The world between two pines

This is a beautiful rendering of what began as an ordinary walk in the woods, but which became an extraordinary and almost otherworldly experience. This talented writer clearly evokes the essence of the mystical, which is possible to recognize to the discerning soul who participates in just this way, and it demonstrates the profound idea that within us exists not only a highly complex sensory capacity bestowed by our central nervous system and a complex symbiosis of mind and brain, but also an ancient connection to a universe of consciousness, inherited as a descendent of the broad range of humanity and of all life since the beginning of time.

Life Is Color

A mystical magical foray through the foggy forest

“The richness of a moment comes when it’s both full and empty at the same time. The truth is, we live simultaneously in time and timelessness.” ~ Ram Dass

Where does reality leave off and imagination take over? Does it matter?

All at once the light of overcast day turns to fog as we step between the two tall pines and descend into into darkening wood.

I proceed with an uncharacteristic reverence, my steps slow and deliberate.  

The air is damp. Tufts of fogginess elongate, curving and curling between the trees trunks like an asp lending an air of mystery to the atmosphere. Although I am inside a natural area that’s inside a large park, I could be anywhere. 

There is a sense of timeless here, of ancientness. I can smell it. The pine needles, the mud, the old leaves, the moss…

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Pickwick Papers

The beginning of this story goes very far back into the past, but the significance of it is as clear now as it was when it began. Many generations ago, immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Scotland, and England were streaming into America–the land of promise and hope–and in the mid to late 19th century, our distant ancestors arrived in New York through Ellis island, and became American citizens in a very different world than the one we know today. After several generations of children were born in this country, the paths of a number of individuals from those generations came together, and began the foundations of our current extended family.

From these beginnings, two young hearts, brought into being, a tradition of love and togetherness, under circumstances that were by no means guaranteed to succeed, but which nonetheless did succeed in the long run because those two hearts both agreed that nothing was going to stop them.

Christmas time has always been a special time in our family, and over the years, through all the trials, tribulations, triumphs, and tragedies, our family has endured whatever came, and our generation now has stepped up to lead the way, as each of our ancestors has done before us. We each have made a unique contribution to the history of our family legacy, and each one of you…will one day be where we are now, and when that time comes, we hope you will all feel a sense of urgency to continue to gather as we are doing today.

“The Pickwick Papers” were written by Charles Dickens, and originally published in small installments between 1836 and 1837. This collection of stories was the first fictional work of Charles Dickens, published when he was 24 years old. As you will notice upon reading this brief excerpt, Dickens was clearly wise beyond his years at the time.

It is about Christmas, but it is more precisely about why Christmas is so important to us. He describes the feelings which make it such a significant time to share with our families, by describing to us, the way in which those who came before us, and who are no longer with us, still reverberate in our memories of Christmas celebrations.

The reality of life in the early 1820’s and 30’s made such descriptions less powerful than they are for us today, since it was much more common for people to experience the loss of family members in those days. Dickens himself only lived to age 58. At one point in this excerpt, he uses the word “unalloyed” which means “not mixed or intermingled with any other thing, pure.”



PICKWICK PAPERS

“Christmas was close at hand, in all its bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment, and open-heartedness; the old year was preparing, like an ancient philosopher, to call his friends around him, and amidst the sound of feasting and revelry to pass gently and calmly away.

…And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a season of happiness and enjoyment. How many families, whose members have been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then re-united, and meet once again in that happy state of companionship and mutual good will, which is a source of such pure and unalloyed delight,

How many old recollections, and how many dormant sympathies, does Christmastime awaken!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped have grown cold; the eyes we sought have hid their luster in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!”

May each of the visitors and readers here enjoy the spirit of the season in whatever way they feel most at home, and can find a way to get back in touch with “the delusions of our childhood days,” and “recall the pleasures of their youth,” back to their own traditions in whatever way holds meaning for them.

Blessings to all…John H.

February Made Me Shiver…

This entire month I have recorded my thoughts but have not had the opportunity to edit them and make them coherent enough to post here.  There are lots of thoughts tumbling around inside me and I will work harder this coming month to get them on to the page here.

This morning, though, while recovering from the overnight shift at work on the sofa, I watched a courageous and determined Andrew Pollock speak to the CNN reporter about the loss of his daughter, Meadow, in the Parkland Florida Shooting. As I listened, I couldn’t imagine the strength it took to hold himself together while speaking, and I wept at the sight of the Dad hugging his daughter, now tragically lost…

As a father to five daughters, and a son, all of whom I cherish more than my own life, my heart became heavy with the thought of how the parents and families of these young people must be suffering, and it gave me pause to consider how small all of my concerns are by comparison.

There will be more thoughts to share on this soon.

May all who suffer loss find solace in the days to come…..John H.

 

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

As 2017 winds down and 2018 approaches, I would like to extend my personal, heartfelt “Season’s Greetings” to all of my readers and visitors here at John’s Consciousness, and to express my gratitude for the many thoughtful comments and communications from visitors all across the globe. It has been a turbulent and challenging year for many people in all parts of the world, and in spite of what must seem like a particularly daunting year for many of us in the United States and elsewhere, I still feel strongly that with the right emphasis, we can move forward into the future with hope for all of humanity.

Recognizing that there are still many areas in the world where the conditions and circumstances of everyday people are more challenging than my own, as someone who has persistently pursued the topic of the nature of subjective experience, I set myself to the task recently of composing a theatrical scene that would address questions surrounding the sometimes challenging circumstances for individuals, and at the same time, speak to the important matter of the spiritual component that I feel certain belongs in any discussion of human consciousness.

As we gathered this year at our annual family Christmas celebration, preparations were made to perform this scene for what is always the rousing and chaotic audience who is my extended family. As a former student of the theater in my youth, I trained as an actor at Temple University in Philadelphia, and had a fair amount of success in those endeavors. While I ultimately chose to concentrate on English literature in my subsequent studies, I never lost interest in all things theatrical.

I had the great good fortune to be joined in this effort by my beautiful and talented niece, Laura, who graciously agreed to perform the scene with me on very short notice. A recent graduate of the University for the Performing Arts in New York, I felt sure she would enjoy the challenge of performing before such a familiar audience. I sent her the material I had prepared with notes on how we might improvise during the impromptu interactions, along with a basic foundational script to support the performance. I was additionally blessed by the assistance of several family members in arranging for lighting and sound support, and in acquiring props that enhanced the production.

Throughout the preparation phase, I was astonished to find that I began to have many of the same emotions and anxieties as those which always overtook me when performing years ago. It was as though the neural pathways which contained those memories were suddenly lit up…well…like a Christmas tree! Last minute instructions to our hosts for the evening yielded yet another level of cooperation and help that proved invaluable as the lights dimmed and the performance began.

The scene opens with my character, Grandpa, sitting in a wheelchair, talking to himself as he awaits the arrival of his granddaughter. The theme throughout emphasizes how the human spirit can provide a true basis for hope, but also how that same spirit can move us to continue in the face of adversity. It takes place some fifteen years in the future, where my character is in his eighties and partially disabled. He’s doing alright but is becoming increasingly frail, and dependent on his family for his regular care. As the scene unfolds, he secretly contemplates his own mortality, but with the spirit of a hopeful soul. The thoughts that run through his mind are not carefree, but clearly tempered by longevity and a lifetime of loving.

Here is an excerpt from the opening monologue:

“There are so many reasons for me to have hope for the future, however long it might be for me. In spite of the sometimes unceremonious departures from this life of others in the same neighborhood of age as mine, I have seen the brightness of spirit that filled many of the moments of their lives, and I am heartened beyond measure to have shared such a range of wonders with these bright spirits, that it begs the question for me, “What contribution have I made?” and “What might I still contribute in the days that remain?”

“My granddaughter will be here shortly for her annual Christmas visit and I want so much to share with her my appreciation for the joy she brings me throughout the year, but especially at this time in my life, when every morning is a gift, and every effort requires the presence of hope.”

The arrival of his granddaughter for her annual Christmas visit clearly improves his mood, and her bubbling and vivacious demeanor is a most welcome development anytime. Laura’s professional and heartfelt performance gave the scene a certain power and heft that inspired my own performance, and she surprised me several times with her improvised responses.

Laura responded well to my brief story about the sadness I felt being estranged from my only son, and encouraged me well to continue to hope, in spite of his years of total absence from my life.

At one point, caught up in the emotion of the moment, her acceptance of the invitation to perform together with her aging Uncle became a gift in itself, and it felt like it always did when I performed on a public stage.

Here is an excerpt from the closing monologue:

“I don’t know how much time I have left, but I do know who I am on the inside. I know what I feel. I know there are like spirits that surround me. And when I say they surround me, I know they may not be in close proximity. They may be far away or years removed from me, but the spirit knows no boundaries. No matter where they reside, they are still with me…or within me.

When I’m alone, looking back over the years, I can still hear the beautiful song of hope that played in my head as a child. It was like a siren song, but I still believed in it. I believed in it because I could sense that it was not a song that would lead to destruction, but one that was calling me to my task. That beautiful voice gave me hope.

Now that I look back on it, I know that it was not just one voice. I know that each time I heard it, I recognized the spirit who dwelled within it. Perhaps, it may have been the voice of my as yet unborn grandchild, or maybe a voice from the future or from an ancient past. But when I heard that voice, I knew that essence.

In unguarded moments, in the silence between words, in moments of quiet contemplation, I know that it is a part of me, telling me to move forward with hope.”

Just as it appears that another Christmas will pass with no word from my son, the knock at the door, which I expected would be from my caretaker daughter, turns out to be from my son, who enters with a familiar greeting that ends the scene, as I gasp, “…My son!”

The whole experience was extraordinary from start to finish, and the rewards were almost entirely spiritual, although the curtain call at the end was also quite wonderful!

May the New Year bring all of humanity an improvement in their circumstances, and to each and every one of my readers and visitors here, many new reasons to look with hope to the future.

Warmest regards…..John H.

Auguries of Autumn

November has flown by with a swiftness of a fleeting blink of an eye. The autumn this year was reluctant to begin, with summer-like temperatures holding fairly steady well into October in the Northeast corridor, and the delay in arriving at more seasonal weather seemed to mute the changing colors when they finally began to change in earnest. As I came slowly to consciousness this past Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of a robust and formidable wind stirring the trees outside my bedroom window. Since I had no urgent events scheduled for the day, I was able to awaken slowly and reflect for a bit before rising.

I sat up for a moment or two once I had gathered my wits and took a few photos as the day began, and then settled back down again to contemplate the day’s beginning and the events of late that accompanied the strangeness of the reluctant autumn taking place all around me. I generally try to capture some seasonal images as the earth alters its course around the sun each year, but this time around, it seems that mother nature had other ideas, and stubbornly withheld the expected changes until just last week.

In the yard next door, my usual view out the window on that side would have displayed this scene a month ago, but only last week came into full blossom with many of the leaves already missing. In just the last few days, most all of the foliage in the trees lining the street was gone. The wind had wreaked havoc on whatever plumage remained and the tree now appears almost totally bare. This experience goes against the traditional one I generally expect at this time of year, and as I lay in bed pondering these changes, I looked back over several extraordinary life events that led up to the strangeness of my early morning awakening.

Beginning in late August, as I traveled to the first of three family gatherings as autumn approached, the sky above me looked so strange and peculiar as I rode astonished at the sight, that I had to capture the event, as though it were an omen of some sort. I couldn’t decide if this sky was ominous or simply extraordinary.

Gliding down the highway in silence, almost mesmerized by the sight of it, it gave me shivers as I held my eye up to viewfinder. What an amazing sight!

Last month brought me once again into the emotional rollercoaster ride as Father of the Bride. As we gathered for the marriage of my youngest daughter in the spectacular landscape of rural Virginia, the anticipated autumnal awesomeness was only barely underway as we prepared for the outdoor ceremony in the afternoon of Saturday, the 21st of October. Driving through the beauty of the sun kissed scenery, my heart already primed for the flood of feelings and memories, I was struck by the contrast with the previous driving experience, and could barely contain myself as I soaked in the spectacle before me.

On the first morning in Virginia before the wedding, I awoke at sunrise in the mountains, and was able to observe the first light while chatting with my daughter who called me on the phone. It was a compelling moment of many that would occur during the trip, but all the more poignant as I was able to share some fatherly advice with a nervous bride.

The view off the deck of the rental house above was taken on October 23rd and offered only a hint of Autumn’s colors, and while the temperatures were mild during the day, it was still chilly in the morning and that helped to remind me that we were indeed experiencing the autumnal transition. The thoughts passing through my mind on that morning turned to one of the most poignant moments that occurred over the weekend, when I first saw my youngest daughter in her wedding dress. I nearly fainted!

With one day available to me after the wedding to relax and look around, I decided to travel to nearby Charlottesville, Virginia to satisfy a lifelong desire to visit Monticello–the home of Thomas Jefferson. Ever since I was a small boy learning American History in school, I had wanted to visit this historical home, and it was another monumental and emotional experience on a weekend full of them. I will be writing a separate blog post about that visit soon, but I wanted to include an image from that day. The visit and tour of the estate will remain as one of the most significant of the many I acquired in any autumn season.

There have been so many moments throughout the season before winter this year that seemed to overwhelm my ability to process them well, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the confluence of each of these events and what the meaning might be for me personally. The perspective of years of memories of past autumns has run the gamut from the most stunningly beautiful to the personally devastating, and all along the way, every variation in between has contributed to the auguries of autumn for me.

It is sometimes said that a person in their sixth decade of life is approaching the “autumn of their years,” but I wonder now just how close the winter might be, and what wonders await me.

Autumn’s on the Way–A Daydream of You and Me.

 

spirit born

Autumn’s on the Way

 

Time passes swiftly now–

More yesterdays than tomorrows.

How many will I see?

How much time is there for me?

 

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid I won’t know.

I’m afraid I’ll wait too long.

I’m afraid that the end will come too soon.

I’m even afraid my heart will swoon.

 

I’ll loose control and make a mess—

Doing things that I confess,

I have done all my life.

Can’t seem to stop myself.

Can’t seem to rest.

Can’t let the moments go.

I have to invest.

 

I look at my children.

What will they do?  How will they cope?

It’s not for me to say.

Thoughts come flying in and fly out.

Nothing stays the same.

My heart aches with a pain

That not is not yet real.

I know it’s coming.

I can see it; I can sense it; I can feel it–

Just like all the other times before.

Just like all the other times before.

 

It seems I never could quite make it work–

Never could quite find the right formula.

I’m still looking—still searching;

I don’t know what the ending is—

I don’t know where it goes,

And I don’t know how to say it.

 

I reach, probably, too far, as always.

I expect too much.

I want too much.

It’s not for me to say.

I search for you.

I watch the horizon.

I scan for signs of life.

 

And when I find them—

When I see them, when I feel them, when I sense them—

I always follow them,

But they don’t lead me anywhere.

 

Toward the end of the winter,

With the very first inklings of spring,

That’s when you appeared;

Brilliant eyes—sparkling smile;

My heart lept at the sight of your face.

Could it be?  Could it be?

 

The signals were mixed.

Once, unrestrained joy, and then—silence;

And then, clever conversation.

Listening, sensing, contemplating, caution—

Unrestrained enthusiasm; laughing; sadness; comfort;

A loving embrace—and then another, and then another;

My heart and spirit seemed to rise every single time.

 

My enthusiasm always exceeded what I would find.

One day—penetrating glances, closeness—

Sweetness beyond any I had ever seen;

And then—silence; like a rising tide

That lifts me up to see the shoreline;

Giving me hope—and then the swell recedes,

And the horizon disappears—for a time;

I don’t know when I will see the shoreline again.

Darkness falls—intermediate absence—lack of energy;

Nearly giving up; sudden recovery; joyful expressions;

Loving embrace—silence—I cannot say;

I keep missing the target; I keep missing the mark.

I keep coming too soon or too late—

 

The story of my life— too soon or too late—

But more often—too late.

But even when the odds are even,

Even fifty-fifty disappoints me more than not.

I can’t seem to find the proper time, the proper place,

Where everything comes together unambiguously.

 

I thought this was my great discovery;

This place where I am now, and all the events

That took place here while I stayed here,

But even that will soon be over.

My heart is aching in your absence.

My mind—defeated by indecision and hopelessness.

It can’t simply be because of the distance in time and space;

It can’t be simply that it’s too difficult.

 

When I was with you, I just wanted

To run up to you and grab you and hold you.

I wanted to throw away everything and start again,

Like Michelangelo—destroy it all and start over.

And it wouldn’t be that difficult to manage it,

But clinging to sanity afterwards—

That would be a task for Hercules.

 

There’s no doubt in my mind—my heart rises;

My soul rises, the moment you come into view.

I want to throw my arms around you and steal you away;

Find a place to be and start over.

It’s worse than ridiculous—it’s absurd.

It cannot be.  It cannot be.

Maybe next time; maybe someday; maybe never.

Maybe my destiny is to know and to be without.

 

That’s all that’s ever happened.

Can’t seem to get it right.

Can’t seem to find the sweet spot.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I think maybe, I’ll die alone—in silence.

I could live—in joy—if only you were there.

 

We can only know our own future—our own place in the sun.

One of these days, I will find that sweet spot;

And I will embrace you, and hold you close,

And you will kiss me, and our lives will have meaning,

And purpose, and all will be well.

It will be in a daydream—a daydream of you and me.

 

© November 2016 by JJHII24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A World of Consciousness and Consciousness in the World

This post has been receiving some attention recently and addresses some important points relating to the posts coming shortly, so i thought my readers might enjoy a review here…

John H.

John's Consciousness

As an attentive consumer of various scientific publications available in the world today, particularly those concerning the science of mind and brain, while the information is often intriguing and illuminating in regards to how the physiology of the brain results in the extraordinary variety of symptoms, characteristics, and behavior of modern humans, what is often lacking, in my view, is the simple connection to humanity itself, which we might wish to describe as the “human factor.” No matter how ingenious these researchers are as they structure the studies to produce useful results, what we frequently end up with in the end is an explanation of a process, or a determination of how it is that our fantastically wondrous temporal mental assets manifest a particular result, either as an ability or some sort of pathology.

What genuinely supports and nourishes our miraculous brains is endlessly fascinating for those of us who…

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