Thursday, 15 January 2009
Monday, 12 January 2009
Despite my longings, I know in my heart of hearts that Lundy would not be the answer - it is my haven and place of solitude, and if I were to make a permanent move, that haven would be gone. There would be nowhere for me to retreat to in times of trouble. Perhaps that is the whole point, as I would have to rely on my own internal resources. That is what Lundy does anyway, by putting you into that space where the mind goes so still that you can hear yourself again, and more to the point, hear your inner guidance, as opposed to the ego. I have been running on ego for far, far too long, and my pain body has been acutely active these past few months. It is beginning to settle a bit more now the worst is over, and I hope it stays that way, for it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting, not just for me, but also for my partner, who has to live with the results. When you form a partnership, as we have, that partnership is not just with the person as a physical entity, but also with their pain body.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Saturday, 10 January 2009
The family, father Otto, mother Edith and daughters Margot and Anne (Anne was the younger of the two) lived like this for over 2 years, with their friends Hermann and Auguste van Pels and their son Peter. They were later joined by the family dentist, Fritz Pfeffer. Anne's father had been preparing this place as a hideout for over a year, gathering furniture and cooking implements. Anne had received her diary as birthday gift from her father just weeks before the family moved, having left an elaborate trail that led others to believe they had fled to Switzerland in safety.
The family moved into their hiding place on the morning July 6th, 1942, following the Nazis request that daughter Margot was to present herself to the railway station within nine days for transport to one of the camps. Since Jews were forbidden from using public transport, they walked several kilometers from their home, which had been deliberately left in disarray, wearing several layers of clothes, as they dare not be seen carrying luggage.
The Achterhuis (a Dutch word denoting the rear part of a house, translated as the "Secret Annexe" in English editions of the diary) was a three-storey space entered from a landing above Mr Frank's offices. It consisted of two small rooms, with an adjoining bathroom and toilet on the first level, with a larger open room above with a smaller room adjoining it. A ladder from this smaller room led to the attic. The door to the Achterhuis was covered by a bookcase to ensure that it remained undiscovered.
Otto's four employees together with a few of their family members, were the only people who knew of the family's whereabouts, risking their lives to provide the family with food and other supplies via the black market, and a vital lifeline to the outside world. Tensions quickly developed within the group who were forced to live in these confined conditions. Anne frequently clashed with most of the adults, as a fiery and growing teenager, detailing all of this in her diary. Thrown together, romance blossomed between Anne and Peter, the teenage son of Hermann and Auguste van Pels, but the infatuation soon waned.
The family were eventually discovered and arrested after an anonymous tip off and transported to various camps. Her father Otto to the notorious Auschwitz and her mother together with the two girls to Bergen-Belsen in Southern Poland. From the eight people who lived in the annex, Otto was the only one to survive. Anne died from typhus in March 1945, five days after her sister, and just one month before liberation.
After the war her father returned to Amsterdam and found some of his employees, one of whom gave him the copy of Anne's diary that had been left behind after it fell from her father's briefcase. The Nazi's had emptied the briefcase to carry the family's gold, which they looted. The first edition was published in France and Germany in 1950, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I visited Amsterdam briefly in 1990 when my sister and I were inter-railing across Europe as students, but did not get the opportunity to visit the house, as we were only in the city for a few hours. Nevertheless, I have always been fascinated by Anne's story and bravery, as a teenager living in what must have been incredibly difficult conditions. The dramatisation was remarkably lifelike with superb acting from all those who took part. I found myself touched by this young girls will to survive and her comments in particular that she did not want her life to have been in vain, that she wished to live on afterwards through the words that she had written. I can identify very much with that myself, as most writers probably can. The final scenes of the family's arrest were difficult to watch and I found tears streaming down my face, as I had become quite attached to them all.
Afterwards I watched a documentary about the family on BBC 4 which provided more background information, including an interview with her father, the only survivor. Included were scenes of the various camps to which the family members were taken and where they died. I have often wondered if I was transported to one of these, during a former life.
I remember when I was new to the spiritual path, I attended a past life workshop with Dick Sutphen. To help set the mood and to test our responses, Dick played a variety of different sounds, one of which was a train blowing its whistle. Every hair on my body stood on end, as I saw the image of a train moving through a darkened tunnel and coming to a stop inside a walled compound with a large chimney in the background. The first time I saw the film Schindlers List, I recognised the image of Austwitz from this workshop. That was possibly the most frightening experience of my life.
The closing scenes of the dramatisation and my reaction to them also brought to mind my visit to the Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, which I visited in 1993. We were led into this darkened dome shaped room, which was pitch black. The only light came from the illuminated handrail that was used to feel your way around, and the one million stars on the ceiling, one for every Jewish child who perished during the War. I don't think I have ever experienced such sadness or tears as I shed that day, sadness for the depths of cruelty and depravity that the human race could sink to, and the dreadful acts that were carried out in the name of politics.
The saddest thing of all is that we appear to have learnt nothing at all from these experiences, as similar atrocities continue to be carried out throughout the world to this day - the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and more recently in Zimbabwe. Religious wars are no different - albeit on a smaller scale and being much more visible - the senseless destruction of the Twin Towers, the Oklahoma bombing, or closer to home, the troubles in Northern Ireland. What binds all of these things together is the sense that the victims were considered to be different, sufficiently different to pose such a threat to their neighbours that they had to die. Truth was considered more important than human life for a bunch of over inflated egos who had to justify their own belief's and their own survival at any cost.
It may be a cliche, but it is as true today as it ever was, that we cannot stand by and allow these things to continue to take place or to ever happen again. There are some alive even today who refuse to believe that the Holocaust took place at all, but I have travelled to Israel and shared a room with someone who was there, I have seen the sites of the mass graves in Russia and the Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, so I know that it did. We must never allow anything like this to ever happen again.
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Yesterday it hit me like a bolt from the blue. My partner had an appointment in town, so I went to the gym, and arranged to meet him afterwards in the coffee shop. As we were walking to the car park, I began to feel really bad, with waves of nausea and stomach cramps. He told me I looked as a white as a sheet. When we got to the centre I decided to sit quietly and have a drink to see how I felt, and as I sat I began to read Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth". My partner had begun to read a few snippets, so I opened the book where his bookmark lay, which happened to be at the chapter about the ego (chapter three).
What Tolle had to say made me feel even worse, since it was such a perfect description of me, a section that try as I might I cannot now find. Maybe I no longer need to find this, as I have recognised myself and begun to move beyond it. Yesterday I certainly moved beyond something.
After I had finished my drink, and the tears began to fall, I did my best to exercise. I thought that if I tried to make the effort it may help, by moving things through the body. It did that alright, but not in the way I would have hoped, for instead of moving things through, it brought things to the surface in the most unpleasant of ways.
When my partner and I got home, I was gripped by what I can only describe as fear. I could not tell you where this fear was coming from, even if I tried, and I don't particularly want to try. I hope I never experience fear of that magnitude again. As the day wore on, and the symptoms got worse and worse - waves of nausea, cramps and backache, with the most intense fear and shaking - all at the same time - I began to appreciate what my partner has been through all these years with his own issues. I have not been the most sympathetic of partners, but from now on, I will be.
The symptoms although unpleasant were to be expected. When you challenge boundaries, as I have done, my own and others they have placed upon me, and those boundaries begin to break down, it moves you into a new and different space. This is one of taking responsbility for ones own actions, and in my case, recognising that it was a choice to walk away. This brings up all your fears and issues around safety - your own dark night, or in my case, dark day of the soul.
As the day wore on, and with plenty of rest, and no distractions, the feelings gradually wore off, to be replaced by early evening with a great sense of calm - I had entered the void. The void is that empty space between states, where you are waiting for the next thing to occur - what my partner refers to as the "chrysalis". My Journey teacher referred to this as the "unknown zone". This is the message that appears on our computers when we are waiting for a web page to open - so even Bill Gates has some spirituality.
I awoke this morning after the best nights sleep since I last returned from Lundy. I had been been hoping to go to Iceland this summer, but after what has happened, I do not know what my financial situation will be and if I will be able to afford it. When I saw there were 2 weeks free on my beloved island at the end of July on Tuesday morning, I telephoned the Landmark Trust to make a booking. I suppose I could have waited to see what happened, but those two weeks would probably have gone and then I could have faced the prospect of having no summer holiday at all. At least this way I know I will get the break I will need - and in this case that doesn't mean a broken leg!
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
It is a relief to know that I can finally put this to bed, although it is not over quite yet. I still have other issues that need to be resolved. These will be dealt with in their own time, and once they are, I can begin to move on.
Yesterday I wrote that if I chose not to see this through, I would be giving my power away all over again, but having made a different choice, I can see that this is not the case. This was about giving myself the opportunity to make a choice, and not being fearful about that choice, but also about taking responsbility for the choice that I made. It is easy to pass that responsibility to others and let them make the choices for us - that is what I hoped would happen on Friday at the meeting I had to attend.
As you grow from a child to an adult, there is always someone playing on our fears by telling all the things we cannot do - most of the time they are projecting their own fears onto us. We learn through our interactions with the world, ways to make our own lives as easy as possible, as when we are told we cannot do things, we believe that, and instead of pushing through our own boundaries, we stay enclosed in theirs.
We eventually realise that we give people our power so that they can make choices for us - the choice of whether to stay in a situation we hate and that makes us ill, simply to pay the bills. By staying in these situations, we become even more ill, until we are forced to take time off, and then all our fears are realised, as we have less money with which to pay those bills. If we had walked away when our egos first told us to, then we would not have been in this situation.
It would be easy to buy into the fear, the what ifs and all the buts, but as Jelaila Starr says in her latest video, what's the worst that can happen? It already has, so what else is there to fear?
I know that I will be taken care of, and that something wonderful and much more appropriate for my needs is just around the corner, beckoning.
Saturday, 3 January 2009
On New Years Eve, I watched the film Chocolat starring Juliet Binoche. Binoche plays the role of Vianne, a wanderer who obeys the north wind, drifting across the country as it blows, with her six year old daughter (her inner child perhaps). The film is set in 1960's rural France, when Catholicism maintained a stranglehold, dictating both morals and behaviour. As a single mother who did not go to church, Vianne caused more than a few ripples. Although these ripples were difficult to go through at the time, ultimately they changed the town and its inhabitants for the good.
I have noticed over the years that I too am a catalyst for change - especially at work. It seems as if I go into a particular job (I have noticed this with other non work related situations as well), ruffle a few feathers by bringing things to their attention, and then leave. This seems to act as a catalyst, whereby within a very short space of time, other people do the same (leave that is). It is almost as if there is something about me that awakens things in others - the realisation perhaps that there is more to life than they are currently choosing to experience, and that they can make another choice that is much better and more appropriate for their needs. I do not go into a job in order to create this, but to live and survive, like everyone else. This seems to happen spontaneously, and is totally beyond my control.
The last two weeks have been extraordinarily stressful. I do not think I realised the full extent of this stress until I attended a meeting yesterday to discuss my issues. I finally had the chance to say my piece and be heard, presenting my evidence. I was surprised at the outcome, which knocked me for six.