Posts Tagged ‘outcome’

A witness presence

November 2, 2010

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a shamanic workshop about dreams and discovered all sorts of ways to remember dreams, interpret dreams, find resolution, and use dreams to heal ourselves and others. One of these methods involved helping someone complete or finish with a nightmare or a bad dream.

One woman volunteered a nightmare where she was being chased by two men in a house. In the dream, they never find her but she is also unable to find her way out. And she is tremendously frightened and scared. The group reenacted this dream for her with two of the men serving as the chasers and the rest of us forming the walls and rooms of the house.

We completed the exercise with an emotional climax, not just for the woman and the two people chasing her but for those of us who stood as witness to her frantic scurry as she dodged through imaginary doors and hid behind the walls we represented. We heard her breath coming in quiet, rasping gasps. Each and every one of us who was the house admitted afterwards that none of us wanted those men to find her. We resisted the urge to adjust our walls or form doors where there were none. After all, the house did not do that in the dream. Yet, our human spirit could not stand idly by without responding to her predicament and our helplessness.

That is both the blessing and the curse of being a witness: watching without intervening. We witness joyous events, soaking in the pleasure. We also witness events of great sadness and destruction. We are helpless in both circumstances to control the outcomes

Some say that just the act of watching changes the circumstances . . . that if we were not there to act as witness, the outcome would have been different. Our standing as witness walls while the woman completed her nightmare helped her resolve the fear and end the dream.

There is witness presence all around us. It permeates the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the clothes we make, the homes we live in. I believe this presence is not benignly neutral. This presence supports us, provides us sustenance and safety. It wants us to live and live well.

As you go through your days, know that you are being watched, and think about what you want your witnesses to see.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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the presence of 9/11

September 11, 2010

I’ve learned that when a piece of writing stirs me, I need to pay attention. The September 2010 issue of Science of Mind has a number of interesting articles, all of which simultaneously call to me. The one that jumps out at me today is prelude to a disagreement – not an outright argument because I don’t have the luxury of a live opponent – but rather an observation. I disagree with a statement made in one article is about a book ‒ From Cancer to Power ‒ written by its author.

For anyone who is dealing with cancer, the book sounds like it has some excellent guidance, except for one little bit of advice: the formula the author suggests for taking responsibility: E + R = O. This stands for Event plus Response equals Outcome. The author indicates that we are not always in control of what happens to us but because we are in control of how we respond, we can “therefore, control the outcome.”

What a pile of doo-doo.

I am thinking about the people who died on September 11, 2001. Many of them responded brilliantly and survived. Many of them responded brilliantly and did not survive. If survival was the desired outcome (and I am just assuming that it was), then a whole bunch of people did not respond the “right” way. I am not sure what the “right” way would have been for the people on the floors above the impact of the airplanes as there was no possible way to escape except to grow wings and fly. They were helpless, deeply submerged in a disaster that could not be undone.

Ditto for the people who were on the airplanes.

This simplistic solution for controlling our destinies has me a bit aggravated. I have not read the book, but I am hoping . . . a lot . . . that the author went on to define what she means by outcome. The implication of E + R = O is that if we respond in just the right way to each event, then we can control what happens next. That absolutely is not true and it sets people up for self-recrimination and blame when the outcome is not the one they had aimed for. That this idea is planted in a book whose audience is people dealing with cancer scares me. The author battled cancer and survived, but her methods were just that: her methods. They worked for her. They may or may not work for other people. None of us can ever know what life is like inside another person’s experience.

Control is an illusion. The only outcome we can truly control through our response is how we behave.

Not knowing

April 22, 2010

Giving up the story means I need to deal with not knowing . . . accepting that I don’t know what will happen next.

There are a lot of physical predictable outcomes in life. Poking at a fire with my finger will pretty much guarantee that I will get burned. If I don’t put gas in my car, it will stop running. Every single body alive on earth right now will eventually die. No amount of story-telling will change any of these (I am still bewildered about American’s death-denying belief system and the pursuit of living here forever – do you REALLY want to?)

Anyway, I digress. We need our predictable realities. There has to be some dependable support structure around us because the outcome of everything else is a moving target.

I have a plan today of what will happen, and all of my efforts will be focused on executing the plan. The problem is I can’t guarantee that my day will unfold as I plan. I really don’t know. Better for me is to set my intent of how I want today to feel (alive, joyous, peaceful) and be willing to accept what comes my way to fulfill that intent.

A friend of mine pointed out that many people would qualify/label the feeling of not knowing as insecurity. His definition is that not knowing is the ability we have to experience a truer, or natural, state of our lives. He sent me to the Rumi poem “Zero Circle.” The poem opens with:
Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.

My interpretation is that in allowing ourselves to not know, we will find ourselves. As my time here on earth increases, I find that I know less and less, but I gain more wisdom in knowing that I don’t know. My goal has become one of discovering everything it is that I don’t know, and being willing to accept the path that takes me there.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The disappearing outcome

April 20, 2010

Sometimes, I get a little too attached to the Land of Supposed To Be.

Okay, not just sometimes . . . a lot of the time.

Through the stories I tell myself about what reality is supposed to look like, I create a story about outcomes – how life is supposed to be. And I really cannot be blamed for having this attachment. After all, I was programmed from birth to have expectations. It doesn’t help that nature does what it is supposed to do: water does what water is supposed to do, animal behavior is fairly predictable, trees and grass and flowers all respect their cycles of growth and dormancy. There is a certain stability and logic to our environment that allows humans to depend on specific outcomes.

Nature also limits the predictability of human life. I can depend on certain outcomes in my life given the conditions of any environment. It suddenly makes sense to me why some people abandon civilization and go off to live alone in a backwoods cabin. Life becomes a more known quantity when I have removed variables I cannot control or predict (i.e., other people).

Lately, though, I have been letting go of the need to have a specific outcome to anything. I have become more conscious and aware of taking care of the moments in my life and my internal work has been to trust my intent to bring my presence to life. I cannot predict or control the outcome of being truly present and alive. I only know that I must honor that this path called to me and I chose to follow it. I don’t want to know how it ends or to try to imagine where it might take me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass