Recently I was given a reading of my Akashic Record as a gift. I was told I could ask 5-7 questions of this record of all-that-is. I noticed the small panic that arose in me around the preciousness of getting the questions “right.” I thought of the genie in the bottle or the folktales where people ask for silly things & waste their questions. She assured me she would help me out should I struggle at all in my asking. What I found in that reading were some affirmations of what I already felt, as well as some surprises around what I hope to live into. When I asked if there was anything my ancestors wanted me to actualize, any aspects of them they wanted me to bring into being through my living, I was told:
heal the wounds of your lineage, so the future lineage can be more authentic & not carry on the baggage of past life issues, burdens
That’s pretty much what my intention was with my show, so I felt like I was right on track. The show was a concentrated & dramatized look at not only my own family patterns going back 14 generations, but at the history of the U.S., since they are interwoven stories. My intention was to transmute ancestral poisons into potions for present & future generations, & Shapeshifting history into Herstory is the byline to PocaHauntUs. I was working with the idea of simultaneous time instead of linear time, by experimenting with changing the story to see how that could change “the past,” which we usually think of as solid & unchangeable.
The first time I had an experience of this possibility of shifting time paradigms through story, was when I recognized how I had been storifying my 2nd stepfather. When I described him to others I told the story the same way each time & I suddenly realized I was doing this to create a particular reflection on myself. Instead of saying, ‘He never fails to remember me by sending me flowers & cards, & he trained as a painter, an artist,’ I would say ‘He’s a florist, living with a man & they have a miniature chihuahua.’ I chose to indicate he was gay because of how I wanted to be seen. But maybe he didn’t want to be seen that way. Or maybe there were other qualities of his being that gave a more complete picture of who he really is.
This was the same premise I was applying to telling my own version of the story of Pocahontas. Sure, it was based on a huge amount of research & “fact”-finding, but ultimately my story is also a story.
And this is where I feel we can get tied up, caught by what we Think is possible, based on what we Think is True.
When I was in the process of writing the show, I got so caught in my fear of being caught out — of not having all the facts straight — that I was paralyzed for a time. After all, how could centuries of story around this mythical figure many people didn’t even realize was a living person, not be true? How could Disney not have it right? (In case you don’t know me, that’s sarcasm there.) What unfroze me was realizing that I had to bring my own process into the story. It couldn’t be something that was separate from me, since I was the most recent product of the story anyway.
“How you tell the story & Who tells the story IS the story,”
I wrote, & then spoke, in the show. I wanted people to consider that facts are not as infallible, & story is not as flimsy, as we make them out to be.
All indigenous cultures have origin stories. These stories are not just entertainment. They are orienting maps to our existence in time & space. Recently I learned, through reading Charles Eisenstein’s book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, that the etymology of the word fact ties it to the word factory, a place where things are made. We make our facts. We choose our stories. Whether we’re conscious of this process, or not, is highly debatable, but the fact (!!!) remains that facts are changeable. As we know from quantum physics, we cannot separate the observer from the observed. How we think & what we think is how we speak, how we live, & what we meet in the wider world.
Which leads me to consciousness. In February I used my air miles to fly from New Zealand to Sweden to pursue a romance that had started in Mexico on New Year’s Eve. The crux point upon which we both realized that this relationship became untenable, without a future to draw it forward, was this issue of consciousness. For me it is everything, it is the revolution of humanity. My “work” in recent years, but perhaps for my whole life, has been to continually clear away the clutter & the debris from the past so that I can live a bright, undimmed day Now. I deeply desire a conscious relationship & conscious conception, gestation, birthing, & co-parenting of a family. This man was able to say to me, quite clearly, that he’d be fine if we accidentally conceived, but that he didn’t want to consciously create a child. I struggled to get my head around this. How can you consciously say you want to be unconscious? Doesn’t the saying of it automatically make you more conscious?
When I reached Sweden he had not cleaned his apartment for my arrival. He didn’t have any excuses, although he did vaguely wonder if it was better to be honest with me about who he was–not someone who made a habit of cleaning or organizing–than to present a false image of himself. While I could see the logic in that, my first instinct was one of panic. Walking into places that are draped in dust over layers & layers of un-like things tumbled together, calls up a sort of primal panic in me. In this instance I was able to stay steady, observe & then discuss calmly with him my great need to create some order, for my own sake & my own sanity. Not because I needed to change or fix him.
I admit I wasn’t raised with a love for cleaning. I didn’t have examples of how essential a process cleaning could be, so it’s been a long-time coming, this positive relationship with cleaning & clearing. As a child, I was exposed to great chaos & out of those instances (or sometimes years) of living amongst too much stuff with too little order, I developed the skill of making order out of chaos. I’m grateful for this valuable skill.
What I had seen of the psychoses of my grandmother & my uncle when they, separately, came to stay with us, was how their minds would very rapidly spill outwards & stamp themselves upon their environments. And I would be caught up in the maelstrom of it. A few years ago, after many years of not being exposed to this, I visited my uncle in his apartment & I felt again that visceral reaction to the seeming chaos. Now, let me pause here & say that I am not a neat-freak. I have not gone to the opposite extreme of imagining I have any control over this universe & therefore need to control all the things within my reach. My clothes spill out from my suitcases. My toiletries are jumbled, though in one bag. I’m sure I still have too many unnecessary things that I carry around in my baggage, weighing myself down, or stow away in the storage units I have on two separate continents. What it is with stuff, is a matter of putting like things with like.
Where the panic arises in me is when the dying or dead get mixed irreverently with the living. What causes anxiety in me is when I open a cupboard door to find food–some with worms running through it, dishes–some uncleaned, bits of used foil & other random things that have nothing to do with the kitchen space like screws, coins, bills, jewelry, sewing stuff, uncapped markers, keys to unknown locks… It’s the combination of things not being clean with things not being sorted that sends me into a tailspin. I’ve inquired into why this has such a significant impact on me. Partly it’s those childhood associations with insanity.
For example, here’s an instance I was recently told about, but have only vague memories of, that has given me great insight into why I associate house disorder with craziness & then with loss of freedom & even death. My grandmother looked after me when I was about 6. When my 1st stepfather dropped in to check on us, he found the place turned upside down. What I imagine this looked like is something like that scene from Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes, near the end when he locks himself in an attic space to solve the mystery. There are drawings on the floor, ritual-like things set up, strings tying images together, scraps of food in odd places, furniture moved to reflect the order of the story he’s trying to work out in his mind. Again, I want to emphasize the gifts this early exposure has given me–insight into how there is order in even the most disorderly. There is in-deed ‘method in his madness,’ as Shakespeare wrote. Everyone is in the process of making meaning of their lives, in their own way. However, what I’ve realized I need to make meaning in my life, & to feel free & happy, is not that.
And what happened next was that because of that chaos, my grandmother was taken to mental hospital. Not too long after that she died of cancer. So in my young mind I can imagine that the line-up of events spelled out thusly–chaos leads to incarceration leads to death so, therefore, avoid chaos.
Another part of why I panic in the face of too much stuff with no clear organization, is because one of the cardinal sins, in my books, is waste.
Wasting resources is like spitting in god’s face.
I know, that sounds extreme. But I struggle to have compassion for those who complain about not having enough when, in fact, they are surrounded by riches. They just can’t find them in the mess. Or they just can’t see what’s clearly there, because it’s cluttered. It’s like trying to see the bright day outside when your window is smeared in dirt & grease and your drapes are drawn! So then what happens when you’re ready to make your masterpiece or your meal is that you end up wasting time searching out something you know you have, but just can’t find, or wasting money buying a duplicate of the tool you know you have, but, again, can’t locate when you need it. My uncle seemed to never have money, but when I was 12 we went to visit his place. Looking around at the barely discernible pathways between piles, my stepfather said, “Look, you’re rich!” & he starting picking up all the coins off the floor, the shelves, & the countertops. It added up to quite a bit of money.
When things aren’t find-able, when they’re not organized, then we have no access to them. It’s like having vaults of money but no key to open the vault. And all that extra stuff weighs us down, energetically. Yet there’s a fear of throwing it away, of not having it, even when it’s not being utilized because we can’t find it! How absurd to want to keep something that we didn’t even realize we had until we found it again in the process of throwing things away. I’m no saint on this front. I still have things in storage, things that are not being used. However, last year I managed to downsize my NY storage by half & gave away much of that half to friends or charities. I tackled this colossal challenge (it felt that way to me at least!) by imagining the situation from the stuff’s point of view. When I thought about it from the stuff’s point of view, I realized those things would much rather be held & read & turned into art & loved into life, than to sit gathering mold & dust in a plastic box, inside a bigger metal box, in a field, in a city where I don’t even currently live.
What struck me in what I just wrote takes me back around to the Akashic Reading words about clearing the baggage of past life issues from my lineage so present & future folks can live more authentically. I said earlier that the panic arises in me when the dying or dead are mixed up with the living. Let me clarify. I know now that the dead, the ancestors, are in-deed mixed up with the living; that they are all around us. Not just those from “the past” but also from “the future,” — the ones-to-be as well as the ones-who’ve-been. It’s not the mixing of realms that disturbs me. It’s the lack of care & awareness around this cosmic cocktail party that freaks me out. Having dead food mixed in with the living food feels disrespectful to both. However, putting out a Spirit plate of living food for the dead, feels honorable. This is a lovely practice of putting aside a doll-sized portion of everything you’re eating, at every meal, for the spirits, as a way of honoring & feeding them. Of giving them their place at the table. Of knowing how to locate them even when you can’t see them.
What’s happening in this practice is gratitude. It’s an action of giving thanks for those who’ve made it possible for me to be here. We forget to do this. In all our victimized snivelling about how much we don’t have, we fail to see just how much we do have, & right here immediately within reach. I say “we” because I mean “me too.” This happens not just with the visible material goods of this world, but also with the invisible, yet indivisable-from-us, goodness of the world. I know I have not fully realized my own potential. I know I have a tendency to fall back on the default setting of impossibility instead of I’m-Possibility. I know —
the sexy pull of sadness
the dull dampening of depression
the relentless wriggle-hold of rage
the shackle-hold of shyness
the graveyard of endless grieving
Clearing the clutter & deactivating these defaults is work. It’s the work of waking up, of coming into greater & greater consciousness. And the slippery slope I’ve noticed & am alluding to in those verses is the recognition that when I focus too much on the work, I am distracted from ever fully living the reward of the work. Which is living lightly & authentically this one life I do have to live.
When I asked the records what my purpose in this life is, they essentially said that I’ve been taking life too seriously & need to lighten up! I had to laugh at myself, at them, at the glaring wisdom of this. Yes I need to heal the wounds of our lineage AND I also need to–
“…do what brings you joy, peace, satisfaction..Follow the wants.”
This is part of what they said & I was so perplexed by this that I wrote it out & put it into my wallet. I honestly don’t know how to define what brings me joy, peace, satisfaction. So I’ve made it my assignment to find out — to contemplate what joy, peace & satisfaction would look, feel, taste, sound, even smell like.
Just days after having this reading of my records, I met another man & we had so much in common between us even though we grew up in very different cultures & hailed from different lands. We shared a pathway carved from consciousness, a living relationship with the un-living, a love & respect for the wild, & an appreciation of the value & place of grieving. The difference I felt between us was that I’ve spent so much of my life in tears & am ready to step lighter, while it seems he’s just making headway in the grieving & ancestral healing department. Sure, laughter has all-ways been part of my journey too, but like those verses above indicate, there’s been this subtle yet insistent ancestral pull of the heavy & sad. I know, in my bones, the value of grieving. We as western people have done too little of it. Our entertainment accounts are overdrawn & our grief accounts need addressing. Yet my particular assignment is to lighten up. These past couple years I’ve been studying stand-up comedy. See the irony in what I just said? — I’ve been studying it! I’ve been so serious, so intent, my whole life. Now I’m counting on those depths that I’ve been steeped in to catapult me upwards & outwards.
I’ve decided I’m going to dedicate a minimum of 11 minutes each day, from today, to a form of meditation that Arielle Ford calls “feelingizations.” Really feeling what I want, beyond merely visualizing it. For a minimum of 40 days running I will spend these few minutes each day feeling-into what brings me joy, peace, & satisfaction. Why is this so important? I have waffled between wanting a new & different reality that feels more aligned to my greatest potential & then falling back into the wasteland of not only not fully realizing that, but having the fears that have been undergirding, & therefore undermining, those desires realized instead. I have swung between the extremes of great belief & confidence in something brighter, & then dropping into great darkness & despair at not reaching it immediately.
There’s something slippery going on here. Luckily my “Indian” name is Slippery Otter. I can slide through these murky waters, dive down to the depths, emerge up into the sunlight & Play all along the way. Sea Otters have a special “pocket” under their underarms where they keep their favorite rock. This is a tool for opening shellfish, but it’s also a toy they juggle to amuse themselves.
I, too, carry special rocks in my pockets. They keep me grounded by reminding me of the support of the earth & the weight of my values in those nervy moments when I falter, or am confronted. I reach in & touch down to the bedrock, clear away the detritus of the details of the current situation & stay true, like a tree growing alongside its stabilizing rock friend.
My work now is to be more like Otter, to play, & to inquire into–
the force-field of fierce & free laughter
the flagrant fly-in-your-face of feelingizations
the pure pleasure of prioritizing play
the dancing with desires
the joy of joy
Do you know what brings you joy, peace & satisfaction? I love hearing from you when you feel called to respond. It helps me to feel that we are not separate — that the inquiry & healing that I do is not separate from what you do.
Much love & light,
Thank you to Mr. B for the late night conversation that re-lease-ed this writing, for your friendship & support that is willing to call me on my own clutter & that calls me out into the light even more. And for being a stabilizing, yet play-ful rock, re-teaching me how to live the words I first taught to you–Breathe Deeply, Live Fully!