Strange Stirrings for 2021

Our former old ways just aren’t holding together, and the unravelling of the binding ties carefully made back in the Age of Enlightenment are being pulled - oops, that sweater our culture was wearing just snagged on an old horn again.

Sometimes it feels to me that we are entering the new dark ages or the dark new age. In our time of post-literacy and post-post-literacy, I’m impacted by the bizarre and frightening current events shown on the world stage as I squint each morning at the dramas unfolding through my teensy screen, all the while acutely aware of the personal losses and challenges people I am close to are facing daily.

I have been afraid to contemplate the unravelling of centuries of carefully knit binding and coverings over the age-old monsters. Not because I didn’t “know” it, but because I did.

Oh, we can say we welcome change and transformation, but I am not so sure we can take it. Our current culture seems ill-equipped and poorly prepared for what we are now living in, let alone what may be asked of us. Over 50 years ago, McLuhan warned us that our rear-view mirror approach to what is actually before us means the hurtling car is driverless on sudden intersections and sharp turns.

We imagine a tame human-centred environment, like Marie Antoinette’s idealized neo-peasant pastime, not the reality of the raw forces. At any storm or weather event, my dad often ironically quoted, “Nature in the raw is seldom mild.” I always thought it was from a Rex Morgan, MD comic, but he was repeating the 1930’s ad slogan for Lucky Strike.

This is one of the least offensive in the stereotype ad series, featuring tropes of “heroes”, barely-clad women, roaring lions and Indian “savages” advertising “milder” Lucky Strikes.

The colonial ad campaign brings to mind that old description of the 3 plot forms in literature: “man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. himself”. We know saying that “nature in the raw is seldom mild” seems to be only a small part of the entirety. Nature is our mother, our home, our teacher and the opener of our understanding, deserving all gratitude.

Google on Memory Lane

There’s a familiar meandering road nearby, you have one with the same name near your place, too: Memory Lane. Sometimes I travel it with the random power of Google to street view former houses, maybe follow the path I took to walk to school. Well, back to dad and the comics. I used to sit on his lap as he read the weekend comics to me, and even though they seemed boring, I liked the combo of Rex Morgan MD and Mary Worth. Today, researching Rex Morgan, I learned the comic began in 1948, written by a psychiatrist using the pen name Dal Curtis, and he named the series after an actual Rex Morgan, who was a US Army “chief mortician”.

Paging Rex Morgan,MD!

I’m glad Rex Morgan was a figure created by a psychiatrist to educate comic readers about public health. I bet he’d tell us good things about meditation, since we need the meditation life more than ever now. It is a tool for hope and insight that works on a far deeper level than sleep.

When Shakespeare told us that “sleep knits the ravelled sleeve of care,” it was in a desperate speech from Macbeth, crying out for relief.

The returning age-old monsters are more like Macbeth, not like little Dogor, the 18,000-year-old frozen puppy surfacing in Siberia, or any of the other remains revealing themselves in the thawing permafrost - that wooly little rhino, the wolf’s head, new dragonlike dinosaurs, who knows what else? Those ice age animals are objects of fascination but seem to be ultimately benign, like animals in a story-book.

What concerns me are the old human monsters that are new again, and some are so old we forgot they were here. Well, surprise, surprise, all the closet doors open at once and all the skeletons are coming out, taking hold disguised as people living in the 21st century. We have to find a way to close the doors, because, as the old ones said, “if you think Grendel is bad, look out for Grendel’s mother.”

Meditation is the answer

So it’s time for more clarity, insight, intuition and love. Meditation bypasses the linear, opens the space for new patterns, brings love right in through the front door. I believe an active meditation life can help guide us to reknit what has become unravelled, in a new strong pattern that is sure to hold. One more accurate and in-feeling with nature, more respectful of our place here.

And I’m talking lateral thing-king. I’m talking mild dissociation of the senses. I’m looking at resonating nodes, musically aligned letters, sounds from colours, the body’s echo of stellar interplay - all in the fullness of each day.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich

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