Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In search of cultural memory

I am fascinated with the idea of cultural memory--the stories we know about the places in our lives, handed down from our ancestors about how to live, what to watch for, where to build, and what to expect. "Tsunami Warnings, Written in Stone," by Martin Fackler at the New York Times takes a closer look at these ancient stone tablets--some 600 years old--telling inhabitants where to build, where to live, what to expect in the event of a major earthquake and tsunami.

It makes me wonder where our cultural memory is today--where are the signs? Whether you live in the U.S., the EU, Australia, or on a tiny remote island, what signs have your ancestors left for you? What do you wish you knew about this place where you live? How does it communicate its lore? And what very important thing have you all but forgotten?


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Completing the Cycle

I noticed this morning that there were a couple of unfinished conversations swimming around in my mind and heart, conversations in which I shared what felt like important ideas about life and faith and the-way-things-seem-to-me-to-work. I had shared these conversations on a listserv that I enjoy, and the folks there are interesting and engaged with life and studying fascinating things. But mostly I am a lurker on these lists, simply reading and pondering and not participating. But in this particular instance, something someone said connected to a very alive experience for me and I commented on it, and that led to bigger thoughts about philosophical setpoints and the possibility of contact in relationships.

Except. In each case, the two people I was corresponding with just dropped their conversation with me, and then returned to the disagreement they seemed to want to continue with each other. One person I had asked what I felt was an important question to, and he just didn't respond at all. The other person offered up his understanding of life-in-faith, but when I shared mine, he made no response. So I felt unwelcome, unregarded, or dismissed, somehow. Or did I strike a nerve? That wasn't my intention. Or did they simply disagree with me and choose not to continue the conversation? Or did they just want to fight with each other and didn't want my questions to draw them off-track?

Who knows? What I *can* know is that the energy was alive and unfinished in me. I would have liked to have had some response so the contact would feel complete and it wouldn't still be churning around in me. So, realizing this, I found both of the email messages, clicked Forward, put my own email address in the To line, and asked myself, "what part of me does that person represent?" and then wrote my response with that voice. The responses were surprising and interesting--not what I might have naturally constructed from my own viewpoint--and I clicked Send. When the messages arrived, I read them as though they had come from the other people.

And the energy resolved itself. I felt things come back into balance, and the cycle completed.

So I offer this as a helpful technique in case you are waiting on a response that hasn't come, wondering about a question that was never asked, or in some other way are waiting on closure from some outside source about something. If each person in our lives is helping us toward wholeness by mirroring what we bring and helping us see opportunitites for growth, then working with these energies within ourselves truly does help resolve issues so we can move ahead. I would never suggest we don't need or want others in our lives for support, love, fun, struggle, and companionship, but it's good to know that we don't have to wait for some seemingly uncontrollable other to give us what we need when the tools for peace are within our reach.