Monday, December 6, 2010

Wondering, Wandering

Alice is a wonderer, a wanderer, seeking answers from dream figures who can only reflect her own confusion back to her. Loneliness follows her from place to place, from the Whiter Shade of Pale Rabbit to the heartless Queen of Hearts. "Who am I?" she asks. "What is this world?" Alice is All Us, and we are all mad here, all made here in the dream landscape, shrinking, growing, finally coming to know a little of our true power as we topple the playing-card house of our illusions, taking courage from the grin without a cat as we fly through the flame of a candle after it has gone out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two For Infinite Tea

Infinite tea for two
and two for infinite tea
and infinite me for you
and infinite you for me

when infinite skies are gray
and you're feeling infinite blue,
infinite tea makes the infinite sun
come smiling infinitely through.

So have a seat, put up your feet,
and I will pour
more and more and more and more
infinite tea for infinite you and me!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Transcript - Jon Stewart's Speech

Jon Stewart's closing words at the Rally to Restore Sanity or Fear.


“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate--just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker--and perhaps eczema.

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it--impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Metaphysics on Memory Lane

I just spent a couple of days visiting an old friend from childhood,who is married, has five daughters, one grandchild and another on the way. During the visit we talked a lot as we walked around our old hometown on a trip down memory lane. Along with reminiscing about our school days, we shared our religious/ spiritual beliefs. I told her about my study of how we create our own reality, and brought up the Bible quote: "It is done unto you as you believe." I asked her what she thought that meant. She hesitated a bit and said, "If you believe you'll go to heaven then you will." I replied: "But that's not what Jesus was saying. He said, IT is done unto you as you believe. 'It' can mean anything, including going to heaven." I told her about Victor Zammit's site:
"This lawyer has accumulated evidence of the afterlife, and he found out through mediumship that there are those who are still convinced there is no life after death even after they've passed on!"
We laughed at that, agreed they would probably come around to understanding their true state at some point, and the conversation moved on to other things. A couple of times later during our visit she brought up the topic of belief and reality creation; I got the feeling she was intrigued.

She wants me to read the Book of Mormon (she and her husband are devout Mormons). I said I would but made it clear I wouldn't convert since I prefer to be non-denominational, that I'd share my honest impressions, and she agreed. I think this could become a productive discussion; it's fun to share differing points of view, when we are open to the differences and not expecting others to see things as we do.

Update, Jan. 11, 2012: I never could bring myself to read more than a bit of The Book of Mormon, but it is true, as I told my friend, that I have trouble reading any book all the way through, these daze.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Summer of my Grief

I have a photo of myself, Stevie and his little brother Scotty, my three brothers and my sister, taken on the lawn of a local park in the town where my siblings and I grew up. At 12, I was the oldest, and as if in practice for motherhood, I'm cradling Scotty on my lap as he smiles up at me, mirroring my own big grin. Stevie, 9 or 10, brings up the rear, holding a baseball bat; he looks ready for a game. Stevie's parents, Stephi and Alan,  were caring for us at our home at that time while our parents were traveling in Europe, and all was going well. Our shining faces in the photo were a testament to that.

But then all of us kids got sick with a virus. One night I was in the bathroom, bent over the toilet, feeling like I was obliterating part of myself as I expunged the poison of sickness. I wanted only to be alone in this purging, and when Stephie came flying in, the picture of alarm and concern, I yelled, "Go away!" The next day she said, her face still showing her hurt and puzzlement: "I was only trying to help you!" I didn't know what to say, didn't know how to explain my discomfort at throwing up in front of someone. If I could go back in time, I'd respond: "I know you were. I'm sorry I was rude."

Stevie was sicker than any of us. I kept vigil with him and his mother, who spooned food in his mouth as he lay unconscious in bed. I asked, "How can he swallow if he's not awake?"

"It's automatic, " she replied. I felt her anxiety, her helplessness, and I was moved by the poignant softness and innocence in Stevie's heavy-lidded closed eyes, his open, unresisting mouth, his obedient swallowing. I was reminded of my own closed eyes and open, receptive mouth as I knelt at the altar, receiving the Holy Communion wafer. I felt the retreat of Stevie's spirit to a holy place, a place we could not go.

The night I learned he had passed, I became acquainted with grief; I threw myself on my bed, and I felt, like Alice in the dark hall of aloneness and confusion, that I was swimming in a pool of tears.

Our parents came home, and we were happy to see them. Stevie's funeral was held shortly after. Neither I nor my siblings attended; I guess it was assumed we had been privy to enough already. Afterward, my mother remarked that she had "never heard a woman cry so" as Stevie's mother had at the sight of her son's lifeless body.

For a long time I felt guilt about Stevie's death, assuming he would not have died if his parents hadn't agreed to come and stay with us, thus exposing him to a virus.  Then my father informed me that he had a congenital heart condition, so perhaps he was never meant to live very long.

I would look at Stephie sadly when our families got together in the ensuing years, my unspoken feelings clamoring for a voice I could not give them. Only now can I write of of how Stevie's face pierced my heart as he hovered in the twilight zone between life and death, and of how, at the same time, I can still see his face beaming bright as the sun, as he ran and played with us in those happy summer days.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Now at last the rains have come!
We hear and feel the thrum
from our under-sand abode,
and we emerge, horns quivering,
glorying in the sublime wetness,
the pouring down of Love,
the blessing, the manna
from above.

Time to celebrate,
time for a bacchanal!
For we who have so long abstained,
even decomposing plants
are an imposing meal,
and the hundreds of eggs,
born of our transcendent couplings,
must become the geniuses and saints
of our species.

When the clouds clear, we know
our party's end is near.
Nibbling the plants we've learned
will extend our ecstasy,
we rejoice in the revelry,
ascending to the singing stars,
the moon's radiant face.
Come morning, we are back in place,
hunkered down underground
and moving into the long sleep,
cocooned in the womb of darkness,
safe from the relentless sun.

We, the sacred snails,
are the rainmakers
of the desert.
To you, our sleeping life
may seem a living death,
but our dreams of blessed water
go forth into the Field
from which all emerges,
seeding the clouds
with our visions,
birthing into righteous rain
for all flowing, growing things.
Awake or asleep, we live our dreams.
Death? We do not fear it,
we know that we live on in Love,
born again of water and the spirit.

The Owlet Speaks

each moment new you
each moment you new

each moment, who you?
each moment, you who?


Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lost Bee

Bees are generally unwelcome guests in the home, and I wasn't too happy when a bee buzzed through the open kitchen window one fine day last summer. My first thought, in fact, was: "How am I going to get it out of here?"

It was bumbling around in a confused manner as it lit here and there, as if trying to get a grip and find a resting place. But of course my white kitchen walls are no place for a bee.

I was reminded of what I had read about the bees' "colony collapse" which had been in the news as a topic of much speculation, and it occurred to me that the little buzzer was perhaps a casualty.

This beekeeper makes a convincing case for a new class of pesticides as the culprit in colony collapse:

Hackenberg...began his own investigations into what killed 2,000 of his honeybees at the end of 2006, by talking to growers and reading up on pesticide use and research into their effects on bees. 'It’s those new neonicotinoid pesticides that growers are using,' he says. 'That’s what’s messing up the bees’ navigation system so they can’t find their way home.'""

The article goes on to say that these pesticides act as neurotoxins that "interfere with the bees' communication and orientation skills, and also impair memory." And they are used all over: "...from sunflower fields to apple orchards, lawns to golf courses."

The wandering bee in my kitchen brought all of that "home" to me. I can certainly imagine how distressing it would be for me, and for most of us, if we found ourselves adrift and alone, without any memory of the way home, or any resources to assist us in getting there.

The honeybee is part of a hive; they're not meant to be loners. They are perhaps the ultimate example of cooperative living. This is their nature, and the loss of their bee family and all that goes with it, must be the very definition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

I did manage to coax the bee out the window again. For a while it was hanging around among the plants in my window box, and I was half hoping I had a permanent resident bee in there, but it's long gone now. I pray that it found its way back home.

The incident stayed with me, and started a train of thought about the broader implications and symbolism of the bees' plight. In particular, as a word person, I pondered the connotations of "be" and "being."

"To be or not to be, that is the question," soliloquized Hamlet. It's quite clear, in

context, that he was speaking of the choice between life and death. But in another sense, life and death can be considered a continuum, and it's possible to be alive and breathing, but not really living. How many of us are truly BEING our true selves? How many of us are truly "at home" in the world?

Many, perhaps most of us, are spiritually homeless. Collectively, we've become cut off from our Source, our inner Being--we've forgotten how to "be"--and are bumbling around on a confused and jumbled course. In the deepest sense, we are rootless.

The lost bee, having been toxified, intoxicated, is unable to find its way back to that place of belonging and connectedness with its God-self (Queen Bee) and its industrious fellow bees. And this is the situation we find ourselves in now. It need hardly be said that the pesticides are bad for us, too, and like the poor bees whose keepers trundle them thousands of miles around the country from one pollination job to another, "the world is too much with us," and our way of life is stressful and unnatural. It is time for us to go within and connect with our true BEING. And we can start by opening to thinking and living in new ways. Then we realize that in poisoning and manipulating the bees and other life forms, we are doing the same to ourselves, because of the interconnectedness of all life. We are human, animal, insect, plant, mineral--we are all of it.

As we have been poisoning the natural world, so have we been poisoning and clogging our true natural selves. Maybe now we've learned all we can from this way of life and it's time to leave it behind. Let us, individually and collectively, connect with that Self. Let us learn to work with Nature again, and with our own nature, our inner Being. Let us leave behind our separativeness, and embrace our connectedness.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eating Cake and Having Your Health Too

The phrase "You can't have your cake and eat it too" has always been a bit of a brain-twister to me. I like comedian George Carlin's take on it: "When people say, 'Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too.' What good is a cake you can't eat? What should I eat, someone else's cake instead?"

For me, as one who is very nutrition-conscious, the phrase brings up the health aspect: you can't eat your cake (which is almost always made with refined sugar and flour) and have your health too, certainly not if you make this a regular habit. See:

These days, my refined sugar intake is close to zero, although I grew up sugar-addicted and still have a major sweet tooth, which I satisfy with healthful alternatives.

"Hidden sugars" are omnipresent in many processed foods, so it's important to read
labels. Aside from sucrose (white sugar), there's glucose, fructose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose or maltodextrin, barley malt, and rice syrup. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose (Splenda) aren't the answer--many studies have confirmed their toxicity.
Agave syrup, which has been sold as a healthy, natural low-glycemic sweetener, is in actuality a highly refined product, no better than high fructose corn syrup.

But take heart, there are indeed healthful sweeteners available: organic, unheated honey, the herb stevia, blackstrap molasses, dried unrefined cane juice, organic maple syrup, fresh fruit juices, and xylitol. Any of these are fine when used in moderation as part of a balanced whole foods diet and a health style that includes exercise and stress management, but the two that in my opinion offer the most health benefits are blackstrap molasses and xylitol.

The high iron, mineral and vitamin B content of blackstrap molasses puts it up there in the category of superfoods. Take a look at all the testimonials here:
From the beauty angle, blackstrap is one of the best foods for hair health, and some have even found that when taken regularly, gray hair returns to its natural color.

Blackstrap complements coffee rather nicely. It can be taken on its own by the spoonful, or mixed in water, milk or yogurt. In Adelle Davis' classic book Let's Cook It Right, there are a number of recipes calling for "dark molasses," such as the one for butterscotch brownies (a winner!) where blackstrap could be used.

But in general, I suspect that most would find blackstrap difficult to use
as a sweetener because of its strong taste.  Xylitol, on the other hand,  is something else--it looks and tastes so much like the white stuff we are so in the habit of using, it's been called refined sugar's "mirror image":

Although xylitol tastes and looks exactly like sugar, that is where the similarities end. Xylitol is really sugar's mirror image. While sugar wreaks havoc on the body, xylitol heals and repairs. It also builds immunity, protects against chronic degenerative disease, and has anti-aging benefits. Xylitol is considered a five-carbon sugar, which means it is an antimicrobial, preventing the growth of bacteria. While sugar is acid-forming, xylitol is alkaline enhancing. All other forms of sugar, including sorbitol, another popular alternative sweetener, are six-carbon sugars, which feed dangerous bacteria and fungi.

And here's a summary of benefits from another article on xylitol:

Summary of Benefits

Xylitol is a sweet-tasting sugar substitute that has been approved for use in more than 35 countries. Consumption of xylitol is associated with a significant reduction in tooth decay, resulting in fewer cavities and resolution of periodontal disease. Xylitol has been shown to contribute to increased bone density, weight loss, stabilization of blood sugar and lowering of insulin levels. Additional benefits include:

• Increases energy by enhancing ATP production

• Increases utilization of fat

• Replenishes glycogen

• Anabolic — keeps biosynthetic pathways open

• Anticatabolic —helps maintain lean muscle mass

• Antioxidant —generates NADPH, keeping glutathione in an active state

• Increases endurance

• Reduces free radical and oxidative damage

The dental benefits are certainly one of the main reasons to consume xylitol rather than refined sugar. We can even brush with it! An in-depth exploration of this can be read at this site dedicated to healing teeth naturally:

Research has also indicated it helps prevent aging of the skin--another example of xylitol as the "mirror image" of refined sugar, which has been shown to promote aging of the skin, through the process known as glycosylation.

Commercially produced xylitol is derived from either birch bark or corncobs. From its name, many assume it must be an artificial chemical concoction, but it occurs naturally in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. It is produced by our own bodies in the gut, about 5 to 15 grams daily during normal metabolism, with the enzymes to break it down.  Some may experience gastric distress when starting with xylitol, but this tends to pass when the body has adapted.  The health educator Chris Kresser writes: 

While sugar alcohols appear to be safe and potentially therapeutic, they are also notorious for causing
digestive distress. Because sugar alcohols are FODMAPs and are largely indigestible, they can cause
diarrhea by pulling excess water into the large intestine. The fermentation of sugar alcohols by gut bacteria can also cause gas and bloating, and sugar alcohols may decrease fat absorption by other foods. However, most evidence indicates that people can adapt to regular sugar alcohol consumption, and the adverse GI effects reported in studies tend to fade after the first month or so
I look forward to the day when xylitol, stevia and blackstrap molasses, like white sugar and other processed foods, can easily be obtained at regular grocery stores. For now, they are mostly found in the natural foods and supplement stores, and can be ordered online. They are safe for diabetics, who ought to use other sweeteners with caution, or not at all.   

It is important to note that xylitol is toxic to dogs, and possibly cats, so pet owners need to be aware:

Xylitol can be used in recipes 1 to 1 as a sugar replacement. It can't be used in making yeast breads because it won't feed the yeast to make it rise. There are xylitol mints, chocolates, and chewing gum available. I don't care for gum; I mostly use xylitol in a concoction of milk and blackstrap molasses (with just a bit of cold-brewed coffee), and take small amounts from a bottle I carry with me when I'm out, enjoying the feeling that I'm benefiting my teeth (and general health) with the sweet stuff. But cheesecake is my cake of choice; I look forward to making it with xylitol and enjoying it on occasion, knowing I can indeed eat cake and have my health too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two New Haiku

sliver of crescent moon
glowing white on indigo--
grin without a cat

ghosts in night fog,
fires burning in the distance--
magic in the air

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Are The Saviors We've Been Waiting For

When President Obama was still on the campaign trail in October 2008, he said at the Al E. Smith dinner hosting both candidates: “Contrary to the rumors you’ve heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton, sent here by my father Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”

Of course his remark was a joke, in keeping with the Al E. Smith political roast tradition. It seems, though, that many who previously supported him and helped vote him into office, did indeed see him as a 'saviour'--this in spite of his statement, repeated throughout his campaign: "We are the people we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek." In a similar vein, he said: "I ask you to believe in your own capacity to effect change as well as my own," and: "Together we will heal this nation and transform the world."

Shortly after he was elected, an online acquaintance observed: "I can see people getting pissed and fed up if Obama fails to make the miracles people expect of him.
People nowadays have the patience of a 50-minute sitcom. If they don't get instant results, they give up. I see it every day in my divorce law practice." His words were prophetic. Reading the invective in some of the articles attacking him, I can't avoid the feeling that their authors' expectations of Obama are unrealistic. Of course, there is the mess Obama inherited when he took office, and the fact that Presidents are constrained in their power to implement agendas, even those they themselves would prefer. But over and above these concerns, the expectation of a perfect president or 'savior' of any kind is rooted in a denial of one's own power and responsibility. Then those denied characteristics are projected onto others, who inevitably disappoint. Most of us are still stuck in the concept that someone other than ourselves is responsible for our current state of being. So when elected officials such as Obama don't "make the grade" in our view, we feel angry and let down.

In Robert Fritz's book, The Path of Least Resistance, he proposes "fundamental choice" as the basis of our experience. He gives the example of making the choice to be a smoker or a nonsmoker. Without making the fundamental choice to quit smoking, we won't succeed in doing so. Fritz calls this the "reactive/responsive" orientation, wherein we abdicate responsibility and create by default, instead of moving confidently in the direction of our dreams, living the life we have imagined (to paraphrase Thoreau). In this state, we are not in touch with our own creative power, and so we default on that power, putting trust in others or in circumstances rather than in the self.

In the orientation of the creative, it's the other way around--trust is put in the creative powers of the self primarily. We become self-directed, consciously choosing what we want in life.

Now is the time, more than ever, to exercise our choice-making and visionary capacities. Each one who holds the vision of positive change--even, or especially, in difficult times--empowers that vision and possibility.

Carlos Barrios, a Mayan elder, has spoken of his vision in the context of discussing the years leading up to 2012--a year which many, including his ancestors, have pinpointed as a crucial turning point in our evolution. In the October 2002 issue of the Chiron Communique, he called for us to "put our entire heart into unity and fusion now." This makes possible the transcendence of our differences: "No more darkness and light in the people, but an uplifted fusion." He concludes that the greatest wisdom is in simplicity: "Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free...all you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way."

Each of us can make the heart-centered choice for this world-vision of peace, unity and fusion--a new era of cooperation rather than conflict, equally serving both the self and others--and we all can make a real difference and help to manifest that vision, simply by going within, experiencing our wholeness, and expressing that in our here-and-now, day-to-day lives.

As Krishnamurti taught: "You are the world...You are the observer and the observed, the analyzer and the thing analyzed." And, physicist John Wheeler: "There's no 'out there' out there." Thus, we are our governments, which ultimately are only a reflection of our perception. This is in line with the whole concept of "you create your own reality," which can also be understood as "what you put out is what you get back." It comes down to our beliefs, thoughts and feelings primarily, which we see reflected in the world around us. When we understand this at a gut level, not just intellectually, it is a whole new paradigm shift for many--from being other-directed to inner-directed.

I would perhaps rephrase Krishnamurti: "You are your world." Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len cured a ward of criminally insane patients by, as he said, "healing the part of me that created them." So is he a savior? I see him more as an example to inspire us and show us what is possible when we make such a shift.

In short, our leaders, the state of the union, and of the world, can only reflect
our inner state, individually and collectively. As an example, we may rail against war, but have we ended our own inner and outer wars, our blaming, our desire to quash an opponent? Are we willing to listen, cooperate, and take responsibility? Is our focus on loving peace or on hating war? We need to be conscious of the energies we are putting out into the world--for they will surely come back to us. As a small but wise being said: "We have seen the enemy and he is us."

Obama's Inaugural Address may be up for class review.
Here are a few relevant selections:

" much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies."

"That we are in the midst of crisis is well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." (Emphasis mine.)

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

Faith--determination--making fundamental choices (I think that's what is meant by "hard" choices). Accepting our spiritual maturity--understanding that, as the science of the quantum has shown, we are the creative source of our lives and our world. Taking responsibility, rather than pointing the finger of blame. That's what I'm talking about!

I can't help wondering how Obama feels about the sometimes vituperative criticism directed at him. I suspect he can relate to the words of his chosen Presidential role model, Lincoln:

"If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

Obama has found inspiration in Lincoln's 1862 message to Congress:

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country."

Similarly, Obama said, when he introduced the members of his economic team: "This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works. That's why I will ask my team to think anew and act anew to meet our new challenges."

Lincoln's words are also echoed in this from Obama's Inaugural Address:

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics."

It seems, however, that Obama's team-mates--and that includes "we the people" as well as his consultants--haven't been up to the challenge of true change. Paradoxically, perhaps we've been trying too hard. It's not the American way in general, but there are times when the best action is inward and reflective, providing the space for new insights, rather than straining and striving to effect outer change. In any case, our vision of change has to come from within us. No one else can hand it to us. It is "time to put away childish things"--and time for us to become our own leaders.

My interest was caught by the word "disenthrall" in the line, "We must disenthrall ourselves," from Lincoln's message to Congress. I had never heard nor read it previously. In fact, I had to look it up. Merriam-Webster's definition:"to free from bondage, liberate." And, the dictionary defines it as, "to free from a controlling force or influence." Lincoln was saying we must free ourselves, and then we would save our country.

What is that controlling force or influence? I would say it's the tendency for our thinking to stay firmly in the box of mainstream consciousness, wherein dreams and imagination are at the bottom of our priorities.

We need to get back in touch with the natural world, and with our own nature. We need to regain what Wordsworth called our "visionary gleam"--our dreams for ourselves and the world, our Godhood, our intuition. Therein lies our salvation and our freedom.

Our founding fathers designed the template of freedom and equality as the direction
for our country. They proposed that this was our right. As President, Lincoln ended the practice of slavery and made freedom a law, with the objective of unifying the country. But he understood that we could not be truly free, nor experience true change, until we individually choose that freedom and make it a reality for ourselves--thinking and acting in new ways.

And perhaps this is what Obama meant also in the concluding words of his Inaugural Address: "Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

As I hope is clear by now, this essay is less about Obama (or any other person upon whom we project our own authority) than it is about our willingness to disenthrall ourselves--breaking the bonds of our fears and self-imposed limitations. In so doing, we plant the seeds of ever-expanding freedom and positive change for future generations. We become visionary creators, rather than waiting for someone else to create for us. We are indeed the pioneers, if we accept that role. We are the saviors we've been waiting for.