Friday, July 11, 2014

A Birthday to Be Remembered


July is usually a very special month for us.  It is our birthday month.  My birthday was July 4.  Kay’s birthday is July 20.  Since we got married on Kay’s birthday, our wedding anniversary is also on the 20th.  And the first ever entry of the blog, which I strongly recommend everyone go back and read in the archives, was posted in July of 2008.  I also began the actual writing of Lesson 1 of the Course in July of 2008.  That particular lesson has since been rewritten, to represent a more up-to-date overview of the Course as it has evolved.
This July, however, things were a bit different.  The day before the 4th, a twister came through town and heaved what turned out to be 15,500 pounds of tree trunk and limbs on the top of our house, crashing through the ceiling of our bedroom and over the stairway.  Water was dripping on the stairway from above, and we had no idea how much water might be in the attic. 
To be ‘safe,’ we moved everything from one half of the house and piled it all into the other half of the house.  Our mattress lies on the floor of the den, where I sit and write, so now I can suddenly prop my feet upon by bed as I write.  I am listening to a new mix my son Shane, the musician with Quilt, and solo as Olden Yolk, made for me.  The song currently playing is John Lennon singing his beautiful version of ‘Stand By Me.’  Next up will be Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello in a stunning performance of ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad.’  Wikipedia says this about Tom Joad: “Tom Joad is a fictional character from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.  Henry Fonda portrayed the character in John Ford's film adaptation.”
On July 4th, my birthday, we got out of our half-wrecked house, attended a movie, and then went to a Japanese restaurant in downtown Scranton.  We ended up at a table for two next to the windows at the end of the bar.  Next to us was another table where a couple of gentlemen sat and spoke very gently.  We were so close to each other that even as they spoke quietly, I could hear much of what they said.
It was not the way ordinary people talk.  They never mentioned melodramas going on in their lives.  They spoke of literary matters, of writers and masterpieces.  They spoke in a very aware way that is rare among people.  The one across from me was very friendly, and initiated conversation with us, asking us about our lives, about Scranton, and when Kay told him it was my birthday, he looked me very warmly in the eyes, reached out to shake my hand, and very sincerely wished me a happy birthday.
There was something very familiar about him, as though I already knew him somehow.  He looked familiar, and I recognized his voice and mannerisms.  As they rose to leave, and wished us a good night, I asked him if anyone had ever told him that he looks like Graham Nash (of the iconic musical group, Crosby, Stills, and Nash).  With great warmth and humility he said, “I AM Graham Nash.”
I’ve loved their music since the ‘60s, and before the three of them got together to create the most perfect harmonies, his high voice had been utilized as the lead singer of the Hollies.  David Crosby was from the Byrds.  Steven Stills was from the Buffalo Springfield, as was Neil Young, who ultimately joined them.  Did you know these things?  They are part of modern Western musical culture.
Anyway, it was the way that he confirmed his identity that opened up a lightness and warmth in my heart.  I’ve been around famous people before; I wasn’t in awe.  Not many of them, however, maintain the lightness and humility that Graham Nash showed.  I was happy to have spent some time with him, and it was the perfect topping for an otherwise up-and-down birthday.  Next year, for my 70th birthday, I intend for it to be very special, in whatever way it happens.  It will be the one and only time in this lifetime that I will ever turn 70.  (If I don’t make it, you can whisper among yourselves that Ram thought he would make it to 70, but he was wrong.)
I had a dream last night that two men were trying to convince me of the benefits of yoga, meditation, and positive creative thinking, as though I was a complete newbie and knew nothing.  They were telling me that it was a great way to relax and let go of stress.  Of course, as usual, I went along with their assumptions, and enjoyed listening to them.  Then I suddenly started levitating until I was above their heads and began flying around them.  One of them exclaimed, 'You can fly?'
'Of course,' I replied from above. 'It's one of my main ways of relaxing and letting go of stress.'
Going back to my recent 69th birthday, this process of aging is something I have become keenly aware of for a few years now.  On the inside I feel the same that I did when I was 35, or 18, and perhaps all the way back to the beginning of memories.  So much has happened, so many people have come and gone.  People change so much over a lifetime.  I have seen so many friends, movie stars, and musicians as they were young and handsome and just starting out, and now they have grown old or have even taken the grand transition.  Yet you know on the inside they are always the same as they ever were.
So many people were famous and ‘the talk of the town’ a century or two ago.  They might have initiated important advancements that still affect our lives today.  Now, though, no one even remembers they were ever here.  If you wanted to know, for example, who invented the first washing machine, you might be able to research that on the Internet, but it is not something many know about today.  We simply assume the washing machine is supposed to be there, and a dryer, too, but we rarely consider that someone’s creative imagination made it possible to take care of and clean our clothes much more easily than it would have been otherwise.  What if we still had to take them down to the river and scrub them?
Did you ever think about that?  I would be amazed if you had.  Do you know who Andrew Carnegie was?  He never stepped into a college until he donated a small fortune to it.  Surely you know who Henry Ford was.  He was never able to attend college either.  They, and others like them, succeeded in their creations because of how they thought and how they focused their mind.
My first Teacher wrote in 1954:  “Both Mr. Ford and Mr. Carnegie stated that they could ‘see’ their product as mental pictures long before they ever became materialized.  They were creators: creating NEW and BETTER things spiritually, in thoughts which, of course, were the patterns or CAUSES, which compelled desired results.  Most of their employees didn’t know the meaning of concentration, or of insight, or of creative thinking; how could they?  They were too much concerned with their own selfish fears and worries; they were employed; they enjoyed steady salaries, or wages; and they depended upon their incomes and their jobs; why be bothered about Personal Development?”
This blog entry has a life of its own.  I am intrigued to see what comes next.
Since writing the above, another storm came through and knocked out electricity for miles around.  Everything just stopped.  The world became dark and quiet.  I am writing this now in a motel near Scranton.  We can’t stay in a house without electricity when there is so much to do, so many people to keep up with.  A new blog entry was not going to be completed there, so we had to come here.  Kay has many participants of the Course to keep up with; she couldn’t do it in a dark room. 
So, hearing that the electricity might be back on in a couple of nights from now, we are doing our best to remain in harmony with our karma, which is about the most any of us can do.  However, someone told us that 26 trees were uprooted between the electrical sub-station and our house, with wires down all along the way.  It will be a grand surprise if we actually have power in just two more nights, but I will be positive and acknowledge the possibility.
It takes will power to focus attention on what can be done that has positive and pleasant consequences instead of moaning about what can’t be done.
For people who are reading this hoping to learn something specific, I will share this excerpt from one of the lessons of the Course:
Strange as it seems, our own words create and sustain negativity.  There is nothing outside the meanings we ourselves give to things that can possibly affect us.  No matter what another person does or says, it has no effect on us whatsoever unless we (1) give a meaning to it that will upset us and (2) take it personally.  No matter what another person does, it is between him and his God.  There is no greater folly than blaming our own negative emotions and hurt feelings on someone else.
“The meanings we assign to things are what affect us—not the things themselves.”
The previous two paragraphs, taken from the lesson, are very important.  Don’t let them go in one eye and out the other.  They are worthy of great contemplation.  I had to contemplate them a lot before I could even come close to writing them.
I am happy that you have met me here is this expansive space.  The blog, for participants of the Course, is to be considered an important aspect of the Course—especially the question-and-answer interactions in the comments that follow this writing.  The blog is also freely available to the public, so if you benefit from it and enjoy it, please send the link to anyone who might be interested, or share it in various forms of social media you might participate in.
Some have considered joining us in the Course, but have not yet dived in.  My own perspective is that anything and everything is possible through the Course in all its many forms, although many do not recognize certain forms the Course comes in, and think something else is happening instead. 
Perfect understanding is that all of Life is the Course, and the Course trains us to experience Life in the present moment, which is the only time the Truth of Being exists.  It is best to not make any assumptions about the Course until actually trying it yourself to see what might happen in your life as a result.
Thanks again for joining me here.  May we meet again often.  Please feel free to leave your comments or question in the comments section following this.  The best way to get to the comments is to click on the title of this entry.  Then the comments will naturally follow.

 For information about the Course of Training and a free first lesson, write:     drbutler.course@gmail.com