nadia” he’d told his young wife as she berated him for leaving on his “crazy” kayak outing on the river. She of course wanted nothing to do with his water ways and had done her utmost after their wedding to dissuade him and get him to sell his kayak even though she had promised she would never interfere with the part of his life that involved the river. “It’s my time of year to go on the river and partake of her awakening. I know you cannot understand this but there is no need to fear, or be jealous. This is whom you married and I kept no secrets or surprises to spring upon you. I will be back when I have done what I must do. If you do not wish to share this with me you are free to leave. I would be pleased to find you here when I return but I will not be expecting it. Take care o’ you, my lady.”

That had been his way, to set the people around him free of bonding to himself. The freedom he sought, he gave to everyone. He had never told his wife that he loved her – he did not believe in love because, as he so often said, love has proven it’s weakness in unreliability. Respect and honour, that I can offer, but not love.  This included his concept of bonding.  Stay or leave, as you choose.

Ignoring the night’s cold he let his mind wander this strange new world he had decided to enter into: detachment. Is detachment simply a coward’s way of dealing with a violent, cruel and unpredictable world? Is it a morbid fear of losing someone close, another that one has fallen in love with or developed a special bond to? Is that why I’m here, to work this out for myself?

The stars continued their uninterrupted journey over his head and he realized once again and logically that what he was observing was his own journey through the cosmos, one tiny fraction at a time.

‘I’m traveling through the cosmos but not only that, I am fully aware of this fact, right here, right now. But where am I going? Do I get to choose that or am I a piece of flotsam on the river of space-time? No, that will not be. This new nature of mine I will dedicate to discovering my destination and the next one I will use to figure out how I am supposed to get there.’

It was some time before he could calm his mind and resume his sleep.