Tag Archives: war

Application of Impossible Things Featured Book

My book “Application of Impossible Things” is being featured by the publisher, Ozark Mountain Publishing. Discounted! Available for order online! Read reviews on their website!

Click here for the link …

Ozark has some other interesting books available as well – browse around.

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Golfing in Iraq

While in Iraq I took up golf.

I love saying that. I enjoy strange juxtapositions: golf in a war zone. Take cover! Take cover!

Now I have to tell you that we didn’t have a course; we had a driving range. We didn’t have grass; we had packed silty dirt. We didn’t have any groomed greens; we had some areas of packed silty dirt that were a little higher than the surrounding packed silty dirt and they didn’t have any tire ruts, mud holes or craters in them. Temps were around 110 -120F, and the trucks and tanks driving by on the road often threw up terrible dust storms, but a line of trees along the road shaded the tees in the morning, so all in all it wasn’t too bad a deal.

Honestly to say that I took up golf is a silly exaggeration. All I really did was take up a club. I didn’t set out to learn to hit a ball well. All I wanted to do was hit the ball. I wanted to relax my mind, to use my body in a new way. I wanted to concentrate on something that I didn’t give a shit about – that had no dire consequences at all. No drive was worth ten or forty or sixty million dollars, for instance, like the projects that I was responsible for administering. My simple goal for golf: relax and hit the ball every time.

I love setting reachable goals. It’s so satisfying to succeed. I reached my goal on day two.

After another three or four morning sessions at the range (lol – “the range” … there’s a war zone pun in there alongside the stupidity of calling it a range rather than a big empty lot of dust! But I digress … ) … another three or four sessions at the range, and I began to hit the ball to nearly the same spot every time.

Since I wasn’t expecting this to happen, I was surprised and extraordinarily pleased. Consistency! The hobgoblin of little minds? Not in sports! I felt like I’d made grand progress without even trying. I felt like a solid success. Even if every drive was an atrocious slice! It didn’t matter. I was relaxing, and I was hitting every ball.

A friend recently stated that he has been successful all his life because he didn’t do things if he didn’t think he’d succeed at them. If he thought he was going to fail at something, what would be the point of trying it?

I applaud the simple logic and lack of apology with which my friend said this. In some way I suspect that most people do this without ever having articulated it. We weigh our chances of success, and if it looks unlikely we take a pass. I can think of any number of times I’ve bowed out of trying something because I doubted that I would succeed.

Yet within some categories I move without fear. Golf in Iraq, for instance, was so beyond reason to me, and anyway Iraq itself was so far past the safety barrier, I ignored anyone who might have scoffed or teased me about my atrocious golf skills. I didn’t give a flying fuck, when normally I would have been shy or embarrassed. I’d have felt obligated to “improve.”

And almost every time I confront a blank sheet of paper or canvas, there’s a little thrill: will I create something beautiful, or will I fail? People seem to think that artists don’t fail, that everything that we set out to create is a success. I assure you that even the most accomplished artists sometimes make horribly ugly things. Within art and writing, though, I’m like a soldier. If I fail, without thinking about it I’ll pick myself up and ask myself or a friend some questions: what worked and what didn’t? What might I do differently? Then I try it again.

With art, writing, and golfing in Iraq I’m fearless.

Why confine it to these situations?

The goals that we set for ourselves are the only true measure of a success or a failure. If I set aside fear in order to try something that I’d like to do, even if I don’t think I’ll succeed I’ve always found satisfaction in the attempt. If the goal that I set for myself is to try instead of to succeed, what kind of freedom does that give me?

If we set ourselves goals that we know will bring satisfaction of some kind, how can we fail? Even if we don’t reach the goal, we might find a surprise along the way. We might discover or experience something of value, something funny, or something purely and pointlessly delightful. That seems worth it to me.

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The Wind

Yesterday the wind was howling here in southern Arizona. Normally when winds are blustery and wild I feel restless, out of sorts, or downright cranky. The wind whips my hair into my eyes or tosses dust into my eyes, making it especially difficult to see when already I only have one good eye to work with. It makes things clank and slam and whistle, distracting me from whatever it is I’m trying to concentrate on. I wonder if that particular noise indicates a problem that I’ll have to fix or just a natural movement of a roof vent. Is that sound a branch blown against the door, or a piece of the neighbor’s trash dump of a yard catching and whipping fiercely in a tree, or has the tarp covering one of my construction projects finally shredded.

Yesterday I found myself indifferent to the anxiety that wind can produce. When it blew hair in my eyes, I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt to corral that hair. When I heard strange noises, I sat still and listened to the quality of the sound instead of wondering what that sound might indicate.

On my fourth night in Iraq, our base got mortared. The first one landed close enough to shake the ground and rattle my trailer. Although I instinctively rolled off the bed into a crouch, my first reaction wasn’t panic or fear. While my body reacted instinctively by ducking, as it would to any loud noise, my mind froze instead on the incredible quality of sound the mortar had made when it detonated. I can’t describe the beauty contained in that sound. It had a crack and a crump and a thunder and a rumble and a whistle and more. For three or four seconds I was frozen, immobilized by the beauty of that symphony of sound.

I realize that this isn’t necessarily a normal reaction to incoming. A friend who has spent years in war zones suggested that a description of this moment is incomplete without describing the pure fear experienced when a rocket or mortar explodes. But I didn’t experience that. My perceptions weren’t anchored in fear.

Perceiving the explosion in the way that I did sealed the moment in my mind in a different way than worry or fear or panic would have. I sometimes wonder whether it made an unusual track in my brain’s chemistry that future reactions to incoming would travel. Because from that moment on I was not afraid of rockets or mortars. Intellectually I knew what they could do, and later I came to vividly know the horrible damage they could inflict on a human body, yet the sound of incoming always dominated my attention before any other thoughts intruded. I still miss that beautiful sound, like a lost song almost remembered.

Yesterday I found a way to apply attention to wind in a way that approached the interest I had found instinctively in the sound of incoming mortars and rockets. Instead of attaching all sorts of worries and fears to the wind, I just noticed the quality of its effects. Once I let go of fear, I could enjoy the graceful dancing movement of the branches on a young desert ash tree. I could hear the musical notes in a rattling roof vent as if it were intentional timpani.

We rarely think about air beyond our own uses for it (breath), and how it affects our environment (the weather). What if air has its own consciousness? I suspect that it has, and that we can touch it or hear it if we pay attention. What if wind enjoys dancing across the face of the earth, brushing through vegetation, swinging over hills and racing down valleys? I imagine the wind communicating with each tree, singing songs with each object it touches. I imagine it loving to set the trees dancing, the dirt whirling into the air. What if by expressing its own joy of movement, wind is playing with everything it touches, passing around the pure fun of existence, movement and creation? Setting everything in motion, it gets everyone dancing together.

So many of the things that I fear or worry over are transformed simply by paying attention to them in a new way. It only takes a moment to shift perception. It only takes a few seconds of listening to what’s underneath the noise of the mind, if we can remember to pause once in awhile to do that.

As I sat on a chair on the front patio, a small piece trash from the litterbox that is my neighbor’s yard blew past. Hopping and rolling, it hurried up the hill like a small animal traveling.

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Review of Application of Impossible Things

Jim Szpajcher Book Review: Application of Impossible Things by Natalie Sudman

I read this slim volume, which on the surface of the text was an account of her experiences while in an expanded state of consciousness as a result of being in an IED blast in Iraq. She packs a lot of data into her few pages, and offers a lot of food for thought about the way that humans, as spiritual beings, interact on many levels of consciousness. I would rank this little book on the same shelf as Bob Monroe’s “Journeys Out Of The Body” in terms of exploratory scope. If she were to continue on with her work, I would not be surprised to see her model/ construct become better defined, in much the same way as Monroe did in “Far Journeys” and “Ultimate Journey”. As a study in altered states, Sudman offers a contrasting study which compares (favorably, to my mind) with Michael Newton’s “Journey of Souls” and “Destiny of Souls”. Sudman’s book is not light reading, but it is definitely worth the effort.

 

(Thanks Jim!)

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Application of Impossible Things now available!

app of imp things coverFind it at http://www.amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=natalie+sudman&x=0&y=0

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/natalie-sudman?keyword=natalie+sudman&store=allproducts

the Book Depository

http://www.bookdepository.com/Application-Impossible-Things-Natalie-Sudman/9781886940246

Red Wheel Weiser

http://redwheelweiser.com/detail.html?session=a6bb2626ee4ef87055f5c1b0024b15e3&id=9781886940246

among other outlets – ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

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Osama bin Laden’s Death, & Our Opportunity

I’m saddened by the reaction of some of my American friends to Osama bin Laden’s death. Boasting and strutting Americans are, in my opinion, Americans at their most mortifying.

The effort to kill bin Laden lasted ten years, underlay two overt wars and countless covert ones, cost billions and billions and billions of dollars, spawned a creepily polarized political spin morass that fed a culture of fear, and cost a lot of soldier’s and civilian’s lives. All this, ostensibly to kill one man.

I wouldn’t call that something to strut about.

And this will not end the terrorist acts that cause Americans to puff up their chests and say, “Not here. Not inAmerica.” Osama bin Laden is not the only extreme fundamentalist, the only terrorist out there. Many people believe that violence is the only way to get what they want, to create what they desire, to force what they think is right. Others will take bin Laden’s place.

We still have not grown up. Our general comic-book mentality of one evil man destroying the world is useless and dysfunctional. We still have not matured enough to reflect on and respect the complexities of a world of vast cultural and political differences. We have not matured enough to understand that freedom means the freedom to choose something other than what Americans value and create. We have not matured enough to realize that our self-interested manipulations and exploitations of other countries politics and economies breed anger, frustration, and resentment in the countries and communities that we manipulate. We still have not matured enough to look at ourselves honestly, and to contemplate the fact that the ideals that we espouse are not often enough carried through in our actions.

The war inAfghanistanis not over. The death of bin Laden does not end the war or heal that country of its violence and tribalism.

The death of bin Laden does not end terrorism, Arab nationalism, or Muslim extremism. It does not spell the end of Al Qaeda. The Americans have killed one man, and think they have brought an end both a powerful organizer and a powerful symbol. But in this death, they have created a martyr to his followers, a potentially more powerful symbol that they may carry for decades, even centuries.

Memories of perceived wrongs are long and deep.America’s youth and cultural myths carry only one watered-down example of this: the Civil War. The South Will Rise Again. The Confederate flag. In the Middle East cultures (as well as other cultures – Albanians come to mind, Northern Ireland as well), perceived wrongs are carried for centuries, talked about as if they occurred yesterday, and acted upon with a passion and violence that belies the passing of time. Time does not necessarily heal. It can fester.

As a wounded war vet, more than once I’ve been asked directly if I’m not overjoyed at the death of Osama bin Laden.

I am not.

I have multiple perspectives from which I view bin Laden’s death, because I walk the world feeling as if I am a bridge precariously touching two shores: the reality of the world that we have taught ourselves is real, and the non-physical or spiritual reality that I have experienced and know is as real as this physical world.

From the physical world reality, I feel neutrally curious about bin Laden’s death. A social disruption has been eliminated, and I wonder what waves and eddies that removal will cause. Be assured that there will be waves and eddies, and that many of them will come as a surprise to most of us.

From the perspective of the bridge, I am saddened that bin Laden believed that the only way to get what he thought he wanted or needed was to impose violence and disruption on others. I am saddened that his spiritual energies were imbalanced, and by the imbalances he spawned in others, including influencing others to use violence and disruption and including exacerbating the imbalance in Americans caused by giving in to feelings of fear, anger, and desires for retribution. I am disappointed that we seem unable to heal people like bin Laden and his followers – better yet, to heal ourselves as individuals and as a nation and as a world community, thereby making people like Osama bin Laden powerless.

From the perspective of spirit, I feel detached yet interested. My curiosity is aroused by the intense passions, difficult lessons, and strange creative paths we each choose for our lives. Watching the energy matrices of the physical and non-physical planes shift with the death of Osama bin Laden, I choose to add my energy and attention to the most beautiful of the possibilities being explored: the most peaceful, the most balanced, the most integrating, the most forgiving.

I believe that it’s worth taking the time to ponder on the positive energies and lessons available in the life of Osama bin Laden and in the ripples that he created across the earth. It’s possible that each individual would find their own lives reflected in some aspect of his extremism, his anger, his frustration, his self-righteousness, and his choices of action in responding to those beliefs and passions. If he indeed chose that path as a spirit, he served us all by offering an extreme example of the sad power of fear and frustration, thereby also offering so many of us an opportunity to rise above it.

“I am more than my physical body. Because I am more than physical matter, I can perceive that which is greater than physical reality. Therefore, I deeply desire to expand, to experience, to control, to use, such greater energy and energy systems as maybe beneficial to me and to those who follow me. Also, I deeply desire the help and cooperation, the assistance and understanding, of those whose wisdom, knowledge, and experience are equal to or greater than my own. I ask for their guidance and assistance, and their protection from any influence or any source that might provide me with less than my stated desires.”  (The Monroe Institute – www.monroeinstitute.org)

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