Archive for May, 2013


May 12, 2013

Since my father died, I have had more to do as executrix to his estate and POA to my mother, in addition to everything else on my plate.  One casualty is keeping up with the news.  Quite simply, I can’t the way I used to.  So I’m going to stop commenting online and blogging until I can again.



May 11, 2013

I got a letter from my older son today, I’m not entirely sure it’s apropos of Mother’s Day, but he goes out of his way to express his appreciation.  He wrote it a few days before I saw him on Wednesday, but I didn’t get it until today, and he didn’t talk about this part of it when we visited then.

He says, among other things, that I’m the only person he has found to be 100% reliable [and no, that doesn’t mean I give him everything he wants].  I ran this by my younger son, the one who still lives with me, prefacing it with, “I’m not sure about the 100% part, but your brother says … ” and he said, “Well, I have to agree with him [not his default position], and if it’s not 100% exactly, it’s pretty close.”

As adoptive parents, we were told that adopted kids really need reliability, and the agency that helped us with our first placement told us that Brazilian adults (I have no idea whether this is actually true) use deception as a means of child management, saying, for example, “We’re going to the candy store” when the destination is actually the dentist’s office.  So we were counseled to mean what we say and say what we mean, and to follow through, with our Brazilian children.  As a widowed parent, I became all too acutely aware of how abandoned my kids felt, and I made sure they knew they could reach me, that they knew they were not all and completely alone, as alone as they did feel.

So to be appreciated for being “100% reliable” means a lot to me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Daytime raccoon

May 9, 2013

I came home from a long day yesterday, but it was still daytime, and after putting my car in the garage, I discovered, halfway to the house, that there was a raccoon at the bottom of my steps, blocking my way to my front door.

The raccoon looked at me, I looked at it.  Then it went off towards the garage, moving behind some shrubs along the house.  As I went up to the house, I saw it at the foot of the pine tree next to the garage.  The raccoon was up on its back feet, its front paws on the trunk of the tree, ready to ascend.  Again we looked at each other.  It started up the tree, I went into the house.

I discovered when I went in the house that Jordan had the screen door, which I think a raccoon could pretty easily open, in place in the back door.  The raccoon had not, apparently, tried to come in.

Jordan had dismantled a bookcase while I was out, and the boards were lying out back on the patio.  I have no idea whether the trash collector will take them.  Jordan says he told me he had planned to get rid of the bookcase (one Willy had made, nothing fancy).  I had understood him to say he was merely going to move it down the wall in his room and put a bin emptied of old electronic paraphernalia into the basement.  He’s getting a couch on Friday and so he needed to make some more space.

I am not happy with a daytime raccoon, I worry that it’s ill.  This one also doesn’t show enough desire to keep its distance from human beings.  I guess I’ll just have to be more careful than usual, and be on the lookout for it, so I don’t end up in a closer encounter with it than is safe for me.

The bit about the backdoor and the bookcase and the raccoon reminded me of a dream I had some years ago about a bear getting in the backdoor and terrorizing people at some place like a cafeteria in a school.  The variation yesterday in real life was more benign and well-ordered and mundane.  The dream-bear version had that distinctive aspect of dreams in which things are slightly out of control and surreal.  It included, too, a feeling of responsibility for rescuing and the feeling of being almost at wit’s end to do so.  In that dream, I gave the bear a bag of candy to distract to it, and he fell asleep eating it, and so he didn’t harm people, which was good because the professional rescuers took so long to find us.

I like to think that this real life mundane raccoon version of “vulnerability through a backdoor” indicates that whatever was bothering me, or needed amelioration, has been improved, dissipated, and been safely played out.   I do think there is a connection between dreams and the everyday world.  For me, I see connections through similar patterns in both or, in other cases, through a similar emotional response in both the dream version and the everyday version.

But I will still be on the lookout for the raccoon.


May 8, 2013

My parents had friends we used to see socially, our families even vacationed together.  They had three daughters, one my sister’s age, one mine, and one a few years younger.  My dad and Mr. F. loved classical music, especially Mahler, and they had known each other since college, I think, and were both engineers.

The other day I was looking up how to pronounce “dhyana,” a word for deep meditation associated with Hinduism.  And the way I heard it pronounced is the way Mrs. F. always pronounced my name Diana, which she did with great volume and drama.

This is an illustration of a phenomenon I have encountered before.  The similarity between my name and a word for deep meditation indicates quite a lot more to me than a seemingly idiosyncratic pronunciation of my name; it’s as if something has come into better focus, as if the energy now shows up in a more accessible form, the piece of the puzzle has found its place.

I’ve known for a while that I have been filling in a stage of spiritual development, for someone who feared they would bottom out in it, that is penultimate.  Being able to put a name to it helps me move to another phase, either of this same project or of my own work.

Weeds in the lawn

May 5, 2013

My grandfather, my mother’s father, lived with us for a few months after my grandmother died, until he found a retirement home he liked.  While he lived with us, I watched more baseball (with the sound off).  I want to say it was the Mets, but my mother doesn’t think so.  But I do clearly remember he thought the dandelions in the lawn should be left alone.

I think I have that thought about what I have thought of as spiritual spam — miscellaneous stuff that comes in when I open myself up to the universe at large.

Gita made the obvious point to me not long ago that there’s a difference between the psychic and the spiritual.  We were talking about a neighbor of mine, and Gita commented that she could be psychically and not spiritually developed.

I think, maybe, I am too tolerant of the psychic because I think it contains the potential for spiritual development.  Maybe I’m wrong about that.

I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about how the psychic and the spiritual relate to each other beyond that the former seems to me to be about relationships on a horizontal plane and the latter about relationships either along a vertical axis or into other dimensions.  But I think I’ve thought that the apparatus used is the same — like using the same cell phone for different types of phone calls.  But that’s just an unexamined assumption I’ve been working under, and it may well be wrong.

So I am going to let that issue percolate somewhere within me:  what do the psychic and the spiritual have in common and how are they different, including in terms of technique and apparatus?  Are they related to one another?  Can one mimic the other?  Has that confused people and deterred them from spiritual development?

Gita has counseled me for a long time to practice better spiritual technique so that my spam problem dissipates.  I don’t know if it’s willful laziness on my part or heeding a deeper call that I don’t.  Gita calls me a kinetic sponge, and that seems to be a pretty accurate summation.  Maybe that’s how I’m supposed to be, I don’t know, in order to do what I do (or have done), but I suspect that issue is entangled with my tendency not to distinguish the psychic from the spiritual — I open all channels, take it all in from whatever means the sender can muster.

Willy got a kick out of garment tags that caution the buyer not to mistake the “slurbs and nubblies” in, say, a sweater, for mistakes and defects.  (I think they’re called “slubs,” I suspect “slurbs and nubblies” was Willy’s contribution, maybe modeled on “nooks and crannies” from the Thomas’ English Muffin commercials, but maybe a riff on a phrasing that was actually contained in a tag.)  I wouldn’t want to do something similar.  Certainly we try to figure out an appropriate posture for dealing with the slurbs and nubblies of our humanness.

But I know I run up against an unpleasant pattern of being caught up short by having mistaken a person’s abilities of one sort for abilities of another, and that doesn’t serve anybody.

If nothing else, I can be aware of all these factors even if I’m not sure how they fit together — a little detachment is often a first step towards sorting something out.

Good lines

May 5, 2013

I have been spending a fair amount of time and energy trying to help my mother with her finances and trying to line up some professional help to manage them.  I am glad this work is producing some memorable lines, since the work itself can be kind of trying.

One line was the opening line from a phone call from a potential financial manager who had just reviewed some documents:  “Your father must have been a very smart man.”

Yes, he was.

Another line came from my mother’s reaction to hearing some numbers from a balance sheet compiled by another potential manager (neither she nor I had ever tried to put it all together):  “Well, then why do I have weeds in my lawn?”

My mother can be droll and feisty.


Is the main event finding God or just finding?

May 3, 2013

I’ve been trying to make this point for years, especially after reading The Social Animal by David Brooks.  We have a strand of mental capability that is not the thinking mind or the emotional reactive part of our mind.  I made the point in my comment to his column in the NYTimes for today, I tried to make the point to him directly after he spoke at Harvard a couple of years ago.  My results are a lesson for me to remember that people need to come to their own realizations themselves, however much my own task may seem to me to be to keep repeating my understanding and modeling it.

This part of our mental apparatus that I’m talking about is what gets an airing during meditation and it’s the part through which we commune with the forces beyond us and within us that are greater than ourselves (God, if you like).

I often think it’s more important that people learn to locate this part of themselves and to use it than it is that they “find God” with it.

And I wonder if the emphasis on belief in God, or not, has gotten us distracted.  I do think that if we stumble into communing with God, we become much more aware of this part of us, so finding God is a tempting goal.  But I think it can also lead to the dead end of people thinking they’ve found God when what they are doing is thinking about the idea of God and finding God and imagining it and intellectualizing it.  And people who try to provide shortcuts to finding God may unintentionally induce people into mistaking the process of the shortcut for the dynamic that occurs when the goal is reached.  And beyond that, we lose a lot of people who find belief in God a dealbreaker but who would be fine with locating and using this piece of mental apparatus, I think.



Who’s that talking?

May 3, 2013

What do people mean when they say hear God talking to them?  It’s an interesting question, from many angles.  The NYTimes series by T.M. Luhrmann raises it, the piece addressing it receiving the title “Is That God Talking?”

The column seems to assume that what people are hearing either is “God” as God is commonly conceptualized or it is an artifact of human brain activity.

The spiritual realm is not just God in God’s original form, I don’t think.  There are lots of conduits, in fact that’s really what creation is, I think, a beautiful conglomeration of conduits.  This includes material creation.

The spiritual realm is as multifaceted as the material, I think.  There’s lots of stuff to pick up if one turns on one’s CB radio, so to speak.  Discerning the difference between spam and something helpful is a talent.  I think Paul talks about it in the New Testament.  There are helpful voices who are not God but who are pretty good sources for help and guidance nonetheless.  I think the ultimate source for their help is God’s energy, but I think they are able to provide it in a form more accessible to us and without distorting it with too much of their own dross.

So I think it raises a false dilemma to assume that what people are hearing is somehow either self-generated or God.  I think the real questions are whether it comes from a trustworthy source, whether it is helpful.  That’s part of the process of asking for and receiving help — the challenge, if you will, of not getting a “wrong number.”

Who’s out there?  My experience with people who focus on spiritual pursuits is that while there’s an overlap in a lot of conceptualizations, there’s also a lot of variety.  Many people I know talk about spirit guides or a particular spirit guide who helps them, kind of like a sponsor from a 12 Step program.  Some conceptualize angels.  There are also adolescent spirits who make mischief and there are confused ghosts, some of whom can be quite free and pushy with their advice.

I think we can also tap into great reservoirs of helpful perception through connecting with


I got interrupted as I was writing this this morning.  I came back to it this evening, about twelve hours later.  I don’t want to try to recreate what my idea was or to paste some other ending on what I wrote, but I thought I’d at least explain the abruptness of the cut off.

Not judging

May 1, 2013

Not being judgmental is not about making an assessment and then suspending it through an act of will but about having no interest in making an assessment in the first place.

My apologies for not knowing whom to credit for this point.