Why I Won’t “Resist”

California Coast

“This is one of the great metaphors of life: Move with the flow. Don’t fight the current. Resist nothing. Let life carry you, don’t try to carry it.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

“There are three words that convey the art of living, secret of all success and happiness: One with life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth.

“Life can take care of itself. … Most of us are so used to the idea that we need to control our lives. The notion that life can take care of itself from our awareness seems impossible but the infinite intelligence of consciousness has always been taking care of life.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightness. I do not judge the universe.” ~ Dalai Lama

This has been the longest three months of my life. But it’s been a great time of growth too.

When Trump was inaugurated and the roll-back of all the social services that protect the environment and help people began, I was ready to join the resistance movement. Yet, over the years I’ve learned that when I resist events in my life, I’m more miserable because my problems grow bigger. Resistance keeps me stuck in victimhood and focused on my problems rather than looking for a solution.

I was fortunate to learn this fairly early in my life. When I was in college I experienced a series of life shattering events. During this time, someone suggested I buy a journal, which I did. For the first month or two, or three, all I did was complain. But miraculously one day I wrote, “What am I supposed to be learning from all this?” And that’s when my life began to transform. That question moved my attention from my problems to possible solutions. It helped me begin to examine my attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that were contributing to my unhappiness.

Change happens whether we want it to or not. It’s like waves lapping up on the shore. We can’t stop them even if we wanted to. I’m not a surfer, but I imagine that to be good at that sport you have to learn to go with the flow. Once you’re up on that board riding that wave, you have to be sensitive to the flow of the water and make adjustments accordingly. It seems to me that if you misread the flow, or the new direction the wave is headed, you fall. But the beauty of surfing is that you can get up and ride the next wave, and possibly end up in a different place from where you began. I think it’s better to go with the flow rather than try to make the water go where we want it to. That never works. And besides, we’re not God. We can’t see the whole ocean. We can either trust the flow of life, or we can cause ourselves all kinds of pain fighting against the current.

For this reason, I trust life to take care of life. Whether we want it to or not progress happens, and right now I think old structures are getting washed away. We’ve fallen into the water and are trying desperately not to drown. We can relax, hold on to the board and let the wave take us safely to shore, or we can yell at the wave and fight to get back to where we fell. It’s our choice.

When I hear the word resistance, I think back to all the times in my life when I resisted growth, or the truth about myself. When I fought, I was miserable. When I allowed myself to feel my true emotions, they dissipated much faster, and I could see solutions that were hidden in plain sight while I was focusing on the problem.

Two weeks ago I joined Oprah and Deepak’s latest 21 day meditation series, “Hope in Uncertain Times.” As they have guided me through these powerful meditations, I have come to understand that the tide of human evolution has turned. Most of us have been shaken from our apathy. We’re finding purpose in standing up for the world we’d like to live in. We’re doing that in big and small ways. The phone calls, and demonstrations are peaceful, but powerful because we know what we want and we’re not giving up.

The contrast between those of who are going with the flow of change, and those who are fighting the current is very apparent. Some of our leaders want to turn back the clock, but that’s impossible. Therefore I have to trust that soon the wave will rush into shore and we’ll see ways to build better systems to replace the old.

Recently a Facebook friend of mine showed me a great way to contribute to the rebuilding process. She shared that her life has been very stressful for some time now. Yet, one day she passed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in the rain near her house. It seemed to her that his need was greater than hers, so she made a sandwich and took it too him. She wrote that she was learning to “Give what you can when you can.” Giving that man a sandwich helped her feel better about herself and her situation. I found that inspiring. When she helped that man, her focus changed from her problems to a small solution for someone else. I think I’ll follow her lead, because when more of us do what we can, when we can, we create a larger and larger flow of change. And change, like water, cuts through the hardest substance given enough time.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend. To join my mailing list, click here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Radical Love

Caring Hands

“I believe in love. Not just getting it, but giving it. I think that if you’re able to love someone, even if they don’t know it, even if they can’t love you back, then it’s worth it.” ~ Dorothy in Gosford Park

“… Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view. She will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do. Wasting in my lonely tower, waiting by an open door. I’ll fool myself she’ll walk right in, and as the long, long nights begin, I’ll think of all that might have been, waiting here forevermore.” ~ Beast singing “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” ~ Maya Angelou

Many years ago I read an amazing book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. That book helped me change my perspective about life and love. Until I read that book I thought that something was terribly wrong with me because I was miserable while everyone else around me seemed to be so happy. I thought their lives were easy. That bothered me because mine was not. Oh, how wrong I was. We all struggle, we all want to live a meaningful life and most especially we all want to be loved.

Peck’s book opened my eyes to a new concept about love. He wrote, “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth … Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

Reading that was like a slap in the face. I was so used to trying to get people to love me that I never considered that choosing to love was my responsibility. If I loved myself, loving other people would be easy, and my life would be enriched whether they loved me back or not. But more than that, I understood that I had access to a well of love that I could rely upon whenever I needed it. All the love that has been shared throughout the history of the human race still exists. We can add to it and access it to help us through any challenges we might face.

Many people read The Road Less Traveled. It was on The New York Times Best Seller list for a very long time. I think perhaps Peck’s assertions about love have affected not just spiritual seekers, but artists as well. The kind of love M. Scott Peck talks about in his book permeate movies, books and television shows. Look at some of the latest crop of Disney movies, to name just a few. Maleficent, Tangled, Frozen, Cinderella, and the new Beauty and the Beast. They all have sweet, seemingly innocent, weak characters who are unwavering in their love for someone who needs it, or they are sustained by the love when they need it most. Because of love characters are transformed. But the endings aren’t the artificial, “And they lived happily ever after kind.” In each case, the characters learned important lessons from their trials that will help them the next time challenges come.

And radical love is not a major theme only in Disney movies. It shows up in lots of places in popular culture. One of my favorite places it shows up is in, Gosford Park, written by Julian Follows. He’s one of my favorite screen writers because he conveys important concepts with so few words. The quote above by Dorothy, one of the maids in the country house, Gosford Park, rang so true for me, and reminded me of what Peck had written in his book. Love isn’t a prize. It’s something you cultivate within yourself and give freely to others without expecting anything in return.

The song “Evermore” that I quote above, from the live action Beauty and the Beast has the same sentiment. The Beast is changed because he allows another person into his life. Something about Belle helps him venture to love enough to let her go to do what she needs to do. And as the quote above tells, he will never be the same even if she never returns to him. He has made a decision to uncover the loving person who got buried by an uncaring father. If you haven’t seen this latest version, I highly recommend it. It’s an extremely beautiful movie.

I didn’t realize that love was such an important theme in my own life until I wrote my book, The Space Between Time, I didn’t intend to have a deeply wounded character be transformed by love, at least not consciously. It just kind of happened that way. But when I was writing a pivotal scene, all the things I’ve learned about love since reading The Road Less Traveled, kind of coalesced. Here is a bit of what came out of the computer key board:

“Aris waited a moment or two to see if he would continue. When Seth was quiet, he asked, ‘Do you think you’ll ever tell her what you’ve told me?’

Seth took a deep breath. ‘I have to don’t I? Even if she can’t love me, I must tell her how much loving her has changed my life.’”

It feels like we human beings are waking up to the fact that to have a loving world, we must not SEEK love, but BE love. To me that means to be there for the people who need us, or to leave people who are toxic. We can’t share love if we hate ourselves. Love has to begin within us. I believe it’s the lack of self-love that has caused all the conflicts throughout history.

I’m not sure this post has an end. We are sustained by the love left behind, and If we tend our love, it will only grow larger and stronger. We’ll continue to be transformed by it.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Art is Fundamental

Toucan Snail by Barry Midgorden

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” ~ Martin Luther

“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Many of you know that I have degrees in theatre, I’ve taught English and theatre for many years. And I’m married to an artist. Which means, art of all kinds is extremely important to me. I think it’s important to all of us, though often we don’t know it.

Last night my husband and I watched an episode of Origins: The Journey of Humankind on NatGeo. The episode was about how, beginning with graphic representations, communication helped make humans the dominant species on the planet. It happened as those graphic communications morphed into story telling with words and dance. From there we developed ever more complex ways of communicating with each other until now we can reach anyone on the globe in an instant.

It’s the art left behind on cave walls, in archeological digs, and in ancient writings that help us understand how we have evolved, and how we have stayed the same. Art is communication. As the narrator of Origins, Jason Silva says, “Studies have shown creating art rewires our brain, increasing the gray and white matter in the cerebellum. This increases overall cognitive function.” Creating art helps us understand the intangible undercurrents of human emotion. And because of art we have the ability to get underneath the artist’s skin and experience life from his or her point of view. Because of this, art is fundamental.

I hate it when school districts need to make budget cuts, it’s always the arts that get cut first. As if communicating on deeper levels, is not important. So, I’m against this current push toward STEM education, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. I know that those things are important, but we wouldn’t have any of those disciplines without first having invented art. Art encourages creative thinking because to participate in art is to think outside the limits of what we already know.

I don’t mean to say that scientists and mathematicians are not creative. They can be but they need to be able to do what Picasso says, “The artist is a receptacle for emotions (ideas) that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” In my limited experience, people who are involved in the STEM disciplines see the world in a particular concrete way and are uncomfortable with ambiguity. Artists love ambiguity because it’s not linear thinking. Ambiguity is where the magic happens, the visions for a better world, and the innovations come from. I believe great scientists use ambiguity too.

I would love it if art were given its due and instead of this push for STEM in education, we included education in the arts as well. We should make our educational model STEAM instead to include all students. Not everyone is suited to think in linear ways. Some of us are out on the edges of human emotion and thought. We see things others may not even have a clue exist. I don’t want us to leave those students behind as if they’re not important. After all, how many novels, movies and TV shows have predicted, or caused future inventions. I don’t think it’s an accident that the novels, 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale are flying off the shelves during these turbulent times. Those and many authors, felt the coming of dark times and wrote about them. Some of them envisioned solutions that have little or nothing to do with mathematical equations, building structures or proving new scientific theories.

It takes all kinds to make this world a better place, and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, if we don’t appreciate art, then what’s the use of all the struggle? It’s the beauty of the flowers, the sunrise, or sunset, the fluidity of the moving human body, the smile on the face of another, the colors of the painting, or the words or music that touch our heart and make life worth living. Jason Silva also said on Origins, “No human society has ever been found without music. It lies at the core of our culture.” So, it is art that touches our souls and help us appreciate each other. That’s where the next innovation needs to take place, in our hearts. We can have all the fabulous gadgets in the universe, but what good are they if we are fighting with each other and destroying our planet?

I didn’t mean to get so philosophical. It’s just that as I develop as a writer, I’m able to express that I’ve felt for a long time that we humans sometimes get our priorities mixed up. We think that art is a frivolous thing, but without art, we never would have evolved to where we are now. I know from experience that every time I see a movie, or a play, read a book, listen to music or see a painting, my point of view about the world is altered. I can’t say that about seeing a mathematical theorem. That might happen when I see great architecture, but then again, an artist had to create the design for the building. It seems to me without art, STEM might never exist.

Thanks for reading. I hope you leave a comment or share with friends and family.

If you’d like to join my email list click here.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Life is an Adventure

Aisle at Powell’s Bookstore

“Never be afraid to try a new experience, and keep an open mind about everything and everybody.” ~ Marian Tanner

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Mame in Auntie Mame

As I write this, we have just returned from our trip to Portland, Oregon. It’s a kind of ritual for me to take stock of what I learned when I travel. This trip made me feel hopeful and excited for the future. It made me want to be even more whole-hearted in my approach to life. Here are some reasons why.

We got to connect with lots of old friends, and some family. It’s always great to catch up with people and find out how they have been and what they’ve been doing. Interacting with others is a great way to take a vacation from my own challenges.

We stayed with a dear friend, Jean, that we have kept in contact with but not seen in about twelve years. I enjoyed our talks and having tea with her every afternoon. She also took me to have high tea with a woman in her nineties that we used to do Reiki with. She still lives alone in her lovely home. We had a stimulating talk. The thing that impressed me about Mary was that she is still interested in everything and everyone. She was a good example for me. I want to be like that too.

Another person we got to connect with was Barry’s boss at Sophia Center, Sister Kathryn. She’s a story teller and just as we were leaving from our second visit, she told a story about the Sisters of the Holy Names in the 1800s Jacksonville, Oregon that I want to use in my sequel novel. The sisters established a convent in Jacksonville but were not well received until a small pox epidemic broke out. They worked tirelessly to help save as many people as they could. After the epidemic was over, the hearts and minds of the community were changed and the sisters were not only accepted into the life of the town, but appreciated so much that a picture of their founder was hung in City Hall. That reminded me of the movie we had watched with Jean just a few days before, The Letters, about Mother Teresa. Both stories are a testament to the fact that one or a handful of people can make a huge impact on the lives of people around them.

One of the most fun things I did was to take a trip to Powell’s Bookstore. It was a place I loved when we lived in Portland and I had a wonderful lunch, browsed and bought books, and took pictures for an episode of Loving Literature. I’m one of those crazy people who loves having lots of books around me even ones I may never get to read. It’s like having a favorite blanket. Books comfort me, so being in Powell’s was a little like sitting on a comfy couch, wrapped in a throw reading.

This morning I was catching up with my email and social media. I flipped past all the negative stuff and found a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Pam Grout. The title is, “Why I’m the luckiest person on the planet, Episode 23.” Obviously her blog is about the wonderful things that happen to her because that’s what her books are about, helping people learn how to allow great things to happen to them. I liked this quote from the post, “I get interviewed a lot. One of the common questions is, ‘What kind of goals do you set for yourself?’ And sometimes my interviewers scratch their head with my answer. ‘I don’t. Rather, I trust the universe so much that I let it set the agenda. It’s so much wiser and sees so many more possibilities than I ever could.'” Then she goes on to tell about her latest free trip to Italy where she got an invite to meet famous people and stay in fabulous places.

Now that’s that kind of life I want! Today I’ve decided to allow the universe to introduce me to more fabulous people and places.

As I look back on our trip, I find so many things to be grateful for. The beauty of the blooming flowers, (something Portland is known for), the abundance of love we shared with friends and family, Portland’s fabulous public transit system, helpful people at the Oregon Historical Society, unexpected conversations with strangers, and for great inventions like airplanes.

And thinking back on our trip this morning I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed over the almost twenty-one years since we moved from Portland. When I was younger, I was so serious. I saw life as hard. I didn’t ever dream I’d get to live the life I wanted. Paula, another boss of Barry’s that we connected with, reminded me of that. She told us about an artists retreat she attended that helped her see that she had blocked her own creative dreams. She decided not to do that any more. It was so much like my own awakening experience. It reminded me that we are way too hard on ourselves, and eat the same dreary experiences over and over again, instead of partaking of the banquet of life.

I’ve said for a long time that life is an adventure. I finally believe that, and am looking forward to more fabulous experiences.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017