abandonment

Most Important Book I’ve Ever Read!!

Those who know me (or have read much of this blog) know I’m a book addict & am always recommending awesome, wonderful books.

I’m about to tell you about THE most important book I’ve ever read. Bar none. Not even any contest over this one!!

& only because ever since I read it (however many years ago now. At least 15, & likely more), it has helped me to understand EVERYTHING about life here on Planet Earth – or at least, life for us humans.

It’s called In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations, by Jerry Mander. Published by Sierra Club Books in 1992.

I’m writing this away from home, without access to my personal copy of the book itself.

Also without access to the very lengthy review I once wrote about it. I hope to lay my hands on that soon, & will post it when I can. [I never did lay my hands on that old, long review, btw. Guess it bit the dust in an old computer, now long gone. But the review I just linked to is a good one!]

Meanwhile, all I can say is, if you want to begin getting a grasp on the past 10,000 years or so of human history, & a glimmering of all the craziness that has befallen us & is now leading us (perhaps inexorably; with no crystal ball, I cannot say for sure) to our own demise as a species, I strongly suggest you read it.

I’ve talked in various blog posts about our losses ever since we abandoned the gathering/hunting ways of our ancestors. These are so huge I’m not even going to go into it here. (‘Everything is all about ME, right?? touches on that stuff, I believe. As does A-B-C's: Re-learning Time!) ** links now dead...

Read the book!! It will help you understand human pathology (a rather vast territory, unfortunately) & all that is encompassed in that sad phrase.

No book has affected my thinking so massively, ever. Its insights are with me every single day, as I rassle endlessly with trying to figure out where we came from & why everything seems to be in such a gigantic mess here.

I made more than 20 pages of notes when I read this book. It was like reading for a university course. Then, I heard Jerry Mander speak at a Sierra Club conference in Kingston (Ontario, Canada) back in 2002. I got him to sign my book, & told him of all the pages of notes I’d made while reading it. He got quite a kick out of my considerable enthusiasm & appreciation.

It’s a big read. Absolutely fascinating, illuminating & quite brilliant. Utterly essential reading!!!!!

I can also tell you of 2 other books that cover some of the same ground.

One is Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn (Bantam/Turner, 1992). I think of Ishmael as a sort of “Coles’ Notes” version of Mander’s book. An easy & quick read that packs a very considerable punch of its own.

The book My Name is Chellis, & I’m in recovery from western civilization, by Chellis Glendinning (Shambhala, 1994) is also along the same lines.

These books will not give you any magical solutions to the great conundrum we now face as a species. Namely, how the hell to pull this dog’s breakfast out of the fire.

But, as with our personal lives, it's only by grasping the truth of where we've come from – the underpinnings of our personal neuroses & problems – that we can figure out how to find solutions…a way forward. Healing – or at least, partial, ongoing healing. (All three do explain that our loss of an ethic of the centrality of Nature & of connectedness (with Nature, with our fellow humans) & our march toward a reliance on technology led us badly astray. A very very long time ago, now.)

Anyway. Back to the other zillion things there are to do.

Happy New Year to all of us. Blessings to all of us.

Let’s all get off our butts in the coming year, shall we?????

Janet

p.s. If you want to really understand & grapple with the large & utterly essential concept of abandonment (& alienation), Mander's book (or either of the other 2 mentioned) will really help.

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

 

Christmas 101...

<My first impulse was to call this post ‘Uh-oh. Christmas: here we go again!’>

It’s a couple of weeks before Christmas as I write this. Oh, Christmas – season of emotional confusion & messiness, & (in some cases very likely) emotional blackmail, even. (What fun! Not…)

Season of all our wanting & neediness to reach preposterous levels – & our dissatisfactions & pain, also.

The emotional complexity of this time of year boggles my mind! Stirs up my own emotions & emotional neediness like some great big bubbling, messy stew. And has, now, for more years than I care to think about.

I can’t help but wonder: do Jews & Muslims experience this season (or any season) in this same way?? Is this great big annual mixed-up, emotion-laden season the sole province of “Christian” people? (quotation marks because I & so many of us are, of course, merely “cultural Christians.”)

Christmas has always been a bit loaded for me (&, I think, for many). It seems to be all tied up with nostalgia – nostalgia for those “perfect” Christmases we had as children. (Ha! Since so many of us come from dysfunctional families, I think many readers will “get” that little ironic chuckle of mine there.)

A long-time un-fan of waste (of any & all kinds), & of this culture’s excessive consumerism, Christmas has long been an ambivalent time for me.

I want it to be about family, & love, & togetherness, & laughter, & preferably some snowy activity such as skating or tobogganing, with a little (or even a lot) of chocolate thrown in – & truthfully, I’m grateful to be able to say, I do spend some very enjoyable Christmas days – but the weeks of agonizing over who is going to be where (divorce, eh? That gift that keeps right on giving…) & what to get for everyone & … the angst, the angst! Sheesh!!

This year is proving no exception. We families of divorce have our awkwardnesses to navigate, year after year after year. It’s a real bummer. This year’s crop of personal angst (details not important) is helping me “get” a few things, I think, about the “human condition.”

First off, & apologies in advance for the offence this will very likely cause to some, but I do not believe for a moment that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Christmas celebrations are really about the big blow-out human beings have been having to celebrate the end of that painful trajectory of growing darkness – those days that grow shorter & shorter until December 21st. Our species has apparently been hosting big bashes at the time of the winter solstice for … a whole heckuva lot of years!! (Do look this up, if you like. That’s what Google is for!!)

So, wanting to “party” at this time is practically primal. It’s virtually wired into us.

All the gift-giving … baloney… All the hoopla & the excessive consumerism – that’s just modern-day nonsense.(1)

I have my own theory about Christmas – first floated in 2006 in one of the “Letters to My Daughters” collection I was then working on. I keep fine-tuning this little theory, & recent/current events are adding more ingredients to the mix.

I think what really comes out in (many of) us at Christmas is the pain of our abandonment. I believe we all have feelings of pain & abandonment; every last one of us, one way & another. It’s a matter of degree.

Long story short?

We human beings evolved to be tribal creatures. We need more than these ever-so-aptly-named “nuclear” families. On the big picture, geological time scale, we only walked out of those caves yesterday afternoon. You get what I’m saying?

Not only do we each have our very own personal experiences of abandonment, we feel abandonment/alienation as a species.

We feel lonely, alone, adrift, isolated, alienated. Why? 10,000 years(2) of living in opposition to our very nature as tribal (communal, if you prefer) creatures have left us feeling this way.

Don’t buy this? Well, you don’t really have to.

Bring it back down to the level of the personal. To Christmas, & our nostalgia & our neuroses & our angst – every year, like clockwork, at this season.

As I alluded to, some recent/current “stuff” in my own life is helping me rassle with this. On the personal level – on the very down-to-earth, Janet McNeill level, I am rassling with it all, trust me!

& I am “getting”:

  1. I have emotional pain that rears its head for me most particularly at Thanksgiving & Christmas.
  2. Divorce is a very generous contributor, in my case, to this annual angst. There is simply no getting around that. No point pretending it isn’t so.
  3. In my pain, it is very tempting to lash out. To want to “punish” someone else for the pain I am feeling inside me.
  4. This emotion of wanting to spread the pain around (“Misery loves company,” hmm?) is very…real. (Can you say “war,” anyone?? Can you say “So-&-so just did such-&-such; let’s whack her/him/them with a 2 x 4, or a rocket launcher, or a missile, or a nuclear bomb,” or…you’re getting my drift, hmmm?)
  5. I can’t just “talk myself out of” the pain that comes up sometimes over some of this ancient or more recent or current personal slights & slings & arrows. It does seem to help an awful lot, though, to be fully honest with myself about what I am feeling – & sometimes even to articulate it out loud.
  6. And then do my best to take that understanding of my own self, my own situation – my own emotional conflictedness…to understand better what other people are feeling – without making them wrong for their feelings.(3)
  7. Because being petty & mean-spirited in my own “personal life,” & acting as though making other people miserable (punishing them, in essence) will make me feel better is only so much futile nonsense. It doesn’t work... That way does not lie happiness.
  8. So. I know I have some more figuring out to do. The nuts & bolts of this year’s Christmas remain to be fine-tuned. I’m hoping that some of my understanding of the “big picture” (millennia of celebrations at the time of the winter solstice; universal feelings among human beings of loss & abandonment; the state of life here on Planet Earth at this so-very-sobering time in human history) will help me out on the personal level. I need to be sensitive to – mindful of – my own emotional … stews; to know with certainty that making others miserable will not make me feel good; and to figure out how to balance simple honesty about the challenges that rise up at this time every year with sensitivity to everyone else’s personal share of emotional ambivalence & pain…

& try to have some fun!! I do believe the blow-outs we human beings have been having at this time of year – for millennia now – are really all about what some brilliant thinkers(4) say the whole point of human life on Planet Earth actually is:

Celebration!!

Janet

p.s. Over the years, I’ve written environment columns for several small town newspapers. The most recent one was the North Renfrew Times, during the Deep River phase of my life. A few of these columns can be found under the NRT Columns tab. The one that springs to mind right now is ‘Transforming Christmas.’

p.p.s. I just came across a scrap of paper that reminded me of Sister Joan Chittister’s phrase that describes our current way of living. “Pathological individualism.” Bang on, I'd say!

p.p.p.s. I came up very recently with a thought that maybe I should share here. It was this: The human tendency toward pettiness should never be underestimated. You can quote me on that! It came up while I was out on one of my daily walks. I had an episode of personal pettiness come over me, & up sprang those words…We can all, of course, resort at times to pettiness & mean-spiritedness. But it never really makes us feel good, does it?? I think we tend to feel much better when we strive to be big…not when we get all caught up in unpleasant “little me” stuff.


(1) & btw, if you have not already watched the brilliant little animated show “The Story of Stuff, get thee to it & watch!! It’s funny & very smart & packs one heck of a punch into a few short minutes’ viewing. Highly recommended!!

(2) Other posts have dealt with this 10,000 year idea:

(3) The way we so often make other people wrong is a key concept I took away from my Landmark Forum (LMF) experience. The blog posting ‘Landmark Experience is relevant here, but I think in that post I may have failed to mention this insight about how we make other people wrong, & how this really doesn’t help any of us a whole heck of a lot…

(4) I think both Matthew Fox & Thomas Berry have written about this. & they are (were, in Berry’s case) big, BIG thinkers…

Why We Are Control Freaks (I think…)

<July 18/09>

Now, I’m not a psychological expert of any kind. I did get a B.A. in Psychology back in pre-history (1974), when, frankly, very little was acttually yet understood about the human brain.

There’s plenty I don’t know about human psychology – don’t really understand – but I am a keen & constant observer of human nature – & I read a lot, think a lot & have the occasional “Aha!” moment.

I believe there are two levels to our control freak-ism – the very, very personal & the more, shall we say, global.

I’m pretty convinced that the genesis of our tendency toward control freak-ism goes back to the time in human history, widely said by scholars to be about 10,000 years ago, when we chose to abandon the tribal lifestyle – the life of gatherers & hunters – & began to practice settled agriculture. Several books introduced this idea to me: In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations (Jerry Mander, Sierra Club Books, 1992); Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Daniel Quinn, Bantam/Turner, 1992) & My Name is Chellis & I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization (Chellis Glendinning, Shambhala, 1994). (I highly recommend all 3,btw.)

In doing so, we detoured away from millennia of placing our faith in the Earth/Universe to provide for us (which the Earth/Universe was so generously doing), & decided to “take control” of things. In retrospect, it now seems to a lot of us, I think, that this was a very, very problematic choice.

Abandoning the tribal lifestyle has had many unfortunate & no doubt unintended consequences (I love that phrase: unintended consequences; life is just plain full of them, hmm?), to put it rather mildly. Separating ourselves from Nature – & from each other & our tribal ways – has been nothing short of disastrous.

That’s the global piece.

So now we all have 10,000 years of a control mindset wired into us – into our brains & our genes & our culture & our guts.

Bringing it down to the more personal level, many of us on the planet grew up in families in which dysfunctionality was rampant; is it not so?

There are/were alcoholic parents, parents who abandon/ed us in one form or another, mistreat/ed us, sexually abuse/d us, visit/ed violence upon us, berate/d us constantly – & we wind up/wound up very damaged in a startling variety of ways. If our childhood was very chaotic, unpredictable & out-of-control, as adults we tend to have an intense need to control our circumstances – our emotions, our surroundings, the people around us & so on. (Even the appearance of our lawns! To the point of being willing to use poisons on them to “subdue” weeds. Sheesh!)

It’s not so surprising, is it? We want to somehow right the wrongs that were done to us, & so we become control freaks – to a greater or lesser degree. We want things to be predictable. No more out of control stuff, please, we are saying, hmm?

It’s a coping strategy, pure & simple. It doesn’t tend to work terribly well, of course, given that the very nature of life is to not be controlled or controllable. So it becomes a vicious cycle. The more we try to control everything around us, the more out-of-control things seem to become. And on & on we go, around & around, making ourselves (& the people around us) miserable, sick & maybe even crazy.

Control freak-ism is kind of a losing strategy, you might say, hmm?

It often seems to take a personal disaster of some sort to make us see that our excessive need for control is causing us more problems than it solves. (Been there!)

When life throws an unexpected curve ball our way – especially one of rather large proportions (& Life seems to positively delight in doing so!) – & life as we’ve known it is shattered, often light begins to dawn. We see the illusory nature of the control freak-ism that has so limited us, & we begin to see that a generous Earth/Universe is there to support us, quite without our having to always be the Great Big Sheriff of this, that & the other thing. We let go and, as it were, the Earth rises up to greet us.

It’s all quite magical, really.

I find all of it very, very poignant. Tragic, but so poignant. So much of human endeavour & our human frailties (& worse) can drive us right around the bend, almost – but when we come to see that underneath all the nonsense we are really quite innocent creatures – innocent, but very, very damaged & hurt; well, it helps, somehow, doesn’t it? It certainly helps bring up compassion, if nothing else.

I’ve heard that some of the major writers (being terrible with details, I can’t remember who) have pinpointed alienation as the key human problem or issue. I think they’re right. A word I would twin with it is abandonment. So many of us feel we were abandoned in one or many ways by our parents (& we were, we were) and/or by spouses/partners along the way (we were, we were) – & this comes down through the generations, & Heaven help us all, we then pass it on down to our own children, one way & another; tragically, tragically, this is so.

We’ve all felt abandoned/alienated for 10,000 years, so how could things be otherwise??

We human beings evolved to be loved & looked after & cared for by a whole tribe of people, whom we in return love, look after & care for.

How then could we feel anything other than abandoned & alienated in a world that tells us to get by on our own, more or less – or in the care of a very small number of people, some of them too damaged themselves to do anything but pass along their hurts & pain & neuroses & damage?(1)

It’s all very sad – nay, tragic – & so poignant to realize that we are all in the same darn boat. We’re all damaged – to greater & lesser degrees – & we live in a world – an industrial economy that, as Wendell Berry has said, “thrives by damage.”

Healing is always possible, however. It is human nature to change / grow / evolve. It may very well be that we have let the sickness go on too long, & our condition (as a species) is terminal – but at least as individuals, we can turn ourselves around (only if we truly want to, of course. That is a choice we make, & choice is key, key, key in human endeavour).

Now. All of this is just my opinion. None of it is scientific fact, & you can’t put any of it under a microscope or conduct a scientific experiment to prove (or disprove) it.

As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

It seems to me like truth. Make of it what you will, hmmmm?

Janet

p.s. The essays ‘Control Freaks Anonymous’ & ‘Ditching the 2 x 4’s’ are also about the perennially important subject of control – which I see as the central issue/dilemma of human endeavour, pretty much…

p.p.s. a LOT of years later: I don’t think I even referenced patriarchy in this essay, & I think the many thousands of years of males “lording” it over females has resulted in many-many-many “unintended consequences” (to put it very mildly indeed). Then too, there are other things in life that can incline us toward control freak-ism. Sigh .. eh??

(1) Richard Rohr said, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” This statement certainly resonates for me…

Looking Stupid

<June 28/08>

I’ve written elsewhere about “looking good,” & how the Landmark Forum folks say that’s what our lives are pretty much organized around. For sure, I think they’re onto something big...

We dread looking stupid, don’t we? You can try & tell me you don’t care about looking stupid. For one thing, I won’t believe you, & for another, if you are one of those exceedingly rare people who really doesn’t give a darn about looking good/looking stupid, I’m going to tell you you’re so rare as to be merely the exception that proves the rule (maybe from another planet, even!)

I know darn well how badly most of us dread looking foolish. It’s possible I’m a little less obsessed about “looking good” than most folks, but like pretty much everyone I know, I sure don’t exactly relish looking stupid.

When we feel as though we look stupid, what is it that's really going on inside us?

I think we feel alone.

I’ve thought lots about feeling alone – & I’ve felt alone. There have been times in my life when I’ve felt not just alone – not just lonely – but abandoned; bereft. It’s the worst possible feeling I can imagine.

I’d better not get started here, or I’ll be off on a lengthy lecture about how human beings evolved to be tribal creatures, & how bereft I think we’ve all felt ever since we abandoned our tribal existence, 10,000 years ago…

When all I really set out to talk about was how awful it feels to feel or look stupid, & how very, very hard we work to avoid that sensation. Actually, I think the more we try to not look stupid, the more stupid we sometimes wind up looking. Y’know? I suspect that this feeling/looking stupid business, & also the feeling alone part, are all too darn common.

I’m going to point out that I’m writing this little item on July 1st weekend, & that all the “long” weekends – the holiday weekends – the “family” weekends – bring up complicated emotions for me. For a variety of reasons I needn’t go into, I generally wind up feeling somewhat alone/abandoned on these weekends, & that can make me feel as though I “look stupid.” Fortunately, I do a lot of talking to myself about this kind of stuff (stern little “pep talks”), & I keep it pretty much under control…most of the time.

It might be useful for all of us to do a little honest delving into our thoughts & feelings about “looking stupid” – because I think when we’re caught up in worrying about looking stupid (which for all I know is, for some folks, a lot of the time), we’ve got ourselves hemmed in by fear.

We become afraid or incapable of relating honestly with people, & we wind up doing or saying some pretty dumb stuff that actually probably does make us look stupider than if we just acted like who we really are, & owned up to the truth. What is the truth? We’re all lonely sometimes – lonely, insecure & afraid, & we all need to surround ourselves with people who help us feel good about ourselves, instead of trying to make us feel bad, or stupid, because of their insecurities.

And, we all act stupid sometimes. We all do dumb stuff, we all make mistakes, we all have vast holes in our knowledge, & we all want & badly need to be loved, accepted, affirmed & appreciated.

As long as we walk around being incapacitated by our need to “look good” & not “look stupid,” we’re liable to continue to do – & say – lots of pretty dumb stuff. Including some seriously planet-damaging things…

I say, let’s all work at finding ourselves a tribe – one that not only helps us feel good about ourselves (& each other), but also helps make the world a better place for all of us, while we’re at it.(1)

Whaddya think?

Janet


(1) F.R. Scott, poet & professor said, “The world is my country. The human race is my race. The spirit of man is my God. The future of man is my heaven.” I think people for whom that resonates could maybe constitute a tribe…

Landmark Experience

<drafted in October 2005>

It's 3½ years ago now (i.e., Oct. 2005) that I took part in a Landmark Forum weekend. This was a very memorable and, I’d have to say, even life-changing experience.

It was inspiring – enlightening – exhilarating – powerful – emotional – draining – empowering – & transformational!

While there, I gained some major insights about human nature & human society, & also about my own life, shortcomings & unfortunate tendencies.

The language of the Landmark Forum (LMF from here on in) is that we are each “whole, complete & perfect” – a most affirming concept; a valuable, empowering, wonderful, generous concept. One that many of us are able to grasp (if at all) only in an intellectual sort of way. Down in our guts, it probably feels pretty un-graspable for most of us, I suspect…

Importantly, the language of the LMF is not about fixing. However much we may feel broken, we are assured that we are whole, complete & perfect, & that the LMF is not about fixing ourselves (or anyone else!) – it’s about transformation.

Other key LMF terms are authenticity (we learn that many of our relationships have been inauthentic) – possibility (we learn that when we begin to behave authentically, we create possibility) – & integrity.

The LMF weekend is constructed as a series of conversations. The leader has her/his pieces of curriculum to cover (& it’s fairly powerful stuff!) – but much of the real gut-level learning comes from listening to people at the microphones talk about the experiences & lessons of their own lives.

It’s a very emotional weekend. Sometimes the people at the microphone cry; very often those listening cry as well, as I did on more than one occasion.

A key piece of learning that emerges is that all of us have been hurt in our lives – & that, while the circumstances vary widely, the hurts – the emotions – are very, very similar (or the same) from one person to another.(1)

What an amazing (& transformational!) experience to learn that not only is none of us alone (although we sometimes feel that way), we are all in good company – in very, very abundant company – as human beings who have been damaged or hurt.

I ought to point out that not everyone in attendance at a LMF weekend does choose to get up to the microphone – that’s a choice not everyone makes. Some of us (myself among them) learned from the experience that there are some of us who may sometimes need to do a little more listening & a little less talking…a bit of a paradox, in that the power of the LMF is in the magic of listening to & participating in conversation. The power of conversation is very much a strong feature in the LMF…

Another powerful lesson for me during the LMF weekend was that not everything that happens is all about me. This was a huge opportunity & lesson for me. I learned it as the result of a rather negative or charged dynamic that seemed to have sprung up between the LMF leader & me.

This woman seemed to turn a “disapproving mother” face on me, for some reason. I had evidently said something to her that offended her, & for the rest of the weekend she was impatient & curt with me. This was a bit of a challenge for me to deal with, but I got quiet with it, said to myself “Hmm. This feels really, really, really uncomfortable. I wonder, what am I meant to get from this experience?"

What I learned was very valuable. I realized that the “Disapproving Mother” face the leader kept turning on me is probably the very same face I have turned on some of the important people in my own life – & that it sure as heck can’t be a whole lot of fun for them, either!

What I gained from this was a very powerful lesson about mirroring. This woman held up a mirror for me & helped me see something I very much needed to see. It made relating with her pretty awkward – pretty uncomfortable – but hooey! – did it ever teach me an important lesson! This in itself is, I think, a pretty important lesson for all of us. The people in our lives do hold up mirrors for us. If we’re too afraid to look into them, we 'll miss grasping things we'd do well to grasp.(2)

One very key lesson we learned during the LMF weekend is that a lot of what we do in our lives is really a reaction to events that took place a very, very long time ago – that whatever it was that took place, we created a story about it, & we have lived our lives as a reaction to that story we constructed decades & decades ago. In doing so, most of us have robbed ourselves of a great deal of energy, vitality & possibility.(3)

Possibility is a word that comes up a lot in the LMF. “Rackets” & “strong suits” are also discussed. We’ve all created “rackets” that we play out endlessly. For example, a lot of us who were damaged by the behaviour of our parents have learned to play the “Look – see how strong I am now!” game in reaction to our life circumstances. This one has been a significant one in my own life, I reckon. Other ones I can think of are the martyr & the “Oh poor me” victim racket. Plenty of us are caught up in these – or our parents were, & many of us have created our own roles & rackets in reaction to their rackets.

A unique element of the LMF weekend is the frequent exhorting of participants to make contact with family members/loved ones, to begin the work of being authentic with them – then reporting back to the group. (When I attended, there were about 135 in the group, &, as I say, not all went up to the mikes. Too, some folks dropped out as the weekend proceeded; for some, perhaps, LMF methods are not quite their “cup of tea.”)

Creating authentic relationships in the present is a way we can put the past back into the past, where it belongs, & eliminate the endless dramas many of us choose to create in our lives from day to day. This creates vitality & possibility, & who among us can say they don’t want a piece of that? It’s about creating the kind of life we want to live now –  moving into a future of possibility, & not living so much out of our past that we create a present & future that are virtually repeat performances of our now-distant (& not always very pleasant) past.

Another teaching of the LMF is that, when we live out of our past, we tend, among other things, to “make people wrong” – something I know I’ve done plenty – & see many people around me doing also – so reflexively that they are perhaps not even aware they're doing it.

At one point in the LMF weekend, our facilitator led a meditation in which she asked us to confront our fear. I have no way of knowing what others saw or experienced during this meditation – I know that it was a moving & powerful & emotional experience for me. I re-visited a childhood incident – & then recalled a rather significant dream I’d had just before the LMF weekend. What I realized was that some of the fear I experienced in childhood had led me to circumscribe my own potential as an adult – & that, 40 or 50 years later, it is surely past time to drop that ancient fear!

There are some other key, highly useful learnings in the LMF. I can honestly say I can’t think of a single person I know who would not benefit from the LMF experience!

I think far too many of us drag around baggage, wounds & experiences from our childhoods into our day-to-day lives – ancient hurts & grudges, resentments & pain – that hobble our present & our future. Most of us live our lives out of an old, old story that is not merely terribly out-of-date, but also highly unhelpful to us as we attempt to live now. It’s kind of like trying to drive a car down the highway while never facing forward – always relying on the view in the rearview mirror. This way of living limits not only our own selves, but also our relations with the people we love the most.

For me personally, the three LMF days taught me some very useful & practical concepts that opened up for me distinct hope for possibility in my relationships – as well as helping me understand better how so many of us limit ourselves as individuals, & even how we limit ourselves as a species. Real personal & life transformation can & do emerge for some of us as the result of a LMF experience.

In my case, a friend who’d “done” the LMF weekend had offered to pay my way for me (I was in a pretty unstable financial situation at the time). She was convinced that I am “worth it” – & I agree. I am worth it.

I think you are too. We all are. I also know that transformations of a variety of kinds are very much needed here on Planet Earth, at this unique time in human history.

Ask yourself this: what do you have to lose?

Janet

P.S. This is not the only kind of powerful emotional learning experience I’ve had. I’ve also taken part in one-on-one counselling on several occasions. As well, I’ve attended other kinds of workshops. I recommend all of these, including the Art of Living courses & the couples’ workshop on ‘The Dance of Wounds in Couples’ Relationships’ that I attended at Serenity Renewal in Ottawa. Each of these has helped me gain insights for which I’m very grateful. I’m pretty convinced our personal growth is meant to be a lifelong process. These days, I'm reading, re-reading & re-reading yet again, Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – & also listening (over & over) to his audio CD’s (gaining new insights each time!). This is a very, very challenging world we live in, & it’s also a uniquely challenging time in the history of our species. I think most of us need all the help we can get!?

P.P.S. The posts 'Looking Good' & 'Looking Stupid' may be of interest, since both arose out of musings about LMF concepts.

(1) This was reinforced for me at another weekend workshop I attended – ‘The Dance of Wounds in Couples’ Relationships’. One key emotion I’ve come to think is universal is a sense of abandonment. Many of us have experienced emotional or literal abandonment in any one of a number of possible ways. Our experiences vary widely, but our emotions are very much shared… Feeling abandoned leaves us feeling lonely – scared – unsafe – & alienated. I suspect every human being on the planet has felt abandonment deep in her/his guts at one time or another. It is not a sensation we want to feel often…

(2) I do feel the LMF leader’s behaviour toward me was inappropriate & unprofessional, & it made me sad to think how this tendency on her part (I was not the only one who seemed to meet with her disapproval) probably really did a number on anyone who had actually grown up with a disapproving mother & who was struggling with self-esteem issues as a result. I wrote her a lengthy letter after the weekend to tell her of my thoughts. Like so many things in life, negative situations can lead to great learning. I wish she hadn’t behaved this way…and yet, happily, I was able to gain quite a lot from it.

(3) Of course more recently, many of us have heard much the same kind of message from the inspiring & amazing Eckhart Tolle & his books, CD’s & Webcasts with Oprah….