Listing About

Copyright Tam Black 2009 Edited for July 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2009
Edited for July 2013 by permission

I don’t know what I’m doing!! Like a ship that lists about, a rudderless boat on a vast ocean, I have been catching wind in the sail and been cast about. I do stuff. Life is full of activity.  I make lists and cross things off, add more to the lists, cross more off. I accomplish things. I am productive. I am efficient. I am gettin’ shit done. Activity has increased; there is so much to do!

Everything feels important, but also pointless. Why am I doing all this stuff? I’ve been happy, but not satisfied; satisfied, but not content. What is the purpose? What is the meaning? Where am I trying to get to? Do I know? Can I get at the “knowing”? Am I stuck? Am I just where I need to be? Why am I doing this or that? Where am I going?

In order to answer these questions—especially the knowing—I ask myself, “What do I need to do?” and I am back to an activity.  When all activities, even the ones which normally focus, calm, center, and balance seem pointless… what do I do?

My mind races along with my life, even my thoughts have the energy of activity. I can’t/don’t want to be still. There are tools I have which I could utilize, but none feel quite right.

There is deep wonder and curiosity at what this is all about.

  • Is this my “old” consciousness, which is safe, warm, and comfortable spinning in circles to keep me from growing into a new level of awareness?
  • Is this a new level of consciousness pulling at me, telling me my old tools no longer work, and I need to expand to find new tools?
  • Is it my ego that is simply afraid of life and is using these tactics to keep me occupied so I don’t feel that fear and don’t move in any direction?
  • Do I need to force myself to relax and be quiet?

This place is a particularly difficult one for me. Do I forge ahead with activity, be patient and wait, be diligent in customary practices that have proven consciousness-directed results, or try new practices that might “work” better than other ones?

Part of the problem is I am being blown about: I don’t know where I am going; I have stumbled in staying focused in purpose. There is no flow.

How do I change this?

Step one: Being aware Check. I am aware. I’ve described it pretty well, I think.

Step two: Thinking there is a better way – Check. I know there is a better way. I may go through ups and downs, but they are all part of the flow, and I understand how they fit. That is better.

Step three: Deciding to change – Hrmph. I guess I found my sticking point.

What does it take to decide to change? I already know there is a better way, so why would I want to stay here? Ah! It’s not about wanting to stay here…it’s about not knowing where to go (that was pretty clear in the second paragraph above, I see it now). What is my purpose? What is important to me? What do I want? Now, it’s about remembering and reminding myself of what I want. What do I say? My purpose is to be truly helpful. I want to be happy and happiness is tied to purpose; I want to embody my purpose. I want to explore life, share it here, in hopes that your life might open for you through my discoveries, that you might know your purpose, and be happy in living it because that joy is too amazing to hold on to.

It’s important for me to be consistent in words and actions. If I do not, right now, decide to change, I am creating an inconsistency in my life. SO, I declare:

This moment I decide:  to be true to my purpose. I decide: even if I do not know the details of my purpose, I will hold my purpose in mind with singular vision. I choose: to release all barriers that restrain my consciousness from knowing my purpose. I choose: to actively engage my consciousness to be aware, to understand and to know my purpose. I choose life; I choose to live in life’s flow; I choose to learn how to allow life to show me its highest flow, my highest purpose.

Step four: Committing to actions that bolster this decision – Hmmmmmm.  I have a little push-back to this one. Didn’t I say that actions feel like part of the problem…? I must go back to basics. This step is again about consistency.  Just because I say I make a decision, doesn’t mean I have to follow through. BUT, if I do not follow through with actions, I am telling my consciousness either my words were not important or that I did not mean them. The action(s) does not need to be big or fanatical; it just needs to be solid—consistent. It does not need to be geared toward increasing my awareness and understanding or toward expanding my consciousness (I could just commit to brushing my teeth every morning to the tune of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All”), but if I am going to take an action like this I am going to make it as solid and moving as possible. I’ve made the decision, why not go for it? And the truth is, now that I have gotten to this point, I really want to change. I want to get through this. I want to move my consciousness into a new understanding and knowledge! YAY! OK. Now, with firm commitment and conviction, I declare: for the next 40 days (40 days is generally a good number for me; the decision really sinks in to consciousness after that time) at least one time per day, I will turn my mind to my Inner Divine Presence and contemplate my being and my purpose (using prayers/affirmations/songs/mantras) and invite my Inner Divine Presence to express my highest purpose through me. After at least 5 (but preferably more like 15) minutes, I will write in my journal any thoughts that come. Then I will take one deep breath, smile and live my life.

Would you like to join me?

My Messy Life Pt. III – Or – Here We Go Again!

Copyright Tam Black 2010 Edited for July 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2010
Edited for July 2013 by permission

Apparently my life is only messy when it comes to my car. How is it my old 1995 station wagon can teach me so many lessons? It’s not like my car has a personality—I’m not one to anthropomorphize my vehicle (although he does have a name: “Teddy”).  Oh, but it’s not my car doing the teaching. It’s really my own Self, as reflected in and embodied by my car. My negligence, my “stupid” moments, my thoughtlessness —these things have nothing to do with my car; my car is just bearing the brunt of me, and so am I.

The other messes were lessons in cause-effect, in how to approach what I want…or the cost of being lazy. They were lessons of the mind and heart. This lesson hit a bit harder; it was financial. It was a $130 lesson; you guessed it: I got a ticket.

In fact, I broke the law (yes, me…).  It was not a law putting anyone in harm’s way, or reckless in any way. I simply didn’t get my vehicle inspected…for 18 months.

“18 months!?” you say. “How can you go for 18 months past the point for inspection?” “How could you not know it was overdue!?”

I did know. I did. I can claim negligence for the first 12 months, but the last 6 I knew darn well my vehicle inspection was way past overdue.  I have this (really only slight) streak of challenging the status quo, of irreverence for what institutions say I “should do”, of challenging authority (while at the same time being timid around it, go figure). I am quite benign; I just like to see what happens when I don’t do what I am “supposed” to do, sometimes. So, yeah, I let it continue to go without an inspection. I didn’t even plan to get it inspected, I just watched my thoughts, and waited, sort of like listening and waiting, but without listening for anything in particular. I just observed what returned to me as I continued thinking and watching.

Here is how it went:

For the first 3 months of the last 6 months of being way past overdue, I barely thought about it. No thoughts, no response.

Then, I started thinking about the sticker on my windshield. I wondered if cops really notice. If they did, you would think I would have been pulled over already. So I thought cops must not really notice them. And I went along for about 2.5 months thinking that—and lo and behold, I was passed by cops who paid no mind; I passed by cops who paid no mind, everything in my experience verified there was no one looking at or even  noticing my way out of date sticker.

Then my thoughts changed. I can’t say I made them change; I just started feeling differently about the sticker, kind of knowing it would be noticed. Still I passed some cops, who paid no mind, but I felt differently; I began noticing whether or not they were noticing. Did they start noticing my noticing, or did they start noticing all on their own? I don’t know, but they started noticing.

On my way to work, there is a juncture where I can either turn or go straight. If traffic is bad, I turn; if it is not, I go straight; mostly, I turn. On this particular day traffic was OK, so I decided to go straight, then I approached a light to turn right. On the cross street, there was a cop at the light to my right, heading away from the direction I was to go and as I turned toward him, I saw him notice. But, he was going the opposite direction, so I didn’t think again about it…until he pulled me over.

He had done a U-turn and come after me, sneaked right up on me, didn’t even give me a chance to try to duck down a side street, just all of a sudden, there he was. I knew, too. I knew it was about the sticker. I knew he noticed. Darn. I had no defense.

So that was the $130 ticket. He said, “Get that taken care of as soon as you can, and keep the ticket with you so that if you are pulled over again, you can show that you have already been cited for this, and you won’t get another ticket.”

I thought there would be no reason for that, because I still had some residual delusion “they don’t notice” left over from the 10 weeks of thinking it.

The very next day on my way to work I got to the same juncture and there was similar traffic, and for no particular reason I turned right instead of going straight. At the next stop, who did I find myself behind at the light, but a cop?! Two cops, two routes, where I never ordinarily see cops… I decided if he went straight, I would turn, if he turned, I’d go straight. I’m not paranoid at all. He went straight, I turned. Whew. Of course, all those little streets just criss-cross each other, and generally come out at the same place, so who did I find myself at a light with just a little way up… the same cop. But he was going the opposite direction. Whew. As he passed, I checked my rear-view…  Oh … but there’s that U-turn thing in the middle of the road. Dammit. I mean, gosh darn it. No, I mean dammit. There was nothing I could do; I knew he was after me. I pulled over even before he had his lights on. He got to my window, and I handed him the citation from the day before and just kind of shrugged my shoulders. He said, “You need to get that taken care of, that sticker sticks out like a sore thumb”.

“Like a sore thumb” he said. Then why did it take 18 months for two of you to notice? And why did I encounter two of you who noticed, on two consecutive days, when I had just been through 6 months of cops not noticing?

This may have been a $130 lesson, but I think in my consciousness, it was worth it. I know my thoughts create my reality. I get that as a metaphysical concept. But this went beyond metaphysics. As my thoughts changed, both my experience and my reality changed. I could almost feel my thoughts acting as a “beacon” to draw to me the things that I thought about, quite literally.

Life is a great playground for learning about bringing the intangible into tangible experience. Learning begins with noticing. It begins with noticing thoughts and experiences, and life readily teaches. I have not learned—I have not arrived, but this was a very interesting lesson. May your lessons not cost you so much financially, as you notice!

The First Principle of Freedom is Peace

Copyright Tam Black 2013 Edited for July 2013 by permission
Copyright Tam Black 2013
Edited for July 2013 by permission

Independence Day in America signifies a day of release from tyranny and injustice, from the arbitrary uses of power by the government, from random acts that subjugate and oppress people. In the old world of seventeenth century Britain, from which the first settlers to America fled, people were imprisoned for trifles, people starved, the strong oppressed the weak, and life, in the words of Thomas Hobbes was quite literally “nasty, brutish, and short.”

There are still countries today whose citizens live in that kind of world, where each day is a struggle, people go hungry, water is scarce, and violence is an everyday occurrence.  There are places, too, here in the United States where this is the rule, not the exception. Americans live in a country where everyone may be free, but the quality of that life remains nasty, brutish, and short. In the world, there are many still in these (metaphorical) chains.

Independence in America means the political right to pursue our human rights of life, liberty, and happiness. The political ideal has formed a society based on these principles.  Americans have the great fortune of living in a country where the civil structure of society promotes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The civil structure promotes this. The civil structure is not the government, it is not the laws, it is not the debates or the representatives or the President or the Supreme Court. It is me and it is you. We are the civil structure of the United States—all of us, together.

But sometimes it can be difficult to support someone else’s inalienable human rights: “What happens when their liberty interferes with my own? “What if they advance further, faster than I do? “What if their success means my failure?” Keeping up with the Joneses means knocking them down; advancing at work means subverting a colleague; getting a date means backstabbing your best friend. The tendency to inhibit someone else, hold someone down, cut someone off, sometimes seems like a matter of personal survival, derived from one’s own desire for life.

This is an old question—how do people balance their own rights, survival, even success, over and against everyone else’s?

In a civil society such as ours, predicated on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have a choice. Either we support a society that supports all our rights, or we regress to a society in which everyone’s right is restrained. With each act we take, each word we speak to each other, we make that choice. We either support and encourage life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or choose a life that is nasty and brutish.

Of course we do not see the results of our choices immediately, but each choice adds to the whole of society—and together we are moving that society towards whatever-it-will-become. Add one pebble to the scale on the side of “nasty and brutish” enough times and the scale will tip that direction.

In a very real sense, this is why kindness matters. Disrespect disrupts peace; kindness cultivates peace. This is why respect matters. This is why honoring each other’s choices matters. Without these things in daily life, we degrade the very fabric of a society built on an ideal of personal freedom. With every rude act, with every impolite gesture, with every impatient curse or slap or menacing action we add a pebble to the side of the scale that inhibits another’s life.

People desire deeply their right to live. People deserve a life that is rich and deep and vibrant; that is more than mere survival. Life expands where it is safe to do so; where there is a threat of harm, life contracts, recedes, stays safe, merely survives.  We are all constantly contributing either to each other’s expansion or contraction. No one is free when any one behaves in a way that restricts another’s freedom.

Honor and be honored. Respect and be respected. Live and let live. Begin with yourself, within yourself. This is the foundation for a peaceful coexistence, giving life the opportunity to expand and spread its wings.

The first principle of freedom is peace, because without peace there is no life, and without life nothing else really matters.