Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Space, the final frontier

This morning I've been thinking about trauma, sparked by reading Reb Michael Lerner. He posits that the Jewish people must be treated as victims of extreme trauma in dealing with the Palestinian crisis. In order to have peace the entire world should acknowledge the reason Israel was created (world guilt at allowing the Holocaust) and how her people react still today is deeply influenced by the Holocaust. He goes on to say that the Palestinians must completely denounce violence as a means to their goals, and then peace is possible. (Here is a link to his writings - I think you may have to scroll down to find this specific topic.)

I told a friend the other day that hording things is from trauma. How many of us know someone from the Depression who suffers from this affliction? I have it myself to some degree. There was the chaos of growing up in tenous times, with uncertainty. There are also the simple losses that come with moving alot, things getting away from us. There is the iron fist of financial crisis that begets hording. Then there was the depression that floated around... a curious link to my Grandmother's past.

Anyway, I'm continuing to clear out the clutter in my life - going deliberately through boxes, letting go of all sorts of things. Letting myself keep things I don't need, but can't yet release. There are even boxes that just overwhelm me. What to do with the nicknack things that have no real value but a few tendrils of memory?

I am proud of myself for making progress. Each morning I do a little cleaning, a little sorting and unpacking, and some writing if possible. All this is creating a lovely space.

Usually I plan what is most pressing to get done, and look at my progress on the big stuff - business, connecting.... then I forge ahead. But making space for my head first helps.

Today I started thinking about spaces. About space in general and specifically. Here are the dots I connected ... and the sitting in just 5 minutes of mediation helped. Getting up early also allowed me more space in my morning.

Relationships are about space - the space between us... and how we handle coming together and pulling apart, being apart. If we keep a clean space between us, then resentments don't tear down the connection. And if we allow things to come between us, work, money, family, children, hobbies, we are cluttering up that space. But if we tend that space, like a garden, then we get beautiful things out of it. We thrive, individually, but so does the garden, a sacred space.

In physics there is a lot of speculation about what is between atoms, molecules, neutrons, nutrinos... etc. In fact the theory that a ball can be bounced through a wall is all about the space between lining up, those atoms could just be in the right place (probability says) so that a solid object could pass through another solid object. Because in fact no thing is solid. We are made up - everything is made up of mostly space.

We all know that neurons fire in our brains, triggering stuff. We make connections to remember things, and if a massive brain injury impedes our ability to make connections, our lovely mysterious internal systems work together to re-route functions through other parts of our brains....

We need brain space.

We need space.

My need for these varies from day to day, but certainly dreams are a cool space to play around in. Not quite reality, but not quite fiction.... hmmm...

In learning a specific writing technique years ago we were taught to ask a simple question. I won't call it by it's "technical" name (probably copyrighted) but will tell you the question (and most of the method).

As you were writing, meditatively, if an interesting word came up, you would follow that sentence with the question, "What do I mean by _____?" and then proceed to answer the question. For instance, if I used the word "space" and it caught my interest, I'd finish that sentence, and then write: "What do I mean by space?"

This would often lead to deeper understanding of the surface material - in other words you can find information just below the surface of your conscious mind if you give yourself a small pause in your "normal" writing. Write write write, pause, then go there, go go go, submerged for a bit, maybe for a while, then write write write.... pause, go, go go....

I should rename it the Manatee Method :)

But the point is that there is value in the small space created. That is the entire point of asking a seemingly mundane question, "What do I mean by?"

Finally, there is a practice I follow that encourages us to "wait for your second thought". What this means, when applied in our daily lives, is simply give yourself a small beat to notice yourself.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, your first thought could be pissed off, adrenal, and perhaps strike back! But if you let that second thought rise up, you might remember that it's more important to be safe, that it isn't about you (it is their problem if they can't drive like a civilized human, are begging for a heart attack or are just dazed and confused) and you don't have to take it personally.

Again, we are back to the space having value.

I thought my last example would be the above, because I use those pauses all the time and find it enormously helpful to keep silent rather than react. (Responding is good. Reacting is bad, unless you're bleeding.)

But I thought of one more cool place where space matters. In baking, the holes that are created in a loaf are very important for the bread to be light and delicious. That over all texture, of bread and space or holes, is called the "crumb". I've delighted in examining the crumb of my loaves for years, but didn't know what to call it until just a few years ago. Without the holes, you get dense, heavy bread. (This is fine, as long as that is what you were shooting for. I can make bread like that, the kind that got our forbearers through long road trips.)But it's nice to be able to do light too.

Now I'm off to launch into space, my body and energy and new thoughts.
ps. Anyone seen the movie, Holes? Cool flick

I have to admit to trying the Oprah class last night. Partly I had to see if the technology would work (yes, the geek factor kicked in) and partly because I was interested in the topic, evolution.

The book is "A New Earth". I haven't read it - have to take this sort of stuff in small doses, or my cynical side will squash any and all value for me, before I give it a chance to rise, bread-metaphorically. However I did start it. I did look at the worksheet, and got to the webinar early, etc.

All of this left me feeling a bit suckered when the video stream stalled then failed. Truly it was a remarkable attempt to webinar that size audience. As an email from Oprah at 3:20 this morning reminded us, they are proud to be on the technical cutting edge. That they are.
When I was in the IT enclave, we called it the bleeding edge. Shrug. So it didn't work. At least they tried. It's all about progress :D

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