The highly regarded hypno-therapist Milton Erickson was known for his genuinely positive outlook. Erickson remained upbeat, in part, because he had a positive orientation to the future. When he was 17 and deathly ill with polio, he recalls overhearing the doctor tell his mother that he would be dead by morning. When she came into his room, he managed to communicate for her to rearrange his dresser and mirror. He was planning on watching the sunset through the mirror. He commented that events in the future were often pulling him along, and that he purposely placed things into his future to look forward to. While Erickson did recover, he was never completely rid of the disease, and was severely struck again with polio at the age of 51. Even while living in a wheel chair, he relates he could feel the future pulling him forward. This sort of orientation seems at odds with Buddhism and living in the moment. But as I reflected on what I read about Erickson, I knew he was not an escapist. By all accounts, he knew how to live fully and in the moment. Then it occurred to me. For Erickson, the moment and the future were connected. Even if the future event did not play out precisely as anticipated, he was re-gathering the moment and casting out into the future again. That’s lining up intention with possibility.
Posting signs into our future is one way of leaving a future cache of path orienting charm. Most of us employ linking reminders to engage us in a future task that we deem important in the present. We might call it planting reminders: the message attached to the refrigerator, the proverbial string tied around a finger. On some level we recognize the importance of placing signs into our future. This method can accomplish more than help organize our lives. It can help us to anchor. When we are in a moment of connected consciousness, strong and alive, we might want to put a symbol of that connection into the future where we will likely see it the next time we are feeling disconnected. For example, we can place a reminder (perhaps a CD) of our most resonant music just inside the door of our home to greet us after a hard day’s work (of course, then we have to play the music and listen). Don’t just leave notes on the fridge to remind yourself to pick up eggs and yogurt. Leave a musical note, or a reminder to meditate. “Its 6:00 PM, do you know where your heart is beating?” Inspirational phrases work best when they feel novel or come out of our experience, taking us back to the moment when that phrase connected us to Spirit. Leave objects out in the open, activities you’d like to be reminded to do: the musical instrument next to your sitting chair, the poetry notebook or journal on your coffee table, the drum or ritual object in clear view. A house with only neatness and organization as its intention has more difficulty communicating visual omens. When you have achieved an environment that guides you toward an integrated or more connected future you have anchored potential into your home. How that ambiance appears is personal, but it does need to be intentional. Even the wide screen TV can educate and lighten the load when viewed by design.
I have a grand superstition that the Self has left life-signs — in the form of symbols, reminders, and omens — into the paths of our lives to help remind us of our “big picture” intentions and life’s purpose. Further, I feel that we participated in this “setting up of the treasure hunt” in the moments before separation from the Soul and birthing into time. Arthur Koestler presents a wonderful metaphor. A captain of a seagoing vessel has an incomplete but otherwise valid treasure map. This captain is likely to think and act differently than the captain on a pleasure cruise, or a pirate ship. In my superstition, we all have incomplete treasure maps, we just may not be aware of it. There may be days we walk right past a beacon set out as a guidepost, not knowing the helping hand from the hand that removes items from our pockets. On other days we see the omen meant to guide our attention, and we are back on the trail.
There’s a video on the Radio Lab website (http://www.radiolab.org/2012/dec/17/man-became-bliss/) where South Pole adventurer Aleksander Gamme discovered something he’d stashed under the ice at the start of his trip. He’d been out for 86 days, and had forgotten that he’d left candy and crunchy cheese curls in his cache. He went ecstatic with joy. Now, for a moment, let’s imagine that we have stashed items for discovery at various stages of our life journey. Perhaps we have stashed a life changing book, or a meeting with someone with specific medicine for that moment of in our journey. What joy! It’s an exercise in itself, deciding what you would like to place in a cache for your future, and searching for a cache that you placed from your past. We’re back to hidden treasure.
Our past or future could also come looking for us. SHE will come knocking at your door, like Spirit Federal Express. But if you do not answer, if you are not at home, SHE may not leave her gifts. She will leave a nearly invisible note that SHE was by, one that the wind might blow if ignored. Eventually, SHE will stop trying to make delivery, and settle on the rooftop, patiently awaiting your arousal from sleep.
It’s important to be home, to be mindful, with both heart and mind connected to your world. Then you are more likely to see the signs left by yourself, helpful spirits, and Soul.
Photograph from Facebook page Hanna Mermaid