Reflections about Choices and Possibilities

Carol A. Hand

As a young child, I had two recurring dreams. In one, I was on a screened porch. Just beyond the screen were hungry, scary monsters. They were snarling and clawing in their attempt to break through the screen to get to me, and I huddled in fright. I would awake with my heart racing. But this dream was often followed by another. In the second dream, I would stand at the top of stairs in my house with my arms widespread. I would jump gently and soar thought the air. I easily exited my house as I swooped though the front door and realized my thoughts could take me high into the sky far above the earth or allow me to hover just above people who were walking on the earth. I still have days that alternate between these two possibilities.

crouching child

Photo: Crouching Child

I often think about these contrasting choices – to feel boxed in and exposed, paralyzed by fear or to fly free above the chaos. Both are lonely choices for a life lived on the margins. I’m sure there are other choices, yet these two seem to alternate in an endless loop for me. And I return once again to contemplate the words of Krishnamurti.

“The urge to find out what truth is, what God is, is the only real urge and all other urges are subsidiary. When you throw a stone into still water, it makes expanding circles. The expanding circles are the subsidiary movements, the social reactions, but the real movement is at the centre, which is the movement to find happiness, God, truth; and you cannot find it as long as you are caught in fear, held by a threat. From the moment there is the arising of threat and fear, culture declines.” (p. 89)

As I think about what is happening in the world today, I see the consequences of fear – paralysis or efforts to ensure safety by conquest and control. And I see the consequences of people who have continued to pursue change or revolution by fighting inside of the imprisoning paradigms of the oppressive, limiting assumptions they have been socialized to accept without question. I was one of them in the past.

“Have you not noticed how arrogant idealists are? The political leaders who bring about certain results, who achieve great reforms – have you not noticed that they are full of themselves? In their own estimation they are very important. Read a few of the political speeches, watch some of these people who call themselves reformers, and you will see that in the very process of reformation they are cultivating their own ego; their reforms, however extensive, are still within the prison, therefore they are destructive and ultimately bring more misery and conflict to man [sic].

“Now, if you can see through this whole social structure, the cultural pattern of the collective will which we call civilization – if you can understand all that and break away from it, break through the prison walls of your particular society, whether Hindu, communist, or Christian, then you will find that there comes a confidence which is not tainted with the sense of arrogance. It is the confidence of innocence. It is like the confidence of a child who is so completely innocent he [she] will try anything. It is this innocent confidence that will bring about a new civilization; but this innocent confidence cannot come into being as long as you remain within the social pattern.” (pp. 94-95)

Of course there are risks when one takes flight, free from the comforting confines of tradition. It is takes great faith and love to dare the lift off – and even greater faith and endurance to remain in flight. But the first steps may seem impossible. How does one free oneself from “the dust of many centuries, the dust of what we call knowledge, experience”? (p. 101) The first step for me is recognizing it is crucial to free my heart and mind so I can leave the screened porch to see new possibilities. It’s a hard step to take in these times. The second is mustering the courage to take flight outside of the prison of “yesterday’s reminiscences.” (p. 101) Although I carry the weight of my ancestors’ historical trauma and my own, let me choose to take the risk at this moment. As one simple ordinary person, let me observe what was and what is without paralyzing fear from the distance of love and possibilities for what can assuredly come to be.

dancer (1)

Photo Credit: Dancer (Carol A. Hand)

Work Cited:

Krishnamurti (1989). Think on these things. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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39 thoughts on “Reflections about Choices and Possibilities”

  1. Kindred spirits are we who take the tragedies of our lives and use them to do good and in the process, allow them to make us stronger and more resilient so they can give us the knowledge to teach others what we have learned. Thanks Carol. This came just in time as I once again walk proudly into the lions den (courtroom) to fight for the freedoms of those less fortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Joan. I’m honored to be a kindred spirit 🙂

      I do hope the decision is favorable. Your recent posts present a compelling case for the egregious harm done to the men who were falsely accused and convicted and to their families. I send my best wishes to you and hope the next hearing goes well. Peace, my friend, and walk proud ❤

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  2. ¨Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills¨. Arthur Schopenhauer. ¨On The Freedom Of The Will¨. (1839)

    Thought Provoking post… You are so right as to idealists being arrogant!…
    Your post made me think about Freedom and Free Will and that we might not be so free to decide at times also… Thanks for sharing dear Carol… All my best wishes Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You make a critical point from Krishnamurti that once fear and control set in, a culture begins to decline. This is where we are at now. It will take great courage to move beyond that “game of thrones” into something better.

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  4. Dreams are full of wisdom at times. This post is lovely, and thought provoking. I watch the innocence in my 2 yr-old grandson and wonder how and why we (the adults/culture/collective humanity) layer fear upon him, teach him to divide and distrust, to believe in scarcity and otherness. He’s not born that way. I would love to see the world transformed, a task that seems insurmountable. Yet, your post reminds me that each of us has the power to be a stone that creates the ripple.

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    1. Thank you for sharing such important observations of your grandson’s socialization into this culture of today, and the true cost of innocence muted. Yet as you point out, D., we do have the power to rediscover innocence and create ripples. I see the ripples in the words of the characters you create in your writing.

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    1. Hmm – speaking about choices and possibilities 🙂

      I have never written a play, but I think it’s an intriguing idea. I’m not sure if it’s something I could write, although a number of the interviews I did certainly could be woven into a performance. It would be interesting to shift scenes between county child welfare workers and tribal staff talking about the same family and tribal members sharing their childhood memories about pre and post placement and the abuse and later struggles they experienced while living with foster or adoptive families. (I actually did gather information about the same families from county and tribal staff perspectives serendipitously during my research – including the tone of voice on audiotape and non-verbal expressiveness imprinted in my memory).

      (I’ll look at the link later and review Vera Manual’s play to see if it’s possible. A play could actually reach a much wider audience than a book.) Thank you for a creative suggestion, Diane!

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    2. I did check out the link, Diane, and I think I have an idea and a title – “You wouldn’t want to hear my story.” Mostly it’s a narrative of one of the accounts shared by one of the community members about her childhood in foster care. I’ll give it a try… (I wonder if you have time to read a draft when I get there?)

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  5. When I first really read the verse “Perfect love casts out fear,” I was struck that Jesus opposed love to fear, instead of to hate. Later, I came to understand that (psychologically) fear is the root of anger, hate, and unforgiveness… and paralysis or aggression. Bottom line, fear is our worst enemy.

    But it seems that courage, peace, and love derive meaning within the contrasting context of fear, which positions them as options we are free to choose. The choice is illuminated by all faith teachings, it’s the challenge of the ages – I think, somehow, it is the reason we exist.

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    1. Thank you for sharing such thoughtful and profound reflections, JoAnn. In these times when there are never-ending messages that play on our fears, I agree that it is ever-more important to remember that we have a choice in how we respond.

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  6. The urge to find truth, as Krishnamurti says, is a life long journey with no end in sight, a path taking us along many twists and turns. It is those who stop along the way, finding a place of their contentment, accepting only what they’ve mistaken to be ultimate truth, it is they who are the bane of all existence.

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  7. Wow Thanks Carol, a post to re-read many times!. So important and so profound at the same time. Interesting about those dreams and you still remembering them now. But I love them. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Hector. These dreams are hard to forget because I had them so often as a child. I have frequently thought about them, and interestingly, my perspective about their meaning has changed over time.

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      1. Great! Perspective always changes as we move, if it doesn’t we are static and that is very very bad! Thanks for your support, It is an honour! Thank you!

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  8. Carol, there was a reason something compelled me to come to your blog today. I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to fit in reading much, and it’s even been a stretch to get a post written amidst the chaos. I miss you and think of you so often-never doubt that. But today, your post was something I needed to read. Dreams have haunted me most of my life. Your first dream is all too familiar, the monsters on the other side of the door, the window, the closet. The racing heart, panic, fear. I never had a second dream like yours. But oh how I loved hearing you tell of it. The image, soaring, free of the paralyzing fear. Your final paragraph topped it off and I found myself nodding at “The first step for me is recognizing it is crucial to free my heart and mind…” It IS a hard first step. I feel like I’ve been on that first step forever, though probably I’m further in my journey than I realize. Getting there seems to take forever sometimes. Thanks so much for putting into words what I needed to read today. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Mandy. It is often easier for me to remember the first dream. I think we share that and many others things, including the journey toward healing.

      I’m so grateful we met and became virtual friends. I always appreciate your visits whenever you have time, and I’m grateful for your ever kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I believe you will be recognized for your depth, honesty, compassion and skills as a communicator. I have seen you touch hearts and help people find their healing path as a blogger. I have no doubts your book will as well 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for such lovely and poetic comments, K.A.! I just realized when I was reading your blog this morning that I’ve just picked the same name (Mavis) for the central character in a book I’ve just begun. It seemed the perfect name because I’ve only ever met one person by that name in my lifetime, a former student. I wonder if that’s ok with you. An unassuming researcher, the Mavis I envision is a different kind of hero who helps people discover their power to transform their lives as individuals and members of communities by listening and recording their stories. The final decision of whether to use what they learn about themselves is up to them… It’s not to late for me to change her name – I’ve only just begun. Here’s a link if you’re interested: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/coming-home-the-beginning-writing-101/. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this beginning (and the name).

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        1. Thank you for your reply, K.A. I hope my reference to your blog helped connect people to your fascinating posts! I didn’t think you would mind a favorable review of you work 🙂

          I really am grateful for the inspiration your excerpt gave me to think more deeply about the issue of naming my characters beforehand. I also appreciate your permission to use the name Mavis. I may use it for another character, but I’ve pretty much decided to try my grandmother’s name (Agnes) for the central character now. I’m not sure if it will work…

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