Trapped

Only when we are Exhausted 

From Wrestling with our own Existence

Trapped… Between lies we Perceived  

Truth that Initiated the fall

Persistence, that eternal call

Re-birth, new life, a soft supple Heart

Eyes, a future, Fearlessness, new vision 

Touching, Absorbing the darkness

Bringing life to us, the scurrying dead.

 

©Judi Risser

 

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Day 26… So Close, Yet So Far

Sitting on another plane, thinking again, about writing a book about my travel experiences. I remembered meditating and feeling like I was to go home while in the Scottish Highlands. The only return flight home to Canada I could get was on the first of November. So, I headed to Italy and in Italy I  was reminded again, twice, to go home.

To address my demons. My ego…

What I really needed help with was being attentive. I asked to have the fears regarding my fear to hear clearly the Voice for God. (Little did I know… God was listening and would respond to this request! I will share this too, in time.)  I followed the signage and searched for the right bus to take me to where I needed to go.  The bus left Charled De Gaulle Airport and headed into Paris proper.

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Someone lived in the stairwell of the airport. All their worldly possessions pushed agains the glass wall. People, like myself, walked by… I wondered…

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About the fellow in the stairwell. Why was he there? As the bus pulled onto a ramp, I saw a refugee family with a sign asking for help.  The young son was on the other side of the railing doing the same thing. It was dangerous work.

I wondered if the refugees thought after having escaped their war torn country that they would be begging for whatever they could get to survive.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know how to be ok with the extreme variances in material wealth and consumption…. 

It took a couple of hours, but I found my hotel from where the bus dropped me off.  I settled, then went out for something to eat. I remembered the news media on the terrorist attack on Paris. The one year anniversary was coming up in just two weeks. Aftermath… Soldiers have a visible presence here.

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I got lost… No wifi… So, really lost. I asked a woman en Francais how to get to my street. She told me not to speak French, that it’s not required. Saying, that enough Parisians knew English. I told her that I wanted to speak it, to practice. She said, ‘No, don’t.’

She did walk me to an intersection I recognized and then gave me further directions. I made it back to my hotel.

More comfortable back in ‘my neighbourhood’, I made my way to the place where the airport buss dropped me off, Palais Garnier.  I would have loved to see an opera but it was closed due to an event for the youth on the eve of Hallowe’en. I forgot it was the last day of October.

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I walked around, struck by the opulence.  I’ve never seen anything like it. Ever. Certainly not in any of the castles in Scotland. Or, anywhere else in my travels, for that matter.

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The image below is the Grand Foyer where opera guests mingle under gold leaf and crystal.

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Spectacular paintings and murals lined the ceilings and and wall spaces.

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This piece, above the seven ton chandelier in the theatre, was painted more recently, in 1964.

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I wasn’t supposed to be here, in the theatre.

It was dark, foreboding…

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It wasn’t till I returned home, that I found out, that Palais Garnier was the inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera.  Many aspects, such as the chandelier (shown just above the theatre) dropping a weight and killing someone in 1869, the lake underneath the building space and other intricacies and oddities, were fodder for the fertile mind of Gaston Leroux. Wow…. Perhaps, Monsieur Leroux also stood alone in the theatre and felt the pulse of something odd.

 

 

Stay tuned for the last day of Dairy of a Seeker!

Need to start at the beginning? Go here.

©Judi Risser

 

 

 

Day 25… Feasting in Florence

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Seven hours on a train is a long time to sit and watch the world go by.  Lots of time to think.  I’ve been told, I think too much. It’s true, I do.  So, I ask those who think I think too much, what are you doing if you are not thinking?  Maybe one day, I’ll know. Back to my thinking…

I was thinking about the challenge before me: to go home and fight my demons. I was thinking about ‘my’ demons… I thought about the things that scare me, like those things that bring up my fears.

It might sound silly but, one of the things I have been afraid to do, is to submit a poetry/imagery book idea to a publisher. I have it compiled and sitting in a drawer at home. Actually, what I feared was being rejected. Worse, I feared failing. It’s easier to do nothing, and not risk the rejection or failure.  But, it’s not living.  It’s unfulfilling and self deprecating. It’s soul sucking.  Not doing things because of fear is like dying a slow agonizing, tortuous death…

I have also been afraid to share myself… My most private self. I have thought throughout this trip often, when I journaled about such amazing things happening that I want to share. That maybe people can identify. That maybe others have such experiences, too.  People must grapple with these things… But, then I think… You’ll think I’m crazy. Another demon ‘line.’

I wondered at the other things that have come up during this trip, like the A Course In Miracles (ACIM) study I have been doing. It’s been so challenging to stay focused and committed to the daily activities. Why is it that I’ve had such a hard time focusing and comprehending the text?

I wondered at the variances in what I am studying and other spiritual ideologies.  Take Saint Francis for instance. Take his love and commitment to God, to Jesus…  The Jesus I read about in ACIM did not appear to be the same Jesus that Saint Francis loved.  Why? How can they be different? I must investigate that, too.

Filing that thought, I pulled my phone out and tried to memorize the route from the train station to my next hotel. I knew that the hotel I made reservations with, before leaving Florence, was on the same street I stayed at previously. I only needed to retrace my steps from the train station.

I thought about all the people that I met, that made this trip so amazing. I thought about my previous post, on Honouring People. And, I thought, if I were to truly honour people, I wouldn’t have been in the picture with them. Why must we take pictures of ourselves with others? How can we honour people when we are in their space?  Exactly who or what are we honouring with a picture?  I thought about honour… Not the fame kind of honour, I mean integrity. True honour. Living ones’ life with integrity, honesty,  and a commitment to truth. But what is the truth?  Is there absolute truth? I want to know the truth. Isn’t that what a seeker seeks? Truth?

The train pulled into the station. Florence. I grabbed my bag, stepped off the train and started walking. Florence is a small city, comfortably nestled on the banks of the Arno River. My friend, Angie, had been in Florence just six months before and loved it. I didn’t get the same vibe.  Nor, was I in the same space I was just days ago the first time I started here. Then, I was different…

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Tinkling sounds of laughter, faintly amusing

Intensity of fright and anxiety, eerily palpable 

Intoxication of passion, ever arousing

Allure of deceit, dark, dreadful, doom blooming

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Thrill of the chase, exhilarating 

Sweetness of innocence, purity

Smile of kindness, faith instilling

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Heat of anger, burns hotter than fire 

Gratitude of thankfulness, life sustaining 

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Which feeling inhabits great serenity?

Banish all languages

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Live by the truth of emotions?

Follow ones’ heart into the deep, into the dark?

No, I think not

Been there, done that.

Sent from my iPhone

Through Florence and across Pont Vecchio, great wealth was on display.  Jewelry stores lined the bridge, one outdoing the other. Elite shops housed clothing, art, ah yes, erotic things. What does it mean to be attracted to worldly things?

Few seemed immune.  The Saints were not attracted to power, prestige, or profit. Saint Francis renounced his father’s title and money and lived out his life in abject poverty. Even the world’s spectrum on honour is vast…

Why are we so driven by our emotions? Why do we engage in activities that heighten and stretch feelings and desires? Why do we ravage and overcome all that we seek as weaker than ourselves? What is it about humanity that must conquer, consume and kill? Sigh… All I have come to realize is this, that I am famished, but too tired to eat.

Note* I have indeed taken a battle stance against at least one or two of these, my demons. There are just two days left to the completion of this journal. It’s taken me two years. But, I am winning the fight!

From the beginning, read Dairy of a Seeker.

Stay tuned for Day 26!

 

 

What, then?

Numbers are infinitive

As far as you go one way

You can go the other

Not alive, they’re man made

Or, are they?

Other things have 

A definitive beginning 

And, an end…

Life cycles, seeds, weeds

We grow, we die

But, do we?

Truly, is it the same for all?

How would you know?

What is life, what is death?

You say, when you die

‘That’s it!’

But, how do you know?

 And, if you’re wrong?

What if, like numbers

You’ll continue forever and ever

What, then sayeth your soul?

 

And, to whom?

~

Dedicated to the mathematician, the scientist, the realist, the grievous, the atheist.

My son.

Featured image- “Say what?”

A boy who wants to become a man at South Rim, Grand Canyon

©Judi Risser

Day 24… Men and Their Gods

I was eleven when I read, The Dog of Pompeii.   This heart wrenching story, its characters and setting lit a spark in me that was never extinguished.  My intention this morning, was to nurture this spark, this romantic flame within. But, that’s not what happened…

I could see nothing as I exited the train and moved quickly to the ticket kiosk.  I paid my fee and headed toward the entrance of the ruins.  As I walked through the gate, my glance swept left and then, right. Ah! Pompeii!

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The morning sun cast its golden light across the ancient structures. Long shadows collapsed into each other like tumbled stone columns.  Window cut-outs were black, belying the depth, and vivacious people that once lived within.

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Beautifully sculpted, larger than life, replicas of ancient mythical figures stood on their platforms, in defiance, under a blue sky.

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I was confused by my feelings as I walked through the ancient streets of Pompeii. I saw Mount Vesuvius, everywhere. She loomed above everything.  I thought of the warning stranger in The Dog of Pompeii, but, I forgot about Tito and his dog. I moved to perch upon a stone wall and gazed at Vesuvius off in the distance. I typed…

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We live passively. Complacently.

Pushing through our daily grind.

We see no-thing. Blind to the signs…

Excitement turned to unease.

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Ancient ruins juxtaposed against modernity, awkwardly. The skyline revealed nothing.  It could have been thousands of years ago, or now. Vesuvius still reigns above her subjects. Pompeii was no more, but many Italians still live within the proximity of her deadly reach.

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It was recorded that some time after the tragedy, people returned to the area but could no longer find their city. Pompeii was lost, hidden under layers of ash. I imagine the work and precision it took to dig out this ancient Roman Colosseum.

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If you wonder what the people experienced, check out this excellent animated video. It portrays a 24 hour period during Vesuvius’ eruption on the 24th of Aug, 79 AD.

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I continued to walk.  Pompeii was a very large city.

I came across a Bathhouse which revealed signs of lavish murals and artwork.

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The hand painted art on the ceiling was beautifully intricate.  Mouldings across the shelving that held mens’ clothing and footwear, were lavishly detailed.

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Murals, on Brothel walls, vividly depicted the activity ‘du jour‘ within the confines of stark, stank, concrete walls.

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Pungent smells, bodily scents, urine and feces were detectable… Still.

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I wondered at the spiritual beliefs of these first century, Romans.  They believed that natural disasters and human tragedy were caused by wrathful gods.  What behaviours and actions did these ancient people think angered their gods enough to warrant a major earth quake just 12 years before and then this, a devastating volcanic eruption?

The innocent boy, his faithful dog and their love for each other were forgotten as I pondered the reality before me… That of a societal extinction.

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These people believed in mythical figures and then designed and built images, in their own likeness, to appease not only their gods and goddesses, but their own consciences.

However, these images did nothing but topple to the ground when the wrath of Vesuvius came pouring down upon them all. The gods could not save the people who prayed to them. Nor, could they save themselves. They could not get up and flee. Both people and their gods became trapped, encased, extinguished. Forever.

Lifestyles, belief systems, culture, society… All destroyed, within 24 hours. I remembered  a Buddha statue I had, at home. What did I think that hunk of wood would or could do for me? Damn. I walked to a stone wall and sat down. The bakery I was so eager to see, forgotten.  I typed…

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Situated among the ruins of Pompeii

Gazing over partially exposed walls

Carefully and lovingly excavated

For what?

To wander, to marvel, to enjoy?

To ponder, to question, to consider?

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I see butterflies and bumble bees

But no flowers

I hear birds singing and chirping

But no trees

Everywhere I turn

I see her

A constant reminder

Of the power of her will

Almost green, now

Much as she was before

Yes, before…

It’s only a matter of time

Before she consumes, again

Who will be prayed to?

Is there anyone who’ll save you?

Pompeians.

Sent from my iPhone

To learn more about how Pompeian life was revealed to archeologists, and the inspiration for the lead character in The Dog of Pompeii, check out Allan McCollum’s site.

From Day 1, read Dairy of a Seeker.

Stay tuned for what happens on my last day in Europe!

 

 

 

 

her heart’s desire

a precarious thing…

it burns, it yearns, it lusts

for that which, it should never have

does not need, nor truly want

it thinks it knows best… Oh

this heart business is deadly stuff

it leads her on paths of self-righteousness

she thinks she knows what she wants

and, then once she gets it

God, help her…

she always regrets it.

~

Featured Image- Sculpture of a Wood Nymph at Botanic Gardens Glasgow, Scotland.

©Judi Risser

Day 23…Honour People

After 3 weeks of travel, I have met some extraordinary people.  I have been so blessed to have such caring, generous and compassionate souls walk into my life and journey with me.  Sometimes, it’s an hour, sometimes a day, but its always for a reason.

I thought of the incredible individuals who helped me figure out travel manoeuvres, also, those who made extra effort to extend my stay in places I needed more time at. I remembered people at breakfasts, who shared with me their own travel experiences and made excellent recommendations. I also thought of those who helped me navigate foreign train systems and confusing currency.

I thought of the people who work on trains, planes and in hotels, restaurants and B&Bs who were so kind and understanding when I was too tired or hungry to be. I considered  travel guides who had such patience for tourists who had very little global knowledge.

I remembered other travellers who I crossed paths with, fellow adventurers, sharing funny and strange stories. I remembered those who poured their hearts out to me, never to be seen, again. Perhaps, that’s why they were so open, raw, honest. No consequences…

This is a small collage to honour you, all.

 

Yes, there are images of souls of long, long ago, too.  People don’t have to be physically visible to have an invisible impact. And, I thank you all.

 

Ah… Back in the moment. Meet my new traveling companions.

Yes, it is very tight quarters.

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Stay tuned for Day 24!

Or, if you’re new to Diary of a Seeker, start at the beginning, Day 1… You Can’t Go to Rome!

©Judi Risser