You see what you expect.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how John relates to other incarnated people, and how Kurt seemed to change a lot in how he related to me.

I think a lot of it has to do with how we relate to them, first.

I’ll be honest – when Kurt first came in, I thought he was kind of a pain in the ass.  I didn’t really know anything about him, and I expected him to behave a lot like how the pain-in-the-ass 15 year old boys behaved in middle school.  Sweetie has a knack of getting straight to the sweet, innocent inner boy with these types of people – one of her childhood friends is a huge drug addict who generally makes a colossal ass of himself in public, and his hobbies include a lot of life-threatening, thrill-seeking activities.  I can’t relate to this guy at all.

Yet, over the years, he never forgets Sweetie’s birthday.  He always sends her a message or a note, tells her he loves her.  And that’s endeared him to me.  At least, I understand their relationship a bit more.

So at first, I kind of saw Kurt as another one of Sweetie’s lost boys.  I had *no idea* who he really was.  When Sweetie first called Kurt in, I swear I saw him as an angel descending – wearing a white linen tunic thing (always with pants though!) with longish, blond, very clean wavy hair.  I asked “Who’s Kurt Cobain?”

“Oh, he was that guy in Nirvana.  You know, Smells Like Teen Spirit?”

And instantly my image of Kurt changed.  I thought he’d changed his presentation so I’d recognize him – he presented in a faded plain shirt, beat up combat boots, stringy, unwashed, dirty-blond hair.  Sadness, such sadness.  Ah yes, I remember this Kurt Cobain.  I remember when Nirvana was everywhere.

But now I’m rethinking this shift.  Perhaps Kurt just tuned into my expectation of him in that moment, showed me who I thought he was.  He reflected my image of him back at me.  He even comedically humped things around the house, like he was some crazed rocker on E, who couldn’t help but rub up against soft pillows, table legs, John’s head, whatever, in a stoned-out crazy way.  I just relayed his antics to Sweetie, chuckled / rolled my eyes and went about my day.

He called me “bitch” a lot.  In a playful way, but annoying nonetheless.  I finally asked him to stop, it was pissing me off so much (something Kurt can’t resist, really).  He and Sweetie were doing their own private work, so I figured he was there for Sweetie alone, and it made sense to me at the time.

And then one night, he stepped forward as my teacher during meditation.  In this state of meditation, I had set all of my personality, my expectations of myself and others aside.  I saw the angelic Kurt again.  I saw a gentle guy who loved people.  Who wanted to help.  Whose intentions were good and earnest.  And these meditative journeys into my soul’s past are changing my perspective on everything.  This is the most transformative period in my life.  So far.

With Kurt’s birthday present to me, I’ve become a Nirvana fan.  I’ll listen to the four albums we have back to back.  I find it relaxing, which is so odd, considering the intensity of the sound and lyrics. 

The only song Kurt discourages me from listening to is “Rape Me”, from the In Utero album.  Whenever it comes along in the playlist I’ll hear, “Skip this shit.  You don’t need it.”  Sometimes the track will skip on its own.  Thing is, I like that song now.  Yesterday, while driving to work, I got stubborn.  “I WANT to listen to it, damn it!”  In the first verse of the song, the adapter to the speaker fell out of the charger.  The music stopped.  “Don’t make me break your ipod.”    Big sigh.  “FINE.”  And I skipped the track again. 

That was actually a really impressive move, looking back on it.  It’s not easy to move things like that. 

Since we started our meditation together, Kurt has often called me “Babe” or sometimes “Angel” – just as he’s addressed Sweetie.  I started doing Kurt research and found out what a big feminist he was during his last life.  Kurt’s shown me a lot in my own soul’s history around rape-specific violence.   Last night, from the perspective of a man… understanding how this man (me in a past life) got to a point where he could see women only through eyes of possession and hate.  You have to see yourself with hate first.  This sort of violence turns back on the perpetrator, and it ripples ever outward.  Violence has saturated our culture.

This sort of learning is a very intimate experience, and I feel this super-close friendship-type relationship build between us.  He likes to call me “little sister” sometimes, in a way that feels like irony.  Whenever I’ve asked to see if there’s a past life connection between Kurt & I, I always see him as a young boy, and I hear “little brother” – so it’s like the younger brother calling his big sister “little sister” because here he is, taking care of me where once, I looked after him.

I remember a Courtney Love quote, on how needy Kurt could be:  That guy can’t catch a cab by himself! 

John too has talked about how high maintenance he could be in relationships.  When Yoko kicked him out, he said she was right to do so.

When we tapped into John and later with Kurt, both spirits powerfully communicated the emotions they experienced in their life, and deep empathy for those they left behind after death.  The emotion around John’s death was so strongly one of injustice, of a sense of wrong, I thought that perhaps John had died when he wasn’t meant to go.  Now I understand this as John sharing his overwhelming empathetic experience with the emotion created in response to his death.  He expressed terrible, torturous sadness at being separated, no ripped, from his family.

Kurt has also shared with touching intensity, the feelings of a young boy’s abandonment by his family, how he made a choice to strike out on his own (couch surfing, living the friends’ families) rather than submit to the foster system.  Being “in the system” terrified him.  “If my family, people who were supposed to love me, could treat me like that, what would strangers do to me?”  He also said, with heartbroken vulnerability, “Mothers are supposed to look after their kids.”

So why were our first conversations with Kurt & John so fraught with flawed human emotion?  Aren’t they spirits now?  Should they be above this, or over it?  (Huh, heaven is “above” – I wonder if that’s where this expression originated?)  Yet it seemed, in those moments of communication, that the pain was still real and present.

I asked Kurt about this the other day.  He says, “Well when you relate to us as tragic heros, that’s what we become to you.  When I relate to you as Kurt the kid, all that experience is still there for me to draw on, like, you just tap into it with the conversation.  It’s the best way to communicate, sometimes.”

I understood that it’s not like Kurt or John are *still* hurting right now.  They have this as part of their soul’s experience.  We all have past hurts we can tap into.  I was reminded that John & Kurt have also been many other people.  When I talk to Kurt, Kurt is there.  When I talk to John as John, there he is.  Occasionally, he’ll show up as figures from his other lives as well – and when this happens, I sometimes forget that there’s any connection between the two characters at all.

It reminds me of my Sea Urchin Lesson, which I’ve been returning to almost daily:

How fragmented our perspective, how fractal-like our bodies and our soul-journeys can be.  How easily a new consciousness breaks away from a single mind.  How joyous the return to the whole.

When you look at a sea urchin, what do you see?  A soulless plant?  A single animal?  A collection of many, linked Borg-like minds?  A soul collective? 

When you look at John Lennon, who do you see?

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3 thoughts on “You see what you expect.

  1. Did you ever watch the television show “Joan of Arcadia”? It was a show about a teenage girl who gets visits from God, who gives her tasks to perform. In the first episode, when God has appeared to her as a teenage boy, Joan remarks that God is snippy. He replies, “[…] if I’m ‘snippy’ it’s because you understand snippy. Do ya get it?”

    I think people in general reflect back what you expect, whether incarnate or discarnate… at least in part because how you act towards them changes as your expectations and impressions of them change.

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    • I remember that show, I think I saw a few episodes when it first aired.

      I have got to disagree with in general, incarnated people reflect what you expect. I think it’s true of children and animals, though. Pets are also great at reflecting your own emotions or behaviours back at you!

      I generally expect that people will behave towards eachother, (or to me) in kindness and respect. You can set forth with the best of intentions and still make enemies. In this context I’m thinking of people who set out to steal our business, overcharge us, generally screw us over or take advantage of us because we’re friendly and nice and women and apparently walking targets.

      In Toronto, one skill I had to master was how to defend myself and my space. Being rude was a *skill I needed to aquire* and the best defense against sexual harassment in the street. Messed up, eh? Took a few years to heal from that city.

      Maybe this is a matter of perspective though, too. The last guy to screw us over actually ended up doing us a huge favour… Ironic that our prayers of “winding down the business as easily as possible” translated into “landlord stealing all your stuff even though you don’t owe him a penny”. But the result was I got to spend my birthday weekend in relaxation and celebration rather than cleaning out the warehouse – and really, we didn’t need any of that stuff anyway.

      And it’s certainly clear now that one particular guy who set out to screw us over is actually teaching me a lot spiritually. Huh. Maybe I’ll end up agreeing with you after all.

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  2. Sometimes my words are insufficient to explain a concept in my head, and I think this was (and probably still is) one of those times.

    I wasn’t thinking about general expectations. I was thinking more about expectations about a specific person and how that person will often reflect back to you what you’re expecting to see in them, since reflection is passive and has more to do with your own thoughts and expectations than what the other person actually does or says. You see what you expect to see because you’re not looking for anything else. If, for example, someone expects you to be incompetent, then everything you do will reflect back that sense of incompetence to them regardless of whether or not you really are incompetent. When they change that expectation, what they see changes, too, even if you haven’t really changed your own actions one bit.

    I had a conversation with a coworker a few weeks ago about the concept of being happy with what you have/do/say/are regardless of your material/physical circumstances; he translated it as a suggestion that people not strive to better themselves, when all I meant was that you choose how you react to your life even as you are trying to change (or not change) your circumstances. We truly have no control over anything but our own reactions to the events of our lives. That sister concept was what I was thinking about (that and situations in my own life where my relationships with individuals changed — for the better and the worse — as my own expectations changed) when I wrote my earlier comment. Thinking out loud, as it were. 🙂

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