Tag Archives: power

A Matter Of Convenience

I grew up in a time and place when telephones were quite common.  TELEPHONES, not cell phones and certainly not smart phones.  The telephones I speak of were dependable and utilitarian.  In the 1960s of my youth, almost every house had a telephone, ONE telephone, that is, a single phone for the entire household.  This telephone had a rotary dialer (anyone under the age of 35 will likely need to Google the term) and a handset that was permanently attached to the base of the phone by a thick and curly cord, a base that was itself permanently tethered by wire to a wall or baseboard, lacking even the more “modern” feature of being wired with 4-prong phone jack which could allow a phone to be unplugged from a wall outlet in one room and moved to another room.  There were no answering machines, either.  If you missed a call, well, tough.  They’d just have to call back if it was that important.  And this was enough.

Now our new wireless handsets put us at the beck and call (pun intended) of, potentially, the entire world.  How many times have you been engaged in a face-to-face conversation with someone, only to have their cell phone ring and interrupt?  “I’m sorry but I really need to take this call.  It’ll only take a minute.”  Or the times that a serenade of cute/vile/witty/obnoxious/ad infinitum notifications announce the arrival of a text or an email or a social media status update?  How invasive.  How rude.  And how unnecessary.

I will admit with no hesitation that my own smart phone is customarily within easy reach (though almost never on my person) in a location where I can quickly retrieve it should I need it.  And, as often as not, the phone is on airplane mode, whether day or night.  Therein lies the point of this entire dispatch – my phone is for MY convenience, not for the immediate access to me by anyone else with the technology required to do so.  The instantaneous incursion of the rest of the world into my space is something I no longer tolerate or allow.  “But what happens if you miss something important?” people will ask.  My very comfortable response is a smile and a gentle reminder that, if it’s that important they’ll leave a voice mail or call back.  It is the artificial urgency technology permits that engenders so much stress in our bodies and our minds.  FOMO – fear of missing out – is a menace that is both insidious and destructive.  This is a stress that is completely within my power to reduce greatly if not eliminate entirely.  All that is required is the flip of a virtual switch.

Lest there be any confusion as to my intentions and ultimate goals, I am not a Luddite.  I don’t think technology is inherently dangerous or a threat to all that is good and right with the world.  It is my aim, however, to not be swayed by the priorities or narratives of a culture that does not have my best interests at heart.  To put it bluntly, my phone is for my convenience and no one else.

Those old telephones (with their features as well as their limitations) were a convenience that served me well for decades.  Using new tech in an old way serves me quite well now.  It is, for me, enough.

©Billy Red Horse

Zen Is

Lurk about any establishment where Zen is rumored to occur and you’re likely find a bunch of uncommonly quiet (and, usually, very pleasant) folk struggling diligently with everything from reducing their levels of daily stress to the admittedly ambitious search for universal personal enlightenment.  For a spiritual discipline that is perceived to be, at its very core, a minimalist endeavor, Zen is possessed of quite a number of ways and means to pursue the practitioner’s goals, whatever those might be.

Koans, sutra studies, techniques and approaches are all valuable and have their place in a vibrant Zen practice.  That being said, each of these systemic cogs is, regardless of how much importance the zensu might choose to attribute to them individually or as a constituent, very often something our practice could just as easily do without.  All you really “need” is yourself and a place to sit quietly and do nothing.  Fancy zafu and zabuton cushions are all the rage (and quite nice), but a simple folded blanket will do in a pinch to support one’s backside during seated meditation.  For that matter, a piece of ground to sit on and a tree to lean against will often yield more results if the practitioner is willing to focus on the practice rather than divertissements.   Can you still your mind?  Will you still your mind?

Through the years I have often encountered those I classify as “Runner’s World” Zen students.  Who are they?  Think of the runner that has the latest in high-tech foot wear, a drawer full of moisture-wicking attire, a pair of $180 Julbo Ultra sunglasses with photochromic lens, a digital heart monitor and, of course, a subscription to Runner’s World magazine.  The problem, though, is that  they never run.  Forget the bells and whistles – just run.  Or, in our case, just sit.

Zen asks nothing of us but our focus and our intent.  Zen is greater than the sum of its parts.  Walk through the woods.  Listen to the song of a bird.  Sit quietly.  Do nothing.  Don’t fret that you can’t remember the second of the Four Noble Truths.  They’re written down.  You can read the Noble Truths anytime your heart desires.  What do you mean you can’t focus because your mind is too scattered?  Let it be scattered!  Sit anyway.  Or stand.  Or recline.  Or chase your tail.  Sooner or later you will tire and maybe then you will focus on the moment.  Zen is.

©Billy Red Horse

An American Woman

 

A guest essay by The Lady Mystic
(Originally published on July 4, 2014) –

I am an American Woman … and I am free.

I own a home because I live in a country where I have property rights, and can have as much stuff as my check book and credit score enable me to have.

I dress in the manner I choose because I live in a country that does not dictate I must cover my legs, arms or face or suffer consequences … or death. But if I choose to dress in this manner, I am equally as free to do so.

I work for a woman who owns her own business, and makes more money than most men I know, because I live in a country where opportunities ABOUND for anyone who will take advantage of them, regardless of their gender.

I live in a country where I am an Ordained Minister, ordained by another female Minister. And while there are a few men in this country who may have a problem with that, I live in a country where my God does not.

I am in a relationship with a man who I am not married to, yet I live in a country where I can engage in sex with him without worrying that the local sheriff or religious “leader” will arrest me or brand me a “harlot” or “adulteress.”

I also live in a country where if I want to ditch my man, and find a woman with whom to have a relationship with I can. And I live in a country where slowly but surely, the beauty of that relationship is as accepted as the one I would have with any man.

I live in a country where it is not unusual or out of the ordinary for me to have an education, use my mind, excel in my chosen field, or be whatever I desire to be. And in this country, if no one encourages me toward those endeavors, then I am free to encourage and motivate myself.

In this country, I am not forced to have unprotected sex unless I choose that route. The choices for me to control the reproductive cycles of my body are endless and as close as my neighborhood pharmacy or doctor.

I also live in a country where forced sex is not condoned by law, and I can seek justice and redress in a court of law against anyone who violates that most sacred space in me.

And in this country, I am not forced to have a baby I do not want to have, and am free to debate the moral and ethical issues of this with legislators, neighbors, doctors, clergy or strangers.

I live in a country that produced the amazing mother and grandmothers who raised me, who taught me how to cook, sew, clean and maintain a home; not because those things were “expected” of me as a girl, but so I could survive, and live a happy and productive life. (By the way, my brother was also taught these things.)

In this country, my father taught his “little girl” to fend for herself by showing her how to change a tire, unclog a drain, use duct tape, recognize dangerous situations, and how to use a .32 Smith and Wesson properly so I shot the bad guy and not myself. (And yes, my brother was also taught these things because they served him as well as they served me.)

I live in a country that is not perfect, founded by men who had revolutionary ideas about freedom and liberty, and did what no one thought they could; they defeated a world power in order to have the opportunity to live in freedom and liberty.

But I also live in a country founded by men with flaws; men who had life-affirming ideas about personal liberties, but whose social consciousness had not risen to the height where they could extend those liberties to all peoples. Yet, I recognize that my country, more than any country during the same time frame, has fought, and struggled, and at times ripped itself apart, in order to extend that same liberty to everyone … and continues to do so.

In my country there is equality of opportunity; and while some may disagree with that statement, I live in a country where I am free to say that, and you are free to prove me wrong.

Yet, I live in a country where many of my Sisters say they are not free, feel they are not “equal” to their male counterparts, feel they are “trodden” upon, or that they have no power or influence.

In this country, the most beautiful symbol of her majesty and nobleness is the Statue of Liberty … a Woman, the Sacred and Divine Feminine. Not a man, not a warrior … a Woman.

I am, and all women who live in all countries, ARE the embodiment of Liberty and Freedom. We are the bearers of Life, the vessel through which all human Life must travel. We embrace this freedom not as something to be ashamed or disgraced by, but as the most Holy of Holies. We are Life.

Through us is the wisdom of Life, the illumination of Life, the forward motion of Life. We can stand in the midst of great vastness, and stand confidently and proudly. We birth children, ideas, wisdom, beauty and humanity. We stand in this space with total control and freedom over our bodies, our minds, our hearts … and our destinies

Yes, in this country many a man has tried through force and law to “put us in our place,” defeat us, regulate us, control us, or humiliate us. Yet, like that great Lady in the harbor, we have never stopped shining, never stopped keeping a watch out for humankind, and – while temporary stifled – have NEVER LOST OUR POWER.

So, on this Independence Day, I am in gratitude for the women of this country who met oppression, domination, and inequality head on. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart – and multiple thousands of other women whose names have escaped the notoriety of history – those women who faced discrimination, and laws or social structures that limited their opportunities, I honor today.

These pioneers lived in a world with little opportunities for women, in order to create the country I live in today, a place where the opportunities for me are LIMITLESS.

Today, I declare MY Independence, in a country where it is only MYSELF that holds me back or keeps me down.

Today, I declare there is no “war” against me, save the one I battle against myself.

Today, I declare there is no “discrimination” against me, save the discrimination I bring to myself because I discriminate against others.

Today, I declare ownership of my own body, and I alone decide who touches it. I, and I alone, have responsibility over my body.

Today, I deny the cultural norms that dictate I must have a particular body size or shape in order to be desirable, and declare that I have the “perfect” body type, as do my Sisters, as do all Women.

Today, I declare that I am smart, intellectual and capable, and it is not necessary for me to hide my intelligence, for it threatens no one and only serves to empower the world.

Today, I make the commitment to know my own mind, my own heart, my own desires, as well as my own challenges, and embrace all of these as the greater nature of who I am.

Today, I acknowledge Prince Charming never existed … and only I can save myself.

Today, I honor my Sisters … the young Women, the mature Mothers, and the Grandmother Crones from whom all Life flows through. I support them in their journey, and am grateful for the full measure of Beauty and Wisdom that is inherent in all of them. May we work together for each other’s good, and not create division among us.

Today, I honor the men in my Life, for without them Life would be less than.

Today, I honor Life and all that she is.

Today … I am an American Woman. And I AM FREE.

© Robbie Dancing Sun Cat Hunt

What If I’m Wrong?

This question can elicit from deep within us a terror of the worst sort, for it requires a forthright examination of our suppositions and suspicions and shines a light on dark places that we would much rather remain shadowed.

What if the ideas and hopes, the positions and assertions we hold dear are shown to be flawed or otherwise unreliable? What if those things in which we have invested our Energy, that we have defended and even promoted, turn out to be a house of cards? What, then, do we have? What, then, do we do?…

It is certain that we hesitate to question our beliefs because our culture preferentially rewards the “right” answer or the “right” action and summarily castigates and sanctions those which are “wrong” or “unacceptable.” It is this inculcated aversion to incongruity that can lead us to avoid the difficult work that may well reveal that which we would prefer to not acknowledge concerning our most cherished convictions. To put it bluntly, we find it embarrassing to be wrong. Embarrassment, however, is insufficient reason to cling doggedly to our inherited cultural mythologies or the mythologies we have painstakingly formulated and collected about ourSelves.

Then there is the doubt.

Should we discover a breach in the ramparts of our certainty, it is then that we may find our confidence is shaken and the poison of doubt has started to seep into the crevices of our Self-esteem. Doubt can be the most caustic and debilitating of adversaries.

The antidote to doubt is the recognition and acceptance of the verity that, so long as we are willing to be proven wrong, we can find peace (and even excitement!) in the knowledge that there is always more to see, always more to feel, always more to experience, always more to learn. “Wrong” does not have to be forever. Being wrong or mistaken or misguided is not an irreversible condition.

To ask “what if I am wrong” is a daunting question. It is a question, however, that the Self in search of integrity and a Life grounded in mindfulness of the Real must be bold and courageous enough to ask, over and over and over again.

©Billy Red Horse

Choice

“Far more than our abilities, it is our choices that show what we truly are.”
– Albus Dumbledore

To be called a heretic is an experience I have long savored and over the years I have had many opportunities to indulge my perverse enjoyment of being thus maligned.  No matter what spiritual discipline I have learned and taught, there has always been someone close by to wag a finger in my general direction and tell me just how wrong I am, how I am corrupting the teachings. It must be said that, when the textbook definition of the word heretic is considered, I truly am one!  A heretic is a person who holds controversial opinions, especially ones that publicly challenge officially accepted dogma.  That’s me all over!  It should therefore come as no surprise that I identify strongly with the Greek root of the word heretic.  That root is hairetikos, which means “able to choose.”

In the final analysis, everything comes down to choice.  The great motivational speakers all state that the quantity and severity of challenges we experience in our lives is of little importance.  How we choose to perceive and respond to those challenges is what matters.  Where others might choose to be victims of circumstance, it is the Spiritual Warrior who responds with life affirming choices (and actions) rather than reacting as though everything is beyond her control.  It is the simple choice between being at the cause or at the effect.

Most every choice we make is a point of departure that will lead to an inevitable destination.  The demand upon us to make choices is as incessant as it is unavoidable.  To quote a line from lyricist Neil Peart, “[Even] if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”  To claim the power inherent in conscious choice is to simultaneously shoulder the burden of responsibility for the consequences of those choices.  It is this burden of responsibility that so frightens the average person and the reason so many prefer to let others make their choices for them.

We do not live alone in this world and no matter how considered one might be with regards to choices made, it is certain that those choices can and will be effected by the choices of others, those we know and those we don’t.  Is it not fair to ask that those who, as associates, friends, and coworkers, have the greatest access to (and, therefore, influence upon) us be at least as concerned with making conscious choices as are we?  This should give a person all the more reason to be selective about the company one keeps.

It may seem that in trying to consider the myriad of possible outcomes each choice could bring one could be easily overwhelmed, even to the point of mental and/or physical apoplexy.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  Gentle persistence is generally the best course when learning a new skill.  Learning how to make wise choices is no different.  Be aware of your choices and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts.

All humans are possessed of a dual nature that is equally adept at expressing the utmost love or manifesting lurid villainy.  What separates the killing fields from Elysian Fields is choice.  Whether we determine to Love or to Fear, to act or react, create or destroy is a function of how we use Energy.  It is our choices that send us down the infernal path and it is our choices that can redeem and Awaken us.

The meaning of Life is really quite simple:  Life is about choice.  Nothing has more influence on our lives and our happiness than the choices we make.  We are here because we choose to be.  Our life has the meaning we choose to give it.  Whether we live in the awareness of our elemental nature as a part of the world we inhabit and our spiritual nature as the offspring of Creation, or as victims of circumstance who are out of balance and out of control can only be decided by the individual.  Creation gives us sovereignty.  It is we alone who abdicate that sovereignty.  The Choice is ours.

There is so much darkness in the world, so very much pain that it often overshadows the Joy.  This does not have to be.  We are not condemned to the mire.  Beauty is but a choice away.

©Billy Red Horse

Darkness

Several years ago yours truly was engaged in a short email exchange with a friendly acquaintance.  For several years I had been an on again/off again counselor and confidant to this particular young lady and the exchange in question was precipitated by an earlier face-to-face encounter where I mentioned to her that she appeared to be down.  Below you will find our resulting electronic conversation:

—–Original Message—–
From: Doe, Jane 

I am in a dark mood today and it is spilling out.  I am sorry.  I will be better. 

———-
From: Mystic, The 

I enjoy my dark places.  In them I find elements of my Self that move me, that inform me, that steel me.  I freely admit that my greatness is forged in Darkness but is invigorated and given life when I shine forth my Light.  Do you embrace the Darkness?

———-
From: Doe, Jane 

No. 

———-
From: Mystic, The

Then you should know, my dear, that this rejection is the source of your misery.  In this you deny your Self.

Like most, my acquaintance rejected the darkness in her Being as inherently unpleasant and base, viewing it as something to be (at the very least) ignored or (if at all possible) conquered.

That evil is ascribed to darkness is an almost universal phenomenon, one that cuts across cultural lines and religious traditions.  We are indoctrinated from childhood to believe that in the darkness we will find only pain and suffering and all manner of sinister things.  We are given night lights to ward off the monsters that dwell under our beds and in our closets.  We are taught to fear darkness, explicitly and by example, not only in the physical realm, but the darkness that resides within our own Beings.

Should the truth be told, it is not darkness per se that people resist; it is the force of evil which is believed (rightly or wrongly) to inhabit the gloom that hobbles so many.  It has been my experience that, when observed and considered objectively, darkness and evil are not necessarily mutually inclusive.  More often than not, it is the unquestioned acceptance of darkness as the province of the wicked that perpetuates and promulgates the myth and continues to give it odious life in this so-called age of enlightened thought.  The benefits to be gained in the acceptance and integration of those valuable elements which abide in darkness far surpass (in this Mystic’s opinion, at least) the unreasonable cautions borne of an uninformed historical prejudice.

In my tradition the western energetic on an Earth Gate (Medicine Wheel) is viewed as the location of darkness and is identified by the color black.  Represented by the element of Earth, it is the looks-within place of introspection and intuition, is the realm of the human body, is considered negative/receptive, and is the matrix of feminine energy.  It should, therefore, not be surprising that most of the traits which were just mentioned are in whole or in part looked down upon or viewed in a disparaging light by a wide assortment of religions and philosophies and the people who subscribe to them.  To the partisans of superstition and ignorance nothing of value is to be culled in the shadows and the loss, quite deservedly, is their own.  At great peril they reject a valuable aspect of Reality in deference to their preferred brand of intolerance and bias.  Perhaps there truly IS a legitimate reason for these individuals to shun the darkness, as there is no night light which can ever shine brightly enough to protect such misguided souls from the inner demons wrought of their own creation.

For the traveler committed to a fuller understanding and experience of Life, it is vital that the darkness be explored and mapped in studied detail.  There is much to be learned there and even more to be gained if we can set aside our fears and acknowledge That-Which-Is.  It is when we deny and suppress the darkness that we engender strife, for in our denial we tend to feed and antagonize the beast most wish to remain quiet and hidden safely away in its cage.

Now, I no more suggest a wholesale cleaving to darkness at the exclusion of light than I espouse the rejection of darkness for the fanciful delusion of light as some manifestation of romantic mythical perfection.  Extremes are tinder for the fires of that most palpable of evils, fanaticism.

Seek balance and, through it all, don’t be afraid of the dark.

©Billy Red Horse

Tend Your Garden

There is but one Element that constitutes the entirety of all existence in the Manifest Universe, and that Element is Energy.  Energy is everything and everything is Energy.  Even with a never-ending supply of this omnipresent stuff of Creation to be had, there are those that still somehow manage to dilute it, to weaken its situational efficacy, to squander both opportunity and promise.

Consider a certain aspiring gardener.  Our novice wishes to be the warden of a small but thriving garden box of miniature roses  He prepares the box with the finest soil appropriate for what it is he wishes to grow and then fixes within its confines several of the most healthy bare root bushes he can find.  The box is then set in a place of prominence where the Sun will fall on it in just the right amount.  Pure water and plant food are added as needed and then Nature is trusted to work Her magic.

For the first week or two, the incipient roses are tended daily.  Any invading weeds are winnowed and, being a forward-thinking and conscientious chap, our gardener lavishes all this attention from a place of Love.

Then something happens.  After a few weeks, the daily tending becomes every other day, then every three days.  The more Time that passes, the less attention the box of roses receives.

Finally, one day the gardener is taken aback by the sad state his once thriving box of roses has achieved.  “Why has this happened?” he asks.  “What can I do to remedy this situation?”  After careful consideration, he settles on a plan.

Rather than redouble his efforts to nurture the now neglected roses by tending more diligently to this first box, he acquires a new box and populates it with . . . tomato plants.

Again, Time passes.  Tomato plants follow roses, then bonsai trees follow tomatoes; and so the proceedings go, box after box, on and on, one after another after another.

And what of those like our gardener?  Are they lazy?  Hardly!  Their inattentiveness cannot be ascribed correctly to laziness; the very fact that so much effort is, Time and Time again, expended in creation of an ever-lengthening chain of enterprise is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.  Lethargy is not the culprit; a lack of focus, the absence of diligence, and a dearth of patience is.

So many are like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next, chasing thoughts or undertakings or dreams, constantly in motion but seldom given to abiding long enough for an agreeable denouement to be experienced.  Sometimes, the thought process is “this didn’t work right away so I’ll try something else” or “this sort of worked, but I think I’ll try something else” or “this worked really well but it could have worked even better, so I think I’ll go try something else.”  Distraction and boredom are the enemies of focus and follow-through.  Knowing when (or if) something should be dispensed with is one thing; effectively aborting a still-viable potential is something else entirely.

To see a thought through takes Time.  It takes more Time still for complex things or endeavors to bloom in their fullness and to grow into the totality of their Beauty.  It is nothing short of foolish to give something less attention than it requires only to then express subsequent frustration or bewilderment that this something is now found wanting.

Tend your garden.  Nurture.  Persevere.  Acknowledge.  Respect.  Focus.  Repeat.  Then plant something new.

©Billy Red Horse

Burn Notice

The HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Nigel West offers the following definition for the term Burn Notice– “When a Central Intelligence Agency source has proved unreliable, a warning known as a Burn Notice is distributed, alerting personnel with responsibility for the recruitment or running of sources not to have any further contact with that individual.”  As the opening monologue of the old USA Network TV show BURN NOTICE related, “When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history.  You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in…(y)ou rely on anyone who’s still talking to you…(b)ottom line: As long as you’re burned, you’re not going anywhere.”

Join me in a piquant thought experiment:  Though you are most likely not a spy, intelligence informant, or even a breaker of law beyond that of an occasional moving violation, what would you do if you were to be the recipient of your own Burn Notice? What if you suddenly found yourSelf without credit, no access to your savings accounts, no record with any governmental, banking or business entity that you have ever existed?  People that once knew you deny they have ever even met you, let alone admit to having any sort of relationship to or with you.  Those hard copies you have of your birth certificate, your mortgage, your divorce decree?  Well, as there is no official record of these documents anywhere, then they must be clever forgeries.  If this happened to you, how would you respond?  Would you exert all possible energies to convince people of who you were and to reclaim what you feel is rightfully yours?  Would you, like the protagonist in the TV show, seek out the person or entity behind your burning? What would you do if, despite your best attempts, you were unable to reclaim that which was once yours?  Would you flounder? Would you spend the remainder of your days sulking and bemoaning your situation?  Would you start over?

Technology can fail.  In today’s modern digital society, it is not so far from the realm of possibility that you might, indeed, find yourSelf on the receiving end of your own version of a Burn Notice.  Though it might not be orchestrated by an unspecified shady governmental cabal or the result of some criminal enterprise out to purloin the identities of the unsuspecting, and though it might not be as total as that experienced by a burned spy, you still may one day find yourSelf in the position of having to prove who you are and exist without access to your digitally stored virtual resources until the matter can be resolved.  Could you do this?  Do you have sufficient liquid resources spread around and available should you require them?  Do you have multiple copies of relevant important documents stored in various secure locations?  Most importantly, in a worst case scenario, do have the fortitude to start over from scratch if you needed to?

Don’t get burned against your will.  Against your will?  An interesting concept which sets us off in an entirely new and intriguing direction.  Look at your Life.  Look at your tendencies. Look at the way you habitually respond to situations and circumstances.  Look at the good.  Look at the bad.  What if…what if you were to issue your own Burn Notice…to yourSelf?

How would your Life be different if you were to burn those traits that no longer served you?  What if you erased the behaviors that held you back or, worse, harmed you?  While it is not possible to avoid the consequences of our prior choices, decisions, and actions by “burning” them, it IS possible to create a “new identity” for ourselves, to move toward becoming the person we want to be.  Change your mind, change your approach, and you will most certainly change your Life.

Perhaps a Burn Notice is not such a scary thing after all.

©Billy Red Horse

Death Of A So-Called Friend

The beer was cold against my lips.  I sat there looking out over a particularly sunny landscape and, raising a toast to a passing cloud, took another draw from the bottle.  You see, I was celebrating . . . celebrating my first murder.

My victim?  Nobody you would know.  But then again, maybe you DO know this guy.  He and his ilk are nothing if not ubiquitous.

The weird thing is, there was a period when I considered this guy to be my best friend.  You would have been hard pressed to find two closer companions anywhere.  For the longest Time, if you saw me you could be certain that he was always close by.  We were, in fact, inseparable.  It was the dawning realization a few years back that my identity, my very sense of self, was wrapped up in my relationship to this guy that caused me to question if that relationship was really healthy and in my best interest.

When I first brought up my concerns, he just laughed them off.  Quite the joker, he was.  But I persisted and when I refused to be dissuaded, he acted as though his feelings had been hurt.  When this little ploy didn’t have the desired effect of making me recant, well, then . . . that’s when he got nasty.  I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed him, that I was nothing without him, that I just couldn’t handle things on my own.  After a while, he softened a bit, reminding me that for years he had protected me, looked out for me, cared for me.  He said he was only doing what was best for me and that I should be grateful.

I hate to admit it but, at first, I thought that he might be right, maybe I DID need him.  I recognized that, after so many years together, I really had come to depend on him for far more than I should have.  Could I do okay on my own?  Did I even know how?  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had my doubts.

I moped around for a few days, questioning my judgment and my commitment to break free all the while.  He could tell that I was still struggling with the whole thing and did his best to pacify my doubts.  Strokes to my ego followed apologies and other various attempts to distract.  Something told me, though, that this was about nothing more than the preservation of the status quo and his own preeminence in my Life.  His coddling gradually changed to coercion, then became threats.  I recognized with painful finality that there was something very wrong and that, if anything was to be done, I was the one that would have to do it.

I knew he had no interest in changing the state of things but I refused to let that stop me.  I sought out counseling but, with me being the only willing participant, it wasn’t at all effective.  I was the one that wanted change, not him.  I knew that the longer I permitted him to remain in my Life, the more I was giving away my power.  This had to stop.

I tried to walk away, but he refused to leave me alone.  No matter where I went, he followed.  The more I tried to be done with him, the more determined was his pursuit.  My entreaties for him to just leave fell on deaf ears.  Pretty soon I found myself drowning in my emotions.  Fear and anger were constants when I was awake and when I dreamed.  It was then that I recognized just how poisonous was the whole affair.

So I decided to kill him.

It was a most satisfying task, that of snuffing out his life and hiding all remnants of his existence from sight.  The monster now lies in an unmarked grave.  I mean, really . . . why on earth would I want to memorialize such a villain?  And what would the headstone read? –

Here lies
– MY DELUSIONS –
Though to the eye exceeding fair,
His heart, ‘twas black and vile.
No longer shall his mien ensnare,
nor manner e’er beguile.

I know I’ll never see him again. Unless I resurrect him, that is.  It’s kind of scary to know that I have that kind of power, even more so to know that the responsibility to keep that tomb sealed rests with no one but me.

I really do feel the better for his being dead.

Care to join me in a beer?…

©Billy Red Horse

The High Cost Of Living

(This article was originally published in January of 2008)

The new year bears down upon us.  It is a Time to swear penance for that extra 10 pounds we added to our already stressed frames over the holidays, a Time to review the year that has passed and to look forward to all the positive changes we intend to initiate in the coming 12 months.  Should we be brutally honest with ourselves, though (a skill so few seem to possess in this day and age), we might find that the resolutions we are now confidently pledging to discharge are not unlike those we vowed to keep at this same Time last year.  Well, I suppose there is something to be said for consistency . . .

In a few weeks we will begin to receive the W-2 forms that allow us to accurately calculate the amount of tax we owe our feudal masters and, come late January, the mailman will deliver to us the stacks of credit card bills which are evidence certain of December’s feckless orgy of conspicuous consumption.  You had promised to curtail your spending, to buy fewer things for fewer people.  You may even have succeeded in doing just that.  But them prices, they are a risin’.  Witness the automobile that not so very long ago required a mere $17 in gasoline which now demands $50 to see the little indicator needle hover near the FULL side of the gauge.  That which once was is no more.

There is one area, however, where the prices never rise and never fall, but where the cost has always been consistently the highest that can be paid.  In this province it is not possible to negotiate better terms, more favorable rates, or to in any way defer payment.

Everything you do in your Life costs you something.  Each thought, each action, each emotion, each failure or success, all of them draw from an account that is irrevocably finite and subject to sudden catastrophic ruin.  The coin of the realm of which I speak is binary in its constitution, one half being constrained at all times by a factor of 24, while the other is a bit more protean in its capacity to wax or wane.  I speak of your Time and your Life-Force Energy.

You, like every person who has ever lived, are limited to but 24 hours in a day.  In this aspect, we truly are equal, everyone.  The visionary and the vagrant, the mystic and the madman, all are bound by the same limitations of temporal fetters.  How is it that you spend your Time?  Are you aware that every second of your Life that has passed is a second you will never EVER have again?  How much of this most precious and limited asset has slipped unnoticed through your fingers as you sat idling in traffic, suffered through yet another pointless business meeting, or engaged in some meaningless activity that did absolutely nothing to feed your soul?  Time is the one resource of which you have only so much and you can never know just how much it is that you will have.  How many more days can you claim with any certainty are at your disposal?

Every activity you undertake requires of you Time; just how much is your Time worth to you?

If Time is the “when” of human existence, then Life-Force Energy is the “how.”  This antipodal face of the two-sided coin is the Energy that motivates you, that quickens you, that sustains you, that IS you.

As with Time, a portion of your Life-Force is demanded against all that you do.  Whether an intentional expression of Beauty or a thoughtless act of anger, your personal account will be debited immediately and without consideration.  Depending on the act, you may pay up front and only once, or you may find yourself making installments for years to come.

Fortunately, and quite unlike Time, your Life-Force can be replenished, not only in quantity, but in quality, as well.  You can increase the level of your “funding” by taking care to consume only healthy food and drink, avoiding ingestion of substances that can damage the body and mind, exercising, resting, meditating, praying, by divesting yourself of as much negativity as possible and by developing a mindfulness for and about the way you live your Life.  Paradoxically, the more you engage in conscious acts that bring joy to your soul, the more likely is your store of this Energy to accrue rather than diminish.

Learn how not to give away needlessly your Energy to others and do not permit people or circumstances to drain it from you.  Don’t pay more than you must and don’t squander what you have.  Use wisely your resources and learn to invest rather than spend.

It is your responsibility to determine if what you are doing at any given moment is worth the incredible cost demanded of you.  When you tally the price you must always be willing to ask yourself, “Is this really how I wish to spend my Life?”

©Billy Red Horse