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Canary in the Strip Mine

in Spirituality

Desolation - Canary in the Strip Mine

Start: Remember 9/11?

In those first few hours we were deluged by the media with the events as they unfolded, the fragmentary details as they emerged, the reaching speculations of commentators filling time, and those videos, looping endlessly, of the airliners crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Finally, after the initial shock, we began to hear psychologists suggest that for our own mental well-being that we — those of us who had no public sector or business obligation to do otherwise — should disengage from the constant media onslaught.

More recently, we in United States, and to a lesser degree in the western world, have been subjected to a crisis of lower intensity, a crisis that has stubbornly refused to end.

There really is no way to avoid this post having some political elements to it. I have no interest in debating the candidates and their failures as human beings, and will delete comments that are obviously moving in that direction. (We had in this election a clear choice between cancer and a heart attack, and the heart attack won. If cancer had one, we really don’t know if we’d be looking at a better day today or not, because it didn’t happen. End of discussion.)

I have a very insightful friend I met via Facebook, Quinn McDonald, writer and writing coach at Quinn Creative. Quinn has done something very brave, and very important in my estimation: she has shared that the political spirit of the times has impacted her creativity in such a way that the playful, expressive, fun stuff she used to do is no longer available to her, yet the down-to-earth business-related creativity is still flowing just fine, thank you.

(You can read all three posts here, here, and here.)

After reading her second post on the subject, I engaged her through Facebook chat and she asked me a very candid question: “Have you found an idea, a thought, something that interests you, that is not politics?”

Well, I have. But let me explain this a little.

They’re Not Challenges — They’re Obstacles, You Idiot

I’ve been around several different kinds of transformational teachings over the years, and I think because of this I try to look at events in my life as having meaning, sort of in the vein that Jung suggested. The question isn’t, “Why is this crap happening?” It’s actually, “I’m in this picture, why is this happening to me?”

After some time I finally transitioned out of the “deer in the headlights” shock that the carryings on of this Administration and the insanity surrounding it has traumatized me into, and a few days ago something very visceral came up.

I was raised in a Protestant environment. I have my beliefs and such, but I don’t think of myself as a Christian in the traditional sense. However … you can take the boy out of the Bible belt, but you can’t take the Bible Belt out of the boy. Looking at this train wreck of our world, at the feelings of helplessness, I finally found myself asking from an emotional level — not an intellectual, higher-brain thing, but from a level of almost unconscious, emotional conditioning — “God, why are you letting this happen to us?”

So, poof! — in a flash, there it was. The belief in the Angry Father God was still in there.

There were a few times in my childhood I would hear my parents or paternal grandmother say something about “The Brenton Curse.” I didn’t hear any details about this, such as it being an actual curse cast by some witchcraft-wielding mortal enemy of the family, or anything of the sort; it seemed more like a Protestant emotional response to the larger frustrations of life, of being apparently punished for reasons we could not understand. It was something on the level of the Christian quandary of why bad things happen to good people, of why Job was so tortured by a seemingly arbitrary Yahweh.

I’m still processing through this realization, but the stressful experience of the global train wreck of the current Administration has forced me into digging through unquestioned emotional stuff that runs my life without my even knowing it. So, now, I don’t have to harbor the unrecognized belief of being punished by The Angry Father God loitering unchallenged in shadows of the barely conscious levels of my mind. It’s now splayed out on the ground in broad daylight, exposed as the unreasonable, toxic belief it always was.

(It’s a helluva way to grow, but for me at least it’s the only game in town.)

I think this is how it’s going to be for a while. We’re going to be forced to dig deep to find those places of peace and strength inside to keep going, maybe even when there is literally no reason to keep going.

Who knows? If it doesn’t kill us, it may turn us into saints.

Just Between You and Me

A Writer's ParadoxIf you’re a creative soul, I’d like you to lean in close here, because I’ve got something to whisper to you.

Okay. Can you hear me?

You know what coal miners used to use to detect dangerous levels of gas in coal mines, right? Before all the high-tech gear they had available later, they used a decidedly low tech device: a caged canary. The canary goes plunk, they’d get out.

You and I, we creative folks … we are the canaries. And the coal mine isn’t a hole in the ground any more. It’s a strip mine, and it’s wrapped around the whole world.

We canaries are getting stressed. If the Powers That Be are paying attention, when we start keeling over they’ll understand they need to do something to save themselves.

But you know the Powers That Be only pay attention to creative types when they are offended by them. So, odds are, they won’t listen at all.

Serves them right, the bastards.

• • •

Copyright © 2017, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.


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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller’s short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

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