Urgent Message

The More

I could feel the anxiety rising in my body with my heart beating so hard it felt like it would burst through my chest.  My hands gripped the armrests of the chair as I swiveled my head scanning the room for threats.  My thoughts began to race as I looked into each person’s face for clues.  Could it be the big guy with a beard sitting alone at the table staring at his beer?  Or maybe the woman in booth with her back to me.  She kept jerking her head left and right as she spoke with her hands and arms to the person sitting across from her.  I looked at the body language for any hint of a person who was about to stand up and start causing maximum damage.  But all I could see were couples and families enjoying their evening out.  

How can they all be so calm and happy, I thought.
 Don’t they realize they are all about to die?

The day had started out so completely normal and mundane.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in June and my wife, Melissa, and I were wrapping up a full day of yard work at our duplex in South Minneapolis.  I had worked up quite the appetite and was looking forward to relaxing with a meal and some good conversation.  As I was putting the last of the tools in the shed, I saw Melissa walking toward me big smile on her face.  

“We really got a lot accomplished today didn’t we?”

“Yes, indeed!”, I said.  “How about we get out of here and walk down to Matt’s Bar for a Jucy-Lucy and fries?”

“I think that sounds great!”, she said. 

The walk was enjoyable as we observed our neighbors in various stages of their own Saturday projects.  We navigated the alleys and sidewalks while we took in the beautiful flower gardens and landscapes along the way.  

“Beautiful day today.”, she said.

“Yes indeed it is. I hope it is so beautiful, that most people will be at the lakes and not going to Matt’s tonight.”, I said with a wink. “ It seems like there’s always a line down the block waiting to get in.” 

As we neared the bar, we were surprised there was no one standing outside.  Usually there is a line reaching partway down the block.  Once we reached to bar, I grabbed the door so we could step inside only to be stopped cold by the backup of people waiting for a table.  This is not surprising because Matt’s Bar is a bit of a legend in the city and the self-proclaimed originator of the Jucy-Lucy hamburger.  The Jucy-Lucy is a 1/2 lb hamburger that is stuffed with cheese and fried on a griddle behind the bar.  The burger is legendary for not only the taste, but also the good possibility of 2nd degree cheese burns if you are not careful taking that first bite.

When we finally made it to our table Melissa paused for me to choose my seat.  While I enjoy a good burger, being in an overly crowded space can be a bit daunting for me because I’m an empath.  Being an empath basically this means that I can experience the feelings and emotions of people around me as if they were happening to me.  I can also see and feel volumes of information from a person’s body language.  I’ve learned to manage some of these experiences by positioning myself to easily observe the space around me.

At first it seemed like a safe location.  We were seated in a booth at the back of the bar within a few feet of the emergency exit door.  The room was crowded but I had a good view in general.  The feelings of rising anxiety and fear are familiar and I could sense that it was becoming more intense by the second.  I knew the feeling wasn’t mine but I couldn’t ignore the panic and vibration that was building in my chest and legs.  I glanced at Melissa and noticed a look on her face as she watched me.  She said, “Are you okay?  What’s wrong?.  Why are you breathing so fast?  Your legs bouncing so much it’s shaking the table!”

I said in a hushed but urgent tone, “I think we need to get out of here.  There is something bad about to happen.  I’m feeling really scared, like I want to run as fast as I can.” 

She understood the kind of messages I get sometimes.  The premonitions, feelings and visions that would guide me away from danger or knowing the right way to turn when we are lost in a parking ramp looking for our car.  It was only a month earlier when returning home from a vacation on the metro-train, when I could feel someone on the train watching us.  When we got off at our stop, the man walked parallel to us down the platform and slightly behind us.  As I looked, I could see that he was watching us and adjusting his walking speed to trail us closely.  I grabbed my wife’s hand and said, “We have someone following us.  Don’t look back.”   We quickened our pace and switched to the other side of the street.  In looking back, I saw the man stop at the entrance of a nearby bar and stare at us for a long time before opening the door and ducking inside.

This time it was different.  The feeling of urgency was so intense, I could barely sit still.  My eyes continued to look for clues from each person’s face, or in the tone of their voice.  In the distance I heard glass breaking near the bar.  I jerked my head in that direction only to see the aftermath of a patron having crashed into a waiter carrying a full tray of dishes.  That wasn’t it, the feeling persisted and got stronger.

He had both of his hands with the palms down on the table top.  He was not moving or speaking and looked directly at the woman.

Melissa said suddenly, “I think I know what’s going on.  There is a couple sitting right behind you that appear to be arguing.  It looks like the woman is in a lot of stress, she’s very animated!”  I turned slightly to catch a glimpse of the people behind me.  I saw a woman and man likely in their mid-thirties seated at a small table.  The man had a military style hair cut and the shirt he was wearing was stretched tight over his bulging muscles that vibrated under the fabric.  He had both of his hands with the palms down on the table top.  He was not moving or speaking and looked directly at the woman.

The woman I saw was quite the contrast to the man.  She was less than half his size, with very skinny arms and body.  She was dressed casually with a white blouse and jeans and hair done up in a bun.  While the man appeared to be calm, she was nothing but this.  She was not yelling.  As a matter of fact, I could hardly make out her hushed tones, but I could see that she was speaking very fast and with a powerful intent.  She frantically moved her arms and pointed at the man occasionally poking him in the chest with a disgusted look on her face.  All the while, the man never moved or spoke.  His face and body was slightly turned away from me but I could feel that the majority of the intense emotions were rushing off from him like ocean waves being pushed by a strong wind.  The woman kept up her tirade toward the man, occasionally poking him in the chest.  The intensity on her face was so extreme you could see a vein in her forehead bulging as her eyes narrowed and spittle flew from her lips.

I looked back at Melissa and said, “This isn’t going to be pretty.”  And just then I heard a loud scream from behind me, but it sounded like a man’s voice.  I swung around in my seat to see an unbelievable site. The table they were sitting at was tipped over and the man was lying on the floor covering his face with his arms pleading with the woman, “Please don’t hurt me.  I won’t do it again!”  The woman stood over him holding one of the bar chairs over her head ready to strike.  Before I knew what was happening, a woman from the next table leaped up and grabbed the chair.  She brought her knee up and pushed it directly into the gut of the angry woman causing her to topple back onto the table behind her knocking the wind out of her.

In that moment, the bar had gone completely silent.  The man on the floor laid on his side bawling his eyes out and shook uncontrollably. The woman who had come to his rescue bent down and patted him on the arm and quietly told him he was going to be alright.  A couple of guys from her table stood up and grabbed the woman lying on the tables and escorted her out of the bar as she muttered and groaned.  

The man slowly stood up and with the help of the woman and I could see his red eyes and tear drenched cheeks.  Then something amazing happened.  The other patrons had righted the table and the man sat down.  Several people near him gave him a pat on the back and told him he was going to be okay.  They told him he was alright by them and he didn’t need to be with a person that didn’t appreciate him.  

In a few more minutes the bar noise had returned to it’s former levels and everyone turned back to their meals and conversation.  I noticed the woman who had helped him was now sitting at his table holding his hands and smiling.  The man looked very shaken but an occasional smile crept across his face as he relaxed.  I could sense the huge amount of energy I once felt dissipate into a faint mist. 

I turned back to Melissa and breathed a sigh of relief.  I now knew where the urgency was coming from.  This wasn’t the relaxing evening I thought we would be having after a hard day’s work, but we were able to salvage the remaining time we had at Matt’s.   We enjoyed the Jucy-Lucy burgers and fries delivered steaming hot at our table only minutes later.

Dwight Raatz

#TheMore #CreativeNonFiction

A Change of Perspective: Your Assignment

The More

Take a break from what you think is your reality.

Just for a few minutes I want you to come along with me on a journey of release and imagination.  To do this, I need you to go outside somewhere and find a comfortable place to sit or stand.  It’s best if you are in Nature somewhere, but this is not a requirement.  Please take your time to find a place where you will not be interrupted but you can most certainly be with others around you.

For this to work, I need you to suspend some of your knowledge of the world around you.  I need you to forget that wind exists.  Yes, that’s right.  Just for a bit, pretend that you don’t know what wind is or what effect it can have on things around you.  Got it?

Next I want you to start looking at things around you.  Look at the trees.  Look at the leaves on the ground. Look at the flags on the poles.  Look at the clouds in the sky.  Do you see how they are moving?  Now, I want you to shift your perspective a bit and forget that wind is moving them.

What if the trees are moving on their own, stretching, waving, alive!  What if the clouds are on an adventure moving across the sky and taking in the scenes of the Earth below them?  What if the flag is waving because it’s excited to represent the hope and dreams of a country?  What if the leaves are racing around, playing, finding mischief in getting stuck to your window, in your hair or your car’s grill?  Notice how the world is alive around you and notice how you have been oblivious to these wonders.

Indeed, we all spend way too much time in our heads or stuck to a portable screen to notice the life around us.  Take a break now and then to notice how much life is all around you.  Notice that by doing this, you become more connected to it, you may even appreciate life more and feel joy in being part of it.

Let me know how you did with your assignment.  What did you experience?  How did you see life around you differently?  What can you add to this assignment that might help others?

American Beauty – Plastic Bag Scene
I cried when I watched this scene in the movie.  The boy speaking in this video is how I feel things at a very deep level.  This is really who I am.

Peace,

Dwight Raatz
edited: 08/09/2020

What Is Real?

The More

Lately I’ve struggled with what I perceive to be reality.  This struggle has, at times, given me pause to even question my own sanity (which can be quite frightening).  As I dove into the feeling of this, it put me on a path of thinking about how I perceive reality in my own life as well as the lives of others.

There seems to be a couple ways to learn about what is real in your life, and one of them is through experience.  For most people, we think the things we can perceive with our senses (sight, sound, touch, etc) makes them real.  The other way to learn is by being taught what is real. If there are things we can’t verify with our senses, then there must be accepted scientific or mathematical ways to test and verify something is real as proof. Another seemingly acceptable way to view something as real is to hear someone else tell us that it is (friends, family, media, etc).  But what if you have experiences that cannot easily be verified in any way, nonetheless you had the experience and it was very “real” to you?

Have you ever had the experience of driving in your car and you come to a stop light in the midst of several other cars and you are stopped for a length of time?  While sitting there, you kind of lose focus on things as you look at the cars beside you, and suddenly you get the sensation that somehow your car is moving backward, like you are rolling back for some reason?  Then in a short panic you press on the break harder to stop, but you don’t and then you snap out of it only to realize that you are not moving, but the car(s) next you are moving forward?  In that moment you thought you were rolling backward, you thought that was really happening right?

Another example of a perceived reality happened several months ago where I was driving home after a long day on a very familiar road.  As I was driving, I had a sense of where I was and the direction I was going and what I was expecting to see next, but all of the sudden I came upon a stop light that should not have existed.  For a second I was completely disoriented and I could feel the world around me spin slightly when I realized that I was on a completely different road and hadn’t driven as far as I thought I had.  In the moments leading up to my realization, I thought where I was, what I was doing, seeing and experiencing to be very real.  These kinds of “re-orientating to reality” moments have happened to me several times over the years and each time it was quite disturbing. It usually takes me several minutes to come back into alignment with the reality I’m perceiving in that moment. Was what I experienced real or not?

About eight years ago, I was driving to work in my 1996 Geo Prism on a very cold and snowy winter morning.  I was heading for downtown Minneapolis at the intersection of Hwy 55 and Hwy 100 going east.  The roads that morning were snowy and a bit icy.  As I was stopped at the light with no other cars around me, I looked in my rear view mirror to see a large black pickup truck driving straight toward the back of my car.  What I perceived was that this truck was going way too fast for the road conditions and was invariably going to crash into me.  Well, if you know anything about a Geo Prism, it does not have any getup and go, but instinctively, I stepped on the gas and floored it (even though I was a a stoplight) and I braced for impact. What happened next, was nothing at all!  No impact.  As a matter of fact, when I looked in my mirrors, there was no truck at all, nothing!  I even slowed so much I physically looked out all my windows and there was no truck or any other vehicle around me at all in any direction.  In those few seconds there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be rear-ended by that black pickup truck.  So, was what I saw and experienced real or not?

In the Summer of 2010 I was taking a nap in the front room (we called it the parlor) of my home in Buffalo, MN.  I was in that kind of pre-awake state where I could sense that I was awake, but my eyes were not open yet.  As I laid there on the couch, I felt very relaxed as I could feel the summer sun coming through the windows warming me.  I was enjoying that feeling and sense of peace when quite faintly I could hear a kind of buzzing or fluttering sound in the room.  Initially I was thinking it was a fly in the window, but the sound didn’t quite match with my memory because the sound was much deeper and fuller.  I continued to keep myself in the space of “not awake” with my eyes closed and I could hear the fluttering sound circling the room getting near as it circled.  Then it came very close to my face and I could hear the deep fluttering sound of wings and even a slight movement in the air around me.  In my mind’s eye, I started to get a sense for what the being or creature looked like.  I then opened my eyes only to have the sound and feeling of what I thought was there with me to instantly dissipate.  What did I experience?  Was it real or not?

I think perhaps the most significant experience I’ve had around perceiving what is real is my own thoughts around how I believe something will turn out or how someone will react or respond to my actions.  There have been many times that I’ve held back from sharing myself with others (especially family).  When I’ve thought about sharing something important or possibly controversial with them, I would often think I knew how they would respond and usually the thought was not favorable.  I would often spend weeks, months or even years with anxiety, afraid that if I did tell them, they would reject me or they might possibly stop loving me or talking to me.  This fear would infect my life and relationships with others and get to a point where I knew I needed to come clean.  The interesting thing is that in every instance when I finally confessed, they never responded the way I had predicted.  It was a total lie. Every time, they were thoughtful about my issue and very accepting of me.  Each time this happened to me, I would not only be relieved but I would reprimand myself for having spent so much time believing this spell of fear.  What I assumed to be so very real was not real at all.

Most recently I’ve been going through what feels like a large shift or transformation in my life.  This shift is a culmination of many factors including career, marriage, aging, and the ever present ebb and flow of the Universe.  I find myself having a powerful drive to seek more fulfillment in my life, in how I spend my time and who I spend that time with.  I feel as if I am in an in-between place moving from the role of raising kids, building a career (which was created from necessity and not from my heart), divorce and re-marriage, and an ever evolving change in physical health. I’m now moving toward a deep calling from the bowels of the Universe within me to finally allow myself to bring forth the full possibility of what I have to offer this world.  This in-between place feels like my own primordial soup of possibilities.  What I can create for myself in the next phase of my life?  It has been so intense at times I find myself having out of body experiences with my “Self” being the observer of my body and the interactions of it and the world around.  It has been at times very frightening because I feel if I were to just let go a bit more, I would never be able to reconnect myself with this world and physical reality I am in.  I also have the dual experience of being intrigued with the experience because there is a great sense of peace, wonder and interest from the Observer’s perspective.  The Observer is not invested or involved with the interactions of the body, ego or even the physical reality of the experience, it just sees or senses.  So is what I’m experiencing real or not?

As I think about what I’ve written, I feel a common theme has appeared. Reality is based on whatever I chose to focus my attention on at any point in time. This “attention” is really perspective on any given situation. I find this fascinating.  I’ve often thought about how each of us perceive things and if someone else sees the same things or not.  For example, when I look at the color red, is what I perceive as red the same for you as it is for me?  This perspective is also described in a story I wrote in my blog the-more.com a few years ago called “The Reality of Fog”.  I was on a trip to Peru with a friend, when we found ourselves slightly lost in the airport as we tried to figure out where to go for our next flight.  We each had a perspective on what we thought were the right direction through an airport, only to find out we each were looking at the same signs in a slightly different way. Another good example is found in a TEDx Talk titled “Dying to be me” where a woman named Anita Moorjani describes her experience with cancer, her death and coming back to life.  Her message on her awareness of the world was strikingly similar to what I described above in my “Observer” story.  I highly recommend you watch!

I’ve experienced many profound things during my journey from within, and from the world around me.  Each of these experiences has allowed me to grow more and more into who I truly am as a person.  This tangible and palpable experience of the Observer has been challenging, but I truly believe it is all a part of another transformation the Universe is providing for me to grow.  The challenging part of all of this is the intensity of the feeling and how overwhelming transformation can be. The one thing that allows the process to flow, is in the sharing of the moments, and connecting with others in their own similar experiences.  How are you perceiving the world around you, and allowing the experiences to change your life?

– Dwight Raatz

Submit

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Have you ever committed to something and the moment you do, things begin to change?  For me, I can reason and think about actions I might want to take, but nothing much changes until I submit and commit.  By submit, I mean that you take an action or step that commits you toward the goal or destination you have decided to attain.  This action is something that you can’t easily change your mind after submitting.  In my case, I recently went on a trip that involved quite a few things outside of my comfort zone because it was out of the United States and involved traveling to a retreat in the middle of the Amazon jungle with no connection to the outside world.

As I was on the retreat center’s web site and I filled out the payment forms, the moment I clicked the submit button to send my payment, I could feel things change and shift.  This was even compounded more when I booked the hotels and flights.  There was no changing my mind, no going back.  I committed to the journey and the Universe started to manifest my wishes.  I felt different immediately, lighter, more free, nervous, excited, focused.  Debate or worry about going on the trip ceased and a new perspective started.  I only had to decide what I wanted and it began to form immediately.  This has me wondering about all of the other things in my life that I’ve “thought” about, worried about, not decided.  I think about all the time and energy that I wasted in the space of indecision and worry that came to nothing in the end.  I can see how it’s better to make a dozen different decisions than to worry and think about one decision that takes forever to decide (if at all).  Deciding is an action that sets in motion a whole myriad of other actions and releases a flood of energy that is fully dedicated to making what you decided come to life.  If after making the decision you see that it isn’t working, then you decide something different and again set in motion more actions and energy.  The first decision loses it power and dissipates into the void (or some might say that the first decision continues on to create an alternate reality) and the new decision begins to take form.  It’s the indecision that blocks energy which can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, and other forms of dis-ease.

Submit to me also means to release.  Once you have “filled out the forms and clicked submit”, you have decided to do something and then released that decision out to the Universe to become manifest.  In my act of submitting to the retreat journey, I sent out to several organizations my intent to act and it was up to them to fulfill my intent.  At that point all I needed to do was show up!  Yes, that’s right; you can do the act of deciding and acting on that decision, but it really takes many subsequent actions to fulfill the intent for my part of the agreement.  Each subsequent decision and act continues to build a momentum of energy that culminates once you’ve reached your goal or destination.  Then the energy can resolve and complete to satisfaction, self-assurance, joy and even love.

If you’re feeling the anxiety and pressures of life holding you in place, the best thing to do is start making decisions and lots of them!

Dwight Raatz