Thursday, July 30, 2009

Planting My Feet - part l


photo: collaberation of mark-shark & el poquito

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Earth, it ain’t for sissies. Showing up takes strength, stamina and courage. The road traveled can be riddled with fear, worry and doubt, in fact guaranteed – you will walk the earth with those three companions at one time or another.

Everyone wants a long and happy life. Lacking that, most will be satisfied with simply a long life. Longevity appears as a gift on the horizon; something to achieve, thankfully. What remains hidden is the price of longevity: the longer you live, the more experiences you gather; more milestones and equally, more losses.

This is a world filled with loss. We keep our focus on the gains, the achievements of a lifetime, but along with gains come the losses; there’s no escaping it. Occasionally life throws us a big one: the loss of a loved ones life; the loss of health; loss of work, home or marriage. The big losses sweep through our lives like a storm knocking us down.

I was swept away in such a storm. The details of the storm I’ll spare the repeating. The back-story is in the archives of the blog; see the three-parter from September ’08 called “Autumn Equinox Triptych”. It’s all there.

In a nutshell – when the rug is pulled out from underfoot quicker than a heartbeat, first we spin out. Shock can shoot us out of our bodies, leaving us feeling ‘not quite here’; and when ‘here’ is excruciatingly painful then shock mercifully escorts us off the premises. But ‘here’ is where the problem is. ‘Here’ is where the problem-solving must take place. ‘Here’ is where the work is to be done. Abandoning the premises of the suddenly crappy building that is burning down looks mighty tempting - understandable too, until you realize there are no do-overs; this is NOT a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing and it’s going up in flames!

Do you stand by passively immobilized and watch? Or do you call the Fire Department and get out the hose?

When I was swept off the planet and out of my comfortable life a few years ago, I was incredibly fortunate to know people who attempted to tether my feet as I floated away from the trauma, shock, cancer and morphine. We all knew I was sick enough to easily die – to simply float off. It really would not have been difficult to die; remaining here was the challenging part. Equally important as the cancer-fighting medications were the loving individuals who tethered me to this earth as my body attempted to slip out from under me.

Grounding was necessary.

Whenever shock is involved, grounding is the remedy. I’ve been taught that when I'm in need of grounding to do exactly that – walk barefoot on the earth; sit down on the ground, or best of all, lay the whole body out, prostrated to the earth, letting her carry me, hold me, ground me. We do call her Mother after all. Commit to the relationship with her! She has supported us all these years.

Within the first few days of flying off the planet, I was surrounded in an intentional healing circle of my wife, children and four elders, led by my spiritual elder and advisor, a humble man of power who knows a thing or two about healing, living and dying. I lay in the center of the circle as they ‘planted my feet’. I felt myself called back into my hurting, crappy body that I wished only to escape.

The first step: stop escaping. Plant my feet on the ground I truly stand on now – the frightening ground it would take courage for me to continue to stand upon.

I will be forever grateful for their loving call to return into my body. I lay there, my body drenched in sweat as I tried to slide back into it, while my elder-teacher taught my youngest son where to place his hands on me – how to continue ‘planting my feet’ after my elder had returned to Mexico. I am incredibly fortunate and grateful to this kind circle of folks who helped me remain here on earth a little longer. They called me. They planted my feet.

When life becomes circumstances of spinning chaos and we are smacked in the face with our own powerlessness, often, all we can do is try to be as grounded as we possibly can. If we become the eye of the storm we are more effective in the storm for ourselves and for others.

Sometimes this is about all we can actually do for another in the storm - we can call out, motivated by our love not fear, and help to plant another’s feet. We don’t need a special someone – an elder, a healer, a medicine man, a doctor; we all have this power to call out to one another, especially when it’s fueled by love and care.

We have been conditioned to look for an answer outside of ourselves, while all along, WE ARE the medicine.

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We are the medicine
We become the chorus
On earth
Calling the lost one to return
Planting their feet
On the earth
Once again

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The first step to 'Planting the Feet': Stop attempting to escape!

Muchas gracias Tlakaelel, Celia, Bert, Dora, and my wife and sons for calling me back.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

el po-
Walking barefoot on the Earth these past few days-many times a day. The sand filling me with a grounding I pray to remember in daily life away from my time at the beach.

Showing up does take courage, stamina and strength-yet walking this earthwalk with you on this journey helps me to bolster all three.

We are the medicine-for ourselves and each other.
Keep planting your feet and sowing your words.
A blessing for us all-
la po

Dedalus1947 said...

I salute you both

L'chaim

el poquito said...

thank you Dedalus. Yes, L'chaim - to Life; good to be in it another day here, eh?

I'm a lucky man, as you see.

And you know, my dear, walking on the beach on this beautiful summer day, the fact that after these years you can use words like bolster and blessing associated with this ornery ol' guy you've left at home - well, you remind me how fortunate I am that you still hold one of the main cords tethering me.

kind of odd, being so revealing here - but hey, at this point - why not? The other night I was reading Joseph Campbell; two quotes jumped out at me:

"When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness."

and

" Trials and revelations is what it's all about."

My hope would be that through our trials I find some revelation and as I write it out it become clearer to me - and that it somehow be useful for others also - not just my own self-preservation.

Take what helps and leave the rest.

Next: a little more on 'Planting the Feet' or grounding amidst chaos.

Sandi said...

When I was younger, I would dream of taking flight. Being untethered would be the only way I would be truly free, I thought. Such flying was stimulating but did not offer the freedom I sought. And, from great heights, the ground looked pretty darned appealing. Now that I am older and a teeny tiny bit wiser, being firmly planted is my goal. The things that I thought weighed me down like huge anchors are really my life lines and I am most grateful for their presence.

We are the medicine. I love this!

Anonymous said...

Nice piece. We really are a part of this earth -- but also a part of the sky and the stars and the galaxies. We truly are 'the medicine', too -- and that has two sides to it; we can also be our own worst medicine. Here's to tasting the healing-happy stuff.

mark

tarzan said...

Beautifuly written my friend...... I lived the living and the leaving and the coming back...... and I'm in the process of appreciating and loving each place more. None of them are easy to reach or let go without that helping hand....tarzan

el poquito said...

hey folks - good to see y'all - thanks for coming by.

Sandi - that ability to 'take flight' still comes in handy sometimes - as recently as a recent CT with my head painfully strapped down. "Taking flight" was my only recourse to get through! Good skill to have.

Thanks for the larger context Mark: "also a part of the sky and the stars and the galaxies"; as your photo shows - we're planting our feet on an earth that is in a cosmos - a little blue marble hurtling through space. And yeah, as with all medicine, we/it is powerful and we need to use that in a wise and good way.... remembering we are part of that cosmos, making us cosmic ourselves.

And Tarzan, you bring up another aspect. Just as we can help to 'call' someone who is slipping away, sometimes our 'help' is when someone needs to 'let go'. I think our conscious releasing of them is equally as important.

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We're still only exploring the physical quadrant here - and will continue a bit - then onto the 'emotional' quadrant, mental, etc... It all weaves together into our whole.

I've focused on grounding here in the beginning because so many folks live as if their bodies were merely transportation for their heads, i.e. they live almost entirely in their heads and need a way to get the head from here to there. I'd often tease clients in this college town I live in that it's a city of heads being transported about by incidental bodies. One of the main things I'd do in my bodywork practice was simply to get people to recognize they HAVE a body that has its own needs including a tenant on the premises. Lots of folks would rather reside elsewhere than this very messy place we live in presently. It's really such a short ride on the blue marble - may we all make the most of it, with both our feet firmly planted. [plus the best fishing is here on this blue marble flying through space, right Tarzan?]

xo
el po