It’s a Zoo

We all live in a zoo, of sorts. Each of us sharing some cages, and others walled off in our own private cages within the bigger cage of life. In fact, some of us have enclosed ourselves within multiple cages, each smaller and more cramped than the next one. Others have managed to break out of most of their cages, and now only huddle within the largest of them, with edges so far flung that they can’t even see the bars. For others, the edge of their cage is so close that they feel hunched and crowded no matter what they do.

However, most of us don’t wish to see or acknowledge these cages, so we don’t; after all, we are the creators of our cages, so we are hardly going to admit (even to ourselves) that we have placed these boundaries around ourselves. But think about it…how often have you told yourself that you can’t do or say something, or that you mustn’t do or say something? Every time you do that, you put another layer of boundaries (another cage) around yourself. These are cages built of fear. Whether it’s the fear of being perceived as “different than the norm”, the fear of failing, the fear of being rejected, or the fear of appearing silly or stupid, it’s still a barrier that you create around yourself.

What if it didn’t matter what anyone else thought? What if there were no way to measure success and failure? Would you do or say something then? Probably. Because it would be more difficult for the fear to take hold. Maybe not impossible, but definitely more difficult.

Some fears cause you to create a cage of solitude, walling out anyone and everyone that would even try to get close to you. Arrogance builds a fear in people of being seen for what they are rather than what they want others to believe they are. This causes someone with arrogance to build a cage around themselves to lock others away; keeping them from coming too close. Greed is another one that causes people to create a cage of solitude because they are more intent on obtaining more of whatever it is they feel they don’t have enough of. This causes the greedy ones to push people away (unless, of course, it’s people that the greedy one needs to “collect”), because they only have time for people that can help them obtain what it is they need.

Some people build cages not just around themselves, but around others, too. It could be that they fear being alone so they cage themselves together with a select chosen few to keep them close. It could be a widow who holds her grown children too close, or a clingy friend. Some people are afraid of being abandoned, so they, too, build cages around family members or friends in an attempt to hold them close.

Others build cages of “love” but the love is unbalanced, because their love is based on fear. They’re afraid that their partner might leave them, or they’re afraid that their partner only loves them because they’re beautiful/rich/powerful.

Most people do not analyze their reasons for “loving” someone else, at least not until that relationship starts to fall apart. However, even then, they will rarely recognize that their love was anything but that all shining icon called true love that we were all raised to expect and so look for endlessly.

But even an honest, balanced love can become a cage; although, it is usually a less restrictive, less inhibiting one. That is because it is constructed by all the participants in an equal and balanced way. It is more of an exclusionary barrier, keeping out those too frightened by such beauty as pure love to be able to understand or share the emotion. However, this is a rare occurrence, and this type of cage is seldom seen by the majority of us, and when it is, we usually see it as something to fear.

So, next time you think we only put animals in zoos, think about the cages you’ve built around self, and realize that we’re all in our own personal zoo.

What was it?

Riding my bike past the golf course, I watch as the van runs the stop sign; however, I’m unable to swerve out of his way. I’m staring through the van’s windshield at the driver and hoping he doesn’t hit his brakes. He does, though, and now I’m flying. It’s an odd sensation to be sailing through the air like some sort of awkward flightless bird.

I don’t remember hitting the pavement because I am distracted by the intensely bright column of white light shining out of the top of my body’s head. I have only a moment to grasp that I’m outside of my body, and then, swoosh! I’m sucked up the column of light like an envelope in a pneumatic mail tube.

I’m standing in a place of love. It’s completely enveloping, and I’m thoroughly immersed in feelings of loving acceptance, calmness, and of being home (of belonging).

There’s a glow of golden light ahead of me in the distance, and I need and want to get there. But as I take a step forward, a golden being blocks my way and a ball of blue white light hovers near my shoulder. I sense a type of musical speech emanating from both of the beings. I find the music pretty, yet disturbing at the same time, so I try not to listen to what it is saying. Instead, I focus on moving forward toward the glowing horizon and the feelings of acceptance and love that I feel even more strongly coming from there.

Now the glowing orb is in front of me, and it lightly touches my forehead. Very distinctly the singing evolves into words and feelings. The words are, “it’s not your time,” while the feelings are of sorrow and apology. It’s telling me that something has changed, that my plans must be altered and I can’t leave yet. Disappointment fills my very soul. I don’t want to go; I want to soar, I want to fly, I want to sing.

“Later,” it says; “later, we promise.” 

I’m devastated. I don’t want to go back. I want to stay in this place of love. “No, please — I want to stay…” I think back to it.

And suddenly there is a horrible shrieking sound that pierces my head.

I’m back in my body, which is lying on the street, and I’m screaming. There are EMTs and other people hovering around me, and the driver of the van is on his cell phone.

I was only gone for a few seconds, maybe a minute, yet it seemed longer, and the feelings of disappointment, of missing out on something stupendous, were strong and have stayed with me for a looooong time.

I need and want to get back (to stay), but until then the short trips I now take seem to help me. Each time I’ve stepped over the barrier between this life and that it’s been to help someone who is dying. Since the accident I’ve found myself acting as a “guide” to those crossing over. I understand their fears, and it has helped me overcome mine, too. My fear was that it wasn’t real, that it was a dream and that I’d never get that loving feeling back. But I can, and I do, and that has helped me overcome the horrible disappointment I felt in having to come back

I now know that I can cross over there and experience those feelings again and again, and once I’m done with my life here, I know what’s waiting for me, so I’m not afraid. And I’m not afraid to help others with their fears, either.

Was it an NDE or was it a simple hallucination created by me in response to the accident? I know what I believe, but what do you think? Care to comment?

[For other stories of NDEs please see the International Association for Near Death Studies.]

Be the butterfly

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Like a butterfly,
I burst free from the cocoon.
I soar into life,
A life of the soul without physicality.

From caterpillar,
To cocoon,
From life,
To death.

But death is not all;
There is more beyond.
There is love,
There is acceptance,
There is life – again.

Soar with me
And see the beauty.
Bathe in the glow
Of the light of pure love.

Spread your wings
And be the butterfly
You were always meant to be,
As we move from life to death to life once more.

 

Dedicated to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her journey in life, death, and life beyond. Check out her books “On Life After Death”, “Life After Life”, “The Tunnel and the Light”, and “Questions and Answers on Death and Dying”, to name just four.