Sunday, October 25, 2009

The awareness is so big

“Simply open the heart,” my yoga teacher says. “Let your shoulders slide onto the floor. Let go.”

“Your father fell in the night, very quietly near the stairs,” Mom says. “I never heard a sound. I found him in the morning, just lying out there in the hallway on the floor. 'How long have you been there?' I asked him. ‘About an hour,’ he said. He was inching his way along, down the hallway. 'Let me help you,' I said. But you know how he is. He snapped at me, like he always does. ‘Leave me alone,’ he said. ‘I’m fine.’”

This happened four years ago. But today, because I am writing a memoir, I'm thinking about it.

"The awareness is so big," my yoga teacher says. I lie on my sticky mat with my eyes closed, trying to wrap my mind around the question of just how big the awareness might be. I send my consciousness searching for the edge, the end, the place where the awareness ends and... and this is what I'm having trouble with... something else begins.

"Simply open the heart," she repeats and I wonder, how?

On Twitter, there's a stream. People from all over the world, sit at desks or cafe tables inventing 140-character statements that attempt to answer the question: What are you doing? Their brief messages flow by in bursts: I'm spiritual, they whisper. I'm an activist, a writer, a wellness coach. I eat raw food.

On Twitter, there are greetings, sales pitches, prayer requests.: I skim through these to find the people-or PPL, as we say in the abbreviated language Twitter users must employ-who are playful, fascinated, and engaged; people who are, you know, real.

Often, someone will "tweet" a link: Try this, they urge. Read this, or, Wow!

I click on some of them, when I have the time and they take me places--walking down roads I'd never find on my own, or swirling, as through a worm hole in a science-fiction novel, toward universes that are forming and un-forming faster than my 52-year-old mind can read the maps.

For example, this photo taught me that while I have been opening my heart and also cooking, working and helping my kids get started in college, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has been orbitting through space, sending back images of "high-energy radiation from the remnants of exploded stars, black holes, galaxies and intergalactic gas, among other phenomena."

The awareness is so big.

Six years ago, my editor asked me if I’d like to work on a column about angels.
I had no idea what was going to happen, no idea that by even touching the hem of this work, my life would be shot through with stars. No idea. Yet, in another way, in a very deep part of me, I knew.

Three years later, (which, if you are making a timeline, was about three years ago) I was sleeping in my sister’s old room at my parents’ house when my father got up to go to the bathroom and fell. From the twin bed facing the hallway, I saw how it started, how he tripped, his right foot caught beneath his left, and how his body pivoted to the left as he fell, so that he landed, almost gracefully, on his knees beside the laundry basket, the top of his head resting on a stack of my mother’s freshly folded pink towels.

“Don’t worry about it,” he called as I leapt to help. “I can manage. Go back to bed.”

I knew the rules. My father doesn’t like people to help him. My father likes to do things for himself. I stood beside him, not helping, as he struggled to straighten his back, to lift his head and shift his weight. But he couldn’t do it, couldn’t stand.

“Come on, Dad, let me help you,” I said. He lifted an arm and we used my body to leverage his own. Then, he lurched away.
“I’m fine,” he called over his shoulder, closing the bathroom door.

Have patience, everything will work out. Anyway, sleep well, Carl Jung wrote, once, in a book somewhere. I'm sorry I don't have the exact citation. I'd rather write about awareness, and how big it is, than look that up right now. I know that if anyone would understand this omission, it would be he, (Carl Jung, I mean.)

When Jung was older, after he'd been recognized and celebrated as the father of something new, something important, he began working with a non-physical guide called Philemon, who visited him in dreams. “Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life," he wrote. "Philemon represented a force that was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought."

Something like this also happened to me.
The awareness is so big.

The next morning at breakfast, I asked Dad, “Are you falling a lot?”
“What’s a lot?” He shrugged, limping slowly to the table. “It’s part of the game. I fall. I get up.”

The kids came downstairs. We ate our corn flakes. Crunch, crunch.
A few minutes later, Dad broke the silence. “When I fall in the city people always help me up. When I fall at home, it’s not so easy. The other day I tripped on the scatter rug and fell with my cheek in the cat’s food dish.” Max and Katie froze, looked at me: Is it okay to laugh?

But Dad chuckled. “Mookie didn’t like that!” he said, winking at Max.
“Dad,” I tried again. “It sounds like you’re falling a lot…”
“Not a lot,” he said. “But I am falling.”

A week earlier, while climbing from his car, Dad fell on his back in the driveway. Unable to get up, or even to roll onto his side, he lay there for more than two hours. “It was a nice day,” he told me. “A couple of kids from up the block went by. Some cars…”

“No one helped you?”
“No one saw me. I was back behind the car. Actually, it was the garbage men who got me up when they came up the driveway for the trash.”

My sister, Beth, lives in California. When I told her what was going on, she subscribed Dad to the Life Alert system. Now whenever he fell, he could push a button, which he wore on a thick black cord around his neck. This activated a direct connection with a dispatcher who could call for help—the police or a designated neighbor—to stand him back up.

I will write a book. I will call it: Light: The year I opened my eyes. I will call it: Sacred, Pulsing Space. I will call it: The Architecture of the Heart I will explore things like entropy, which is the name for what happens when a system gets stuck and no longer makes effective use of its available energy; and the way that I want so many things that I cannot seem to animate; like going to Paris, writing a book, loving my husband.

My book will give me permission-and a platform-to learn and to talk about healing; about family, about the way the heart works-as a muscle, pumping and pulsing; and an energetic system. I will call my book a memoir, hoping that it will help me to remember, to understand, to see.

I am not like everyone else.I have this special thing I can do: look! I'm doing it now. I am different; with a unique set of skills and talents that make me very very special. Of course, one of the things the awareness has been teaching me is: So is everyone else. Everyone feels this way. Everyone, I understand now, is special, bursting with stars.

About a year after I first started working with angels, after I'd read about five-hundred stories of miraculous rescues, healings, visitations and dreams, I began to feel different: I felt like I was melting, as if the edges that made me ME were softening, and I was blending into something bigger, something that was both absorbing ME and filling me with itself.

With my eyes wide open, I was having the kind of mystical experience some people report after years of meditation-where one becomes liquid and merges with God.

Everything had meaning--everything I saw was a sign: the numbers on license plates, words written on street signs, all seemed encoded with messages just for me. Patterns emerged in the leaves on the ground, piles of acorns, the rhythm of snow falling into puddles at the side of the road.

It's still this way. But now, I no longer think I'm crazy.
You get used to it.

But I do have some questions...
Like the veils, the ones Mystics talk about- the ones that hold us inside our bodies and separate this thing from that; the membranes that individuate bodies, plants, water bugs and comets from the flowing everythingness of All That Is. What I want to know is, how does it all fit together? How does it all work? How does it make the transition--the translation--from wave to particle, from thought to pattern, from cosmic, swirling gas to spiral helix? How, I want to know, does it weave this net of creation, studded with jewels?

Oh, and there's one more thing: Why, if we are designed to be separate, do we long so desperately, not to be? With an awareness this big, there must be a reason. I mean: Is this a design flaw-or is it intentional?

FOUR (Yes, I know. We are going backwards now.)
"One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one's mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one's leisure..." says Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. He is explaining, to Harry Potter, how the Pensieve works. In this scene, Professor Dumbledore demonstrates the method of "siphoning" thoughts, using his magic wand to pull a wispy thread of memory from the side of his own head.

Oh, tell me how big the awareness must be... to hold all of this, these thoughts, my son and daughter, this iced tea in its clear (#1 plastic) cup.

"The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of," wrote the 17th century philosopher-poet, Blaise Pascal. (I think that's who wrote it. I copied the reference from someone on Twitter.)

And anyway,
Here is THREE...
Barnard's Galaxy, " is one of our nearest galactic neighbors." The bubble, "clearly visible in the upper left of this photo," a "cosmic misfit," oddly shaped and smaller than other galaxies," may help "researchers understand how galaxies interact, evolve and occasionally "cannibalize" each other, leaving behind radiant, star-filled scraps."

Star-filled scraps.

My daughter just called. Today, she's making a movie about an beautiful young man who is being pursued by a beautiful young woman through tall grass. She wants me to come now, to drive her to the location--an abandoned Drive-In movie lot, with the equipment she signed out from the storeroom at school. She wants to be there before the actors arrive.

So I have to go. Because even though I'm not finished, I... wait, let me cut to the chase:
I am choosing to stop writing now, to go and pick up my daughter because of my heart.

My children fill me with stars.
I love them beyond reason, beyond the dimensions of any universe of which I can conceive. My children, as nothing else ever has, connect me to an awareness that is so big that it might as well be infinite... for I will never reach its edge.

And even though this next bit, which I am labeling, ZERO, may not make sense to you, it was the scrap of inspiration which led me down the path of this essay, and I don't want you to miss it.

So, here's what I know.

We have to just decide--to get better, to stop worrying, to keep moving, to stand up, pay the check and go.
We have to just, one day, say, “I get it. That’s it. I’m done with complaining, with lying, with not doing my best. We just have to stop.

When we fall down, we get up.

We stop buying into scarcity, to less than what we want, we start to radiate forth into the world the very thing which, until this moment, we’ve envied in others. We become, literally, a "walk in"-a person who was one way and then, a moment later, is something entirely different.

We just stop.

Abraham says that a walk in is a person who has summoned so much energy around an intention--to change, to end something, to live a different way--that s/he can no longer tolerate the contrast between the life they have and the life that their soul knows is available for them.

Abraham says that, in such cases, an event manifests--a deep illness, a car crash, a divorce, a job loss--that is strong and sudden enough to create a massive allowing, a shift in energy, thought and belief that is so strong that the desired change cannot help but come... and come it does, in an overwhelming, all-encompassing shift on every level of the person's life.

More often though, the walk-in experience happens over time, in gradual subtle shifts from depression to normalcy, from normalcy to interest, from interest to fascination, from fascination to hope… little by little, step by step, we move our vibration from being less than we could be toward becoming who and what we truly are.

That's how it's happening for me--with the occasional burst of ... Wow! And a link to fascinate me for a while.

But for now, I will get in the car and drive. I will deliver my star-filled daughter to the debris-strewn lot behind the enormous empty screen where she will crouch in tall grass behind a Bolex camera and shoot a beautiful girl and a beautiful boy--A boy who, by the way, will be wearing a pair of enormous white wings which my husband built out of things that he found by the side of the road--twisted wire, a broken white window shade--and an old feather pillow from our bed.

And that will be enough.


Susan said...

So beautifully said. Especially about your children. I know exactly what you mean.

Elissa Stein said...

I am in awe. How you weave stories together. I feel the fear, the love, the conflict, the pain. You share with power. Thank you for putting this out into the world.

Amy Oscar said...

your comments mean so much to me. Thank you for reading my work.

beth said...

Oh, Amy. This is the book. Keep going, keep going.

Scott Sheperd said...

I so agree with Elissa. I love your writing. I love your style. I love your journey and the way you share it. I love the links. You do spring some things out there. "Loving my husband." Yowzir.

Amy Oscar said...

Laughing, and grateful. I do love my husband. Very much. It's loving that's the issue for me, and my family. We are a big pile of wounded birds and we're muddling our way along, healing messily, but earnestly. (Did you see Where the Wild Things Are? We're like the Wild Things, I think. We just want to get along, play, sleep in a pile.)

Gigi Karma said...

I love how you write. Beautiful. You also wrote a piece that inspired me. At 52 you still want and need to write a book, go to Paris and love your husband. I am 35 and want to go to Paris, write a book and love A husband. I thought my time was up! LOL, Gigi

Amy Oscar said...

Gigi - We will both get to Paris, write our books (here's the beginning of mine!) and learn to love more deeply. I feel the same way now as I did at 35, but ever more hopeful--and ive accomplished so many of the goals I was setting then.
I'd love to hear more about your journey. Feel free to contact me by email or on twitter.

Rebecca Elia said...

This is beautiful. Thank you.
Are we separate?

Amy Oscar said...

Interesting question... and, really, as if I knew for sure. But I will answer from my own perspective: No, we are not separate - not from each other and certainly not from God. My sense is that we're each a part, an important part, of a gesture called 'life' or 'energy' or 'chi'... I sense that it's a web, infinitely expanding and interconnected. It is, to my way of seeing/thinking, an 'awareness' that is big beyond my ability to understand but is also ONE.

Alice Langholt said...

This is a beautiful and inspiring post, Amy, and exactly what I needed to see today. It's wonderful, and I agree with everyone here that you are a brilliant writer with heart and depth. Write that book. I'll buy it, read it, and get it for others as a gift too.

Trish said...

Wow. You prove that content is not all - not at all! Your writing is hypnotic and totally compelling. I'm glad I clicked on this twitter link. Thank you for this beautiful part of you that you have thrown out for the rest of us to delight in.

Amy Oscar said...

Thanks, Alice. I will put you on my "people to tell when my book is published" list. Thank you for your interest and support in my words and my work

Amy Oscar said...

And Trish, thank you, as well... I think. I love what you wrote, but a little part of me keeps asking: What does she mean by, "content is not all..." Are you defining content as news/information? Curious...

Trish said...

What really brought on the comment is that I blog about this stuff all the time and always think it's about content but you showed me a whole new world. Hats off to you.

OMYWORD! said...

at a delight. So glad I found you, in a twisty turny Twittery way. :-)

Amy Oscar said...

Ohmyword - I am so glad your twisty, turny twittering led you here. Following you back :)

Gwynne said...

Lovely and heartfelt!

An old book called "Truth and Method" which is quite dense has some really fantastic quotes about us "already being all together" in it.

I never returned it to the library, so I guess I'll reread it.

CJ said...

Anything I might have said has already been said.

Instead of words, I'll share this collective consciousness for all the radiant energy that it is and simply enjoy the feeling of how vast this awareness really is.

Margie said... are inspirational beyond words..keep doing what you do so well, you are truly an amazing person