What’s Really Important?

Tarantula Nebula

“We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

I have a game of the imagination I’ve played since I was a child that, for the most part, I’ve kept secret. What is it like to die? What comes after? And what is important to our spirit in the afterlife?

I’m not sure what made me begin playing this game. It may have been going to see Bambi at a young age. Bambi’s mother’s death was quite a blow. Or maybe it was when my paternal grandfather died the October after our summer visit when I was nine.

When my grandfather died, somehow I didn’t feel he was gone. It’s like he was hovering around me. And finally he revealed himself when I was going through some tough times in my twenties. I realized I’d been right. His loving spirit had been with me since his passing.

I’ve been with a few people through their dying process and what is important to them has nothing to do with the possessions or status they are going to leave behind. It’s all about their family relationships and the lessons they’ve learned or left unfinished.

I’ve rarely shared my contemplations on death. If I’d talked about them openly, people would have suggested I go see a psychiatrist. But I knew I wasn’t crazy.

Death is a part of life, but most of us don’t want to think about our own deaths. It’s hard enough to contemplate the deaths of loved ones. So we push death away. It’s dark and scary. We can’t see what’s on the other side and most of us have a hard time living with the uncertainty of that fact.

I kept practicing death through the stories I watched and read. When a key character died, I’d think about what they left behind. Was it good or bad? Did their death affect a change for the better? Two stories I read early in life that touched me in this regard were A Tale of Two Cities, and The Crucible. Sometimes choosing to die is the only way to wake people up or bring about a much needed change.

A few years ago I read the book Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, the founder of The Omega Institute. The book’s subtitle is, How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow. For some reason I remembered this book a few days ago and in particular the chapter “Practicing Death”.

Lesser has developed a role-play game and meditation where people imagine their own death. When I read the book, I decided to try imagining my death. I mean after all, I’d been contemplating death for a long time. But I had never imagined what life after my death would be like. It was a profound experience.

When I sank into the stillness, I imagined that I had died and an amazing thing happened to me. All the things I had been worrying about and holding onto fell away. I was dead. I didn’t need those earthly cares anymore. It was a most exhilarating and freeing feeling. None of the stuff I’d been holding onto was of ultimate importance.

What was important was who I chose to be, the relationships I chose to nurture, the love and care I shared, and the lessons I chose to learn, or not. I had free will. I could resist life’s lessons and live in the dark. But if I chose that, the after life would be filled with learning and healing all the things I’d refused to do during my life on Earth. It was my choice.

Another interesting thing happened. It didn’t really matter which path I chose, because I’d be going back to pure love. And what I’d done here on Earth was all part of a huge tapestry of knowledge being collected. Still, I did choose to seek out the light in this incarnation, rather than the darkness.

Lesser writes about the above quote by Michel de Montaigne, “He means that we can practice death by becoming conscious of the ways in which we resist life; we can practice death by approaching endings and partings and changes with more ease and faith.”

We’re in a time of endings, partings, and huge changes. Maybe practicing death means to examine what is most important to us. What do we want to keep, what can we let go of, and what can we create anew?

I’d be interested to hear what you think is of ultimate importance. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing my posts. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Ready for a Change

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin

“To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness, But life without meaning is the torture Of restlessness and vague desire-it is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.” ~ Edgar Lee Masters

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” ~ Anaïs Nin

I’ve been feeling restless lately and ready for something new. One of my character flaws is that I do not understand people who resist change. It’s hard for me to understand living in one place for an entire lifetime, or working at the same job or thirty years, or never learning anything new.

I suspect I love change so much because I got a healthy dose of my father’s wanderlust. He was always looking for a better way to support us, consequently we moved a lot. But I think part of the reason we moved so often was because once dad had learned all he could from one job, he was ready to move on and learn something new. I’m feeling like that now. I’ve been teaching at our local community college for nine years and I’m ready for some new ideas or even a change of job.

When I got the idea to direct Measure for Measure I wanted to do it because I had never directed a Shakespeare play before. As I began working on it, I had a strong feeling that this was my swan song at Cochise College. I don’t know if this is true but I’ve got that feeling of wanderlust. I want to write in a new genre, take a class or two in subjects I’ve never tried before, go on vacation to a new location, or … I don’t know. I’m waiting for inspiration!

Even though I love changing career directions, or creative projects often, sometimes I envy people who have one focus for their lives. They have one thing they are interested in doing and they spend their entire lives learning and working in the same field. It must be satisfying to dig deeply into a subject always learning something on an ever deeper level.

I guess I’ve done that with theatre and hope to do that with writing too. The arts, or any kind of creative endeavor is like that, the creator never stops learning. Since that’s true, maybe my restlessness is not so much about careers, but something else. A stirring of some kind at a soul level, something whispering to me to break out and try something new.

Maybe I’ll finally learn Spanish or go on vacation, or meet some new people, or I just don’t know. I hope this next week during spring break, I’ll get a clue.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments and likes.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Omnism

Columbia River Gorge

“When I admire the wonders of the sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” ~ Buddha

Omnism: The belief that no religion is truth but the truth is found in all religions.

It’s been many years since I left my church. And over the years there have been times when a student, with eagerness in his or her voice, would ask me if I was a Christian. I remember that enthusiasm of new belief. I know the precious and expanding feeling of being touched by the divine. So, there I’d stand not wanting to dampen that fresh young person’s fervor. Yet, I had to give an answer. I couldn’t honestly say that I was a Christian, so what I said was, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” But I could never say that I believe we’re all sons and daughters of God and that Jesus was an example of who we could become. How could I explain my meandering spiritual journey and all the wonderful snippets of truth I’ve found in unexpected places along the way. It’s impossible to describe in just a few moments. It’s even difficult to explain when I have hours, or years of conversations to share how deeply Divine Oneness has touched my soul. So, at times I have wanted a word or phrase that describes my personal spiritual thought system just to make such encounters easier.

The other day I was surfing Facebook, something I’ve been doing less and less these days. That day I saw the meme which inspired the title of this post. “Omnism: The belief that no religion is truth but the truth is found in all religions.” When I read that, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I can finally give a name to my spiritual philosophy. I’m an omnist.

My first college degree was in religious studies. While studying, I began to see that religions were originally invented to try to make sense out of the mystery of why we’re here. Ancient people assumed that something greater than ourselves must have created us. That feeling has survived all through the ages. Most people believe that there is some sort of divine presence interacting with us in some way. However, as humanity expanded, some people grew out of their old religious beliefs and invented new ones to fit their new understandings. This process has caused thousands, if not millions of terrible conflicts throughout the centuries. After all, we don’t like change so we cling desperately to old thought patterns, except when we are forced, through circumstances, to throw them out. This has resulted in a hodgepodge of ancient and new beliefs coexisting along side one another.

Which brings us to what’s going on today. It feels to me like we’re at point in human history in which we must do some cosmic closet cleaning. Humanity has evolved to a certain point and we can’t go on using the old systems we have relied upon for so long. That’s scary because when all our deepest held beliefs are taken away, we’re lost. Our sense of self is challenged. I know what that feels like. It’s scary as hell. Yet, when that happened to me, one thing kept me going, I knew I was not alone. Divine Oneness was there supporting my spiritual explorations. Little by little I gained new insights and a new sense of self.

What I’ve learned is that truth is bigger than our human brains can comprehend. It’s so big that often it is hiding in plain sight but we’ve been conditioned to see only certain things and so we miss the truths that are right in front of our noses. I think we feel truth first, then we come to understand it by our intellect later.

Let me explain. When I was a child listening to the sermons, or to my Sunday school teacher, there were some points of doctrine I just couldn’t buy into. They felt wrong somehow. For example, I never believed the creation story in the bible where Adam was created first and then Eve from his rib. Why couldn’t they have been created at the same time? Or that Eve was supposed to be subordinate to Adam. That just didn’t make sense. I also never believed there was a devil, or that God punished people with floods and plagues. In my limited, child’s experience, God was love. That meant it didn’t make sense that God could be vengeful in any way. Even as a child, I felt like there was a whole lot more to God’s story than I could comprehend, and some of the old stories that tried to describe Her just didn’t fit my experience of who She was.

The last year or two, I’ve been driven to shake up my old belief system and throw out what no longer fits who I have become. But like weeds, they creep back, or maybe it’s that I haven’t gotten them completely rooted out yet. I feel like I’m weeding my mind garden so I can grow new crops and have the life that I’ve been dreaming of. And maybe what is happening to me on an individual level is happening world wide as well.

I know, that while I’m in my human form, I will never fully understand it all. Yet, I have that yearning to experience as much of the truth of God as I can. That means my spiritual search will never end until my last breath. Once I’ve gone back to the creative energy we call God, things will be different. At that point I will see it all, and that will be a happy day. Until then, I trust, and feel in my bones, that all the turmoil we’re experiencing is leading us to some better evolutionary plateau, which will lead us on to the next growth steps.

It feels good to know that I’m an omnist, and that I can continue to seek truth wherever it may be found.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

“Yes” for Everyone

Star Trek Logo 50 Years
Star Trek Logo 50 Years

“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” ~ Sue Patton Thoele

“There will always be bumps along the road to real solutions. Getting past the bumps requires attention and awareness.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“Until we learn to honor and respect what other people believe, I think we are doomed.” ~ Patricia Polacco

This election season I have felt so stressed out. I know I’m not alone in that. Moderate Republicans no longer recognize their party, and far left progressives, like me, are angry about being marginalized. It’s almost like I’m back in the 60s and 70s with so much unrest going on. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never accept people of other races, religions, or political points of view, or that the poor will ever have a chance at a good life. The problems in our world seem insurmountable. No wonder so many people are discouraged.

Yesterday while I was looking at Facebook, I saw a link to an article on Unworthy about just how deep the corruption of our government goes. It was depressing to see the data collected from records going back over 20 years or longer. The study was done by Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University and it points out that our elected officials don’t listen to us. Instead they cater to the wealthy and powerful that give them money. No surprise there. It was another depressing confirmation that everything is falling apart in our country. But then I realized that’s been true throughout history. From the earliest civilizations down to now, the wealthy manipulated Emperors and crushed the poor. Kings and despots conquered and pillaged to gain vast territories. There really is no difference between then and now. However, it’s also true that there have been revolutions, and rebellions against what the wealthy think is the natural order of things. Perhaps we are at a critical point in human history since millions of people all over the world are demanding more equality.

About a month ago, I got to a point where I was so angry about all the, excuse my language, crap that’s going on, that I had an extremely painful gall bladder attack. That was a wake up call because according to Louise Hay, the gall bladder is where we hold our anger. I was forced to take a good look at what it was that was ticking me off. And I was grateful when shortly after my attack, Deepak and Oprah had another 21-day meditation experience about “Getting Unstuck.” I was stuck and needed to find a way out.

On day 19 the centering thought was “I want a ‘yes’ that’s good for everyone.” It was just what I needed to hear. No matter what the situation in which I find myself, I need to remember that everyone deserves to live well, they deserve to be heard and appreciated. It’s hard to do that when someone wants to grab all the good stuff for themselves, but I’m working on appreciating those people too. After all, we sometimes need to be presented with what we don’t want to get a clearer picture of what we do want.

Most of us believe that there has been progress throughout the centuries. Evolution is helped by individuals doing their own personal work, which has helped humanity move ever so slowly from the win/lose mindset to the win/win mindset. It’s exciting to see so many groups arising to take care of the needs of the poor, or the disenfranchised. If we were to do a true comparison between societies now, and those back through the centuries, we’d see how far we’ve come, though there is always more work to do.

So for today, at least, I feel comforted and optimistic about our future. I remind myself that things change whether we want them to or not. It’s probably my positive outlook on life, but to me, what looks like a disaster is just another opportunity to make a new, better choice. That’s how I choose to see this crazy political season. I also remind myself that all kingdoms fall, eventually. So, the hold the wealthy have over our government won’t last forever and I’m going to be voting for the people who will put a few more nails in the coffin.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts or share this post with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Creativity

Daffodils serenading the sun.
Daffodils serenading the sun.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” ~ Joseph Campbell

I’ve been reading some nonfiction books for a change and as they always do, they make me think about my life. I wrote about reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert last week. This week, I’m reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Both books have stirred the pot of my well of creativity. All of a sudden I’ve got ideas about new projects coming at me. In one way, that’s fantastic. In another, I don’t feel like I’ve got enough time to write them all down. I guess the ideas that are meant for me will stick around. The others will float off and land in another writer’s lap.

One idea I got about a week ago has taken hold. It’s a story about a young girl in an as yet unnamed kingdom who is secretly taught to be a warrior by her father. The young women of the villages in her kingdom must submit to a lottery during their sixteenth year to be sacrificed to a dragon who terrorizes the countryside. Or at least that’s the rumor. No one has seen the dragon for many years. However, the girls who are sacrificed never return, so everyone believes the rumor. The girl’s father teaches her to fight, which is forbidden, in an attempt to save her life. His reasoning is that if she can fight and strategize she might be able to slay the dragon and save the kingdom. I have some ideas about what really happens to the girls, and the discoveries the main character makes because, of course, she is chosen to be the sacrifice. But I have to let those ideas sit on the back burner for awhile before I write them down. The cool thing is that every day I get new ideas about the world in which the girl lives and what might happen to her after she meets the dragon.

It’s fun to have a new project in the works, however, I’m on another round of revisions on my novel, The Space Between Time and I want to get through it a couple more times before sending it off to my writer friends for more comments and possible corrections. Sometimes ideas flow too readily, yet, I’m grateful that they are flowing at all. I want to take a shot at writing them down and to see if the stories take shape.

Something else rumbling around in my head is that it’s almost eight years since I quit teaching full-time to become a writer, and at this juncture, I feel like it’s time to take some classes, or submit some work, do some research for my sequel novel, or do something different with all these ideas.

The bottom line is I’m restless, and yet I crave solitude. Kind of a strange combination of emotions. I think what this all means is that a big change is on its way to me, and that is exciting. I’ve got the summer off. Maybe the changes will happen then. In any case, no teaching for me this summer for the first time in seven or eight years. My mouth almost waters at the thought of eleven or twelve weeks to concentrate on my work with fewer distractions. So, if you ask me to meet for lunch or go for a walk, or some other outing during the day. I may refuse not because I don’t like you, but because I’m focusing on finishing my manuscript, and putting all the new ideas floating around in my head into the computer. How about dinner?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016