I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A new day, a new beginning

Clearing clouds
Last February, on one of our Trailblazer hikes, it rained almost the whole day (not unusual),  but just as we were beginning to head back down the old logging road, the clouds cleared just for a moment, just long enough for me to capture this view of Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters. Just a few minutes after I took this, the clouds again obscured them, but I will always have the photo to remind me of that moment.

This morning I woke from a very realistic dream that lingers in my mind. I dreamed that I was with a man whom I had just met, but we bonded very strongly. I didn't know his name, but I could tell that the feeling was mutual. We held each other in a long hug, and then he turned away to walk through Security in some crowded airport or other. I called out to him, "Will I ever see you again?" He stopped and looked back at me, and I realized I was mistaken: it wasn't him at all but someone else who looked like a younger version of the same man. Where was the mystery person I had recognized as my soul mate? This morning as I sit here with my laptop, I can recall his protective touch, his smell, and the look in his eyes. A sense of loss filled me as I woke from the dream.

And now, as I enter this new day, the dream fades and all I have left is a vague memory. It's similar to the memory I have of the day when I took the picture: it's still there, but it's just a glimpse as the clouds cleared away, enough to remain tucked somewhere in the recesses of my mind, not enough to have a clear focus, just enough to remember it happened. Dreams are funny that way.

Today begins the eye drops I'll be adding to my soon-to-be-operated-on eye. Tuesday is the big day, and I wake in the middle of the night and spend some time thinking about the event. Almost everyone I know who has endured cataract surgery gets through it just fine, so why am I so anxious? Perhaps it's because I made the mistake of researching it thoroughly on the internet and know all the things that can go wrong. Although it's a very common surgery, I'll be glad when the next month has passed and I'll be on the other side of both events. Next week I'll report on the experience of the first eye. It's the bad one, the one that has already lost some vision from AMD (age-related macular degeneration). I spend some time wondering whether the increased vision from the cataract removal will make the vision loss more acute, or less so. In any case I won't have the wonderful clear focus that people without AMD receive. I have no choice but to deal with whatever I end up with.

I almost decided to talk about the weather and went over to the website to check it out. I listened to the wind blow, hard, all night long, and the unusual warmth that accompanied it. But no, that's not where I want to go today. It's tempting, because it's a safe subject, but not at all where my mind travels when I stop to think. No, instead I reflect on the awful terrorist attack that took place at a Sufi mosque in Egypt. More than 300 people were mowed down in a few minutes. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam, believing in love, peace, and tolerance. This article will introduce you to it, if you know little about Sufism. From that article:
 “It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the New York Times. “It is Islam, but we focus on meditation, on chanting sessions, which enable the Muslim to have his or her heart open. The myths people have about Sufis are analogous to the myths people have about Muslims.”
When I was a young woman living in a hippie commune, we practiced Sufi dancing once a week in the ballroom of the old mansion that had been repurposed as our community home. I have lovely memories of dozens of us in the dim room walking through the simple steps of the dance and chanting together. Never in my wildest imaginings would I have believed that anybody in the world would see this gentle practice as heretical. But to Muslim extremists, it justifies killing hundreds of people. My heart goes out to those who survived this massacre and who will likely never fully recover. I just pray that it doesn't turn these believers in love and tolerance into their opposite. It's hard not to think of revenge.

We live in a violent world, with terrorist attacks having now become an almost daily event. All around the world, people are frightened and afraid. That means, to me, that the terrorists are accomplishing what they set out to do. They believe that the Apocalypse is imminent and they are going to see us all return to medieval times, and they are hurrying it along. That's my belief about the Islamic State's goals, anyway. A really good article about Islam was written in 2015 in the Atlantic. I learned a great deal from it (What ISIS Really Wants). It's long and thorough, but it doesn't make me feel any better about what's yet to come. It did make me realize why ISIS believes that love and tolerance are heretical ideas.

It's hard for me to imagine what I, a single person, might be able to accomplish in the world today, but then again, I know that it's not possible to remain ignorant and aloof from the trials we all face, each and every day. I believe in love and tolerance as the way I can go towards wholeness. I have known suffering and loss, and there will be more of it to come, but I will not turn away from love. In fact, I found this lovely quote from Elisabeth Kugler-Ross that says it all for me:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. 
Bringing myself back to the title of this post, "A new day, a new beginning," I will endeavor to find a way to spread love and hope for a better future around in my little corner of the universe. And now it's time to spend my day with some coffee, a scheduled massage, and a movie with my friend Judy. I wish you and your loved ones a stress-free, wonderful day. Until we meet again next week.


Marie Smith said...

There is such violence in the world today I am reluctant to turn of the news. So much suffering in the name of religion but this isn’t the first time in history for that.

Practise tolerance and empathy and be kind. That’s all I know to do.

I’ll be thinking of you on Tuesday! Take care.

Linda Myers said...

I'll be with you on Tuesday in my heart.

For some reason, I am not afraid of what's going on in the world. I suspect this kind of thing has been going on for thousands of years, but now we know about it, because tragedy draws us to read it. I've learned to find where I can make a difference, and go there.

Linda Reeder said...

I can't help but think of how little attention these massive attacks in other lands get in our media here, compared to our domestic attacks, and yet all are terrible, tragic, and accomplishing their aims of spreading fear and hate.
Love, clear thinking, and empathy for others are the only antidotes I know against this eveil.
Sending best wishes for a very successful surgery on Tuesday.

Gigi said...

I think you are anxious about the surgery because it's your eyes - and because of your research. Know that you will be in many people's thoughts and prayers - so you won't be going it "alone."

As for the evil and hate - yes, I believe that spreading love and kindness however we can is the only antidote.

Bonnie said...

I don't comment often, but know that I will be thinking of you this week - especially Tuesday. May it be a surprisingly easy week for you. Know that you are held in the hearts of many.

Elephant's Child said...

My heart grieves for those in Egypt. As it does for so many.
I try and practise kindness, empathy and tolerance. And hope that as more people do, our tiny drops will become a tsunami of positive change.
I will be thinking of you on Tuesday.

Red said...

Love, hope and understanding. we need the understanding for the other stuff to work. We have to understand others. That's where the wheels fall off the bus . People do not want to understand the other guy. Keep hammerin away at this topic. It's the only way things will work.

Hilary said...

My first cataract surgery is tomorrow morning...........the second one is Dec 12th!!

I can't wait until it's over. :)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

AMD does not blur vision . As holes develop on the macula you have dropped vision because the maula no longer is able to gather an image in totality. The word AFTER begins to look like AFER with T gone. But it is still clear. The other good eye will correct the gap and brain will read AFTER. It is an issue if both eye are affected. You seem safe from that for now.
Extremists are not Mulims. Ask anyone of the many branches of Islam for it is suppoed to be a peace loving and caring faith. The extremists
a just violent demented people who sadly are educated by very evil leaders who have personal goals to use and abuse others with no rational real plan. These evil doers have been around forever. It makes no sense to call them Muslim. They do not deserve that. They are just wild evil people. They follow no faith because no faith exists that allows mass murders. We need to understand that. It is a power struggle by misguided individuals who get satisfaction performing criminal acts. Their cause is baseless. What is very clear is too many human minds are easily put under a horrible spell by the sick self proclamed powerful leaders who seem to coach their blind followers. Both leaders and followers in this case are without a religion. Uttering a few words sited from any holy scriture and then performing mass destruction just proves how faithless they are
Too bad they try to hide behind a veil of having to right wrongs in the name of a higher power. They are wrong and right nothing.
I send you positive vibes for Tuesday.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have not heard the World or National News since last Wednesday so I had not heard about this last attack. Locally a young 15 year old boy missing for over 3 months was found in California...a long way from home. What times we live in.
I understand your apprehension about Tuesday. It will be okay! A very small percentage have problems. Do your drops and follow the Doctors orders and you will be okay. The next month will go fast for you! I am anxious hear all about it! I shall be thinking about you on Tuesday and saying a prayer for a good outcome:)

Arkansas Patti said...

Thank you for the information about Sufi beliefs. I will never understand how gentleness, kindness and love are bad and need to be destroyed. I sigh deeply and sorrowfully at the injustice and horror. Sometimes the sides of the pit we are in these days seem impossible to scale. Guess we need to just keep scrapping.
Please know how many of us will be with you in spirit on Tuesday. Sometimes with surgery, a little knowledge is better than the lot that the Internet provides. Just breathe deeply and know for certain that you will be fine and pleased with the results.

Rita said...

You'll be so glad tomorrow when you are back home and the first eye is done. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. It was much easier and faster than I expected. We are so lucky to live in this age where they can do these repairs with ease.

I read the article about ISIS. *shudders* Mankind has always killed and hated in the name of God or for the sake of land or power. Hasn't ended yet. They haven't ever won and taken over the world. They have always lost in the end. That helps me sleep at night, I guess. Love and hugs!! :)

C-ingspots said...

My prayers will include a successful eye surgery for you. How wonderful to regain some lost sight! A dear friend of mine is having that same surgery in about a month. Hoping for success for you both.

You have such a loving outlook on life. That's how Jesus wants us to believe, I think. And how we should treat others, with love, kindness, compassion and respect. ISIS is the opposite of that. They seek to destroy, nothing more or less. That's the true definition of antichrist. Regardless of what happens, they will lose in the end. I believe that with all my heart; and that belief allows me to live without fear. There is hope in my heart.

Be well dear Jan. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Rian said...

DJan, just wanted you to know that I'll also be thinking about you tomorrow when you have your cataract surgery done. I know it is nerve-wracking as I had both mine done and couldn't help but be anxious (after all, it is our EYES). But it should be fine and over fairly quickly. My prayers will be with you.

Glenda Beall said...

I hope your surgery is done and you are fine. I feel sure you will have no complications. My sister worried about her surgery because she had RK surgery years ago and now they find out that makes cataract surgery more complicated. She came through fine but her sight is still fluctuating but she thinks it is going to be OK>
I am so sorry about the AMD and I hope your doctors are doing all the new things that are supposed to help save your sight.
Thinking of you with love and positivity.

Blogoratti said...

Hope everything goes well as planned, warm greetings and best wishes to you.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, What an interesting start with the story of your dream. It is just so amazing what can go through our minds in our dreams. Your photo of Mt Baker and the Twin Sisters is great. I have to wonder if the same explorer was involved with giving the Twin Sisters their name as The Brothers in the Olympic Range. You may have seen some pictures of The Brothers on my blog. Now, regarding the attack in Egypt. These terrorist attacks on any religious group sicken me. I often wonder how these fellow human beings can be so evil. I need to read the article from The Atlantic you mentioned. Maybe it will give me some insight. Lastly, I love the quote from Elisabeth Kugler-Ross! Thanks, as always, for sharing all! John