To learn how to sit in the scary woods of the mind

Woods in fog

Woods in fog

“Do you really,” my good friend asked, “want to be an old woman who can’t remember things?  Do you really want to lose all your faculties?”

Sigh.  She had read my latest blog post.

“Ummm, no,” said I.  “If the Universe is asking, I would like to be completely healthy, happy and wise and live to a ripe old age with all faculties intact.”

“So just wondering–why did you say you wanted to be that other kind of old lady?  I mean, why did you put that out there? It’s like telling God that you want that.”

I adore my friend.  Just sayin’.  She’s the kind of person that exudes positive affirmations.  She’s always smiling.  She tapes positive sayings to her refrigerator.  Sayings that I love.  Sayings that really remind a person to stay on track, not to get lost in the foggy recesses of a fearful mind.

She had me scared for a couple seconds.  Yikes, did I just DO that?  Did I tell the Universe I wanted to lose all my faculties and memory, just to be radiant?  (Yes, Kathy, you did, even though it was under the guise of quoting the book Wild Comfort:  The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore.)

There's a star in the woods on Christmas morn'...

Star that transforms

This secondary blog is to set the record straight, just in case the Universe doesn’t know what I want and depends upon clear intent.  If the Universe is going to do what I want. (Quite often the Universe just does what IT wants and I go along for the ride.)

I want to find radiance in every one of life’s circumstances.  To discover love hiding out among all the things we fear.  To look squarely in the face of whatever Life offers and say–oh here you are, Love, completely disguised as something sorrowful and terrible and painful, shining in the cracks between what hurts.

I want to face into the mind’s fears and see how many of them are false.  I want to embrace the radiance that shines underneath and over and around the mind’s intentions.  To learn how to sit in the scary woods.  To shine the flashlight in the dark of the unconscious and to reach out compassionately to the wolves and snakes and bear.

So do I want to lose all my memories and faculties?  Oh, no, please.  That is not my preference, thank you kindly, all-listening Universe who always allows reversals of limited intent.  But if you do knock in an unwanted direction of Alzheimer’s or cancer or car accident or loneliness or depression or Lou Gehrig’s disease or terrorism or boredom–I want to embrace the radiant love that’s at the core.  To relax and feel God in the scary woods, Buddha reflected in the bear’s shining eyes as he approaches.





About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in December, 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to To learn how to sit in the scary woods of the mind

  1. lorriedeck says:

    hmmm….I didn’t take that blog post that way. I assumed that you just wanted to feel the gladness and gratitude. So perhaps understanding is in the mind of the reader. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      It’s so interesting how everyone reads something differently and gets something else out of it. I am so often amazed at how a reader interprets something so differently than it was intended! Sometimes I have to remind myself…it’s OK to put something out in the world and have it understood in a different way. That can enrich the piece, not diminish it.

  2. This made me think of what my elderly aunt’s doctor often said to us: Sometimes we make plans and the universe laughs. What will be will be and the best we can do is embrace love and be gracious and radiant as we flow along with the unfolding, ever-changing universe.

  3. Val says:

    Mmm… there’s no ‘radiant love’ at the heart of Altzeimer’s, dear Kathy, it’s a lack of brain function. There is a kind of radiant love in some people with Downs Syndrome – that’s a simplicity of the kind you may be thinking of… it’s a child-like grace. But to reach any of that as adults with past experiences, I suspect is impossible unless you go into a Buddhistic trance for the rest of your life. But of course, as I’m not in it myself – I may be wrong. 🙂

    I suspect we all wish for what you wish for. But we’re complex beings and it’s unlikely to happen except in fleeting moments. Maybe, instead, there is a way to make those fleeting moments last a bit longer?


    • Kathy says:

      Val, the radiant love I am talking about exists everywhere, even with a lack of brain function. It exists in a leaf fluttering in the wind. I imagine the distinction you are trying to make, but I was trying to describe a radiance that can be cultivated as the heart of awareness, prior to the mind. That is beyond thought and feeling and beliefs and the brain’s functioning.

      As for cultivating a Buddhist trance, my goodness, I have discovered that Buddhism and meditation is the opposite of trance. It feels to me like that space is clear, wide-awake, absolutely more real and poignant and alive than the trance-induced state of our everyday functioning. I do believe this can be cultivated like a garden to realize the radiance which is prior to even birth and death. (But I am getting way too Buddhist here and should quit typing before I get in even more trouble explaining myself today.)

      • Val says:

        I realised after posting my comment that – for a change – I was being rather too literal. Sorry for that. I do understand what you mean and meant, it’s just the way my own brain is at the moment – not as connected as it could be. Hugs and I hope you reach this truly beautiful state you are seeking.

        • Kathy says:

          Thanks, Val. My brain isn’t feeling too connected today either. You know, I have felt the small self drop away so many times and felt the radiance of what remains. Sometimes it stays for hours or days or even months. But then the separate self reasserts itself (like today) and it feels impossible to even fathom how to find what never falls away, that which is always present. The main reason I don’t write much anymore is that words seem to get in the way and it’s impossible to articulate. I’m not sure that seeking is happening anymore because that energy even gets in the way. It’s more like layers drop away to reveal what’s eternal. And that eternity is not a special state, it’s ordinary, but there is a radiance to it and I am babbling again and should settle down for bed. Blessings to you.

  4. Shirley Khodja says:

    Dear Kathy, I’m pretty sure that you, I and lorriedeck (many others too) were focused on the “glass-clear gladness” that would remain after the life-long dust-ups clear away (God willing). I still hope to achieve that state, but, of course, with my faculties intact enough to appreciate it. Don’t be so hard on yourself!

    • Kathy says:

      Shirley, I had to go back and read this three times to try and figure out how I might have been hard on myself…? I had titled this as “humor” in the tags because it kinda seemed funny to me. May that glass-clear gladness remain with you and hope you enjoy the book!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Elisa the utter wonder of it! Thank you!

      • Elisa says:

        i gave in to the body and I spent the afternoon in bed and I finished reading, The Book of Love the sky is a rainbow of blueberry to the palest white blue, I have no interesting names YET for such a range of blue for a wintery day free of gloom at the end.

        • Kathy says:

          Elisa, I love the power of your observation. *rainbow of blueberry to palest white blue* is a lovely description nonetheless.

          • Elisa says:

            i am getting quite the collection of things to mail to you as i sit frozen not able to find the right word for palest white blue lol i thought maybe i ought just put them all blank into a larger envelope 😀

            • Kathy says:

              What is more real than the right word? Just kidding…I am having a hard day today…feeling unable to communicate properly what means so much. And then trying to allow that to be OK too. Thanks for reaching out with your psychic envelope…

  5. My dear sweet deep sharing caring giving friend, Kathy. I know exactly what you mean, and I want exactly the same thing. I strive for it daily now, so that when I’m an old slow woman, the radiance will come to me easily. I’ll know that it’s right in front of me, and within me, even in the shadows of the dark woods: all I need to do is look and retrieve. YOU are a RADIANT one, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Wow. I needed this so much today, Pam. Thank you for knowing exactly what I mean. sniff, sniff, pass da kleenex. Have been sitting with sad feelings most of the day, the darkness of my own inner woods, feeling like I couldn’t explain myself. And wanting the light of a lone flashlight or two to say–yes!–we know what you mean. (Although why a person would need that flashlight is beyond me…I mean, darn it, we should KNOW how to sit in the dark!! lol. Thank you. Thank you again. Thank you thrice, Radiant One.)

  6. Barb says:

    Dear Kathy. The Universe knows exactly what we mean all the time (even when we might not consciously know or when we pretend to mean something else). Gladness (and happiness) are so relative. When all else is gone, it would be wonderful if our beings still contained a kernel of that elusive personal gladness. I must tell you that I got a sample of Wild Comfort on the Kindle but the starting essay on snakes didn’t tell me I was going to love the rest of the essays.

    • Kathy says:

      Now, Barb, that is real wisdom–I must take heed. The Universe knows! Why that supersedes everything, even the opinion of others. Ha ha, I am laughing now remembering the snake essay. I can see why that might turn a person off!

  7. john K says:

    I have seen Dementia / Alzheimers in my father and in a relative of my wife. My father was filled with depression and anxiety. My wife’s relative had a very happy outlook on life and always brought a smile to the face of everyone he came in contact with. That attitude carried on into his minds dissolution into the black hole. He was happy and grateful for every small gesture from anyone giving him anything or helping him. He would greet everyone with a smile, towards the end not having anyone he recognized.

    I always told Jenny that this is how I hope I could be should I be in the same situation. I think that may be what the author intended and I would hope for you in that situation.

    • Kathy says:

      How interesting that you were able to view this from different angles, John. My dad had some dementia and he was mostly shining. He didn’t seem to experience fear or negativity very much. On Christmas Eve last year he spent so much time laughing with little cognizance that the end was near. (He couldn’t even walk across the house by himself.) Not to say he didn’t have moments of pain and suffering, but it was odd because he didn’t seem to experience much psychological suffering. Thank you for sharing and I hope the same for you if you’re ever in a similar situation, as well.

  8. Susan D. says:

    Oh, golly, gosh, sugar buns, and snowflakes. I hope to goodness you’re not wondering why you wrote your lovely blog post, and opened up the possibilities of different takes flowing in … It’s fascinating, all of it, yet none of it detracts from your intent. None of it. Love how we can put something out there, and it triggers individual tender spots in others, allowing them opportunities to go deeper into their own journey. You are a gift, and yes, you are a shining, radiant light!

    • Kathy says:

      Ha ha, Susan D, you know me so well! Yes I was wondering why the heck I wrote this blog post (and yesterday’s as well!) It certainly triggered my own tender places in the woods of my mind today. Feeling very human and vulnerable. So, thank you sooo much. xoxoxo

  9. I understand completely and totally. Ha! With the limited facilities I have been given I wish what you wish, but hope I do not have to….

    • Kathy says:

      LouAnn, thank you so kindly. I hope we both approach old(er) age with a smile on our lips and a little chuckle about Life’s apparent craziness at times.

  10. debyemm says:

    Yeah, that is what I want to do too – say to something completely disguised as something sorrowful and terrible and painful that I see LOVE shining in the cracks between what hurts.

    I don’t always pull that off – to be honest.

    I do practice being out in the scary woods in the dark and remind myself that I’m completely safe doing so.

    I really really don’t want to lose all my memories and mental faculties but I do realize I will have the easy part – but my poor husband and children !! Oh my !! I don’t wish that on them.

    I’ll try to remember to see Buddha reflected in the bear’s shining eyes if one is ever approaching me.

    And by the way, as a metaphysician, I can reassure you that it’s what you really really want and prefer that the Universe delivers to you as a direct response – or if you are just along for the ride, It’s preference is to surprise you. It is GOOD to know what you prefer – just in case !! And to always value the surprises !!

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, thank you for those metaphysical reassurances. I actually wrote this with kind of a twinkle in my eye because it seems so funny the way our minds can carry on. The minds so often think they’re the ones directing the show, don’t they?

      Also, like you, I wouldn’t want my family to suffer with their wife/mama losing her faculties. That seems like it would be the hardest part, to see one’s loved one going downhill.

      As for seeing Buddha reflected in the bear’s shining eyes…ha ha!…I would in actuality probably be running in the opposite direction. (Unless of course if it was during a quiet meditation in the woods. Will never forget seeing Buddha reflected in that snake’s eyes while meditating in the basement several years ago. And then screaming, forgetting all about Buddha! The look at that poor snake’s face. Darn that scream.)

      Sorry it’s taken a whole week to respond to your lovely comment. I simply don’t know why that happens sometimes. Hugs…

  11. jeffstroud says:

    To articulate our thoughts into words and then into actions or experiences is the reason we discuss them here on blogs or have heart to heart conversations with friends who understand. I have come to understand that we are radiant to others who we come in contact too yet many times we are not aware of the projection on the world even though that is how we desired to show up.

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, you do understand how blogging can so help us process our thoughts and feelings. And how others can sometimes see our radiance when we’re blind or unaware to it. Thanks for reading and understanding. *hugs*

  12. Karen says:

    I do hope your life is an you envision and is happy through and through…that is what is wish for you in the New Year.

    • Kathy says:

      Karen, that’s a lovely New Year’s wish. Learning to “sit in the scary woods of the mind” is what seems to allow the happiness to blossom throughout the year. Thanks for your well wishes!

  13. Truly lyrical post. Hope your 2017 has been off to a wonderful start!

  14. I Wilkerson says:

    Yes, you don’t want to toy with the universe Kathy. Lovely to hear from you again!

    • Kathy says:

      Tee hee, Inger. I was laughing while writing this! Thanks for stopping by, Inger. Hope you’re continuing to create many beautiful meals. And enjoying this latest warm spell!

  15. A beautiful thoughtful post

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you so much. I love your name: a thousand bits of paper. Very evocative.

      • Hi Kathy – thanks – the name refers to both all the books I’ve read and all the things I am writing (and all the lists I make for creativity and work and ….in the end we are what we do, I’m just a thousand bits of paper – but I’m a Kathryn too – as you may be too by your name – I get Kate though 😊, thanks for stopping by your blog is wonderful Val from A Quiet Place put me on to you I think, glad she did.

  16. V K Browne says:

    Loved reading this. And the pictures are gorgeous. 🙂

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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