Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To Sea

I love the way the photo above turned out. I just took it half an hour ago - a pic of the pines in my side yard - and manipulated it a bit in PaintshopPro. Rain and warmer temps (38 degrees and climbing, woohoo!) are quickly melting the latest snow.

As previously promised, I'm returning to the conversation I've been having with a friend on spirituality. Her questions and comments are below in cream and my responses are in sage (one must err on the side of aesthetics when discussing spirituality). I've edited her part for content somewhat, but her points are still firmly intact.

Some things we can agree on like religious dogma, and asking questions and not finding answers … looking for solutions via theology … I am not sure that those who find spirituality… via systems either through religion or others, whether you have a term for it or not, have found the "answer". They may be appeased at some point, but I would bet there are still issues.

The definition of Theology is "the study of the nature of God." So, using that definition, I was incorrect in labeling my thoughts on spirituality thusly. But, you obviously got my drift anyway. I do believe I've found an answer - at least an answer that works well for me. I wouldn't be so presumptuous or ostentatious to think that it might do well for all others - in part because some of those others might not be ready to hear it, just like some kids aren't ever ready to deal with the notion that Santa Claus doesn't exist.
Think of it this way - a physically disabled person learns to adjust by relearning how live within ... those boundaries… but still limited … without the full freedom one experiences "normally" and are still considered "disabled ." When one depends on their own spirituality, they are limited. They can be effective, vital, and productive, but they are still lacking the fullness which was intended. By spooning in a lot of concepts… one's spirituality will always be changing… It's an ethereal experiential spiritualism that never finds an end... This is what I would call a disability.
I love that analogy! Having lived with a paraplegic for 9 years, I can totally relate to what you‘re trying to say. Allow me to tell you a story, and I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with it, but maybe that will come out somehow in the telling (likely, since it's what popped into my head when I read your bit). It's a story that a good friend of John’s told at his memorial. Susan, Chris and John all drove to the coast in CA one weekend. The park they stopped at had a campground, but the beach was 1/4 mile away over massive sand dunes - impossible to traverse in a wheelchair. John had told Susan that his whole reason for the trip was to see the sea. Their car had been having some issue, so Susan and Chris walked off to find some help. When they returned, there was John's empty chair and drag marks leading off into the dunes. Susan was in a panic. She was certain that he'd been hauled off by thugs or a wild animal of some sort. She and Chris followed the tracks... they went up one dune, down another, up again, and on. Finally they crested the last dune and down on the beach, sitting calmly by the sea, was John. Susan ran up to him and all but screeched, "What the fuck?!" John turned to her placidly and said, "I told you I wanted to see the sea." She said, "But... how the heck did you...?" He smiled, held up his hands and said, "I walked." The man had scooched himself on his butt, using his hands to propel himself 1/4 mile over dunes. He did the same for the return trip.

I never once saw him as being disabled. Truly. In my eyes he was more powerful than any "able-bodied" man I've ever known. He didn't just adapt to his situation, he transcended it. Disability is in the eye of the beholder. Being an emotional cripple was more of a detriment to me than his paralysis ever was to him.
(Side note from Barb: This is perhaps the most telling story of John's tenacious "adapt or die" spirit. I often think on this one when faced with challenges in my own life.)
Innately, spiritualism is fulfilled by experience. Let's say for example - if you weren't in the woods, could no longer write, could not do your art, did not have your dog, Scott was no longer part of your life, and you were locked away in prison without even a window to look out of - would you still have the same spirituality that you have today?

Well. As a matter of fact... on February 2nd I was picked up on a warrant that was out on me that I didn't know existed. (Classic case of guilty until proven innocent.) I spent 9 days in jail waiting for a 5 minute court session. So, this is something I have not only thought about (you're not asking me any questions I haven't asked myself), but recently experienced. So, my answer is yes, I would still have the same spirituality. I've had so many friends and family saying, "I would have crumbled!" Yet I never did. I didn't cry a single time. My very first thought, once I got beyond the surreal experience of being booked, was, "I'm still me. This does not change who I am. This does not dent my spirit." And it didn't. It's the old axiom of "wherever you go, there you are." The girls I did time with were in awe of my composure, but I would just look them straight in the eye and say, "I know who I am. Simple as that." A couple of them asked where that grit came from, so I talked to them about my beliefs, talked to them about where I came from and how I choose to live my life. My words had an effect. I've since heard from them and they are striving to make their own changes. It's the best reward I could never ask for.
Second question :) Is contentment all there is? Is that the bottom line?Well, I did differentiate between contentment and complacency. No, it's not the bottom line. I think that in some ways my soul will always be a bit restless, but not in a bad way. It’s the same as my mind being restless in wanting to learn new things. However, the turmoil is gone. At least for now, for me, that is more than enough. That is stellar.
Last question: Do I make any sense at all? hahahaha :)
Absolutely! Discourse like this is... what's the word... enthralling! It's been 17 years since I had a conversation this good (and that was with a 12 year old boy). And it's true. My gypsy spirit totally digs getting into discussions that challenge my mind, that take me outside everyday mundane tasks and make me explore. To be continued...

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