Deeply Awake Realized — Peace In The Valley 3-21-13 By Kathy Vik
This piece is dedicated to my dad, from a heart of gratitude and love.
Everything has changed.
It is easier to breathe now.
It is easier to think now.
My thoughts are coming in blocks now, instead of in sentences. Years can be lived now in a few hours.
You can feel it, can’t you? Can you appreciate that the air is sparklier?
Please understand that this is not in reaction to any blogger’s peer pressure, my telling you these things. After these changes became undeniable, I caught wind of how magnificent the equinox was to be for all of us. It’s nice, now and then, having confirmation.
Things have been very different for six days now. I am counting them, now. I want to see how long this thing goes. I want to see if it is just How Things Are Now, or if this is just another incremental adjustment.
I don’t know the ins and the outs. I just know that things are very different inside my head and heart now.
And here’s the thing. I worked through the Equinox. And it was a tilty shift.
Early in the shift I took a mental health toilet break. I took my hair down and looked in the mirror. Really studied myself. And it just came to me clear as day, What are you playing at? You do realize you are a grown up, right? You aren’t fifteen. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. What exactly are you playing at?
Then I put my hair up and went back to work.
It was a weird shift. It was teaching me, they all do, but it had a grinding quality to it. I wanted it to be over. It was dawning on me that the last two shifts have been about me not being seen as having even one whisper of authority. I had nurses treating me like I was a new grad. It’s like I gave off a gripless vibe. It was weird, the last two shifts, how very much like a mentally handicapped child I have been treated.
The truth is I have completely abdicated my interest, and am doing only the bare minimum to scrape by. I have been stunningly lazy. Really. But lazy to me and lazy to the average nurse are two different things. I am efficient, never avoid doing the most unpleasant of things, and I hustle up. I like work, I am no stranger to physical labor.
Because of that, doing more than my spidey-senses tell me is needed is bad practice… it’s me doing TO the patient so that I’ll feel more competent, so I can be seen as involved, a “good nurse.” I really don’t need to play that particular game anymore. Lots of nurses retire playing that one.
So, after crying my eyes out once the shift ended once I was safely back in my vehicle, the truth began to be revealed. I think these are the end-thoughts to the authority-at-work koan for a little while, so I would like to share them with you.
The koan “My reflection says her name is not Kathy,” well, that one might go on for a while longer. But I have gotten a good distance, and while I am catching my breath, I want to list for you, in no real order, the core concepts I have found a tiny bit of peace with. I will conclude by telling you how I want the world to be.
If I could know that there are more than a handful of other people across the globe who lived like this, thought like this, longed like this, I would sleep, breathe, smile easier, or at least walk the Earth with a little less caution.
1 – I am on fire to KNOW, to learn more, to become self actualized, illuminated, to be literally lit up from the inside out every minute of every day. I have experienced knowing that everything is pure consciousness, that this is a universe made entirely of love and benevolence, that I really am more than capable of anything. To go further, this is my passion, this is my quest and this is my only priority. When it wasn’t, I lived a life of suffering and grief. I live in this light now, and refuse to walk out of it ever again. Thankfully, I know now that the only way to be disconnected from it is to pretend it is not there.
2 – Work, relationships, commerce, all of these things are my laboratory. It’s where I work out which thoughts and beliefs look like what. It’s my time to connect again to the world of illusion, the world of symbol, as immediate and implications-rich as a heart attack. I take what I come across back to my self in my quiet times, reflect, smile, write. My work on the outside is in proportion with the work I am willing to do on the inside. Lately, that’s been quite a lot.
3 – I have tried to make peace with this thought of other people being a reflection of me, but I just can’t tolerate the thought. I began to see everyone as I see the people I work with. Now, I know I am making sweeping generalizations, but I also say to you now, when you have practiced nearly thirty years as an R.N., you are cordially invited to dispute my observations…
Within the places I have practiced, I have found that the bandwidth of permission for self-expression is incredibly narrow as a nurse. Nurses get it from everybody. Doctors. The lab. Family members. Bosses. Aides. There is lots and lots of blame making in the field, because everyone practicing is pretty much convinced that death is the ultimate failure, but that the air is thick with dangers that could lead to death.
In nursing, appearances and how things are perceived is central. CENTRAL. As a group, I find nurses highly ritualistic and compulsive, acutely sensitive to the feelings of others (yes, I said it, I think most nurses are highly psychic), very earthy and coarse, highly intelligent, but incredibly shallow.
Now, if you want, from that statement, to deduce that I, the writer, am ritualistic, compulsive, sensitive, psychic, earthy, coarse, intelligent and shallow, go right ahead. Not inaccurate but hardly prescient. You see, here, the basic wobble in the way the law of reflectivity has been laid out for us thus far? Read on… this leads me to points 4 and 5.
4 – Because I have misinterpreted the data, I have really hated myself for not fitting in at work. I know that I have a motif, a theme, that has to do with separation and identity, and this is a wonderful set of circumstances within which to work out the koan. But, can you appreciate the difficulty, when I spend twelve hours at a time with strangers whose only conversation is about romances and relationships and buying stuff? And don’t think I haven’t tried.
There’s sort of a resigned heart cry that goes up out of me when I peek out a little, talk a little bit about any non-boring topic, and am not met with recognition. Usually I am met with slightly hostile disinterest, or benign disinterest. Either way it is disinterest. If there is permission, I will speak, and I have met a couple of interesting, off-beat people that way, so I am not saying that everyone I work with is not my type. Neither am I saying that I am incapable of getting along with anyone who doesn’t believe as I do.
You see, I could give a crap what you believe, who you believe in. I really do not care, meaning, I am fascinated and want to know everything about how a person thinks about any topic at all, especially on such topics as why are we here and who is this god person, anyway. I love to hear other people’s impressions. Just love it. And I love all religions, I am their student. I think all of them are perfect and all of them are flawed, and all of them are valid. And I do mean all of them. What I am getting at is, there are still a whole lot of people out there who don’t know what they believe. They really haven’t given much thought to it. And I guess I prefer the company of those who have least been put in positions where they’ve had to think about life and death. But so few strive to go very far with it all. And that is my point.
This is that narrow band of expression I was referring to. It matters down to my toenails that I am right with myself, right with God, that I know myself and I know God. Of course, this requires that I am a student. Unceasingly ambitious in learning, trying out new ideas, discovering new thinkers, new constructs, new agreement fields. That is what drives me. Always has.
As I finally admit that to myself without shame, I begin to realize that this right and noble pursuit of mine, my heart’s desire, this is a pursuit which is openly ridiculed by many people. Few honor the modern mystic, the latter-day shaman, the nun-without-cloister. And in a hospital? Praying for others is out of vogue, talking about spiritual matters and natural alternatives is still risky and awkward, and, in my experience, unfortunately, my colleagues would rather talk about clothes and boys.
What if my pursuit is as valid as theirs? I’ve made a very uncomfortable uniform fit for thirty years. When will I finally stop hating the body that can’t squeeze into the clothes? When will I finally stop resenting the clothes for being so small? When will I see that those clothes are perfect for somebody, or a whole lot of somebodys, but they just don’t fit me? And when will the day finally dawn when I really GET that I am not at fault for the bad fit, it’s just a bad fit and there is no fault.
I think I have been trying to make extremely ill-fitting clothes look good for thirty years. I think these clothes fit the bill while I was so uncomfortable inside. I didn’t even recognize the clothes as ill-fitting. It’s only now, when I have peace at times and know what true comfort is, that I find myself nearly going mad with discomfort when once again donning the old garb.
What if I am not to blame, and they are not to blame, but it is just time to move on? What would make someone stay at anything so long that they SAY fits them so awfully?
That is a question best answered in private, although there is not one shade of meaning not exposed, oiled up, getting some sun on the hot slabs of these paragraphs.
5 – Here’s the deal. I could hang in with the nursing if a few things could change a bit. I am a dreamer, and I love to consider it possible that one day soon people will just loosen the hell up a little. It’s the judgments, the fear and the caution that drags on me the most in society. I find that most people, in conversation, are actively seeking ways to evade. I think conversation is best when its intent is to reveal. I love the act of revealing, being revealed, revelation.
But most folks I meet are not seeking this. They are seeking shelter. They do not want to be disturbed, they do not look for dissonance. They do not welcome change. I am not speaking for myself. I welcome internal chaos with both arms wide open. It is the way of the Wild Man. It is my way. Absolute and utter surrender to one’s process. Radical trust. Leaning and laughing hysterically, leaning right into change. But within this framework that DOESN’T BUDGE.
From the outside, without asking me a question, you’d probably see a distracted, disinterested career nurse who could do most of the things asked of her in her sleep. But you couldn’t be more mistaken. And I hold out hope that the next person I meet will also speak in tongues like this, will also see things differently, but they don’t.
I want to work with folks who are willing to entertain the notion of reincarnation, say, or oh, I don’t know, the concept of a “higher self.” Simple things that are a place to launch from. And maybe all of you work in offices with the self-actualized, but I have to tell you, from the looks of it down here in the trenches, we have a way to go in educating “the masses.” Or rather, in supporting them while they educated themselves.
So this is where I conclude. I keep hearing from blogging channels that this is the time to set intentions. This is the time to order up our universe. So I am going to end by painting a picture of how I would like my own world to look. And some of it involves other people.
** In my world, every single person finds great excitement and joy in the fact that they are whole, intact, complete, inviolate and clean. Everyone understands that they are good people. Everyone gets that they are decent. And in my world everyone knows and acts as if everybody else also is whole, intact, complete, inviolate, clean, good and decent. The implications are staggering. Imagine a world where everyone not only has good intentions, but everyone gives everyone else the “benefit of the doubt” in all circumstances.
**Everyone in my world profoundly respects themselves. In my world, everyone knows and acts as if everyone else is also deserving of profound respect. Imagine a world where everyone acts from a still center of respect.
**Everyone honors their own workings, and respects the movements their inner workings make upon their outer world. They accept their inner seasons, hear their inner guidance, and always obey their inner master, They know and demonstrate self-mastery, self-authority, sovereignty. They have taken the time to know their own story, to divine the meaning of their own tale.
Here, no one tries to tell your story. No one tries to guess your story. Here, everyone invites you, instead, to TELL your story, and they urge you to not leave anything out. But here, the motivation is simply to create a safe, human place to share, and to meet the Self.
Here there is no compulsion to tell or guess at or belittle anothers’ story. Here there is only support, encouragement, perspective, good humor. Imagine a world where the highest value is to live one’s truth as well as one can. To be one’s one authority, while honoring your fellow traveler as his or her own authority. Imagine a world where everyone is expected to and honored for being one’s own ultimate authority.
Because of these facts, society is a little different where I want to live.
Everyone is accustomed to their own sound, and their own inner workings. Because of that, everyone is just naturally more aware of others’ conditions. The thoughts (“vibrations”) of others are easily identifiable. Everyone, therefore, finally appreciates how powerful thought propelled by intent is, and so people are even THINKING gentler thoughts!
It no longer makes sense to be unkind to someone. If you don’t like what they are doing, you say so in a nice way, and the other person more than likely says, oh yes, I could have been more mindful, thank you. There are no tears. There are no punishments. There are no scenes. There are no rages. There are no depressions. There are no attacks. There are no insults. There are no rumors. It might go something like this:
Bob is cutting his fingernails, one, by, one, piece, by, piece, and you find that annoying and kind of gross. (Yes, in my world, some things just can’t honestly be called anything but gross.)
“Could you do that somewhere else? I don’t like it.”
“Oh. OK. Sure.”
No dirty look. No sigh. No stifling yourself. No keeping it in and finding a way to cope with the grossness. Just simple statements.
If you already live in such a world, that is so awesome. I envy you a little bit. But, see, in my world, you can do it with anybody. Anybody. Anybody. With never a punishment. Never a repercussion.
In my world, no one takes away from anyone else in any way. It is all about giving, and in my world, it is unimportant if the giving is received or rejected. Doesn’t matter. There is no way to feel rejection, because no one feels incomplete. Therefore, it no longer makes any sense at all to feel the need to compete for love, attention, sexual advances, our daily bread.
Once again, back to the daily bread.
In my world, there is no want for food, shelter, fuel, clothing. But even the nice stuff, that is in abundant supply. But that is not because we figured out a way to manufacture TV’s on the super cheap. No. It’s a combination of learning how to do things differently and having different priorities.
There are no locks in my world. There are no “closed” signs. If you need a sewing machine at 3am, you can find one, and it won’t cost you a red cent. What is needed is provided. And not by some archangel. By YOU. By being in the flow, by calling that which would delight you the most to you, all in divine timing, always miraculously, easily, lovely every time.
We live in communities, and they are not big ones. Maybe twenty, maybe more, maybe less. We live in circles, our residences on grids which feel right. The structures can move. The people can move. The geometry we make with our endeavors and our dream time and our teaching and all of the other endeavors each little tribe does, it is all quite beautiful and intricate and almost heartbreakingly dear after all the separation and dissolution we’d come to consider normal.
Because everyone tends to their own gardens, spiritually speaking, there is no need for a national government. The logistic needs are met by a high council. But all councils in my world are made up of the purest of heart, seen in everyday life, at home, in their community.
Only the selfless serve, in my world, and because everyone has gotten out of littlemind’s way, the purest of the pure find their way to the highest councils, not out of ambition but just because it makes sense to have someone who loves you truly offering you advice s/he’d offer him/herself if asked. Councils, in my world, do not legislate, micro-manage or punish. They are our esteemed advisers, our elders, ones only a fool would ignore.
In my world, it is understood that mistakes are made, but something can only be called a mistake BY THE PERCEIVER, and all mistakes good. They aren’t a goal, mind you, but they are perfectly fine. The thinking in my world goes like this: mistakes are just missed opportunities, and missed opportunities that are explored are not mistakes. We give ourselves opportunities to match an ideal we have within. We meet the ideal, or we don’t. If we do, we explore. If we don’t, we explore.
So, that’s where I live when I am not at work. And then I get on shift and it’s all (and I am taking this verbatim from my long and illustrious career)
You go ahead and get him started with that (god-awful) procedure… I’ll be there in a minute (and help never arrives)
This is the third time in your twelve month annual review cycle that you have been more than seven minutes late to the start of your shift, so here is your written warning for signature, and please note, if you are late again, there will be further disciplinary action
We understand that Bill wanted to talk to you about his thoughts on God, and we have to remind you, this is a secular organization. We really cannot permit the staff discussing things like God with these patients (psych ward)
Every keystroke is monitored. We can read your deleted entries.
These cameras keep everyone honest
These computers are to eliminate mistakes
She’s 100 years old, has multiple organ failure, she failed her vent wean, she’s febrile and the daughter wants an MRI in case there’s a stroke going on
“That makes me sick,” says the terminal patient in response to a televised call for moderation in our national political discourse (happened last night)
That’s my dissonance. That’s my cross. That’s my koan.
On my off days I am actively imagining this other world, beginning to imagine it might just be possible, really. Especially the last few days. And then I have a couple rough shifts and I feel like I am back to square one.
But I know that when I go to sleep thinking about this peaceful world I’ve been creating that last year, that place gets closer.
And here is the truth.
The people who have nursed me all these years, my colleagues, my nemeses, my brick walls, my moments of truth, these people and I cooperatively created every shift I ever had. And my beautiful, beautiful patients, ahh, my greatest teachers, how I love you. You guys have held me up, not held me back, and I fight against a very worthy opponent breaking free of you.
The new age world doesn’t have a lot of kind things to say about the sick. A little bit of projection, if you ask me. I love the sick. In many ways, I’ve loved the sick far better, far more than I have thus far loved the well.
I understand then, lying alone in their simple white beds, wrestling their own meaningless and mortality. I prefer the company of the kept over the company of their keepers. There are very few rules among the sick and dying. There is a greater governance, one which cannot be contained or explained by a progress note or diagnosis code.
I want that new world. I want a world where everyone is as tenderhearted as the dying woman who wants, knows of no other need than for this one thing: “Pillow. Fix. Pillow.”
I just want a world where there can be only love, because we have all come to our senses enough to know that anything else is just shadow play and metaphor, a rousing game we took a hand in, a feat of barbarism and mindlessness, brutality and disinterest, a weird combination of disregard and hypervigilance, where Abraham’s God is now acquisition, love relationships and The Boss.
My world is lived outdoors, in the sunlight, one of inner suns, outer smiles and simple kindnesses. It is a world where we know no shame, and we know no fear. Instead, we know tranquility, excitement, joy, union, safety, respect, honor, sovereignty, peace. Here, in my world, or maybe in my little patch of world, there is peace. There is peace in this valley.
I know that this peace is best experienced shared.
I want to share something more than facebook posts, edited parable-ized memories, plans.
Tell me we can get there from here.
I am hopeful, never more so, but I am getting a little tired.
I think now that I have written this, I know why.