I Have a Problem

So, this is a little embarrassing, but maybe talking about it will make me feel a little better.

I am 23 years old.  I am an adult.  I have a job, have my own apartment, take care of all my bills, am engaged, have all sorts of adult responsibilities, yadda yadda yada.

I am also afraid of the dark.

I don’t know what caused it.  Blame it on CNN kidnapping stories or too many scary movies (I watched ‘Poltergeist’ when I was 7.  It’s the only time a movie ever game me nightmares).  Whatever the cause, whenever I close my eyes I can’t help but feel things around me, watching me, waiting to ‘get’ me.

I don’t like to hang my hands or feet out of the blankets when I sleep because who knows what shit is waiting underneath my bed to reach out and grab me?

I can’t sleep with mirrors facing my bed.  I don’t like to look in mirrors at night or in dark rooms, because I’m afraid of what I might see in them.

This, I recognize, is a problem (a completely embarrassing one).  A lot of the visualization and meditation exercises I’d like to try involve closing my eyes for extended periods of time.  I can’t do it without getting really anxious and peeping out from under my eyelids to check and make sure everything is “ok.”

Does anyone else have this problem, and do you have any tips?

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Old Protestant Cemetery, Georgetown

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I went to Malaysia for a week and a half in January.  When I was in Georgetown I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Old Protestant Cemetery.  I thought I’d share some pictures.

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If ever there was a graveyard in need of tending, this is it.  A lot of the tombs were sort of haphazardly thrown together.  It looked like there was a specific layout to the original cemetery, but as bodies needed to be buried they were put anywhere they could fit.

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They appeared to belong mainly to Europeans who came over as doctors and missionaries.  Most of them seemed to have died young.

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My heart went out to this poor woman.  Dead before you’re thirty, and three children in the ground before you.  Due to the climate, illness was not an uncommon cause of death.

 It was a surprisingly peaceful place, and it had an energy all its own, which I think would have made it pleasant for future visits had I spent more time in Georgetown.  However, because of the closeness of the tombs, it also appeared to be a camp for some homeless people.  I wonder if I would ever have the spiritual strength to rest with the dead?  I’m working on accepting it as a natural and indispensable part of life, but death and its accoutrements, while fascinating, still gives me the shivers.

Wheel on the Upturn

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Oh, rota fortunae — when we start to fall, we fall, and though the knowledge that there is an eventual upturn should help cheer us, it never really does.  

I’m feeling better.  I’m getting over myself.  Blah blah blah.  Time passes, and I feel less like a disconnected member of nothing and more like a piece of the everything.

We went hiking, a few weeks ago, in the mountains behind my apartment complex.  There are grave mounds sprinkled all over the hills, and every so often you stumble upon a clearing with stacks of rocks.  People have stacked the rocks together as wishes and prayers for loved ones.  We found a large clearing, one that we’d never seen before, at the top of a trail that spiraled steeply downward into the valley.  Someone had built an entire wall of prayer rocks.  The air and the ground vibrated, and I felt it — that glorious hopeful tugging in your heart that assures you that yes, there is something here, there is something bigger than yourself yet it is also you.

I’m getting better at feeling it.  I go places and I can feel the energy, if I allow myself to be open and receptive.  I’m working on being receptive.  I’m working on allowing.  

I just need to try and stop getting distracted with the petty problems of my post-adolescent ego.   

The Winter of My Discontent

The longest night of the year has passed, and I was hoping it would take my despondency with it.  But, of course, it hasn’t, and I am left to deal with my own feelings of inadequacy and discontent.  It’s a scant three days until the beginning of the NEW YEAR (perhaps our last year, if you ascribe to the faux-Mayan prophecy of doom, which is really just a misunderstanding of the way in which ancient Mayans calculated dates) and, as society has dictated we do at this special time, I’ve been trying to examine my feelings, my motivation, the overall state of my life, etc.

2011 has been a year of upheavals.  My mother underwent (and still is undergoing) chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer; a friend decided to violently take his own life; the Friday before Christmas one of my first grade students died; and Monday my mom was involved in a car crash that, which she walked away from unharmed, certainly left all of us a little shaken.  I’ve been struggling to remember my blessings (my own good health, people who love me, my job, the fact that my mother is apparently invincible, etc.).

I feel like lately the only things that have been in my head lately are that (a) Life is pointless and we are just waiting around to die, (b) despite that idea I can’t die yet because there are a million things I must do before that can happen, (c) perhaps there is joy and a purpose in this world, but I am simply incapable of recognizing or appreciating that joy and purpose, and (d) I will never be able to deeply relate or care about another person ever, including members of my own family and the person whom I’m supposed to marry.

Maybe I can blame it on the weather.  It hasn’t been as cold as it was last year, and lately it’s almost hit 40, but Korea in the winter is disappointing and ugly.  At least in the spring and summer there are green things and rice fields; right now it’s all dust and concrete and garbage.

In reality, though, I’m sure this is just cliche’ 20-something ‘Oh, I don’t know, what am I doing?, I’m special and therefore should be doing something amazing, time is literally running out and I will die unrecognized and pointless,’ freaking out.  Call it a quarter-life crisis.

Basically I just need to get the fuck over myself.  I might take another stab at meditating this afternoon to try and calm down a bit.  I feel like spaghetti someone’s put in the blender and turned on without the lid.

 

Yule Magic Blog Party

Once again I show up late to the blog party, ha ha.  I blame it on work and my presence in a “future” time zone 😉

Anyway, today(ish) is the Yule Magic Blog Party hosted by The Village Witch.  I’m supposed to offer a virtual magical gift for you today.  I had something big and special planned but lately other things have been on my mind, so instead I simply offer you this:

I wish for you strength to see you through all your future trials and the power to use these trials to help make you a stronger and better person.  I wish for you introspection, and the ability to look at your problems and place them into perspective.  And finally, I wish for you the ability to make peace with things you cannot change, and the clarity to see that they may not need changing at all.

Happy Yule y’all.

Walking on the Fence

Well do I or don’t I?  Believe, that is.  What counts as real belief?  How strong do one’s beliefs need to be in the face of “other-ness” to still be counted as one’s beliefs?

Arg.  I’m having a moody, confusing, pessimistic week, and that includes working out my thoughts of the divine.  I have fleeting moments of ecstasy, of sureness (yes!  surely everything is connected!  I can feel the power and goodness of the Earth!  blah blah blah!), but then they pass and I am overshadowed with doubt.  Of course, this is natural, yes?  One can’t constantly be having moments of revelation.  Then they would cease to be revelatory.

I have a problem meeting people halfway.  I guess I could say I have that same sort of problem with everything.  I don’t trust it if I don’t do it or see it or feel it myself.  But that’s not how belief works, is it?  Belief, by its very definition, is acceptance of a truth without necessarily having any sort of factual, measurable, scientific evidence.  The world shouldn’t have to prove to me daily that things are special and connected and what have you, just like my fiance’ doesn’t have to prove daily that he loves me and isn’t going to go out and court other women.

Of course, the ironic thing is the world does keep showing me things are connected.  That’s what interested me in starting down this path in the first place.  I guess sometimes it’s just easier to see it than others.

And maybe some of it stems from my own feelings of inadequacy.  I’m getting older, and I’m still not that super cool popular beautiful awesome smart hip distinguished girl I wanted to be.  I will probably never be that person, and that’s okay, but it still can be disappointing to know you won’t be who you wanted to be, even if your reality is better for you.  And part of that image, coming from the majority of my jaded generation, is the belief in nothing, the idea that there is no god, when we die we die, there are no ghosts or spirits, and measurable science should act as our guide in all situations.  Not much room for romanticism or belief in that, eh?

Eh.  This, I’m sure, will pass.  Healthy introspection and examination of one’s beliefs isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I hope, in the future, to have more faith in myself and the world around me.

Happy Sunday y’all.

WYB – Yuletide Banana Bread

Happy holidays and happy Witches  Yuletide Ball everyone!  Click on the link to see a list of other websites participating in this blogging event.

Nothing says ‘holiday party’ quite like breads made out of fruits or vegetables.  My absolute favorite bread to make (and eat) is this banana bread.  Brown sugar and honey make it sticky sweet.

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 2 cups flour

Heat your oven to 350F.  Squish them ‘nanners.  Mix in the sugars, the egg, the honey and the vanilla.  Sprinkle in the baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix them in too.  Add the flour and mix mix mix.  Pour into a greased loaf pan (4 x 8 usually, mine is actually a 5 x 7 weird glass pan but whatev, it works) and bake for about an hour (until a knife comes out of the middle clean, unless you stick it through a banana chunk, in which case it won’t be as clean).  Cool, eat, enjoy!

Slow Fall

The weather is out of character for this part of the country right now.  Usually as Korea enters December it is very cold and very dry; this year, it’s been raining for four days straight (not heavy, mind you, more like sprinkling afterthoughts) and holding a steady 10 C.  I hate being cold, but even more I hate waiting for it when it should already be here.

I’ve started reading Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions, by River and Joyce Higginbotham.  I’m not very far into it, but I’m finding it interesting.  I feel like the books I’ve read before, while informative, sometimes gloss over the actual philosophies and tenets of belief in favor of having room to cram rituals and spell work in the back.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that;  I’m just craving a bit more of an insight into WHAT and WHY people do things, as opposed to the ceremonial trappings, I guess.  I hope that made sense without offending anyone.  Basically, I’m trying to get my ideas adjusted, and want to learn about what others believe to see if it makes sense to me.

I guess more than anything this post is just to check in with myself.  Am I still reading? Check!  Am I still thinking?  Check!  Am I still trying to become more observant of the world around me, natural and man-made?  Sort of check.  One of my biggest problems is getting wrapped up so far in my own head sometimes I don’t notice anything around me.  I’m trying to achieve balance in that respect.

Happy weekend to you all.

Mountains and Spirits

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Korea is a beautiful country, and it has about fifty million mountains with well-established hiking trails.  Many people like to go hiking on the weekends, especially at the bigger/more popular/more beautiful sites.  When I go hiking, I feel most attuned with my body and my natural surroundings.  I think it’s the closest to a meditative or above-normal-consciousness state that I’ve ever gotten.  However, that state of mind is difficult to achieve when the place you are hiking is this populated:

It was like that the entire 5 hours we were on the trail two weeks ago, at Geumosan.

But I am lucky enough to have a small mountain and a series of hiking trails right behind my house.  You’ll usually pass three or for people or couples, but there’s a lot of time spent alone (well, figuratively speaking — my boyfriend was with me) to absorb what’s around you.

What’s particularly interesting is the mountain played a big part in the Korean War.  It’s actually the site of the Hill 303 massacre, and there’s a monument at the base of the mountain and also at the very top honoring those who were lost.  The whole hill is dotted with ancestral graves — in Korea, traditionally they don’t bury their dead in a whole in the ground; they leave the body sitting up and cover it with dirt.  There’s one small cleared patch on the west side of the mountain that has twenty or so of these graves.  I’m not the type of person to get involved with spirit work (at least, you know, not before I know what the hell I’m doing), but I’m curious — if, for instance, I wanted to have anything to do with these spirits, would I have to learn enough Korean to communicate?  Or, once you’re dead, would your energy sort of “transcend” the obstacles of spoken language?

Of course, depending on the time period of death, a lot of the Korean spirits might not want anything to do with me.  But a lot of US troops got killed here too; maybe there’s a stray spirit or two hanging around who would like some company.

You know, eventually.