All In Time

As many of you know I struggle with Parkinson’s disease. In the years since my diagnoses so much has changed either because of me or in spite of me… work, moving, kids, meeting new friends and renewing old ones. Never was I one to try and deny my circumstances for it was cathartic just to know this is what ails me, now what can I do. Sure I tried to conceal my tremors and the way I walked but time has a way of liberating all secrets. In the guise of this generative, physical and cognitive condition I do battle with the dragon time and time again for time comes to the aid of every decision under heaven, be it an angel in heaven or devil in hell. There is much truth in this as Perceval and the ailing Fisher King, seeking the question, “what ails you, Sir, what ails you”? Compassion flowering the good earth. Perhaps it is also a bit like Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “man must not distance his brotherhood even with the worse of men.” For sometimes your the dragon and sometimes not.

copyright jc2019-9… images by pixabee

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Sail On

My sails catch wind from inhospitable surroundings into darkened waters. And to see any light only intends to surround me with more darkness. It is in this velvet serenity that at times I feel most at home. Give me the bare shadow of a new moon or the slight crescent of the bull moon so not to take away from the seemingly contradictory warmth of a dark cold night. I visit this place often and its focus is always on a new understanding, a perception different from the previous stay but somehow the same in its approach to life and love.

©jc2019-9… Images by Picsabee …

Song of the City and the River

In the heart of the night, In the cool falling rain, There’s a full moon in sight, Shining down on the Ponchartrain, And the river she rises, Just like she use to do, She’s so full of surprises, She reminds me of you, In the heart of the night Down in New Orleans. -Paul Cotton

I was born in the city of New Orléans or maybe the proper wording is, ‘the city was born in me.’ For biology and geography do not always equate to the affections one may have with this city by the Mississippi River. However, this is the only hypothesis that offers any explanation to why a person born far from this storied land experiences an acute scene of being ‘one’ with the area while others born into it leave; never to return.

There is a love, hate relationship with the city and its environment and the rest of the world. If ask my place of birth, eyes will light up with enthusiasm or withdraw in contempt. Both the interest and scorn associated with the amount of decadence and corruption New Orléans is infamous for. But this is only part of the story, as there exist a multitude of reasons to love or hate this place I call home and the clues lie within the cadence of the various personalities and the history that makes up this hallowed ground and how they unite into one symphony.

To get the full gist of my birth city, one needs to understand the character of the populace influenced by the geography of the area. How the passing of time from one generation to the next along with the constant ebbing and surging issuing forth from the Mississippi River through the centuries have affected the ethos of the culture, a culture rich in the hardships and miracles of life and the ability to say yes to living and to dying. The city is synonymous with the river and in many ways one born or moved to the environs of southeast Louisiana is forever influenced by the river and its lore. Hardly a day goes by that its force is not felt in one situation or another.

There exist a tug of war within my heart when I moved away years ago that never quite subsides. To stay can leave a person without direction wandering aimlessly in a desolate wasteland of his or her own making. To leave can haunt your soul, for a part of you is gone, never to return the same. Whether you stay or leave, a balance is required and the ability to pay homage to the mighty river and its city is of necessity. When I moved away I soon came to appreciate and love my place of birth all the while knowing I could never have stayed or could I ever move back. We each needed distance from each other, so in time we’d learn to love and respect one another.

There are many gods and demons in this land, and each one must be dealt a hand and given its due. They intersect, sometimes in harmony, other times in hostility. They come from every direction; from the Catholic Church to Voodoo rituals passed on from Haitian immigrants and influenced by each subsequent nationality that has come to call this land home; Spanish, French, English, Irish, Creole, Cajun, Native American, African, German and so on. So we light our candles, make the sign of the cross in front of every church, and buy our voodoo dolls… we dress up for Mardi Gras, go to confession on Ash Wednesday, fast for the 40 days of Lent and do it all over again after Easter, all to live in an uneasy peace with ourselves.

The French explorer, La Salle claimed the river and the land drained by its waters for France in 1682. The land named Louisiana after King Louis XIV while the river retained the French pronunciation of the Native American word, Misi sipi meaning “big water”, a dialect of the Algonquin language group comprising such tribes as the Ojibwa, Fox, Cheyenne, Cree and the Algonquin. The Lakota referred to the river as the “Grandfather of all Rivers”.

For La Salle, the Native Americans, and all who have seen the river and sense its greatness as it meanders down from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, some 2,340 miles, one is easily humbled by its grandeur. In numeric terms, it is staggering. If you judge the distance to the headwaters of its longest tributary, the Missouri River, the distance is 5,970 miles. At its birth, the river is twelve feet in width and only one and a half feet deep, a mere child; and as it gathers age on its long trek south the river is 3000 to 5000 feet wide with a depth of nine to twelve feet; a venerable respected elder.

About 593,000 cubic feet of water discharged every second, the sixth largest expulsion of water in the world. With its numerous tributaries, comprising other predominate rivers as the Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and the Arkansas rivers, about 1,150,000 square miles of land drained, the largest in North America as far as land mass concerned and the third largest in the world.

This consensus of water is a spiritual one, the godhead of waters. Orthodox, secular, and metaphysical, it knows no prejudice to any creed or dogma. Hence the nicknames, Father of Waters or Old Man River…..

When I was younger, many nights I sat by the levee staring out at the expanse of water down from the crescent in the river across from Jackson Square. Sometimes I would ride the Algiers ferry over to the west bank. In my imagination, I saw the entanglement of river, land and city reminding me of the big and little dipper and the North Star. The river is Ursa Major, the Missouri and Ohio Rivers are Alfa and Beta, the Gulf of Mexico is Ursa Minor and the shining jewel of New Orléans, Polaris. It became a constellation, always there to guide me wherever I lay my hat.

©jc2019-9…. Image by Pixabay

Hawthorne’s Chamber

The following passage is found in the notebooks of Nathaniel Hawthorne, dated Salem, October 4, 1836, Union Street. To me, it speaks volumes about the human heart and its longing that is every bit as important today as it was then. But what is most enchanting is it allows me to converse with the past as though Nathaniel was sitting right here, at this moment. It is the written word which allows this sublime bit of magic to take place. Every time we open a book or write a letter to someone, we are emulating the philosopher’s long conversation across the miles.

I often come back to this passage time and time again when I’m in need of guidance or should I say, a jewel on the road to awareness. I hope it leaves you with as much encouragement as it has me.

Best Regards, JC

Here I sit in my accustomed chamber, where I used to sit in days gone by… Here I have written many tales, many which have burned to ashes, many which have doubtless deserved the same fate. This claims to be called a haunted chamber, for thousands upon thousands of visions have appeared to me in it; and some few of them have become visible to the world. If ever I should have a biographer, he ought to make great mention of this chamber in my memoirs, because so much of my lonely youth was wasted here, and here my mind and character were formed; and here I have been glad and hopeful and here I have been despondent. And here I sat a long, long time, waiting patiently for the world to know me, and sometimes wondering why it did not know me sooner, or whether it would ever know me at all, at least, till I was in my grave. And sometimes it seemed as if I were already in the grave, with only life enough to be chilled and benumbed. But oftener I was happy, at least, as happy as I then knew to be, or was aware of the possibility of being.

By and by the world found me in my lonely chamber, and called me forth, not, indeed, with a loud roar of acclamation, but rather still, small voices, and forth I went, but found nothing in the world that I thought preferable to my old solitude till now… And now I begin to understand why I was imprisoned so many years in this lonely chamber and why I could never break through the viewless bolts and bars; for if I had sooner made my escape into the world, I would have grown hard and rough, and been covered with earthly dust, and my heart might have become callous by rude encounters with the multitudes… But living in solitude till the fullness of time has come, I still kept the dew of my youth and the freshness of my heart… I used to think I could imagine all passions, all feelings, and states of the heart and mind; but how little did I know! Indeed, we are but shadows; we are not endowed with real life, and that which seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream, till the heart be touched. That touch creates us, then we begin to be, thereby we are beings of reality and inheritors of eternity.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

©jc2019-9

*Images courtesy of Pixabay

Vishnu’s Dream

Once upon a dream in a time not long ago while sailing the dark silent sea in the vicinity of the constellation Crux which harbors the Southern Cross, our pilgrim found himself immersed in unwritten words, wordless readings, and silent teachings, for he now understood that nature is the true teacher in all of our ways of understanding words. The true understanding of what he read enveloped and afforded him the real test of insight, what he called intuition, instinct, a sixth sense.

The stuff of the mind can be calm in one instance and treatuous in another just like the river, beneath the surface, are rip currents wanting to pull the flow of water under into opposite directions much like the way the currents in the mind work. Indeed some drown in these waters never to be heard from again while others embrace themselves in timeless fluidity.

And where do we go next oh great ocean? Will we find our Pilgrim circumnavigating just as assuredly as brave Magellan did in days of old? Why none other than the cosmic ocean the same one where Vishnu dreams the universe into being for isn’t that what we’re doing, dreaming our lives into being. So we set sail in a boat made of dreams through an ocean made of stardust to the other shore as the backdrop of our lives slowly disappears into oblivion and the next adventure unfolds.

September

As fields of green grass, cover my feet, I place nine rows of nine candles…surrounding a circle of nine candles not unlike the wheels of a bicycle. Flowers grow from the center, and more grow from the adjacent rows of nine for all paths congregate at the center. And the act of lighting these candles is enough to move the very fabric of the universe and all who conspire in that endeavor… they are sacred to my eyes and in the name of love for all who travel this road.

For many love and mindfulness arrive courtesy of September, the ninth month, the month of Virgo, the virgin queen. She is the month of shine courtesy of Vulcan, the god of fire and the forge. Vulcan may be at fault for the abundance of fire on earth in September… from the hearth to natural disasters such as volcanoes and the fires of industry, but most of all Volcans real work is burning off all the negative aspects of personalities and egos of humankind. We see this when Isis disguised as a maid takes a child into the hearth and holds it to the fire.

One must do diligence in this kind of work. Whether chasing angels in Appalachia, lighting St. Elmo’s fire on the open seas or painting the rainbow, one must be quick as Pan and stealth as Mercury. Still, other jobs require a special lightness to the touch and an understanding of symbols like Om with the silent syllable or Shiva dancing in a circle of flames. Everything points to something else and that is the true magic.   

So I am mindful of the sacred order of things in the cosmos, heaven, and earth. I feel like a thief in the night except I’m leaving more than I came with. Again that is the trick as I am the true jester bringing one to a deeper understanding of themselves by way of the true sorcery at the threshold of silliness which lies dormant within each of us until we wake it up with the keys to our imagination pressed firmly in our hands.

©jc2019-9

song of amergin

In A Dark Wood…Shunngmanitu Thanka

The Lakota say that it is not uncommon
To hear something calling your name
In the stillness of a dark moonless night.
This is ‘shungmanitu thanka‘, the Great Wolf.

One night our pilgrim found himself walking deep in a dark wood; overhead a new moon disguised as its shadow self-juxtaposed to an array of stars, as the sound of spent leaves crushed underfoot sounded in the autumnal air. It seemed as though the wind was guiding him towards an expected destination as he found himself facing Sirius, the Dog Star. At this moment, his vision caught sight of a light moving swiftly in front of him in the shadows of an oak grove. Like a slow waxing moon, a white wolf appeared before his eyes lending a radiant glow to the maze of yellow, red, and green on the forest floor.

In silence, it’s believed
As though shouted
From the highest mountain
That this seer has witnessed
A vision and is in store
For a special kind of teaching.

“Through an open window in a thicket of shrubs, I saw his head turn up toward the dark velvet sky, and howl into the thin air, moving his head from left to right and back again. It was mournful and very moving like he was self-contained in a certain kind of grief reserved for a departed lover. We both sat there at a distance, careful not to startle the other, a meeting of heart and soul… a revival. And on the 3rd day, we took leave of each other, disappearing as suddenly as he came, I walked away embracing a deeper understanding of life, love, and compassion.”

The White Wolf, a native to Tibet is a spiritual presence in the Himalayas. Native Americans call on him as a teacher and pathfinders to unmapped territories of the forest and uncharted areas of the soul. Sirius, the dog star of the constellation Canis Major, home of the ancients, is his symbol, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is, in reality, two stars seen as one from its proximity to the Earth. Because of its binary nature, it represents the paradoxical nature of life.

The Pilgrim on his path is like a Lone Wolf, he’s not of a pack, he seeks knowledge for knowledge sake. It is not important to the wolf or the pilgrim if one or a thousand hear his meditations in the night. In his indifference to fame and fortune, only a few may hear his prayers, but as a pebble splash on the surface of a pond, vibrations will echo in these waters until the end of time.

©jc2019-9… Images by Pixabay

Peace In Your Life

“Is there a difference between happiness and inner peace? Yes. Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.” -Eckhart Tolle

One day not too long ago, a friend of mine, disgruntled about her lot in life said to me and I quote, ‘If I’d only find peace in my life then I know I’d be happy.” I thought about this for a while and suggested that peace and happiness have nothing to do with each other as one is not inclusive of the other.

Peace is being able to sit in the storm of life and be tranquil in the face of adversity or good fortune. This doesn’t mean a lack of feeling, for we are emotional beings, but a certain calmness that emulates from within no matter what colors give expression to each moment. This allows for the faith which goes hand in hand bringing harmony to our existence. And notice it’s not only the tough situations where we need to strive for peace. Joyous occasions can lead to stress and a lack thereof. The storm is the metaphor for life and all its circumstances.

Peace isn’t the absence of challenge in your life. It’s grasping the currents that sail forth out of the darkness of our own thinking thus sailing into calm waters.

©jc2019-9… Images by Pixabay


Mr. Parkinson, Walking Man

Moving in quiet desperation, Keeping an eye on the holy land, A hypothetical destination, Say who is this walking man. -James Taylor

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything about Parkinson’s disease for this blog. Can you beleive it’s been 6 years that I was diagnosed! My page on PD has a complete list of post consecutively written almost as fast as changes were occurring in real time in my life. Thank you for reading those early writings for they make up the heart and soul of this blog. As for as I’m concerned, my personal goal in writing is to always leave the reader with words more positive than when they started reading. For what is life if not to lift us, one and another to all that heaven will allow.

Having PD can result in numerous conditions the body must cope with. Since Parkinson’s is an absence of dopamine in the body and dopamine is used everywhere in the body thus no two shades of the disease are ever totally the same physically and mentally. And symptoms can show up any day or take years to develop.

I became aware of Parkinson’s when my right hand began to shake violently, an effect called tremor. Drugs were’sable to control it. What keeps me occupied at this particular junction is the ability to walk or a lack of it as it was before my body becomes stiff. Now loosening the body is every day, a day-long practice. These exercises are like medicine since my abilities with my legs and feet have seriously been compromised. My feet shuffle along as I balance myself with a cane. It requires constant mindfulness to walk like a normal person, so mindfulness is more than just a Buddhist practice to me, it is the ability to walk. Yes, like what is normal for me.

There is one person I’m especially indebted to who is practically rewriting the book on walking with Parkinson’s and that is my physical therapist. She rocks, Thanks…jc

©jc2019-9… Image by Pixabay

Ligeia

Anyone who has read Edgar Allan Poe can attest to his use of the English language to convey beauty as poignant and surreal to whatever situation life may reveal. His sense of the macabre is elegant and alluring, so much so that we see ourselves as the very target of ethereal forces at work.

The story of ‘Ligeia’ represents Poe’s fascination with love and the occult, the hidden side of life not often visited but which can unexpectedly manifest itself into the realm of the living. Love is enchanting at first and then assembles a castle of obsession. This theme is well represented in the very name of ‘Ligeia’, which borrows heavily from its origins as one of the Sirens in Greek mythology enticing sailors with alluring melodies and enchanted singing, causing blind obsession for the hypnotic sounds as the victims sail closer and closer, only to fall off the cliffs and drown.

Poe undoubtedly had the same theme in mind when he wrote the story of Ligeia. But instead of water, the act of drowning is a sea of love shrouded in infatuation so deep it transgresses the grave.

The story revolves around a quote from a certain Joseph Glanville as stated in part below:
“For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”
In the author’s consideration, man lacks the will to conquer death… if only he had the strength of will.

He recalls her features qualifying that they weren’t in the classical sense. In fact, he could never pin down her attributes except to say her eyes which he describes as large, dark, orbs reminding him of the twin stars of Leda.

Ligeia though outwardly calm and introverted… her beauty hides a passionate yearning for life which shows itself by way of her eyes. Being well-educated she is endearing to the narrator and in the following passage, he eagerly sings her praises…

…I said her knowledge was such, as I had never known in a woman. Where breathes the man who, like her, has traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, natural, and mathematical science? I saw not then what I now clearly perceive, that the acquisitions of Ligeia were gigantic, were astounding–yet I was sufficiently aware of her infinite supremacy to resign myself, with a childlike confidence, to her guidance through the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage. With how vast a triumph–with how vivid a delight–with how much of all that is ethereal in hope–did I feel, as she bent over me, in studies but little sought for–but less known that delicious vista by slow but very perceptible degrees expanding before me, down whose long, gorgeous, and all untrodden path I might at length pass onward to the goal of a wisdom to divinely precious not to be forbidden!
…Her presence, her readings alone, rendered vividly luminous the many mysteries of the transcendentalism in which we were immersed.

Here you can perceive the hypnotic effect of love and infatuation bordering on insanity which the narrator clings to. One will either drown in these waters; emerged in the throes of psychosis or obtain bliss so celebrated that men will commit untold crimes to achieve it. But whatever course is taken, life is never the same.

In her illness, Ligeia became infatuated with a poem she wrote asking if God allows people to beat death and the conquering worm. She also repeats Glanville’s quote on mans’ feeble will to overcome death, repeating it until she finally succumbs.

To overcome his grief, the narrator marries again, this time to the Lady Rowena. It becomes clear that she marries him for his money as she and her family detest him and his opium hallucinations where he calls out Ligeia’s name.

For the next few months, the Lady Rowena is overcome with repeated illness’ as doctors are unable to come to any conclusions. She continuously sees and hears things that aren’t there; noises by the draperies, footsteps on the carpet, wine being poured into her glass. The narrator often intoxicated is haunted by the same phenomenon; never assure of what he is seeing.

When she passes, she lays in repose wrapped in a shroud; the narrator watches the body through the night. Still intoxicated with Ligeia weighing heavy on his mind he sees the Lady Rowena’s lips move and color in her cheeks, he tries to revive her only for the body to turn cold once again, this happens repeatedly. Finally, the body sits up, gets out of bed, the shroud falls down and the narrator looks into the dark luminous eyes of his beloved Ligeia.

In this story at first love is in response to, physical beauty, harmonious companionship, and knowledge? These themes remain relevant and of first importance but then loves become synonymous with a desire to cheat death, for eternal youth and immortality. And the only way one can attain these are through the false inflections of insanity and intoxication which reveals itself in desperate acts.

Or is it? Maybe the story is more like a myth that dances to the truth although it seems bizarre in our limited view? Who are we to argue with the ties that bind beyond the veil, that the unconscious mind is capable of willing life to resuscitate itself for the sake of love not lived out to its natural completion? This thought is of such horror that it is inexplicable to the ordinary mind, but what of the brokenhearted whose mental functioning is unbalanced because of such anguish?

However, can it be that the story’s theme of life beyond death is as simple as the gift of memory, which death cannot destroy? This resuscitates the spiritual proverb that we are all ‘one’ in the metaphysical sense. Love is of the universe so it lives on and this ability allows one to see the ‘other’ in everything. But one has to admit; with Poe, this can also play to our worse devils if allowed.

Whether you read the story as one of unwavering, love and devotion; as a supernatural tale of life’s triumph over death or in the spiritual sense; it is a testament to Poe’s affirmation for beauty and death, as poetry with a heavy dose of ‘lunacy beyond reason’ thrown in.

©jc2019-9