Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rueful
















I had a dream in late July that I see as a direct result of blogging, but I haven't blogged the dream because I expected to earn some chagrin about it from certain people. But this morning it seems like the time has come, in light of what's going on in the economy and the absurd ways so many are dancing now as they face the music of the deregulated financial markets. Oh, some financiers didn't live up to our expectations I guess. Some of us underestimate human weakness, or would rather ignore it. How many good men are there, really?

In July there was a glorious vision on the parsley plant that grows in a crack in our driveway, a plant we really can't weed out because of the way it's worked its taproot down deep into a crack in the cement. For 3 days a Parsley Worm devoured umbel after umbel. When I posted about it a commentor brought up the Rue plant in a context that seemed to mandate that I eat some to find out how bitter it was. I had already been thinking a lot about Rue because my friend, a Queens medicine woman Irma Caceres discussed it frequently as something Mexicans who practice plant medicine use for everything.

I ate a single leaf, and it didn't taste as bad as I expected it too. Just bitter and overpowering. After I ate it I read somewhere that it's poisonous, although other sources discuss its use as a culinary herb since time immemorial, so maybe it's poisonous in the way some say potatoes are poisonous. I fell asleep early because I felt weird. A few hours later I had a dream in which the sun kept waking me up, which was cause for concern. In dialogue format, the dream would go something like this:

Me: Sun, why are you up at midnight, shining like that. Go to sleep. You are waking me up.

Sun: I'm stuck in this position. Can't move.

Me: Sun, I'm very worried. You were supposed to have gone to bed hours ago. How is it that you shine as brightly at midnight as you did at noon? This is too much shining! Look, there you are again, still shining.

Sun: I'm stuck here. Can't move.

At that point in the dream the sun suddenly went out, and as it did, all the other stars in the sky appeared, and the sun became a dark circle in which a small pink ember glowed (sort of caterpillar shaped.) Very strange for such an apocalyptic tableau to take the form of a beautiful, peaceful event. I suppose it was eclipse like.

The Rock star Dave Grohl was in my dream. Of course my dream Grohl may bear little resemblance to the actual Dave Grohl, Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer. In my dream, he was a drug addict, and as the sun went out, Dave Grohl was going cold turkey, and my only wish was to help him through his withdrawal, his nausea, shivers, the whole assortment of extremely unpleasant sensations that seem associated with correcting an imbalance. So when the sun went dark, this seemed to be the work there was to do, to help an addict cope with the trauma of withdrawal.

Today I realized how my subsconcious must view Dave Grohl. He's someone I knew in my youth and he has extreme energy, which you well know if you've heard him drum. And there's basically no way you've been able to avoid that. The way he beats the drums reminds me of the way the sun seems to sometimes beat down relentlessly. Sometimes that's what you want, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's the dark we need.

As the clouds in front of the world's financial markets thicken, many will go into withdrawal. Some have been taking too much for themselves, cheating, lying, evading the truth. Righting such an imbalance is deeply painful, is what many medicine people of old would have called a "little death," a death akin to the one Ebenezer Scrooge endured when he took a clue from the ghost of Christmas future. You don't always reap what you sow actually, because in many cases, we sow lies, and we reap truth.

It's so hard for mankind to face our vulnerability and tenderness so we build our lives around rituals that serve to create the fallacy of impermeability. We take vitamins, get plastic surgery, lunge after sweet deals, etc. This is the masculine side of a person or society in the throws of mania wherein we convince ourselves that if we only had a little more money, a new kind of pharmaceutical, the better home or car, higher ratings, etc., things will finally be OK. It's not easy to face the truth that there's no escaping ourselves in all of our imperfections and vulnerabilities. How do we get strong enough to face the truth of frailty, mortality and imperfection with a loving, generous heart? A heart that buddhist teacher Pema Chodron would call bodhichitta, a sense of compassion that's large and generous enough to hold all the horrors of ourselves and our society without needing to hide anything.

And then there's me, with my own brand of skittish desperation. I'm sure I've got my work cut out for me.

(I've come to understand that the side of a person that acts can be viewed as the masculine, and the side that contemplates is the feminine. So if the feminine side is damaged, as it often is, the masculine side acts without crucial information. Balancing the two parts of the individual so that there's harmony between them is the work of a lifetime. I just say all this because I don't want anyone to think I'm against men. Not at all. There's nothing more thrilling than a contemplative man, that is, a man who handles truth, a man whose feminine side has managed to survive all the threats to it that persist in a society in which the masculine is overvalued, and not seen as dependent on the feminine for its wisdom. By the way, women are just as likely to have a feminine side that's not fully functioning. I'm speaking from experience, ya know.)

4 comments:

Old First said...

This line was a treasure:

You don't always reap what you sow actually, because in many cases, we sow lies, and we reap truth.

amarilla said...

Thanks for reading, Daniel. I suppose it should have been "We don't...."

The editor had the day off yesterday, well, as always.

clare said...

you need to find some mugwort! :)

is your friend Irma Caceres a practicing medicine woman? does she ever teach classes about Mexican plant medicine?

amarilla said...

She does practice, lately she's told me about a cure she performed with an egg, she also drums, uses flower essences, drawing, stones, scrying, and much MUCH MORE! I don't think she's studied Mexican plant medicine strictly, but she's picked up a thing of two from people. Her tradition is an evolving one.

If you'd like to contact her with questions just email me.