I was inspired to write this post, in part, because although the Chinese year of the dog has arrived, we are also entering the solar month of Pisces, which like all signs has it’s up sides and shadow sides. Compassion, creativity, and dreaming are the upsides, escapism, self pity, delusion and illusion are the shadow side. We might find ourselves drowning in the shadow sides because Neptune in Pisces (2011 – 2025) makes this month a little more potent than usual. We can look to Pisces’ opposite – Virgo; to offset some of the emotionally foggy potential, by being grounded, practical, accountable, and focused on tangible details – sans the worry Virgo often brings.

 

Gratitude, Patience, Imagination

Curiosity, Courage, Knowledge

Difficult times don’t need to be made more difficult. That’s silly.

How then, shall we live?

How can we turn towards center in the midst of externally manufactured chaos and discord?

An impatient mind tells us NOW and we wind up buying objects we can neither afford, or find out we don’t want. Impatience and credit can often hook us into debt and stress…now we have to go faster to repay it all back. We have to get a better job (good luck) or make more money. Eventually entropy and the laws of Physics show us that going faster leads to more poor choices, incidents and accidents. We lose touch with who we are.

The boss of the swamp explains “In many occasions throughout my life I have wanted things that required more time or money than I could spare at the moment” and admits that these kinds of lessons ended in dissatisfaction. While our ignorant choices were good for the GDP they weren’t very good for our own sense of serenity or self confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles by using patience, courage, and curiosity. We miss the exhilarating opportunity to apply our patience, courage and creative problem solving abilities to overcome obstacles. It’s called in certain corners (God forbid) making do.

We find that to be true here. It often happens; a project gets stalled – only to be revealed later – after slow thorough observation – a better design resulted with less financial input or unnecessary labor.

Imagination vs Illusion

For most of us we can see our ‘vision’ of what we want. An impatient mind tells us we deserve it now. Feeling stressed, angry or discouraged when things don’t happen on our immediate time line is a great way to get hooked.

We are trained to believe illusion. Patience and waiting are for others, immediate gratification has our name on it – Right Now. If and when that doesn’t materialize – escapism and distraction ride to our rescue in all of their countless forms.

Cold War era poster rescued from a divided Germany

 

Step back. Remember. All Life is Impermanent.

Patience, Curiosity and Courage can carry us much further; imagination in the face of obstacles, gratitude in the face of adversity.

This month, illusion and escapism take top billing; careful this month not to get hooked by the desire to want it now or when that fails, escape into the world of dreamy illusions.

If you’re doing relevant research, that’s one thing but if you’re ‘surfing’ that’s another deal altogether. Let’s think about surfing. I body surfed off the leeward shore of Oahu in my past. My body, mind and emotions were connected to the sun, wind, and water (and sometimes if I biffed a wave – the coral reef under my feet). What we do to pass idle time on the internet is not surfing, if we were to be honest with ourselves and each other we would use an analogy far more accurate; we might say instead ‘I’ll see you in a bit, I’m going off to get high’. That’s what the brain is doing; getting high on the novelty stimulation of the next new unpredictable thing, and the next, and the next and so on, until the brain finds itself in late stage dopamine burnout.

Face Book founders have already come out and admitted as much.

Anger and self-pity don’t serve us, but usually in the midst of an LCE (life changing event) like Juno describes, that’s where we find ourselves; it’s a point in life where the illusions of expectations smack straight into the wall of reality. We can choose to let the LCE drag us under or we can choose to detox from the consumerist addictions we have been raised to believe are true, healthy, and normal when in practice they are not.

Reclaimed cart port a landlord in Seattle no longer wanted. Grapes, elderberry, mulberry, roses, comfrey, golden currant, mock orange shrubs, lilacs and more are now plentiful in this space. This picture is from 2013.

Now

Juno’s coffee chat “Dealing with hard times” by request from his viewers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hyDxy1Shdg

For most of us who have predictably pulled our wallets out to throw money at a situation, we find a startling emotional experience when that wallet no longer meets the illusive expectations we formerly demanded and believed we deserved. The vast majority of the American population lives pay check to pay check and is heavily indebted and distracted. That’s no accident.

As any addict knows, sooner or later the money runs out, along with the dopamine hits.

During the days, back when coal, oil and resources were plentiful and cheap, many of the adults around me lived by the tenets of The Secret, a delusional piece of writing that heralded more of everything for ever (if only you knew how to tap into it). A prophet-ized work of fiction for the profit-ized Religion of Progress that worked to cast a spell when the EROEI was 100:1, that is for every dollar invested in dredging up fossil fuels, 100 dollars were available for everything else a society wanted.  Those days are over. Tar sands, fracking, war abroad, and discord at home demonstrate the laws of finitude regardless of the delusional illusions governments and media would have us believe.

Now many of us know better.

Now, if we choose; we can take practical steps in the face of this duh-llusion.

Nine rose bushes a woman in the next town no longer wanted and asked our landscaper associate to ‘throw in the dump’. Roses are a companion plant to the grape, a relationship used for thousands of years in Afghanistan.

Juno helps us out here in the video link I posted above.  Practical pragmatic steps. LCE

  • Take inventory of everything you have that you own outright with no debt attached.
  • Identify those useful objects and ask yourself is there anything else I can use this for?
  • What are actual needs, and what are wants “we like this, we want this”. Do you really need three cars, TV, the outside (frightened white people) lights on 24/7?
  • How can we save money by baking our own bread, making our own vinegar, gathering eggs, in essence buying the ingredients and honing the knowledge instead of buying only the final product?
  • Can I sell, trade or barter with those items I have identified as no longer useful to me?
  • Can I drop the extraneous technology and increase the minds’ creativity and imagination?

Juno reminds us to not be afraid to ask. Have courage. Hording un-useful objects or duplicate items deemed un-useful serves no one.

Imagination and Illusion are two powerful forces. As is the case in all declining Empires, those at the top (sometimes with our help) will keep the illusions going for as long as possible while extracting as much as possible from the hapless population beneath them. I might say now; there are no victims only volunteers as the Black Friday videos so popular on Youtube emerge each year.

As the economic rot rises from the bottom into the populations that formerly were not used to this sort of construct, more and more of the population begins to get an inkling that this situation isn’t going to get much better. Naturally they start looking for ways to back away quietly. Blaming won’t help even if that happens to be a natural reaction from Homo sapiens, it’s not a solution.

Any group can blame ‘till the cows come home but they find out eventually, their solutions are still tied to contributions to the market – not the home economy. Think environmental nonprofits who set up a website, tie into face book, fly in speakers to meet at a hotel for their brand of convention.  They are still contributing to the centralized GDP and resource depletion, and most likely aren’t doing with any less of a high energy life style, than those of their neighbors who don’t give one wit about what’s happening around them.

Life is an impermanent and risky business.

 

If each of us wants to maintain our small enclave of humanity in our home and communities, it helps to know the larger overarching picture of Industrial Decline if we’re going to make our way over the next few decades relatively intact.

Pragmatic, practical, localized, and home based approaches will serve us much better. So will internal dialogues appropriate to adapting to new situations as they come up. Anger, self-pity, resentment and fear aren’t very helpful. Gratitude, patience, courage and knowledge gathering are. Grounded concrete application – and yes that means some ‘fails’ when we attempt projects new to us – will rewire our brains to a greater self-sufficiency.

 

In a slight twist on the serenity prayer…

May your day be filled with serenity, and the mindfulness to accept the things we can, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Keep us out of harms way, enjoy our journey, and help us to: not get hooked.

sheila