Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Coming out the world of Covid feels strange, tentative like stepping out on early ice. I have received both of my shots and have gone to meetings where people either wear their masks or they don’t, but social distancing is observed. I continue to mask up shopping or going into any business. I know we have a way to go, but our family members are almost all vaccinated and we plan a late Holiday gathering in May.

I wish my mind was brighter and my mood more positive.  People have said that we have been through a long dark journey as a country, as a world, and coming out of it will take time. For many, it meant depression, a rise in addictive and violent behavior, fear and confusion. I think we are all desiring serenity and joy.

I belong to a community that has a saying : “Fake it ’til you make it.” I am going to try that today. I have several opportunities ahead when I can put on a smile,  wish someone a happy day and listen closely to whatever is being shared. I can thank God for the rain on behalf of the fauna and our feathered friends. I can sing to myself as I exercise and appreciate the tastes of the foods set before me. How do I feel npw? Not quite a perky as this all sounds, but if I fake it, what I do on the outside might sink in and become true on the inside.

Being Black in America

One of the stories in the photo journalism masterpiece by Brandon Stanton, Humans, is told by a father in Accra, Ghana. He said that he and his wife discussed whether to raise their son in Africa or move to the United States. In the U.S. he could expect better job opportunities. Both he and his wife are professors. Healthcare, he said would be better. “You don’t hear of people dying in America because they can’t find an open hospital bed.” (This was clearly pre-covid). What attracted him to staying in Ghana, he said, is there his son would not have to worry about the color of his skin. He would never have to explain to him what it means to be black or tell him the rules necessary to keep himself safe.

The father said that one day when he was living in America, he received an Amber alert on his phone and all it said was, “tall black male.” Being the only one in sight it caused him to panic. Then another day, he was walking to his dormitory at three o’clock in the afternoon and someone drove by in a red truck and threw a hamburger at his head and called him the N-word. “I don’t want to explain that stuff to my child,” he said. “It is exhausting to be conscious of your skin all the time. You either become a militant or you become defeated. And I understand why it happens, but extremes of anything aren’t good.”

This father’s story troubles me. It doesn’t make me proud to be an American. Not today, anyway.

The Joy of Being a Dog

…just watch your dog. Dog’s don’t stop the ecstasy. You get tired of them, jumping up and licking you, but they don’t. It’s pure unadulterated fascinated enjoyment being a dog, apparently. And then most of them just lie down one day and die. No drama.
The dog doesn’t question reality.
It doesn’t anguish in existential malaise, beating its paws in the dirt and asking, “Why aren’t I a duck?”
Apparently, dogs just like being dogs, mulberry trees like being mulberry trees, and bees like doing what bees do. Rje Joyed snapper does not mind if we name her ‘red snapper’, although she knows her real name. All things give glory to God just by being what they are.

Richard Rohr in Divine Dance

Courage to Push the Button

There are many things that make me feel alone, but even in my aloneness, I often find a person or a community that shares that certain something with me. It could even be the fact that I often feel alone. Meeting someone who feels that way at times, makes me feel less alone. I suspect you have had the same experience at one time or another.

I will share here what makes me feel alone currently. In the summer of 2019, I was reading books by David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Hawkins found a way to measure the level of consciousness in people as well as communities. I won’t go into how he did this. It seems a bit weird to me. But once I got past his method, his chart on the stages of consciousness was more than intriguing. It led me to read 6 of his books as I tried to grasp this idea of levels of consciousness.

When I was younger, I was introduced to levels of intellectual, spiritual, and emotional maturity. In each case, I judged myself to be high up there on whatever scale was offered. It made me feel good about myself, though I suspect my ego was running the show. But placing myself on Hawkin’s scale was different. I happened to be reading his books at a time when I was concerned for a dear friend who was struggling internally with a problem that she couldn’t seem to shake. She could see causes and solutions, but she couldn’t move forward. it baffled me. Hawkins helped me to understand that what she needed was courage. The fact that I could see what she couldn’t meant that I was further along on the path than she was. All I could do was listen and share whatever insights I had, knowing full well I didn’t have any power. I learned from Hawkins that this, too, is a factor in higher consciousness – powerlessness. Hawkins suggested that people who have themselves overcome a block, such as an addiction, often move from a lower to a higher consciousness. I qualified, again.

What am I getting at? I started out talking about what it feels like to be alone. One reason for aloneness might be the feeling that one feels different from others. The problems is that suggesting one has a higher level of consciousness is a pretty vulnerable thing to do. I may think twice before I publish this post. But if I don’t, I will stay where I have been that last 18 months.

When Hawkins talks about those of the highest levels of consciousness, he suggests that aloneness is common. It is a contradiction to say this, but he also points to a sense of unity that one feels with the world. This unity relates to something above, something a person may be aware of but unable to articulate. It is a oneness with all persons and things, all of creation. Oneness and aloneness? Crazy, huh!

I don’t know where to go with this. I will hit the publish button. Hawkins suggests that the move from a lower consciousness where a person drains energy from the world and a higher one where a person gives energy to the world is courage. Courage for me always means risk or it wouldn’t be courage. There has to be an unknown, a possible consequence that might be unpleasant. We shall see.

Getting My Life Under Control

Whenever I feel lost, I grab for my calendar. I look at the days ahead and ponder empty time spaces to fill with things I feel I need to do: write, organize, call people. make appointments. It always helps me feel for a while that things are under control. If I can add to that an exercise plan and an eating menu, Wow!

There it is, all on paper, my organized life. It gives me hope. It makes me feel that all will be well.

On the day I die, will a family member pick up my plan of attack and and see that I have 3 birthday cards to mail…and mail them? That I had intended to call two friends…and call them? That I was in the middle of organizing the medicine cabinet…go there and finish the job? Will they appreciate that I had, at least, had the good intention to weed the garden and to make soup out of the steak bones in the freezer? Will they see the last dish towel I’d started to embroider and decide to pass on it half done? Will they read my last entry in my journal to see how I was feeling that day, what was on my mind. Was there a nugget of wisdom there that might be shared at my funeral?

As I attempt to get my life under control I have to remember that it is just an illusion – my life will never be so. All I ever have is good intentions and the gift of the last step forward.

From the journal of Judy Jeub, May 7, 2014

Conspiracy Theories

I am reading a book by Brene’ Brown, Rising Strong, and this morning, she addresses why people believe conspiracy stories. Quoting Johnathan Gottschall, she observes that conspiratorial thinking “is not limited to the stupid, the ignorant, or the crazy. It is a reflex of the storytelling mind’s compulsive need for meaningful experience.” He says that conspiracy theories are used to explain why bad things happen. “To the conspiratorial mind, shit never just happens, and the complexities of human life are reduced to produce theories that “are always consoling in their simplicity.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. How difficult it is to realize that the causes of a particular problem, like violence in one’s neighborhood, is due to a whole list of coexisting problems, from racial attitudes, too many guns among the populace, violence in the media, too few police officers, joblessness, alcohol and drug abuse…the list goes on. The problem with realizing the complexity of problems is that it makes one feel helpless, vulnerable and even hopeless. If one can reduce causes to one explanation then the solution seems manageable – just get the bad guys and all will be well.

There seems to be no solution to the above reflection. Understanding why people are quick to latch on to conspiracy theories helps me not to judge and prods me to try to calm a person’s fears. “All will be well,” I want to say. Yet I am not sure I myself believe that all will be well. I do know that for me, realizing that problems are complex and have many contributing causes is actually empowering. I can look at the list and simply pick one to work on. Violence in the media, for example. As a parent I can control the media my children partake in. Raising kids not prone to violence is one step, one small piece to solving a much large problem.

As for the bigger problem, helping those who are deeply afraid because of conspiracy theories, I do not know. Nor do I know what to do about those who deliberately spread such theories in order to achieve sinister ends. I just try to trust that my small contributions effect the whole and eventually conspiracy theories will lose their power




Laughing Jesus

Reading my journal of 2012, I came across my comments about a book I was reading at the time, The Laughing Jesus. Apparently, the book is divided into two parts – the first, it seems, bashing the three religions of the book (Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim). It seems even to question whether the historic Jesus really walked physically on the earth, (which I have never doubted). The second part was about Gnosticism. The quotes, as I read them today, are so amazing. When I first recorded them in I felt that this category Gnostic fit me. Here are my thoughts this morning as I reflect again on Gnostic belief:

I (we) live in 2 worlds, the physical world of separation where I feel alone, different, unconnected, misunderstood, unseen, ignored, forgotten; the other, the spiritual world of Oneness, unity, “that of God”, whole, belonging, connected, known appreciated, re-membered. Gnosticism is living in the consciousness of the latter.

This life right now, where Covid threatens to rob any of us of quality of life or to pull us from the earthly life at any time…this life in which we are all living. Here people are fearful, poor, hungry, confused. But all this earthly life is passing like a movie we are watching. In it we are all actors in a massive play. We are only actors. Like a play, we live in tragedy, comedy, suspense and resolution. But, again,  we are each only actors, higher beings, souls come to visit, to play our part.

Consciousness is knowing (gnosis) that the roles we play are just roles. We forget sometimes that the play isn’t real – until someone forgets their lines and laughs or comes out onto the stage with a piece of toilet paper hanging from his belt.

No wonder the book is called Laughing Jesus.