Robert McCammon, Boy’s Life

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‘You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.’

Don’t you just love Jeff Brown’s ability to cut through the bullshit?

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‘EVERYTHING is not a gift. There may be valued transformation that arises from many experiences, but that doesn’t mean that EVERY experience is a gift. If we lean too far in that direction, we will deny trauma and victimhood all together, something we have been mistakenly doing for centuries. No, everything is not a gift. Some experiences are horrors, and it is all we can do to heal from them. To suggest that someone MUST find the gift in them, is to add insult to injury. It is also to create a culture that welcomes all horrors, because, after all- “everything is a gift.” Let’s keep it grounded- sometimes, it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a horror. And the only who can decide that is the person who had the experience.’ -JEFF BROWN

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“The point of life is not to get anywhere—it is to notice that you are, and have always been, already there. You are always and forever in the moment of pure creation. The point of life therefore is to create—who and what you are, and then to experience that.”-Neale Donald Walsch

 

How Is Your Heart Doing? By Omid Safi

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Omid Safi is Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. Reading above is excerpted from the OnBeing blog.

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“The marks life leaves on everything it touches transform perfection into wholeness. Older, wiser cultures choose to claim this wholeness in the things that they create. In Japan, Zen gardeners purposefully leave a fat dandelion in the midst of the exquisite, ritually precise patterns of the meditation garden. In Iran, even the most skilled of rug weavers includes an intentional error, the “Persian Flaw,” in the magnificence of a Tabriz or Qashqai carpet…and Native Americans wove a broken bead, the “spirit bead,” into every beaded masterpiece. Nothing that has a soul is perfect. When life weaves a spirit bead into your very fabric, you may stumble upon a wholeness greater than you had dreamed possible before.”

Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings : Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

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‘If we examine nature, it is clear that everything is in a constant state of movement. Trees are a great example, in cycles they swing back and forth from experiences of growth to experiences of releasing, all the while alive, all the while growing. If we are refusing to grow, then we are moving against the flow of nature, the flow of change is so powerful that to move against it can only mean difficulty.

Sometimes growing hurts too, but it is the type of pain that is easier to endure because we know that it is for our greater good. Sending love to all beings. May we all create space in our lives for transformation. May we all transform as many times as our happiness and freedom require.’

-Yung Pueblo

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‘It is amazing to me how God set this all up. The heart, I mean. Everything real comes through the heart. When it is truly opened, everything secondary falls away- egoic glory, fame and fortune, substitute gratifications. The heart doesn’t care about such things. It doesn’t hold it against you if you don’t own your own home, achieve your goals, have a perfect body. No matter our seeming differences, we are all the same when the heart gate opens. Love is the great equalizer.’

-Jeff Brown (~an excerpt from’Love it Forward’)

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Digital Art by Tony Ariawan

“The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible, and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us. This brings to mind the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, the stubborn, hard king who sought to ask the Immortal One the secret of life. He was told that there would be stones on his path to guide him. But in his urgency and pride, Gilgamesh was annoyed to find his path blocked, and so smashed the very stones that would help him. In his blindness of heart, he broke everything he needed to discover his way. With the same confusion, we too break what we need, push away those we love, and isolate ourselves when we need to be held most. There have been many times in my life when I have been too proud to ask for help or too afraid to ask to be held, and in the frenzy of my own isolation, like Gilgamesh, I have smashed the window I was trying to open, have split the bench I was trying to hammer, and have made matters worse by bruising the one I meant to be tender with. The live bough bends. The dead twig snaps. We are humbled to soften from our griefs, or else, in brittle time, become the next thing grieved.”

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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IN TIMES OF DARKNESS, TURN YOUR LIGHT WAY UP! -Jeff Foster

When someone calls you names, reduces you to a thing,
When they offer advice you didn’t ask for,
When they blame you for their pain,
When they do not listen to you, and endlessly talk about themselves,
When they compare you with others,
When they ignore, invalidate, judge or ridicule your thoughts and feelings.

Stop. Breathe.

Know it’s their pain, not yours.
Know they are dreaming the only dream they can dream until they wake up.
Know that they don’t know you, only their fantasy.

Perhaps they find it hard to love themselves.
Perhaps they seek their worth externally.
Perhaps they are disconnected from their breath, their bodies, their precious aliveness, their true calling.
Perhaps they live in a dualistic world of good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure.
Perhaps they have forgotten the simple joy of being.

Perhaps you understand this.
Perhaps you have been where they have been.

Don’t try to change them now. They may never change.
Don’t try to fix them. They aren’t asking to be fixed.
The more you push, they more they’ll push back.
Don’t get entangled in their web of sorrows.
See clearly, even have compassion, but don’t push.

It’s okay that they are upset. It really is.
Give them space to be upset.
It’s okay that they are disappointed in you.
Give them space to be disappointed.
It’s okay that they judge you. Make room for their judgements too.

Make room for your own thoughts and feelings!
Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, guilty, doubtful.
Let all these precious energies wash through you.
They will not harm you, as you allow them to move.

Yes, you will meet many gatekeepers on this journey.

Walk your path anyway, and allow others to walk theirs.
You don’t need to justify your path, or defend it.
Stay close to yourself in these challenging times.

Do not fight the darkness; it has no power anyway.

Simply turn your light way up.