Posts Tagged ‘story’

the presence of imaginary enemies

December 15, 2010

Far too long ago, I wrote about the voices in my head . . . okay, it was 10 days ago. Life these days is draining my mental and emotional energy leaving very few synapses who willingly want to connect to make a complete sentence.

I have chosen to pay attention to these life moments because the people involved are important to me. I am doing what I can to support my family members who are in crisis. I am letting the voices in my head do some of their thinking for them because they are so deep in their worry and anxiety they can barely see past the next moment and when they try, life is full of imaginary enemies out to get them.

Those enemies (such as being homeless and foodless) are very real when they occur, but up until that moment, they exist only in our heads. Their threat can bring about this sort of inertia where the only thing people can focus on is what is lacking in life . . . what they don’t have. What they don’t have leads to the story of what will happen next and that is usually not a very good place. I keep reminding them that they have family and friends who are supportive of them, but we don’t want to rescue them. We want them to be safely employed and securely housed and my energy is devoted to helping them see the paths they can take to get themselves there.

This experience has caused me to pay attention to my own imaginary enemies . . . the stories I create about what will happen next because of what is happening now. Once I create the story and believe it, the story becomes my enemy because I will not be able to see a different story. The story can be very positive – great and wonderful things happen to me! But it can also be my imaginary enemy if the story is founded in magical thinking or if it ignores the reality of my present situation. A terrible story that does not end well for me can also be my enemy because it takes away my ability to see opportunities in my present that would change my imaginary outcome.

I think the key is to become aware of how I want my life to look and feel like, keep that picture inside my mind and those feelings in my heart, and do what is possible for me in this moment to support that result.

I can write the story another day.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass


The presence of transformation

November 22, 2010

Lately, most everything I have been reading sounds like I have read it before . . . much of it numerous times. The subjects are the same. The writers are rehashing old materials, adding a new twisty phrase or a personal glimpse. That might make the piece more interesting, but it is still the same story. I know that many of us need to hear the same message over and over and over in their endless variations before we finally hear the message and then hear it some more before we finally apply the message to our lives. What I want to know is: where are the new messages?

I’ve heard it said that every thought that could possibly be had has already been thought of before and now all we are doing is thinking the same thoughts over and over again but just saying them in different ways. I am not quite sure I believe this because I doubt that anyone would have thought to “Google” something or perform a face transplant before the year 2000.

Except . . . they would have used their own time’s equivalent of search and repair or transformation.

We are telling the same stories over and over, with the same themes and having the same results. What we need are transformational stories . . . the kind with messages that make us think of a different way of being in the world. These stories have to come from our eternal presence, the one who is practiced in the ways of transformation – the one who transformed from pure energy into the spirit within us.

I am seeking to write about ideas, concepts, realities, and fantasies that no one ever has before. I want to take my concepts of existence beyond what I know and realize in this moment and spill their guts out onto my computer screen. Some days my writing comes fast and easy and knobby startling little phrases drop out of my head and into my fingers effortlessly.

Other days, I have a head of concrete with all sorts of disorganized ideas stuck in slow motion. How do I jackhammer this cement to free those ideas so they can co-mingle and become one coherent bolus of information and inspiration? Do I have to wait for the weather of time to wear it down slowly with its scorching suns, freezer-burn cold, and hurricane winds?

There must be a kinder, gentler way to free these thoughts stuck in the concrete of my brain’s neurons and synapses. Waiting for transformation is like waiting for inspiration – an exercise of the desperately lazy.

Transformation is not looking for a place to happen, but the story is waiting to be written. It is in the writing of the story that transformation occurs.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of meaning

October 29, 2010

We all tell ourselves stories – about everything: ourselves, other people, what others are thinking. Our stories all have morals to them, too. We give meaning to events. Events by themselves have no meaning. We ascribe meaning to them. We say “this happened and that means I am and/or others are (fill in the blank).” We even pronounce judgment upon our own thoughts and feelings that resulted from the event.

As I am meandering (and occasionally stumbling and downright falling on my ass) down the pathway of the past and not quite forgotten memories, I will come upon an incident that occurred over 40 years ago and still be able to recall the details including what was said and done, what I felt at the time, and what I was thinking. I also recall the meanings that I branded upon that incident, my thoughts, and my feelings. I can even recreate the feelings as well as think those same thoughts again. If I hang with the memory just a little while longer, I also discover the decisions that I made in those moments about how I was going to be from now on.

It is not a shock to discover that I am still living out those decisions over 40 years later.

It does not surprise me that when I think about changing a decision, I feel just a tad bit threatened and scared. After all, the child I was then made those decisions to survive the circumstances she was powerless over and remain as emotionally and mentally intact as she could. Now, looking back, I watch the child I was give myself a meaning based on what other people said or did even though clearly at the time my initial thoughts were, “that’s your problem.” I knew even as young as five years of age that what other people said and did was all about them, not me. But I gave meaning to that behavior. It meant I was responsible.

And, I took on responsibility for others because I had been told that my attitude was wrong, that I was making other people behave the way they did (all of us had adults who played this trick on us – remember the words “You make me so ________!”? They did that to manipulate us into behaving the way they wanted us to behave.)

This way of living pretty much strangled any growth of individuality. Instead, I became a puppet who thought she could rule the world if she just danced to everybody’s strings just the right way.

How nutty is that?

Let me reframe my nutty judgment. The skill and the insight are useful. I am living in a world where most of the population believes that other people control how they feel and, thus, what they do, including how they treat themselves and others. I know how to identify these people and thus limit my exposure to them. I appreciate the five-year-old in me who is wise enough to recognize the symptoms in others, and who took good care of herself way back then. At age five, she had neither the power nor the words to extricate herself from such people.

But now she does.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Past presence tense

May 16, 2010

The me of yesterday is still very much present today. Memories creep up on me, rapping softly at the back of my mind, saying “this is not quite resolved.” I watch the old reruns of life past with an apprehension I cannot quite name. I just know that I am disturbed by my recall of the event and wonder what it has to do with my present today.

My friend, Laurie, writes about the ripple-effect of our actions. I am acutely aware of how my journey brought me to this moment. And I know there are thousands of moments that are yet to come full circle. I remember past events and I think: can I change the past? No, I can’t change the event.

But, I can change my perception of that event.

And, I can tell a different story around the meaning of that event.

Or, I can remove any meaning I have attached to that event.

My presence today has the advantage of distance. Today, I have the power to disengage reliving the event and simply observe it. I can remember the person I was during the event. I can notice my clenched jaw, my hands curling into fists, and the shallowness of my breathing. I can give my past self permission to breathe and relax while watching the memory. I can listen to the story I tell my past self about the event and suggest alternative stories . . . or no story at all. Changing any part of the story changes it meaning, but I have also noticed that meaning sometimes just evaporates.

By engaging the past with presence and awareness, I can address the present realizing I can make these same choices now about perception, stories, and meaning. In this way, I can be more in charge of my “ripple effect” and not get knocked out by the boomerang.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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

Superficial presence

April 21, 2010

Sometimes, I have imaginary arguments with people where I put thoughts into their heads and then I get angry with the way they are thinking and their attitudes. This usually happens right after someone has behaved in ways that I don’t like. I tell myself a story like: “he did that because he is self-centered, never thinks of anyone else, is lazy, thinks that he can just do what he wants no matter how it affects anyone else  . . .” and on and on and on until I am righteously and superiorly justifiably angry because we all know that I am perfect and never do anything that negatively impacts another. I am always thinking about others. I am all about other people. At least that’s my side of the story.

If you have been following these blogs, you know that my true motivation behind always thinking of others is that I have been programmed to do that so that I can get something from them.

When I confront people with my suspicions/accusations about how they are in the world, I realize that most of the times . . . well, okay, ALL the time they are unconscious and unaware of my interpretation of them and their behavior. They really had no clue. Imagine that.

People might change their behavior and they might not. I have no control over that. The only thing I can do is be in charge of how I respond to their behavior and who they are. I can either create a story in my head about them based upon their superficial behavior or I can let go of the story and bring my true presence to the moment.

If I only bring my superficial personality to the party, the only guests who will show up are the superficial personalities in others. There is an eternal presence in others—a presence who came here to unfold and become just as I did. If I let go of the story and my own superficial perfection, the silence opens up a space to connect with another’s true presence.

I wonder who I will find.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of imperfection

April 14, 2010

Imperfections saturate my world. My imagination creates the perfect world – how life is supposed to be – and I constantly compare the story in my head to the story unfolding that is my actual life and experience.

Life is always better in my head. If I am not mindful and careful of the stories I tell myself about what is right and wrong about my life, I will always be unhappy, dissatisfied, frustrated, and alone.

Living from the basis of a dual nature (right/wrong, good/bad) leaves me no room to find the perfection in what truly exists, including myself. There are obvious circumstances that are non-negotiable such as purposefully harming another human being with the intent to hurt them, but even that becomes negotiable if I am fighting for my life or the lives of my loved ones. Most of life consists of compromises and acceptance. Even if I were to find the perfection that lives in my imagination, its life expectancy is about a nanosecond.

Each moment is the perfect unfolding of my life. It is my intent to live as my true presence that sets the stage for that unfolding. So I must ask myself each morning: how will I bring my presence to life today?

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of story

April 12, 2010

Lately, I have had the feeling that I am running out of time.

At least, that’s the story I have been telling myself.

Joseph Campbell’s words “Eternity doesn’t start when you die. You’re in it now” remind me that I am always in the eternal now. Time is the unending unraveling of the universe and the constant movement of energies. Time is the coming together of energies and the eventual dissolution of those energies.

I am mindful of the fact that the cohesion of the molecules I call my physical body can end at any time. And I often feel as if I am wasting this opportunity because I am imagining that I am not doing all of the things I should be doing. I feel as if I am very far behind in becoming all of the presence that I should be.

Yesterday, I wrote about listening to the story within me. Today, I am mindful of where the story may be coming from. And, I need to be aware that part of my lesson in this existence is learning about bringing my true presence to life. To do this, I need to face the stories within me and find out if they are true or if they are just something someone told me about myself a long time ago.

Don Miguel Ruiz begins book, The Four Agreements, talking about the presence of story within all of us and how we design our lives to make those stories become our lives. We live out the stories other people have told us about ourselves. We live life because someone told us “this is how life is” and we believed that person and continue to recreate that reality over and over again.

Ruiz goes on to discuss how powerful our words are and the stories they create. Words create lives. Words destroy lives. Today, I will be mindful of how my stories are creating or destroying my life.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Listen to the story

April 11, 2010

We all need to tell our story.

I wake up all the time with stories about the earth, people, events, animals, the great beyond. I am not clever enough to think of this stuff on my own. I know they gotta be coming from somewhere.

Sometimes, I am just driving to work listening to music and BANG — there is this story idea or an essay that starts unraveling in my head and it is all I can do to not stop right there in the middle of the road and start writing it down. Other times, it happens when I am walking in the woods close to where I live (at least then I am smart enough to carry a pen and notepad with me). While I don’t drive mindlessly, my route is so well-known to me that I am autopilot much of the time. The same occurs during my walk in the woods. Some part of my brain becomes free to receive, imagine, and play.

I think (and I have had concurrence from my friends on this) that it is Spirit, the One, the whole that we all are, talking to me. I don’t think these are all just my stories and ideas. I feel connected with a spirit, a source that is more than just me when I am writing. I feel that someone “out there” is waiting to read what I write. Just like I read what other people write and get that little light bulb in the head effect or realize some ultimate truth within myself in another person’s words, I could be that channel for others, too.

I get a feeling that something wants to be said and needs my hand to say it. I think that is the presence of Spirit asking to be heard. You’ve been hearing Spirit, too, and are acting on it, which makes it doubly important to listen. Written words allow us a special connection to each other. The written word lasts much longer than the spoken word and can always be revisited and reinterpreted. The spoken word tells a story that may not ever be undone. There is no way to recapture words spoken. They are out there to tell their story. The written word allows us time to pause in telling our stories, to stop and actually listen to the story we are telling so that we can tell it in the spirit it is intended. If you ever start telling yourself a story in your head, stop and write it down. Then examine it for the message Spirit is giving you.  

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of fear

April 2, 2010

 The presence of fear is an indicator of something I need to pay attention to. It is my response to fear and defining it as “good” or “bad” that often determines my actions.  Shakespeare (Hamlet) comes to mind – “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Like all of our emotions, fear is necessary to our survival. Being afraid of people with loaded weapons, for example, is healthy because I will stay alive longer if I fear and avoid them. There are rational fears that I need to pay attention to because they indicate situations that might result in harm to me (such as reckless drivers, bottomless drops off of cliffs, the guy who has been married and divorced — worse: widowed — five times, and my cat when I have forgotten to feed her . . .

There are irrational fears . . . some people call them phobias. Fear of water, fear of open places, fear of closed places . . . there is a phobia for just about anything (check out

Then, there is the fear of living, of being truly alive. It is not on the phobia list. I checked. Some of us are afraid to be truly alive because we anticipate something bad might happen to us. You have to listen to the fear story you are telling yourself. All fear stories have a plot that exists somewhere in future time. The story will cause you to doubt yourself and think that you are less than you are.

Regardless of what scares me, I find two very important things give me comfort: first, I can always act and take care of myself in spite of my fear; second, I was born with everything I need to endure, resolve, cope, heal, be, defend, and continue. My certainty that I will continue to exist eternally sustains me. This is true for you, too.

Every moment beyond this one . . . and this one . . . and this one . . . (you get the idea) is unknown. There is only the eternal present. Because I have a past, a history, a body of knowledge of dealing with all the unknowns I have encountered, and I have successfully lived through those moments (as have you), I know that I have everything I need to deal with the unknown even if I don’t know how I might deal with it right now.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass