What Happens When The Broken Become Wild.

Sometimes, when people have had to become very wise very early in life, when they’ve had to grow up quickly, or make themselves into a partner or a parent when they were not quite finished being childish or gotten to spend much time alone, they might go a little off the rails later on.

When you make vows and promises and covenants and pacts in your youth, you often have to break them again sooner than you thought you might. It’s not a thing to feel ashamed of. It is what it is when you can’t stop a thing from falling apart, when you realize love really isn’t all you need. It simply is what it is.

But when it happens, the person who is breaking it, or who gets broken away from, might scatter for a little while, then do this other thing where they seem to run in five directions at once, all of them terrifying and dangerous and risky and apparently self-destructive.

When this happens, we might be tempted to rush in and save them from themselves. We see the wild abandon and the tightrope walking and we cry out, stop! It isn’t safe! You’re vulnerable right now! Come back, come back! Be small for a while! Let us protect you from yourself!

Grief is a peculiar animal. It has this way of making us long to force the unfinished parts of us into process. It drives us towards dangerous people and dangerous places, because we long to feel something other than numbness and loss. We want to feel like conquerors, instead of conquered. Grief makes us feel around for the young, vulnerable, untested aspects of our psyche and grasp them to us tightly, kissing them tenderly on the forehead, before we drag them out on the town to get tattoos and meet dangerous strangers wherever they can be found.

Breaking a promise you made in your youth is often a kind of death to hope. But it is also often the rebirth of the self that stopped exploring the wild, wide world when that premature promise was sealed.

If you do not finish your exploration of the wilds when you are young, the wilds wait until you are free again. Then, if you allow them, they come back to claim you.

You will heal all your grief with process, my friend. And the school of process is out here, in the wild.

You Belong In The Wilds.

This is what I know. Life in the wilds offers us not exposure, rejection and confusion, but confidence, self-direction, autonomy, and independence.

You are not going out – you are coming in.

You will not be alone. You’ll need to learn to become self-directed, but you will not be bereft of company, or support, or teachers.

This is no forlorn exodus. There are many of us on this journey towards wholeness and healing. It’s a homecoming. We are students of each other, and ourselves. We have all suffered loss and damage, and indeed, lost parts of ourselves. We have been broken, and we are scarred and tired. But we are survivors.

We learn to make fire, shelter and new friends. We have all left tribes, families and homes. But we discover how to feed and clothe ourselves – emotionally, spiritually, creatively. We make those social and psychological deserts and woods and coasts and forest our realm and our domain. We create new rituals, ceremonies and celebrations. We no longer need to seek approval, protection or wear others names for us.

Freedom to be who we are, and always were, is our birthright, our ceremony and our song. Come with me. Come with me.

Your True Names.

Where are your names, dear one? What are your true names?

Do you know them? Can you remember them? Are they spoken proudly on your lips, written across your forehead, held in your hands like swords and shields, hung around your neck like an amulet, a symbol of power and identity and self? Or are your names hidden? Are they secreted away beneath layers, under covers, swallowed down and held tightly in the dark, closer than your heartbeat, lest anyone see them, hear them, mock them, take them away?

What names have you taken for yourself? What names did you once bear but have given up, lain down, thrown away?

When we are young, we yearn to be told who we are, what we are, where and to whom we belong. We join ourselves to tribes and to others who help us work out the edges of ourselves; where we blend, where we end. We drink their words and eat the portions meted out for us hungrily. Tell me who I am. Tell me what you need me to be. I will give you everything, do anything, I’ll be anything you need. Help me know what and who I am? And for heavens sake, don’t leave me. Don’t ever, ever leave me.

We took the names they gave us, we became what they wanted us to be, because we were afraid. We were afraid of the wild.

But they lied about it, you know. We won’t die out there. It’s what we are. We are made of the wilderness.

You do not need to be afraid of the wild. Your name is written there. It’s spoken in the wind. It’s carved in the rocks and hills and mountainsides. It’s in the call of the wild things. You are of the wilderness. They cannot threaten you with anything, nothing can hold you, when you trust the place they threaten to cast you into more than you trust them.

We will cast out all fear with courage, my friend, and the school of courage is out here – in the wild.

The Small, The Pure, The I Am.

Once, you were not ashamed.

Once, you knew instinctively you were good at the very core, and your heart was intrinsically pure. You were curious, you were adventurous and you were free. You were blissfully unaware the way you saw the world and everyone in it might be different from how others see it.

I Am – the most essential name for God or Source in many spiritual traditions – was your name for yourself. I Am happy. I Am hungry. I Am small, and I Am pure. I Am home. I Am Good as Gold. The nucleus at centre of an entire universe, an unending source of energy, life and beauty – this was who and what you were, and you embodied it completely.

When you were that little I Am, you were not an empty vessel waiting to be filled. You were the whole universe in a seed. You were like a pomegranate plucked from a tree. You were a complete sphere of perfection and goodness, with yet more seeds inside you. You were a life-giving ball of goodness. You smelt good, you felt good, you looked good, and you were good.

You held the capacity to nourish, both from within, and in giving of yourself to others, and to please and delight. You were joy, and joyful. Everything about you was right and worthy. If nobody had ever looked upon you, knew you or held you, if you were never named or had your feet and hands touch the earth, or given rites or blessed, or kissed by the sun or moon, you would have been no less good, no less pure, no less beautiful, worthy and perfect.

You were I Am.

You are, still.

Thought Gardens – Part 2

You have to be careful though of what’s blown into a thought garden on the wind, of what gets tramped in on muddy shoes and what’s likely to be wilfully thrown over a fence or carelessly dumped by some vandal. We can never thought-dump in another persons yard, or let them just dump in ours, no matter how good it feels to leave it and just walk off, no matter how much we might believe we’re helping others by allowing it. No, no, no. That’s what composting is for.

Sort the good stuff from the bad, and get help with that if you need it. Make a pile. Gather it up, and take it out through the gate to the place you chose beforehand for just this purpose. A little away from where you need to do your most present and attentive thought sorting. Carefully and lovingly upend whatever it is you’ve been carrying your stuff in, shake it to make sure it’s all out, good and proper. Then wave your hand over the pile and say firmly but tenderly, thank you, old opinions and judgements, things I once believed, ideas I had that didn’t work out, risks I took that failed, painful thoughts and memories, but you’re no longer needed. Time for you to go now. Time for you to turn to dirt and be outside my thought garden, even if just for now. Maybe I’ll be back for you, when you’ve become something healthy, healed and whole, ready for me to plant things in again. Thank you old thoughts, you stay here now, I love you, goodbye.

Yes, it’s exactly like a little burial rite. Good mind-compost making is a ritual, and it will help you to make it so.

Get out there every now and then, and check, because you never take want to take old, half-dead thoughts back into working garden with you. Not until they’re done cooking themselves up into something useful. Take your spade and gently turn them over occasionally, make sure they’re mixed in well and covered – not to hide them, just to keep them warm while they cure up into good dirt. It’s okay, I know it feels like a part of you is lost when you let old thoughts go, but just know they’re still there. You know where they are. You can see them if you need to make sure. But don’t bring them back in your garden too soon, not until they’ve lost all their venom, not until they’ve healed completely.

You’ll know when the compost is done. One day you’ll go out there, and the wind will have blown leaves all around the place and gathered up in the corners, and you’ll realise it’s been a while, longer than you thought. And you’ll bend down, and feel a kind of longing to reach in and take a handful, which is better than how you felt before when you came out here; angry, like kicking at it, holding your nose because it made your nostrils sting and water come from your eyes. Now, it will smell sweet, and like something things might grow in. You’ll smile at the loveliness, the goodness of it. That’s when you’ll know your mind dirt is all healed up again.

Thought Gardens – Part 1

I’m sure, my friends, it’s clear to you by now I definitely think too much. My mind garden is wild, and frankly a bit of a mess. I know this is both the product of both a busy mind and a neglected one. My own childish thoughts have been largely unattended and unheeded, and a child’s thoughts probably need to be regarded with care, much like a little flower patch. Not interfered with but seen and tended to, cultivated and left to fallow in season, weeded and seeded, certainly appreciated often. A child’s mind if neglected can become impossible to tame if it’s spent a few seasons forgotten, or worse, if the stewardship is passed to another, and insufficient attention is provided to the caretaking in the meantime. Little gardens are fragile things.

Messy is okay. It’s not the neatness that counts; it’s the amount of life that’s in there. Living things need to be found in a mind garden. And we have to get those suckers in there somehow. Writing, and reading of course, lots and lots of reading.

Looking at nature and at other people is good for thinking, but if you will, do it properly, if you please. Seeing their faces and eyes and listening to their words, all to be done deeply and with intention. Taking long walks and not talking, and taking long sittings with cups of tea in warm places and doing a lot of talking is also good.

Having things with you and around you made by someone you know, or love, or both; that makes for some good thinking I reckon. There’s something about having something in your hands, or over your lap or shoulders, or before you on your desk as you work, something someone made with their hands, that’s good for you in thinking your own thoughts. I think it’s because when you have to spend a lot of time making a thing with your hands you do a lot of thinking yourself. All that energy of the sitting and paying careful attention to your own thoughts as you make the thing gets transferred to others.

This is why the making of quilts and tea and toys and cakes are very important arts not to be lost. In light of this, I probably need to add here making a thing with your own hands is good for thinking, and healthy for cultivating wholesome, healthy thoughts that will hopefully seed well for a very long time, or as short a time as may be required.

Loving Beyond The Bounds

Does love have no bounds, no limits? Does love know no boundaries?

Love? You just keep loving, keep it up until you hit a boundary. If you find you can love beyond it, do so. If you can’t, turn around and love in another direction. That way, you can be sure your love knows no bounds.

Thank those boundaries when you find them, thank them for teaching you just how much love you have to give, and teaching you how to give your love where it can do the most good, the best kind of good. And for teaching you the limits and the boundaries are not you, not with your love. There’s always more in you, always more to give; your love knows no limits.

You need never feel like you fail when your love meets a boundary. Usually when it does, it’s a boundary that got created because of someone’s unwillingness to love where they might’ve, could’ve. Love anyway, and know no bounds.

Maybe not today, maybe not our love, but someone’s love will take that limit away someday. Say a prayer about it when you meet it. Thank God the boundary isn’t you, and make darn sure it isn’t you.

Your love will come up to the boundaries, that’s for sure. Your love will walk right up them sometimes, stand there taking the measure of them, run it’s hands along them, stand back, walk up and give them a little kick and say, well, I never.

And all we can do is love right up to the boundaries, give them a little push, and if they give, keep loving, If not, love more, or elsewhere, or in a pinch, just love yourself.
………
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

The Rain Bird

I once lived in a house surrounded on three sides by beautiful Australian bush; silvery eucalyptus trees, wattle with fluffy yellow flower balls, wild redgums, stringy barks and she-oaks. And birds; rainforest varieties mostly, but the ubiquitous magpies and currawongs. Indian mynas, whipbirds and bellbirds too.

One morning, I was drawn outside by an unusual bird call. It sounded like a baby magpie, but something wasn’t quite right. The juvenile maggie is almost as big as the parents, and fully dependent for food until quite grown. As I scoured the treetops for signs of a nest, I could hear the familiar bossy calls of the young bird out there somewhere. But something seemed off. The call was louder than was typical, and way more insistent. Rather than issuing its demands in a phrase, with long pauses, this bird was relentless. Squwark, squwark, squwark it went, on and on and on. It sounded like it was close, and I should’ve been able to see the familiar grey and white head and shoulders peeking above a messy bundle of sticks in a nearby tree. I did find a nest, but all I could see inside it was a huge white bird I didn’t recognise; certainly not the baby I was looking for.

Then, to my surprise, two adult magpies rushed down in a swoop to the nest. I realised the strange creature sitting in the magpie nest was actually issuing the baby magpie sound from it’s big, grey beak. The parents were almost falling over themselves to cram great beakfuls of whatever magpies eat into the throat of this huge thing as fast as they could. The big, greedy, white, non-magpie gulped down the offerings, and immediately started up its squwarking again. And off the two harried parents went, presumably to find more of whatever it is magpies eat to feed the large creature sitting in their next, pretending to be their offspring.

I was horrified. And fascinated. What the hell was going on here? Where was the real baby magpie? What was that big white bird in the nest doing, pretending to be their baby? Was this a thing? Or was I watching some kind of weird evolutionary abomination occurring in my back yard?

I was shaken. And angry. I felt for those magpie parents, clearly tricked into thinking they were obliged to run themselves ragged for this big, fat non-magpie intruder.

I went and did some research, and this is what I found.

Channel-billed cuckoos – or Rain Birds – are what’s know as parasitic birds. Parent cuckoos will actively seek the occupied nests of magpies or currawongs, ejecting any eggs they find there, and laying their own in their stead.

They then fly off and abandon the cuckoo eggs to the unwitting nest owners, who care for them and hatch them as if they were their own. The two currawongs are thusly fooled into believing the Rain Bird is it’s baby. They are instinctively obliged to raise the chick, feeding it and protecting it, slaves to its demands, never ever suspecting their charge, which eventually grows to twice the size of the “parents”, is an imposter.

And all the time it pretends to be a vulnerable youngster, evoking the protective, nurturing instinct deep in the parent, sounding for all the world like a hapless baby. By supplanting the original and rightful occupant of the family nest by force and imposing itself and its constant needs onto it’s unknowing hosts, the Rain Bird gets its needs met, grows and prospers. Without conscience. Without qualms. Until the cycle begins again.
……………

Do you know a Rain Bird?

I suspect we all may know one. In fact, perhaps you think you are one?

Rain birds are people who are broken just like everyone, but are stronger, more capable and more awesome than they choose to believe, and project themselves to be. They know they’re flawed and imperfect, as we all are, but they tell anyone who will listen they’re more helpless and bereft than anyone else, projecting an especially broken brokenness. They are the most poor, hopeless and badly done by of everyone in their world, they insist. But they are not merely complaining. Their brokenness is a device for attracting favour and support; emotional, certainly, and any other kind you might happen to have on offer as well.

Thing is, Rain Birds are clever and intelligent. They are smart, funny and good at what they love to do. But their gifts are inverted. They use their considerable abilities not to move themselves ahead in the world, but to posture themselves as weak and needy, so others will give them out of pity or compassion what they could easily attain for themselves.

We all have stuff to deal with, and most of us feel less than or too much from time to time. Sharing our stories and our feelings is generally a healthy thing to do. But what makes a Rain Bird’s story-telling unique is their seeking to gain advantage over others via their stories. For them, their brokenness is evidence they deserve to be given concession or advantage. The advantage Rain Birds seek could be success or promotion to a much-wanted position. It could be inclusion in a group or access to a product or service. It could be personal or professional support, or it could simply be care and nurture. Chronic Rain Birds know no other way to get what they want than to plead their sad, hopeless plight, hoping to attract benefit. They will often move from “nest” to “nest” looking to install themselves under the brooding care of a rescuer, teacher or carer who will “understand” them. They easily lose interest in people or groups who do not affirm and support their belief no one is worse off than they are. Their behaviour will often cause interpersonal and group dynamics to become uneven, and just like the unwitting foster parents of the real Rain Bird, they may burn – or burn out – their rescuer, by continually and relentlessly demanding more than they contribute.

It’s safer for the Rain Bird to ask for concession and charity, because if they lose it, they’ve lost nothing of true worth or value, to them anyway. What they gained cost them nothing, so they’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work, or ceases to be provided. They know there’s plenty more nests where this one came from.

There are many reasons people become Rain Birds. Rain Birds often come from families where the only way to have needs met, or attract attention or affection was to be hurt, injured or sick.  They may be unrealised or oppressed creatives, or tightly budded spiritually or emotionally for a long time. Rain Birds are frequently unhealed victims of abuse. Influences such as addiction can also cloud a Rain Birds insights into just how capable and resources they are. If someone you’ve met, live or work is evoking a sense of pity or compassion in your heart, but with it seems deeply entrenched in self-deprecation, co-dependency or a victim mentality, you can probably assume a Rain Bird is circling in your neighbourhood..

Not giving in to a Rain Bird’s manipulations isn’t about not hearing their story, or  withholding compassion, patience or kindness. There is some truth in all the Rain Bird’s cries for help. But whilst they play from this particular section of the orchestra, they ignore and withhold an equally significant truth. They are a survivor, and they know how to take care of themselves. They often have more resources than you do. If you weren’t around to rescue them, they would be perfectly fine.

The moment you begin to instate boundaries with a Rain Bird, that’ll be the end of that. When you say “that’s enough”, you’re dropped.  And by the time you realise you didn’t help, fix them or make their lives better despite everything you did or offered to do, they’ll have moved on to the next person or place, and because you genuinely believed it was a real relationship, it’ll break your heart.

The way to love a Rain Bird is with you in your nest, and they in theirs. Be their friend, but empower them to live from their own capacity, resources, strengths and wisdom. Support them to take responsibility for their actions, and the impacts they have on you and others. When situations and opportunities arise, remind them about their intrinsic intelligence, courage and insights. Do not be tempted to rescue them, or be positioned into becoming a foster parent or unwitting carer.

The Rain Bird needs constant reinforcement from you their feelings and beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness aren’t special or unique – we all feel too much and not enough at times.  Set firm and clear boundaries between what they say they need, and everything you love and value, because they will have no qualms about eliminating threats from the “nest” in vying for your attention. Don’t allow solving their their problems – real, or imagined – to become a source of self-confidence or ego-building for you. Love a Rain Bird best by speaking consistently to their capacity, reminding them – and yourself – about their track record of survival so far without you.
……….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

The Rain Bird

I once lived in a house surrounded on three sides by beautiful Australian bush; silvery eucalyptus trees, wattle with fluffy yellow flower balls, wild redgums, stringy barks and she-oaks. And birds; rainforest varieties mostly, but the ubiquitous magpies and currawongs. Indian mynas, whipbirds and bellbirds too.

One morning, I was drawn outside by an unusual bird call. It sounded like a baby magpie, but something wasn’t quite right. The juvenile maggie is almost as big as the parents, and fully dependent for food until quite grown. As I scoured the treetops for signs of a nest, I could hear the familiar bossy calls of the young bird out there somewhere. But something seemed off. The call was louder than was typical, and way more insistent. Rather than issuing its demands in a phrase, with long pauses, this bird was relentless. Squwark, squwark, squwark it went, on and on and on. It sounded like it was close, and I should’ve been able to see the familiar grey and white head and shoulders peeking above a messy bundle of sticks in a nearby tree. I did find a nest, but all I could see inside it was a huge white bird I didn’t recognise; certainly not the baby I was looking for.

Then, to my surprise, two adult magpies rushed down in a swoop to the nest. I realised the strange creature sitting in the magpie nest was actually issuing the baby magpie sound from it’s big, grey beak. The parents were almost falling over themselves to cram great beakfuls of whatever magpies eat into the throat of this huge thing as fast as they could. The big, greedy, white, non-magpie gulped down the offerings, and immediately started up its squwarking again. And off the two harried parents went, presumably to find more of whatever it is magpies eat to feed the large creature sitting in their next, pretending to be their offspring.

I was horrified. And fascinated. What the hell was going on here? Where was the real baby magpie? What was that big white bird in the nest doing, pretending to be their baby? Was this a thing? Or was I watching some kind of weird evolutionary abomination occurring in my back yard?

I was shaken. And angry. I felt for those magpie parents, clearly tricked into thinking they were obliged to run themselves ragged for this big, fat non-magpie intruder.

I went and did some research, and this is what I found.

Channel-billed cuckoos – or Rain Birds – are what’s know as parasitic birds. Parent cuckoos will actively seek the occupied nests of magpies or currawongs, ejecting any eggs they find there, and laying their own in their stead.

They then fly off and abandon the cuckoo eggs to the unwitting nest owners, who care for them and hatch them as if they were their own. The two currawongs are thusly fooled into believing the Rain Bird is it’s baby. They are instinctively obliged to raise the chick, feeding it and protecting it, slaves to its demands, never ever suspecting their charge, which eventually grows to twice the size of the “parents”, is an imposter.

And all the time it pretends to be a vulnerable youngster, evoking the protective, nurturing instinct deep in the parent, sounding for all the world like a hapless baby. By supplanting the original and rightful occupant of the family nest by force and imposing itself and its constant needs onto it’s unknowing hosts, the Rain Bird gets its needs met, grows and prospers. Without conscience. Without qualms. Until the cycle begins again.
……………

Do you know a Rain Bird?

I suspect we all may know one. In fact, perhaps you think you are one?

Rain birds are people who are broken just like everyone, but are stronger, more capable and more awesome than they choose to believe, and project themselves to be. They know they’re flawed and imperfect, as we all are, but they tell anyone who will listen they’re more helpless and bereft than anyone else, projecting an especially broken brokenness. They are the most poor, hopeless and badly done by of everyone in their world, they insist. But they are not merely complaining. Their brokenness is a device for attracting favour and support; emotional, certainly, and any other kind you might happen to have on offer as well.

Thing is, Rain Birds are clever and intelligent. They are smart, funny and good at what they love to do. But their gifts are inverted. They use their considerable abilities not to move themselves ahead in the world, but to posture themselves as weak and needy, so others will give them out of pity or compassion what they could easily attain for themselves.

We all have stuff to deal with, and most of us feel less than or too much from time to time. Sharing our stories and our feelings is generally a healthy thing to do. But what makes a Rain Bird’s story-telling unique is their seeking to gain advantage over others via their stories. For them, their brokenness is evidence they deserve to be given concession or advantage. The advantage Rain Birds seek could be success or promotion to a much-wanted position. It could be inclusion in a group or access to a product or service. It could be personal or professional support, or it could simply be care and nurture. Chronic Rain Birds know no other way to get what they want than to plead their sad, hopeless plight, hoping to attract benefit. They will often move from “nest” to “nest” looking to install themselves under the brooding care of a rescuer, teacher or carer who will “understand” them. They easily lose interest in people or groups who do not affirm and support their belief no one is worse off than they are. Their behaviour will often cause interpersonal and group dynamics to become uneven, and just like the unwitting foster parents of the real Rain Bird, they may burn – or burn out – their rescuer, by continually and relentlessly demanding more than they contribute.

It’s safer for the Rain Bird to ask for concession and charity, because if they lose it, they’ve lost nothing of true worth or value, to them anyway. What they gained cost them nothing, so they’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work, or ceases to be provided. They know there’s plenty more nests where this one came from.

There are many reasons people become Rain Birds. Rain Birds often come from families where the only way to have needs met, or attract attention or affection was to be hurt, injured or sick.  They may be unrealised or oppressed creatives, or tightly budded spiritually or emotionally for a long time. Rain Birds are frequently unhealed victims of abuse. Influences such as addiction can also cloud a Rain Birds insights into just how capable and resources they are. If someone you’ve met, live or work is evoking a sense of pity or compassion in your heart, but with it seems deeply entrenched in self-deprecation, co-dependency or a victim mentality, you can probably assume a Rain Bird is circling in your neighbourhood..

Not giving in to a Rain Bird’s manipulations isn’t about not hearing their story, or  withholding compassion, patience or kindness. There is some truth in all the Rain Bird’s cries for help. But whilst they play from this particular section of the orchestra, they ignore and withhold an equally significant truth. They are a survivor, and they know how to take care of themselves. They often have more resources than you do. If you weren’t around to rescue them, they would be perfectly fine.

The moment you begin to instate boundaries with a Rain Bird, that’ll be the end of that. When you say “that’s enough”, you’re dropped.  And by the time you realise you didn’t help, fix them or make their lives better despite everything you did or offered to do, they’ll have moved on to the next person or place, and because you genuinely believed it was a real relationship, it’ll break your heart.

The way to love a Rain Bird is with you in your nest, and they in theirs. Be their friend, but empower them to live from their own capacity, resources, strengths and wisdom. Support them to take responsibility for their actions, and the impacts they have on you and others. When situations and opportunities arise, remind them about their intrinsic intelligence, courage and insights. Do not be tempted to rescue them, or be positioned into becoming a foster parent or unwitting carer.

The Rain Bird needs constant reinforcement from you their feelings and beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness aren’t special or unique – we all feel too much and not enough at times.  Set firm and clear boundaries between what they say they need, and everything you love and value, because they will have no qualms about eliminating threats from the “nest” in vying for your attention. Don’t allow solving their their problems – real, or imagined – to become a source of self-confidence or ego-building for you. Love a Rain Bird best by speaking consistently to their capacity, reminding them – and yourself – about their track record of survival so far without you.
……….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015