Usually I find the In-Between Times restful, but with tonight’s lunar energy, today has instead been a day for questioning. My mind, or rather my attention, is all over the place. Not Zen. Not focused. I am noticing the peculiarities of our world and marveling that so much divisiveness can exist on one planet. Take, for example, the one day I was perusing Instagram, and a black woman from North Carolina stated her justifiable complaint about the illustration of two white people on a poster proclaiming June 19th, Emancipation Day – the day that black people were freed from slavery. I say let people of color celebrate their own holiday without the idiocy of white suprematists having to stick their attitude of superiority where it is inappropriate: a poster intended to celebrate negro freedom from slavery should have black people illustrated on it.

The concept of slavery becomes an internal one, though, when we begin to recognize we are not free from such idiocy as described above. There is always something within us that is enslaved to habits, to cultural ideologies, to things that might be appropriate to one social situation and dire in another. All of us are subject to conditioned thoughts that are the generational beliefs of our families and ancestors. The Buddha discovered this a very long time ago, but his discovery has not really freed humanity from its own deep shit. The reason is that until we one by one individually ferret out our own “stuff” – and many of us are not doing that – the human collective unconscious continues to operate by outdated and outworn internal programming. My late husband, Alan, who was Jewish, thought the reason the Jews had to roam for forty years in the desert under Moses’ leadership was so that the generation of slaves could pass away. The children did not have their parents’ enslaved attitudes; growing up in the harsh desert climate made them into warriors and survivors.

It often seems to me when I look at my own internal idiocy that I am caught in my own struggle between freedom from and slavery to my own impatience. The events of today sort of proved that to me. My little dog, Loki the black standard poodle puppy, was anything but listening to me in his puppy training class this morning. I kept trying to capture his attention to the task at hand so as not to appear a total inept moron, but well, the dog had his own mind today. He just wanted to play with the other puppies. Things were a little better after we got home and I decided to try trimming his feet. He had no other distractions, but just when I got my groove on, he’d wriggle. We got the job done, but it is not perfect, it is not pretty, and I am still reminding myself he is a tender young puppy who deserves my patience. A lot of time outs to calm me down were required. I had hoped for the calmness to trim his beautiful face today, but had to settle for gentle handling of the clippers around his head. That he tolerated, and it becomes a building block to actually being able to get that job done one day soon.

So here I am, in my in-between place, meditating thoughts of frustration and failure out of my head. There was some success and some struggle in handling Loki’s feet. There was less success and much struggle in capturing his attention for work on the “Stay” command. In the past when I couldn’t meet my habitual overachiever accomplishments I would fall into a feeling of depressed failure. But that was in the past. Giving myself over to being present to my husband during his passing from the long, slow goodbye of dementia brought home to me the fact that there are many things in life I cannot control. I used to think if I worked hard enough or long enough or smart enough I could have anything I wanted. But time and death and loss rob us of those things, until we learn to practice presence to what is.

My crone age now is a time I have some leisure to look around the world at the people I meet. I have done the work of observing my own stupid conditioning and uncovering my own triggers in order to overcome them, so I am now more able to see the process in others. Habits and conditioning spring from that deep place in our reptilian and early mammal brains where memory is recorded in patterns for survival. Most of us have some form of childhood trauma or pattern of hardship that shaped us in ways that we are not free. Often the process of overcoming such conditioning includes the process of uncovering repressed memories and suppressed anger. Suppressed anger can be a masked by depression and grief. The struggle for freedom begins with learning to fully feel our feelings. Easier said sometimes than done. It requires sincerity of purpose and total honesty with ourselves.

Then there is the other thing that happens, when people who believe in an ideology band together to support each other in that ideology. No freedom exists there either. We see this in the covert racism of our times, in the hatred of religions that are different from Christianity, in the fear of peoples who are not “just like us”, and in the random shooting and murders at schools. Rather true freedom lies in open-hearted acceptance of those who are different from us, or at least such acceptance as the understanding that just because someone is different does not mean that they are to be feared or dangerous. We have in common our humanity. It is true that some folks are so full of hate that they cannot perceive another’s goodness, and unfortunately it seems that the USA of today rewards the con artists and liars among us; yet this is why we can develop discernment. Yet discernment cannot come about unless one is willing to do the internal work, so we are kind of back at that square one at which I began.

Today for me has been a day of mental peregrination, from one topic to another, motivated perhaps by my wish to bring some good into the world. I am in-between: In-between grieving my husband’s death and overcoming grief; creating a well trained dog by letting go of what I cannot control and coming at it another way on another day; finding my way through what is struggling up from deep within me as a need to make changes in various aspects of my life – health, job, lifestyle; and finally perhaps just getting enough sleep.


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