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A New Space


New Year 2022




Michael McCaffery

(“El Loco”)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

(I am posting this after having written the text below

about a week earlier)


I have experienced some interesting and useful insights lately, mostly pointed out to me by outer and uncontrolled circumstances, yet all useful.   I have been surprisingly drawn to look at unexpected and unwanted happenings that tend to create waves in what I try to maintain as a placid and non-tumultuous life nowadays.  Well, one may  dream, right?


I find that when I sit down at the laptop to translate it into pixels and then words, it seems effervescent, not easily grasped, and I am left with only a faint hint of insight.  That has never yet stopped me from trying to contain, catch, capture, and control it, and then describe it, and so let us proceed.


I am finding myself more and more appreciative of the current moment in which I find myself (it is the one certainty that I have - that present moment, which is the primary gift of Awareness, or God, or whatever term suits the reader) as all else seems ephemeral and transitory.   This is likely The Plan by He/She/It who is “in charge” of this universe (surely that Entity must exist), and I choose to see it all as working out as it should, and that in this conscious choice by humans is created all the difference, even with all the inherent illogic. To do otherwise presents certain difficulties that I no longer seem to need to wrestle with, much preferring the present moment, which I now finally see I have some limited power to continue creating.


I do see, repeatedly, that we, and each and every of us, create our own world, then we step into it, and pretend (or forget) that it comes from somewhere else, when we actually create it as we go along, through how we choose to view the experience we are having.   By that I mean that how we cope with and deal with whatever is happening, along with how we ourselves interpret its meaning and impact, and choose to move forward with that experience, results in what we call our known reality.  I do not have the energy nor insight to get into “prime cause” or “why,” but that future process intrigues me.


I am seeing and experiencing - increasingly - my dementia (over two years now), and it comes in unexpected forms, which surprises me.   I knew that I would have memory problems (or “issues,” which is perhaps a better non-pejorative and more antiseptic word), but I am somewhat stunned by the fluidity and amorphous quality of my experience.  Without memory, I have little judgment (the lack of which quite interestingly greatly increases the quality of my experience), which is a somewhat unexpected outcome for this scientifically trained and objectively focused engineer, who always had an opinion on everything, even if not requested.


I had expected terror and fright at not having my cognitive tools readily available to use with my rapier-like wit, which unfortunately also had the effect of closing off some experiences and conversations that might have been useful, had I paid attention to them.


I have written in other places of my very useful, informing, and life-enhancing experiences with psychedelics in my earlier years - in a safe and controlled environment , which is the only safe and sane way to experience these very powerful integrative medicines - and how those experiences drew me out of my cynicism, sarcasm, inner defenses, and solitude to more fully appreciate connection to others, and life itself, not only with humans, but with all life-forms.   


It is difficult to express in words how those experiences affected me, but the bottom line was that I became more human, open, inquisitive, loving, and was filled with a sense of wonder, awe, and appreciation of this incredibly stunning experience of wondrous sentient life.  It was as if I came to know for the first time what “love” actually is, and especially how it can be manifested as a self-generated choice by humans.


.   Normal aging has also opened up some channels of inquiry and awareness that I had not previously experienced.  I read and ingested and digested as much information and knowledge about this as I could, in an effort to understand, control, and avoid the effects of aging.  As time went on, I somewhat reluctantly began to accept it, relaxed into the experience, albeit with the suppressed terror still within me, and ultimately - after much inner work - became aware of some very different “spaces” or experiences that even now are becoming more and more available to me.


It is difficult to describe this in words, but the easiest phrasing with which to summarize it is that I am less fearful and judgmental than before.  I did not think I had, or could even develop, those characteristics, and would likely have denied them, yet now I see that this possibility was always there, under the surface, informing all my actions and thoughts.


It was - and continues to be -  a stunning realization, among the most useful in my life.  I thought I was “beyond that” and was an “evolved” human being.  I instead found that I was just beginning to penetrate the surface.  I - with great ongoing difficulty - chose to see this as an opportunity, rather than a predicament, a phrase which I gleefully and thankfully steal from Werner Erhard.  


(Google Werner; I learned much and received great value from my interactions with him and his work, and with those who participated in the work, which is now known as Landmark Education.).


And so I sit on a fulcrum of sorts, teetering a bit one way and then the other, not sure of what to do.  A large part of me wishes to avoid the forthcoming experience, as my inner fears easily dominate my thoughts, with pictures of a drooling, insentient, and unaware spaced-out fool grasping at reality.   Yet my experience to date is different, in that I perceive myself as far more aware and introspective and available to others, which is a significant shift in my awareness, consciousness, and being.   

Another way of saying this is that I perceive that I have a far more agile, inquisitive, flexible, and open mind, and think that I talk a bit faster.  Perhaps I do not use my previous pace due to not wanting to moderate or overthink what I am saying, and in essence, just blurt it out.   This may also be a good working definition of insanity, but for my own sanity as I choose to define it, I therefore choose the former interpretation.


So I ponder whether or not this is a curse or a blessing.  I truly do not know at this point, but something inside whispers to me that I should choose “blessing” as the obviously correct path, while still retaining some of the visceral abiding fear of a vacant nothingness.


I suppose that ultimately, that is always the choice in life (“red pill” or “blue pill”), and the choice determines the outcome.  Making the correct choice can be a bit tricky, as it then depends on the definition of “correct,” and on and on it goes in the elastic ever-changing human mind, until some other higher intelligence (I think, at least) within or outside us makes the choice, and we move forward, finally and happily.


And so I am left with “not knowing” which some wise sages say is a very powerful space to inhabit, as from “not knowing” comes “knowing” if we go down the rabbit hole far enough.   Or maybe this is all meaningless drivel and poppycock, a form of mental and spiritual gamesmanship and gymnastics, meant to titillate the brain cells with energetic mental meandering which often pass for thinking.   I simply do not know, and so it seems that I have to make a choice, and go with that.  I do know that peace can come with that choice, whichever it is.  I choose to view all this as magical, meaningful, and majestic.


And so I will “go with” all these mental gymnastics as important and meaningful and elastic thinking that titillates the brain cells and whatever else resides up there, and which ultimately and necessarily result in concrete specific actions within a physical world, interacting with other sentient beings, and from that process comes greater awareness, satisfaction, and realization of “purpose” as we choose to define it for ourselves.  


Some may call this the space of acceptance and love, and I like those words, as they are self-validating, which is a result I happen to like very much.


Created December 24, 2021

Updated March 2, 2022

Michael McCaffery

Copyright 2021

All Rights Reserved

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