Compass v. Culture and Other Wisdom…Insight from Martha

compassAs the seventh of eight children, I was raised with little pressure. For instance, no one at home cared much about my test scores, or even whether I took tests. This was wonderfully freeing but disorienting, so as an adolescent I absorbed the culture of driven materialism that still dominates American society.  

Of course, this created the suffering that arises when we live life from the outside in, rather than the inside out. That blessed &%#$ suffering helped me let go of societal expectations and feel around for my “inner compass.” Ever since, in any argument between Compass v. Culture, I’ve tried to let Compass win.
 
Right now, many of us feel an immense shift in the way humans live in this world.  That shift, while benevolent, comes from within, rather than from our culture. That means your inner compass will inevitably tell you to break society’s expectations. Maybe that’s happening right now. If not, wait a few minutes. It’s coming. 
 
Your counter-cultural impulse may be large (sell everything and become a goatherd), or it may be small (just let your thighs do whatever they freaking want). Maybe you’ll feel like becoming nocturnal, breeding hamsters, or spending hours staring blankly at a wall.
 
You can recognize a Compass v. Culture moment when something you’re “supposed” to do feels like trying to French-kiss a wolverine, and something that “makes no sense” feels incredibly seductive. Personally, I absolutely love staring at walls; it feels blissful enough to be a sin. Go figure.
 
Mind, born in culture, will never understand your inner compass. Soul, so much bigger than culture, may tell you where to go without explaining why. Follow it anyway. If it creates suffering, stop. But if it opens up a road you’ve never imagined, take it. I hope I’ll see you there.

Lame Animal Totem: Tardigrade

tardigradeThe Tardigrade is a truly wondrous creature: an eight-legged microscopic beastie also known as the “moss piglet” that can go without food or water for more than ten years, live in the vacuum of space, stew in boiling water, and keep waddling onward, good as new. 
 
Tardigrade energy is the totem of people who just will not freaking STOP, the spirit animal of all who believe everyone needs to hear about their gruesome dental history, their endless arguments with ex-spouses, the exploits of their moss-piglet children. 
 
Which reminds me: Tardigrade is also the totem of Things That Aren’t As Cute As You Think. When Tardigrade blubs into the mucous membranes of your life, ask a non-Tardigrade person if your favorite rhinestone sports bra really fits in at the elder-care center, how coworkers genuinely feel about your compulsion to massage them, and whether anyone but you thinks it’s adorable when your puppy screams like a child. If the message is STOP, do so, even though Tardigrade will tell you to go on, and on, and on, and on….

How to Tame Your Fears

Fear is a terrible sensation, one we never, ever want to feel. How lucky we are to live in a time and place where it’s so often possible to avoid the things that scare us most: violence, disease, natural disasters, dangerous animals, and, at least until the very end, death. Instead, we get to sit read more…

Lame Animal Totem: Turducken

Turducken is a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is in turn stuffed into a deboned turkey. If turducken is your totem animal, you have multiple layers of limp energy with no solid internal structure whatsoever.   Turducken energy is complicated, overstuffed, and excessive. When Turducken waddles onto your read more…

Lame Animal Totem: Aardwolf

The Aardwolf, as I’m sure you know, is a stripy hyena-like creature from Africa that can excrete a full tenth of its body weight in one magnificent defecation. (How much would you excrete if you were an Aardwolf?  Would it be more or less than you can lift?) A single Aardwolf can consume a quarter read more…