They Just Don’t Understand Me

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24I am an Aries in Western astrology. A triple fire sign with sun in Aries, moon in Leo, and rising sign in Sagittarius. There is very little earth and no water in my chart, mostly fire and air. Therefore there are no conficting elements.

In Chinese astrology, I am the Rat. A creature who enjoys being on the outside looking in, as the outside acords me a clearer view into the inner workings of a particular situation or problem.

On the Meyers-Briggs Personality chart I am an INFP, roughly three percent of the population at large. I am introverted, quiet and reserved, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive. I prefer being alone or interacting with a select group of close friends to large groups. I rely upon intuition, and I am generally focused on the big picture more than the minor details. I am meticulous about the things and people I care about.

My choices in life are made based upon my personal feelings more than what might be called objective information, and although I was a philosophy major in college, my decisions are based on personal values and experiences more so than logic.

In tarot, I am the Fool, the card without a number or in some decks the zero card. I am a soul in search of experience.

So in summary, I am an Aries Rat INFP Zero Fool. Does not sound too great does it and yet these interpretations summarize to some extent my personality, who I am only by definition using these tools.

The closest I have ever come to a tribal identity were the two years I lived at Esalen. There was a connection with the people with whom I worked and lived that I had not previously encountered nor have I experienced since. And yet I left Esalen because I felt my individual identity suffered there.

I have no national identity. I no longer identify with America as my homeland because of its racist policies and practices toward Black Americans and other minority groups around the world. I no longer have a family identity and although I am Black, I no longer have an identity based upon race as I did during my rebellious years in college. The only identity I still process is my identity as an individual. This quality denies all the tools used to establish personality traits which by their very nature are general at best.

I do not know that I will ever be understood. My extroverted friends throw surprise parties for me when I would rather spend the day in silent retreat. They want to surround me with people when I would rather be alone. They try to make me like themselves rather than accepting the stark reality that I am different. They are energized by groups while I find groups draining of my energy because they require too much attention. They find it diffcult to accept the fact I love my solitude because they are unable to spend time alone. They require almost constant entertainment. They want to fix or change me when I require neither fixing or changing. I have accepted the truth that as an Aries Rat INFP Zero Fool, I may never be understood by my fellow humans except for those who share similar traits, and that to me is perfectly okay.

Rollo Del Tomebamba VIII

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Balance

Our lives, our countries, our earth is out of balance. The ego centered, some elected, some appointed, and some self proclaimed leaders of this globe are out of balance with the needs of this planet’s inhabitants and the needs of life on this planet itself.

Each day I strive to maintain balance in my life as I feel the pendulum swing more and more toward imbalance in the world. Maintaining balance in one’s life is not easy as each day presents its own challenges. It is necessary, I suppose, that the pendulum of time swings. What would happen if it stopped? 

I do not believe history has to continue along its same path just because it is such a familiar one. History only tells us how things have changed and by what means, but how does one change the repetition of history?

How many revolutions, civil uprisings, wars, and genocides are necessary before these leaders see the plight of their own ego centric dreams. This planet is not available for domination by any existing inhabitant other than perhaps viruses or insects. We have proven this through how many wars for whatever the cause of the era and continuing wars today in the Middle East and Afghanistan?

When will we wake up to the realization that we are all human and all life on this earth is precious? We humans are the caretakers of this sphere and our planet and life as we know it is swirling out of balance…

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Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba.

Acedia

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24There are times when I have not wanted to be of this planet. In truth, I have grown weary with the world, the politics, and the unending changelessness of things. A presidential campaign lasting for more than two years. The power and wealth of the few and the continued suppression of the many. The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq still mounting in their toll of innocent lives. World famine and financial greed all increasing at alarming rates even when the tools to bring about change exist but are not implemented. The return of once eradicated diseases like cholera, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and polio now indifferent to the drugs previously used in their demise.

I do not want to be with friends nor do I seek to engage in new friendships. Phone calls and emails go unanswered or unreturned. I get through each day as another day of life doing the things I love, but somehow doing these things brings a different kind of satisfaction. It feels as if a completion of life to this point is being made. I find myself waiting for activities of the day to end so I can enjoy the blissful solitude of my own surroundings and wait for nightfall without interruptions. The darkness somehow feels safer for me now. There is nowhere, except for here, where I have to venture. I fall into the void of sleep with no thoughts of waking until the morning sun forcefully opens my eyes.

I am on a journey. It is not unlike journeys I have taken before except for the absence of a fixed timetable but this journey is internal, not external. Whenever I take journeys out into the world, I always come back with stories and experiences to share with friends. Small tokens commemorating the places to which I traveled. Pictures, postcards, etc.  I always come back a different person than the one who started the adventure initially but this journey is proving to be much different from those  I have taken before.

At first I thought I might be in a state of depression except for the fact that my feelings are not out of hopelessness or inadequacy nor are they out of synchronization with the events taking place in the outside world. It is more of a transition. A transformation of sorts. A transformation which takes me to my depths, rattles my brain, and challenges all my beliefs once again. I could blame these feelings on my aging and the facing of my impending death but I think it is more than a sense of doom. It is in a word, “acedia.” I know acedia is defined as “spiritual or mental sloth; apathy” in today’s English dictionary, but I prefer the medieval Latin and more philosophical spelling and definition to the modern psychological one. In Latin, accidie, as it was spelled, is a state that inhibits pleasure and prompts the rejection of life.* Thomas Aquinas associated it with the turning of one’s back on things, a torpor of spirit. Acedia is often translated as sloth, which is actually quite different.

The conditions of such a journey make it difficult to share with friends. I cannot explain something I am in the middle of experiencing myself. I have no photographs of pristine mountains covered with glistening white snow and no stories to share from fellow travelers met along the way. What I can share is this. The journey of transformation is one to be taken on numerous occasions throughout our lives. As soon as you finish with one, another waits on the sidelines to grab you and wisps you away. This type of journey requires a strength of belief. Not in a religious sense, as in a god, but a belief in oneself. A strength you may not even know was possible until you experience it firsthand and like those journeys taken into the outside world, you will return a much different person than when you entered. You will return with a greater truth and belief in yourself and your place in the world. Your awareness, acceptance, and understanding of life will be enhanced by the discoveries you learn about yourself. There is no preparation you can make ahead of time. There is no gear to pack and no magic wand can assist you along this journey. One does not take such a journey with plans to return to where one started nor do you know where or when it will end.

This life, in the end, is but a preparation for our final journey toward death. I believe the real journey starts when our essence or spirit is free of this body. I have loved and I have been loved. I do not ask for anything more.

I wish you well.

 

*Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Walton Street, Oxford, England OX2 6DP: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Rollo Del Tomebamba VII

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Street Art Along The Rio Tomebamba

Cuenca has many wonderful street artists. Their art is bold, colorful, usually bright, and always full of Life. Many business on the Rio Tomebamba hire street artists to paint murals on their buildings. Most of the artists use brushes and some create their wonders using cans of spray paint. I love to see new works adorning the walls and buildings along the river, and I feel a degree of sadness when I see their artwork defaced by those who simply believe their purpose is to deface the creativity of others. 

I think there should be an unwritten agreement among all creative individuals to respect and not deface or demean the creativity of another. We can all be each other’s supporters and not critics and destroyers.

 

Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba.

The Routine Of No Routine

The search is the meaning, the search for beauty, love, kindness and restoration in this difficult, wired and often alien modern world. The miracle is that we are here, that no matter how undone we’ve been the night before, we wake up every morning and are still here. It is phenomenal just to be. This idea overwhelms some people.

— Anne Lamott

vcxa8286When I retired nine years ago, the one thing I most looked forward to was not having to awaken each morning to the blaring of an alarm clock. I could wake to the natural rhythms of my body, to the light of the sun, the songs of the birds or the cranking of the garbage truck slowly making its way down the hill. I looked forward to shaping my days rather than having them shaped by the routines of my typical work day. I could live each day without the routine (a sequence of actions regularly followed, a fixed program*) of going to work, going to lunch, coming back to work, and finally coming home which was the only part of my routine I enjoyed. Unlike many people who fall apart without a routine, I thrived. I did not need a schedule full of meaningless activities to stimulate my life. I had books to read, poems to write, Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata to learn on my keyboard, walks to take, and oceans to visit. The last thing I wanted was a routine of any kind. I wanted my days to be free for me to follow my heart and my dreams.

The Buddha asked his disciples to empty their minds of all desires for desire was the root cause of all suffering and disappointment. Many find this somewhat paradoxical as the desire to empty one’s mind of desire is itself a desire which adds to the suffering in one’s life.

I experienced a similar paradox in my attempt to not follow a routine. Doing what I choose to do each day itself became a routine. Yes, it was a chosen routine of my own activities as oppose to a required one, but still a routine. The difference was that my new routine had more flexibility in its implementation. So, I embraced my new routine because each day I was doing the things I loved.

I only awaken to an alarm clock if I have an early flight to catch as I make all of my appointments late in the morning so I can awaken naturally. I may do some yoga stretches or go for a walk when the weather is agreeable. I have never been a breakfast person so a cup of tea or coffee usually comes next. Then I read the news and set about my work. I call my writing work because I take it seriously and because it fills a good part of each day. However, it is work I enjoy doing. This is usually followed by a nap, a meal, and another walk before the daylight comes to an end. In the evenings I will write some more, read, or maybe watch a rented movie on iTunes. On occassion, I interact with others or take a Spanish class. These activities are the core of my routine which changes daily and is yet grounded in that I no longer have to commit any of my time to activities I no longer want to do.

My new daily routine has become a ritual as it is repeated each day with the same  degree of love, devotion, and desire to live this life I love doing the things I love to do. This is my true secret of life or in the words of Jim Harrison, “You have to follow the affections of your heart, and the truth of your imagination. Otherwise, you will feel badly.”

  • Source Reference: New Oxford American Dictionary

Rollo Del Tomebamba VI

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Think With Heart ♥️ 

I am a blend of my experiences, the choices I make, and the chance which happens upon me. A friend’s father recently brought an investment property here in Cuenca so on my river walk the other day I decided to stop by an take a look. During the visit I felt a surge of energy from my heart.

“Come here,” she said.

I know that voice. She has led me on many journeys around this world and accompanies me through this existence. I looked at the building. Nothing impressive I thought until as if magic were afloat the traffic stopped and I heard the sound of the river behind me. I have no need to move. I know this property is beyond my housing budget. I pondered for a few moments …

“Think with heart,” she said.

It is doable. This was all decided before I even saw the inside a few days later. Like the building itself nothing impressive with the layout or fixtures, but the view of the park and the Rio Tomebamba across the street… the heart wants what the heart wants.

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Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba. 

 

 

Rollo Del Tomebamba V

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Silence

The rushing waters of the Rio Tomebamba
in orchestration with the songs of unseen birds
overrides the bustling noises of the city.
I watch my body from above rambling down the
cobbled stone path oblivious to my absence.
I am a part of this beautiful web of silence.
The space where even thought does not enter.
Brought back into existence only by the
youthful screams of children playing on bicycles.
No silence on earth could mask such joy.

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Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba.