Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who Can You Trust?

Last weekend, I was out hiking with a friend, who kept telling me what was going on with her, at a very deep level, and then saying things like, "It's great to be able to share this with someone; I don't have anyone else to tell this stuff to."

It occurred to me that her major issue was not all the things she was talking about, but rather, trust. (There are some very good reasons for this, which I won't go into.) She's not alone, though -- trust is a big issue for a lot of people. So since then, I've been thinking about how you find out if you can trust someone at a deep level. (I'm not talking about more superficial issues, like showing up on time, or paying what they owe you. I've dealt with those issues here.)

It takes time to know if you can trust someone with your most sensitive experiences and feelings.  Listen carefully over a period of time to anyone you are getting to know, before sharing anything sensitive. Does this person
  • Complain a lot? If he complains all the time about just about everything, eventually, he'll complain about you, quite possibly spilling some of your 'secrets'. (On an energy level, there are no secrets. The energy spent trying to keep a secret weakens you, and takes energy from more positive pursuits. So transparency is your best protection in any case.)
  • Make many judgmental statements? If you hear judgments falling like drops from a leaky faucet, you must assume that she's judging you just as harshly as everyone and everything else, whether or not she says these judgements to your face. Do you really want someone judging you harshly? Do you even want to be around someone like that? Do you really want someone else's limitations circumscribing your life?
  • Ridicule people often? The ridicule can be in the form of put downs, or nasty, sarcastic humor (think Don Rickles here), or 'teasing'. An habitual ridiculer will use whatever you have shared to ridicule you, sometimes to your face. This is what really hurts, because what hurts you most  emotionally are judgements on things you already feel bad about.
  • Gossip? If she gossips, she'll feel free to tell your 'secrets', and leave you open to others' judgements and ridicule. Who needs that?
As you begin listening for complaints, judgements, ridicule and gossip, you'll find you rule out a great many people before settling on the few who don't do these things, or at least not as habits.

In the meantime, keep your own counsel. Journals are great for this, as long as they are not online, and preferably not even on a computer, which can be hacked. There are specific ways to keep journals which will help you clear your own issues, so that you don't actually need someone else to talk to most of the time. Maybe we'll get to that in another post...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tell Your Truth

According to the New York Times

"Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

"They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot..." 

Why do you suppose that is? I think it's because by now, almost everyone in the US knows someone who is openly gay, and knows that this person is a 'normal' person in all respects, whose only difference is that he or she is attracted to members of the same sex, instead of the other sex.

Why do you suppose everyone now knows someone who is gay?  

It's because a generation ago, gay men began to organize because of AIDS, began to speak out, began a 'gay pride' movement. When all those gay men, and eventually lesbians, began to come out of the closet, eventually, almost everyone realized they knew someone who was homosexual. And each person realized that his friend, cousin, colleague, brother, sister, son, daughter, niece, nephew, uncle or aunt who came out of the closet was still the person he or she had always been. That made homosexuality, well, normal.

Why would you want your friends and relatives to have fewer rights than you do? You wouldn't.

This is the power of telling your truth. When you stand up and tell your truth, it empowers someone else to do the same. Eventually, like tiny streams come together to make a river that changes a landscape, all of you come together to change the consciousness of a country (and eventually the world). 

It's not just true for homosexuality, either. It's true for those who are fighting to legalize marijuana (and by the way, 24 years ago, an FBI agent told me that "if we had to exclude anyone who'd ever smoked marijuana from government, we wouldn't have a government"). It's true for people like me who openly talked about psychic abilities before it was popular. It's true today for people who are talking about having positive contact with extra-terrestrial beings. It's true for the insiders who are leaking political, financial, military and scientific truths, which the 'powers that were' are trying to hide from We the People.

So whatever your truth is, say it loudly - and proudly (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else -- I am not standing up for child molesters, etc. here). 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A sense of place

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I was horrified that an American city had been allowed to drown, disgusted that our government didn't give a damn about the hundreds of thousands in the city itself, and the millions in the area. When the tsunami hit Indonesia, I was horrified by the loss of life. When the earthquake hit Haiti, I was saddened for what happened to all the people there. When the tsunami hit Fukushima, I was worried for my friends there (who got out okay), horrified by what I saw, scared about how it would affect the entire world (still am, actually).

But when Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, it was a completely different experience.

Before I get to that, though, let me say that everyone I know -- and that's a lot of people, because I grew up there, because I went to college in NJ, because I lived in Manhattan for a couple of years -- is okay.  (I know this thanks to the magic of Facebook.) Many are inconvenienced by lack of electricity and in some cases, gas, but they're coping. Two friends, a couple who live in Highlands by the ferry terminal, had to evacuate. Their house is still standing, but it's gutted. Other than that, it's a tree down here and there. Yes, it's sad; yes, it's difficult in the short run, but for everyone I know, except my Highlands friends, there's no real life-changing damage.

The thing is -- Sandy hit me in the gut. And it's kind of in my consciousness all the time.

I grew up at the Jersey Shore, 5 miles from the beach. I was at the beach every day of every summer, often all day, every day, all summer. I learned to swim there, learned to ride waves there, felt one with the entire universe in the ocean there for the very first time. I learned to go to the beach to clear my head, even in winter.

I learned gymnastics from friends on the hard-packed sand at low tide. I learned life-saving there, and worked briefly as a life guard (the pool, not the ocean, but still).

I went to beach dances there. I heard Springsteen before he got famous, when his band, the 'hot' band, was the Steel Mill.  The Asbury Park boardwalk was my idea of fun -- roller coasters, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and the Fun House, not to mention cotton candy and candy apples.

Mostly I hung out in Sea Bright and West Long Branch, but every summer, one of my grandmothers would rent a studio in Asbury Park or Bradley Beach or Belmar or Deal. I'd go stay with her for a week, then I'd go home and my sister would stay with her for a week.  It was always so much fun. It meant I got to know more beaches in more towns.

I remember when the Long Branch pier burned down. I had one very memorable date at Seaside, where we walked the beach after the boardwalk closed, talking till 2AM. (Yeah, Dad was angry, even though I had no curfew.) When I was in college, a friend and I rented a house on Long Beach Island for a week off-season, when we could afford it. And I remember meeting a Long Branch firefighter in Wildwood, who told me they'd been instructed not to put out the Long Branch pier fire.

Reading that the many of the train bridges are out upsets me terribly (one of them goes through the Raritan Bay marsh, and it's amazing). Seeing photos of the destroyed Seaside rollercoaster saddens me. Seeing photos of Asbury Park, and Sea Bright and Highlands under layers of sand, the water having retreated, churns my gut. The photo of the missing wall of the Asbury Park Convention Center horrifies me.

None of my close friends in northern California is having the gut wrenching experience I am. But then, none of them grew up there, either.

Here's what I've learned: places really do become part of you. I don't know if it's just the memories, or something deeper. We exchange molecules with the air around us with every breath, and we use what we take in to build our bones and muscles and organs and skin. But every single atom in us supposedly changes every 7 years. So how is it that these places are so much a part of me?

I know now that what they say is true -- you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can't take New Jersey out of the girl.