One day at a time...

soaking up each and every one of them!

Cathy GF

Cathy GF
The Bay and The Lake, California, USA
December 29
Living the adventure of change


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JANUARY 24, 2010 12:02PM

Putting on One Shoe at a Time

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It starts with an inquisitive mind of a child, budding little brain cells reaching out into a world full of "whys."   The curiosity of a toddler, the way they look at objects, their fearless ability to reach and touch everything in their new little world, is brimming with wonder and development that will continue for life.

A restless mind that refuses to sleep is in a constant state of flux. Some can never get away with simply accepting what is.  Too many reasons to ask why.  Too many things to questions.  A process of learning.  Of yearning, to know more.

As a small child, the course of my development was accompanied by a steady stream of so many children with over-active imaginations and persistence to know more.  Mom and Dad would ask me why I asked so many questions, somewhat annoyed at times.  Was it wrong for me to ask them?  Why did it bother them?  Often I was interrupting them, I suspect.  Looking back...I bugged them.

Report cards came out for the first time in Kindergarten.  Grades for small tasks at first, beginning to shape  the way I would see myself.  Then there were the "teacher notes," always at the bottom, like secret messages to the parents we were never supposed to see.

"Cathleen is a very precocious child."  "She asks a lot of questions."  "She often disrupts the classroom with her behavior."  "She is more mature for her age."  "She seeks attention."

One never forgets these early impressions.  You carry them with you like secret scars or bits of treasure, not always sure which one it is.  You question some more.  You wonder if these are good or bad things.  Are you different or are you the way you are...just because.  The questions that flow like rushing water from a broken faucet, will not stop.  Couldn't help it.  Never too much analysis at age five or so when it just seemed so natural to wonder why.

It comes sooner than later, though.  Right?  We look back and wonder what we were really like as kids.  How did we really look through the eyes of others?  You may later have your own kids and maybe even grand children and you keep asking questions.  You try to figure out how you got to be where you are today and why it happened as it did. 

I may have over-analyzed many things that affected me during my childhood and into adulthood.  Sometimes it's in a proactive way and other times it's just counter-productive.  So I stop myself.  Too much over-think at times.  That's what I do.  Since I was very small, I have thought too much by some standards and asked out loud nearly everything that enters my head.  A bit much at times.  Even for me.  With time, I have learned to pare it down.

I notice that the word, "analyze" has the popular word, "anal" in it, which is not to say that I consider myself to be "anal!"  Or am I?  What do others think?  Hmmm, could I be just a tad bit anal?  Don't like the sound of that much.  And here I go again, over-thinking a simple little word.  It has become a part of our common vernacular, to view some as "so anal."

Skip to present time.  Sitting in the cabin, looking out the windows at some of the most wondrous winter glory one can imagine, surrounded by snow laden trees, white landscape everywere the eye can see.  It is marvelous the way the sun lights up the snow, reflections of shadows in the light rays, luminous in it's brightness; pure whiteness, softly framing my vision.  I am overcome with the natural phenomenon that is right outside my window, year and year, time and time again.  A reassurance that life regenerates itself, effortlessly and with such stunninng beauty.

The questions just keep coming, like the snowflakes falling in perpetual rthythm, again and again.  A snowy blanket that covers over and over; layer upon layer. Only the drifts  made by the changing wind, shifting patterns like the mounds of a desert landscape, falling upon another curve of colorless blinding light.  If you stare too long at the snow, it will blacken your vision, like the flash of a camera and the lasting blinking light and darkness.  Repeating.

A question lives inside me, left unspoken but certainly there.  Perhaps only for me, it is a question that replays in my head, over and over again.  As I look at the simple landscape around me, through all the seasons and passages of life, I see more beauty and perfection around me that I may have once taken for granted.  It all seems surreal and very real at the same time.  That I could question this is staggering at times and unholy even.  My parochial upbringing would call into question, my questioning.  But it is always there.  Do I dare ask it for fear of knowing or not knowing the real answer?  That the answer might never come in my lifetime and perhaps there will be no other?

It is simply this. "Is Heaven here on Earth?"  Are we all waiting for some realization, expecting something far better?  Is it really here afterall and we are meant to learn this in our one and only life here?  Are we condemned to hell for not knowing or realizing what it is that life is meant to be?  Is not knowing, true hell?

It is not far fetched to see that so many humans are walking around this planet in a complete daze, a fog, an unknowingness.  Limbo.  This appears to be a status quo with varying levels of awareness.  Am I over-simplifying or over-stating?  Is it what I want to see?  What I think I see or that I observe the subtle mysteries of existence of others around me?  More over-think?

I do believe that I see Heaven here.  Even if it's only slivers of Heaven, like the pain one feels when splinters of wood find entry into our skin, which we are brought to bear and find such great relief once removed.  I say this because there is both pain and joy in knowing that Heaven is quite possibly here, in a myriad of ways that shapes our existence.

Despite unspeakable horrors, natural disasters, hatred among men and nations, rising economic fears, the daily stresses of life we all experience, there is still a persistant wealth of pure goodness and endless layers of beauty in nature and humanity to remind us of life's gifts. 

Perhaps the child still living in me sees the lessons of life in simple terms.  That our creator has given us everthing to sustain us, physically and spiritually, right here, right now.  He has allowed us to make our own choices and given us all the tools to find Heaven on Earth.  All the signs are there.  If we cannot see it in this lifetime, how are we to bring pure gratitude with us into the next?

For whatever reason, whatever it is, I feel this in my gut.  I get it.  Even if it is just what I need to see in my earthly existence, my own tangible proof, it is my answer to this one question.  I am at peace with this.   I know how I want to live the rest of my life.

Putting on one shoe at at time, I can walk a little more steady into this day and into the next.  I can put all the questions to rest for a while as I have found one answer that sustains me.  I am good with this.


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It would serve is right if it was,
bravo. The whole Freudian thing about anal is seemingly applicable in many senses. The fog is as light or as dense as the individual chooses. Some are selective about it so that it hides the things they choose not to deal with. Some spend each day trying to overcome the haze that they generate themselves never realizing it is totally in their control to increase it or let is simply vanish like mist on a mountainside. Clarity of vision is something that we choose, consciously or unconsciously.
"Perhaps the child still living in me sees the lessons of life in simple terms."

Simplicity is good - this world is lavished and layered with a false complexity...

Beautiful and spiritual steps you take here in this writing for me to follow into this day. Thanks.
That was touching... one shoe at a time, one small step, then a large one!
Loved this on this Sunday morning!
In life, sometimes we are in heaven, sometimes we are in hell -- it's the same place. The trick is to appreciate heaven when we are fortunate enough to be there. Lucky you to see heaven so clearly.
"Do I dare ask it for fear of knowing or not knowing the real answer?"

I like the way you get to this, taking us on your internal journey of curiosity and wondering. You ask questions that ask of me to stop and think. I believe I will.
what donna said so well.

grandchidren! update that avitar!
Yes, we can have a sliver of heaven here on earth if we want. And I want.
Cap 'n - Yeah, right?!

bobbot - Ah, yes, selective limbo, heaven or hell. Selective vision.

Mary - Thanks. Recalling as a child, the memories are lasting and influencing as adults.

N. Jordan - Thanks for coming along.

Donna - Yes, luck never hurts.

mypsyche - I'm so glad you came along.

wschanz - Thanks! That avatar is most recent photo. My kids and grand kids keep me young. Sore muscles but keeps me in touch with my pain!
Keep asking questions, Cathy. Even if we don't have answers, you touch us, make us think and wonder. Clearly you've found many of your own truths by continuing to seek.
If just sitting in a field and watching the wind blow the beautiful flowers and watching a clear blue sky on a beautiful sunny day isn't heaven, what is it?
It is great to read about the development of anyone's questioning spirit. That validates my own similar spirit every time (and temporarily answers my own self-directed, "am I ok the way I am?" questions. Until, of course, I start up that line of questioning again.).

Likewise, despite my own parochial upbringing, I also lean toward the "It is Here and Now" camp. The slow realization that, if that is true, then I must be "part" of "It," has begun to impart to me a much greater sense of responsibility for my own words and deeds while "here."

Lovely post, JC!


Thank you.
I hardly know what to say. This is beautiful and thought-provoking.
Sally - Thanks. Yes, I will continue to ask, till my last breath.

GJI Penguin - Me too.

Scanner - Precisely right!

Charlie - You are truly a man after my own heart. "Questioning spirits..."

Sweetfeet - Many thanks!

Karen - Thanks and you're welcome. Perspective is a very complex entity.

Janie - Great song reference! Love that! Thanks. And, yes. Noticing that it is all around us is key to our happiness on earth.
Beautifully written and told. "It is simply this. "Is Heaven here on Earth?" Are we all waiting for some realization, expecting something far better?" -- This is a great question to give a lot of thought to. Do we expect for better, but only to take for granted what we really already have. Do we ever really know what we have, until it is gone or we lose it?
I really loved this and you got me thinking... Which you know is a good thing.. ~~grins..~~
As kids we are wired to know everything; the complete truth. We are born wired for reason, logic, dualities, associations and generalizations until some asshole tells us not to generalize. We (a generalization) are born with inquisitive minds.

"It is simply this. "Is Heaven here on Earth?" Are we all waiting for some realization, expecting something far better? Is it really here afterall and we are meant to learn this in our one and only life here? Are we condemned to hell for not knowing or realizing what it is that life is meant to be? Is not knowing, true hell?"

This is the original philosophy founded by the most civilized people ever lived, the ancient Egyptians: Seeing is believing. They believed that heaven is Egypt, they just wanted to return to Egypt after death (long story).

What you did here is use reason, logic and the gift of accurate observation, and reached an enlightened philosophy towards life.

Wonderful, insightful piece, Cathy; one of your best yet.
"Cathleen is a very precocious child."

Would never have guessed that. :)
Going back and forth between the playoffs and the OS! Gotta keep an eye on the Vikings, my dear husband's home town team!

Kyle - Thanks!

Thoth - Your comment was remarkable and I loved how you framed my post in such succinct ways. You humble me with your words and thoughts of appreciation. Thank you from my heart!
This is perhaps one of my favorite of your posts, Cathy. You are articulating so much of what plays in the background of my mind . . . well done. Well said.
Wonderful prose. The sense of a peaceful spot is here.
Nothing wrong with asking "Why?" In fact, the world would be a much better place if more of us asked that question a lot more often than we do. Keep asking, Cathy. And hold onto that sustaining answer you have found, for there is truth in it.

Thank you for this pithy essay.
Wonderful, wonderful, we grew up within the same sphere of influence and thought patterns.
One of the priest's at the Catholic prep school in a theology class said, to us, "we get glimpses of heaven in nature, in sunrises and sunsets, in landscapes and seascapes, in the beauty of the human form and of that of the animal kingdom, in athletics and in love making..."

Cathy, some of us cannot see beyond a veil which closes right upon material existence, they can see no farther, for others the veil closes very close to material existence, and for some few of us that veil never closes. Trust the latter group. Your instinct is correct, you are seeing just slivers of the end goal.

I see dogma as the enemy of God and man, therefore I, seeing that the universe is the result of a master scientist planting seeds which eventually evolve into life. If my rare Ford Foundation Fellowship in Anthropology taught me, it is that just when we think we have all the answers, we are foiled. too much day dreaming and not enough science are a mistake for some.

If you want to hear my experiences in the Supernatural let me know.
God Bless
"It all seems surreal and very real at the same time. "Is Heaven here on Earth?" Is it really here after all and we are meant to learn this in our one and only life here? Perhaps the child still living in me sees the lessons of life in simple terms. I do believe that I see Heaven here. For whatever reason, whatever it is, I feel this in my gut. I am at peace with this."

Me too, Cathy, me too.
What a lovely, meaningful rumination on life, Cathy. There’s a heaven in that, too.
Owl_Says_Who - How do I thank you for such a wonderful comment. Synchronosity with another of like yearnings of the spirit, may be the best compliment.

Iamsurly - Are you sure you are not one of my sisters?!

Scupper - Yes, there is, thank you.
Procopious - Thank you very much! I sure love that word, "pithy!" It sure doesn't mean how it sounds!

Professor - Your first comment - This is not the first time we have noticed like thought patterns and ways of being.
Professor - Your second comment - I believe I had a very similiar Catholic priest who imparted the same wisdom. "The Church" wasn't all bad! More than anyone, it was my parents who showed me their true spirituality and not the dogma of the church's teachings. Althought they were loyal to their church, they were more aware of the importance of authentic spirituality, which I was very blessed to see in them and aspire to in my own life. And to your question of interest in knowing more...why, yes I am.

Sparking - Sync! Love it! Thank you.

David Decker - Why, thank you kind sir.
Fantastic piece. Loved every bit of it. The seeking, the seeing, the feeling.

I had to laugh at:
"Cathleen is a very precocious child." "She asks a lot of questions." "She often disrupts the classroom with her behavior." "She is more mature for her age." "She seeks attention."

A teacher or two of mine wrote the same things. I thought asking questions and suggesting alternatives were good things! :-)
Natalie - Thank you very much. And you remind me of a biblical passage that I have long embraced, "Seek and ye shall find." "Ask and ye shall receive." These have been staples in my quest. My kids are probably sick of hearing them and I underscore that nine out of ten times these truisms work!
Cathy a beautiful bit of prose. I have often thought those things sometimes thinking this place we live in is hell and other times heaven. As the Lord's prayer says,"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Expanding your heart to heavenly places is how I see it at the moment.....I'm always questioning and contemplating too.
Questions are fantastic. What I've had to learn (and relearn) is that it's okay to just live with the questions. (I love that Rilke quote.) Because the answers aren't always there when we want them. Sometimes we have to be at peace with the questions.

Thanks for this lovely and well-written post.
A lot to think about here. In fact I shall go back and read again. Very well said, Cathy.
The answer to your questions seems obvious to me, which is probably proof I don't fully understand the question.

I believe the current fascination with Prosperity Gospel and The Secret are perversions, poor excuses for the me-first greed that has gotten us into the awful state we are presently in. There is no way to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with a religion far more interested in future reward than an earthly Garden.

If there is a hereafter and a Cosmic Judge, I expect those who are "religious" only for present and future reward will be judged harshly.

But in the end, the Truth as revealed by Jesus and other wise teachers is beyond religion, and I suppose can be best summed up with the old adage "virtue is its own reward". Thus, contrary to Pascal and his tautological wager, I believe one should lead their life as if there is no hereafter.

An enlightened person will come to understand life's purpose is not to pursue wealth or glory or self-indulgent hedonism, but to leave this world a little better than one found it, and thereby enrich the lives of those who come after.

If there is a hereafter, how could a just God judge anyone harshly for living their life in such a way?
Love this Cathy in so many ways...especially your note of the word "anal" in "analyze". I like the slivers of heaven here on earth. For me, the older I get, the more I realize I don't know. The less trust I have for those who think they do know. And the less I want to analyze. Sometimes we spend so much time peeling the layers, then it's like trying to peel an onion. There is no core to an onion, no final destination...just the layers. Your post was rich with them.
Anne - Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

Gwendolyn - "Sometimes we have to be at peace with the questions." I love the simple wisdom in that declaration.

Trilogy - Thank you for your time and re-reading.

Tom - Thank you for your comment and wisdom. I believe you do understand the questions clearly, as they are just that. The process of questioning "ONE'S MEANING TO LIFE", as opposed to asking what life means to us, is more in line with my own curiosity and growth. As you stated, it is far more important that we leave this life a little better than we found it, enriching the lives who are left behind. It is my greatest desire to leave a legacy to my children and grand children that allows them to view life with a sense of purpose, responsibility, generosity of spirit and actions, appreciation and gratitude for the gift of life.

Mary - Thank you for your kind comment. Love that you noticed tha "anal" observation and that there is some humor to be had there. And loved your onion comparison very much. However, as a die hard onion lover, I have always thought that the most tender parts and sweetness of the onion *are* found in the center, after removing all the dry, tougher outer layers. Kind of like reflecting on our own tough outer layers and peeling away to find our softness, waiting inside.
Beautiful, thought-provoking, introspective post. I am also an over-thinker at times--I think many writers tend to be. You seem to fully appreciate life and all its wonders. Keep asking questions--that's the best way to learn more about ourselves and everything around us.
I love this: "One never forgets these early impressions. You carry them with you like secret scars or bits of treasure, not always sure which one it is." How true and well said. What a treasurable insight. I know treasurable is not a word like pleasurable, but it works better for me right now. May your little child and mine and all of ours thrive inside us. Rated!
Karin G - Thanks so much for that!

Joan - I knew you would like that... as so well you, too, know about the little "Bits" of childhood memories and the endless questioning. We have never stopped!
"Heaven lies about us in our infancy" -- William Wordsworth, from Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

thought Wordsworth seems to me tediously flowery these days, I was greatly affected by this poem when I first read it with understanding, it seems to me that you're saying some of the same things here, nice job