Whatever hits the heart is here.
from the day both his wife and mother died.
Most of us aren’t very good at happiness and remain there about as long as we might on a skateboard or a pogo stick. Part of it is being carried about by the natural ebb of flow of events. But we treat happiness like the universe was giving us a shoulder massage and finally hit the right spot with the right pressure. “Oh yeah, that’s it! Keep doing that!” we say with gratitude as the universe moves off, perhaps sticking its finger in our eye as it goes. “Stupid universe” we can’t help but feel. That’s one issue, that a high water mark for happiness based in good luck, is like the apogee of the roller coaster: For best results, hold your hands in the air, scream with a crazy ecstasy, and laugh with your friends about it later. We don’t often learn much from our highs, and when they pass we may feel rather flat inside as if we had been fooled into joy, then returned to the disappointing truth. Again.
This feeling that reality kind of sucks is a large but subtle challenge. It grows out of the individual blend of shame, grief, and fear that plays all day through our minds like an infernal top 40 radio station. Every moment of grief, fear and shame becomes a piece of track connecting it to the next, and the next. This continuity becomes the world you recognize as your own, the self you recognize as you, and defines your expectations of what your life can be. Worse yet, it becomes reassuringly familiar and all of us need a place in our lives that IS reassuringly familiar. Part of the self then defends the borders of this dismal place against change. When we are happy, there can be a feeling of disequilibrium that the agents of our inner life work to “correct”. This is not usually something we are conscious of doing.
Things have to get pretty bad to form big enough cracks in your familiar world to shine a light on how mechanically self-defeating this is. This opportunity is almost always offered up by a broken heart. This can be a moment of true change if we consciously question and explore the reasons for the heartbreak. Feeling unlovable, and simple, robotic codependence being the most common. If a sufficiently bright flash of understanding happens, during this critical moment of searing pain it is possible to step outside of the templated sad story. This is a prison of belief taken for granted, you must achieve a minimum distance from your life story to see the path to freedom.
A broken heart contains escape keys. Find them, and head for daylight. Discover something new.
Hjalmar Georg Lundstrom
He was my Mother’s father, my Grandpa, and your Great Grandpa. He was born in the Houtskär region of Finland in something like 1885. His Dad died when he was very young and he and his brother had to work hard from an early age.
- He was a fisherman and a carpenter and came to the United States around 1903 to stop being a fisherman and to escape being drafted into the Russian army.
Lesson 1: At all costs, avoid being drafted into the Russian army.
- He found my Grandma Aina Helena Sundburg when they were young and poor and working in Brooklyn. She was a maid and he was a carpenter living in a single men’s barracks (different world). Grandma didn’t take him seriously – they dated – they didn’t date – and dated again. She finally went back to Finland to consider her options. He showed up to be with her. They got married and had six kids.
Lesson 2: If you want something, prove it.
- Once he had a mishap and cut off the end of his nose with a circular saw. He walked over and picked it up out of the sawdust and taped it back on with electricians tape. It healed. No problem. Just a little white scar around the tip of his nose forever after.
Lesson 3: Fuck it, move on.
- He designed and built houses, had six kids, wrote poems and played the violin.
Lesson 4: Get busy.
- He died at 95 years old, asleep in his bed.
Lesson 5: Die at 95 in your sleep, my boy.
The tarot card “The Tower” suggests outright catastrophe and tragedy.
Its true meaning is the collapse of a misconception that we believed and protected for too long. A flawed and unstable investment that falls under its own weight. The suddenly revealed falseness of a deep belief that has held us prisoner. Tower moments are the terrifying thing we need to grow. People have devoted their entire lives to forestalling dreaded tower moments. If they succeed, that is the real tragedy. That is the veneration of the old dead skin rather than shedding it.
These quotes all shine a little light on the tower from different angles.
“A setback has often cleared the way for greater prosperity. Many things have fallen only to rise to more exalted heights.” – Seneca
“Disappointment is considered bad. A thoughtless prejudice. How, if not through disappointment, should we discover what we have expected and hoped for? And where, if not in this discovery, should self-knowledge lie? So how could one gain clarity about oneself without disappointment?” – Mercier
“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without also protecting yourself from happiness”. – Jonathan Safran Foer
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” – Lao Tzu
Simone Weil: “Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life.”
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” —Epictetus
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” –Joseph Campbell
“It’s better to conquer grief than to deceive it.” – Seneca
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.