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Carla’s Niche

Carla’s Letter Tapes

CAVEAT: Warning! These letters have not been edited by Carla. Expect errors.

June 13, 1990

Letter to L

Dear L,

I can’t remember the last time I was able to turn a letter around the same day I got it, but I shan’t pass up the opportunity because I really do not know what is in store for me once I have tests done in the hospital next Thursday, a week from now. And so anything that I have been able to respond to I do now so I don’t need to feel things are sort of waiting for me, and getting more and more behind later. It’s a good feeling.

It also must be astonishing that I urge you gently not to do the same thing to me because it is a fluke. I don’t really feel that we need to write every week, but there was enough in your letter to comment on and chat about, but I thought I would turn it around. Also it feels really good to know that there wasn’t anything that I hadn’t gotten caught up on since this week we are going to do a whole new thing for L/L.

For the first time in two yeas, we are going to take a two-day weekend. We have always taken one day off and worked the other six and never thought anything about it. As a matter of fact, I had to argue with him to take one day off. But lately I have begun to believe that perhaps we should have an actual two-days off week like other people and that it would do us some good because we were doing more than we were being. As you know, my feeling about what is next for me is to be more of a student/essence than activity.

I am very glad that you turned in your application for the teaching job. I know exactly how you feel about being surprised by not getting the job after you have had an interview. It hasn’t ever happened to me and as I perceive you and me as having somewhat the same ability to use the language and to hold one’s own in an interview. In other words, to enjoy it and not worry about it; just to be confident in your own abilities. I am pretty sure that when you get to the interview, you’ll get a real good shot at the job.

You are really going through a lot of thinking about yourself right now. I can see that. It is very reflective and somewhat defensive, but you are not defending against me. You are thinking about the way you are, and I guess that is very typical of someone who is serious about making some changes. You are talking quite a bit in these pages about how you have done more flitting about, both in private relationships and in jobs than most people who settle down and do one thing. They tire and lead a very linear life.

When I was first made aware of your existence, the energy level that was in your letters was such that really, it was almost self-destructive because it was an energy level that wouldn’t let you stay anywhere. I don’t think that you should be defensive or think of yourself as in any way deficient because that was the way you were. You just sort of exploded a lot. You went through things very quickly: moods, energies, people, situations. I suppose as you look back, you say, “Well in some cases, gee, I got away with murder practically because I sort of snowed everybody with my enthusiasm,” but that is not true. I think a fairer reading would be, “Well, I was good at what I did when I did it. When I had to move on, I had to move on. I am a very self-directed person and I really couldn’t handle the energies within myself at that time without making frequent changes.”

And I would think, without having known you back then, that you were just coming in on the tail end of an extremely hyper period, and that was the way it was. You were giving your best at all times. And I think that really is what you know and what you are saying with it is that no matter how short a relationship was, or how short a time you worked on the job, you did the job as well as you could. You were as good could be to the person in a relationship.

I will say that you did tend to choose people, in relationships at least, that were going to be prone to give you catalyst to change the relationship. In other words, you were not seeking out stable people, nor are you now. You just stopped needing anybody basically. You enjoy people. You see yourself as a giver to needy people. There will be one more step, I am sure, as you begin to see that you do, indeed, need what you may or may not have at this time—that being a straight-forward, clearly mirroring person who can reflect back to you a fairly accurate picture of what is happening with you, what you are doing, how you are doing, what you are looking like.

With this slight undertone of defiance also has the same undertone of wistfulness. There is something in your childhood there that comes through—loneliness, a pride in responsibility beyond your years. I don’t know enough about you to say anything except what I feel, and I am a very impressive person and I get this. Whether it is true or not, this is what I feel.

You said, “I don’t accept the concept of loss and I don’t accept the concept of failure.” I think that you’ve changed a lot of losses and failures in other people’s lives into challenges and learning in your own eyes. I certainly have done the same thing myself, although I have never been frenetic. I have always been a low-energy person physically, although I expect you and I are pretty much on the level as far as mental, emotional, spiritual energy, vital energy goes.

It didn’t occur to me as a child that I was in a state of loss. I was too good at handling things, a very responsible job. I see now that I was a very deprived child and I have learned to treasure, and mourn for, and feel for and nurture that child. Because nobody cares about me in my family in a way, which was nurturing. Their care for me was No. 1: that I was something that could be shown off, a child prodigy, that would reflect upon the parents, and No. 2: that I was intelligent enough that at a very early age I could take responsibility for my baby brother.

I was seven when they left him with me alone for the first time. I was a little scrawny seven. I was always a little kid and my brother was retarded and tended towards having spasms, which were hard for my parents to accept. That was really too much responsibility, but I braved it out. No matter what I ever did in childhood, I only heard about the things I did wrong. There was a lot of loss there, but I really was too busy loving, taking care of first one and then two brothers.

I certainly didn’t accept the concept of failure both until I was 41 years old and Don Elkins died. And I hadn’t really failed at that time either because you can’t rescue anybody else, but because I couldn’t keep him alive by sheer will, for the first time in my life he pushed me beyond my own limits. I had a nervous breakdown and I had failed as far as I was concerned. It humbled me and I think it made me a much better person.

I hope the process happens to you just in thought, and by seeing that going beyond one’s limitation and seemingly failing is part of being human, and not because anything disastrous happens to you.

But I do, at this point in my life, concede that there are many things in all of our lives that we could, if we wished, call losses. In fact life itself can be called loss. From the moment we are born, we are under a death sentence, and we get closer and closer as the years go by. “Life is loss,” said Joseph Campbell, a very wise man. And in the serenity of those words, was an enormous high of love, and belief and release in the way he said that. He was on TV with Bill Moyer last year. It was fascinating.

But it isn’t necessary to accept the concepts of loss and failure if you are willing to be completely responsible for taking whatever is dealt to you, and accepting the fact that this is a lesson given to you for the learning. It doesn’t have anything to do with loss or failure. It has to do with learning. If you don’t learn one day, you learn tomorrow. You just try it one day at a time. I guess I can say that I had experienced loss, although I had never thought of it that way until I lost Don and really went over the edge for a while and thought very suicidal.

My first true love left me nine days before the wedding. Then there was a year and half of dating this fellow who promised not to fall in love with me. I lost him because he did fall in love with me, and wanted me to marry him and I had told him from the beginning that that wasn’t possible. To me that was a great loss even though it was backwards somehow.

My first husband had a disastrous reaction to marriage and divorced me, actually he divorced marriage. I just happened to be in the soup at the time. Don certainly left me with a bang. You can’t leave anybody much more directly than that. And Jim has never been the kind of person that was head-over-heels in love. He is extraordinarily fond of me, and loves me dearly, and is devoted to me and loves working with me; the romantic portion that one associates with the married state was understood all along simply not to exist. Some people are romantic and some people aren’t.

I have experienced true love that is genuine, to the bone, over a long period of time in two different relationships. I am very lucky. Most people don’t experience it at all. So I am one of the few rare people who can say, “Yes, romance does exist.” But it can also stop. The person can die; the person can fall out of love. It is not necessarily permanent, but I never view that as loss as I just sort of carried on and like you, I never made an enemy. I was always good friends with people that were no longer with me. I just don’t have it in me to be catty, I guess you would say, or petty about something that is as important as a relationship like that. My main concern is to make sure that the other fellow is okay and so, in that sense I agree with you completely.

I don’t accept loss or failure, but I think it might soften you a bit and help you with your ability to deal with people, I really do, if you realize why people do feel that they have experienced failure and why they have experienced loss. It is all in how you view it. We have all experienced catalyst that could be taken to be loss and failure. And if you are going to be a teacher, you need to see that with compassion and be able to help people right where they are, not by saying, “There is no such thing as loss. Don’t think of it that way.”

That is like saying, “You are in the desert. There is an oasis,” but they don’t have a compass and they don’t know which direction the oasis is in. Give them a compass and tell them which direction the oasis is in. Tell them about how you can take anything into your mind, and by the way you think about it, it can change it from being a negative thing to being a positive thing, and give them that low start, which hopes.

You have to start where people are. This is going to be a record soap-box teaching tape (I can tell) because something that I noticed along was an access of yourself that I don’t think you have, or I don’t think you know you are manifesting. I don’t think you would particularly care to manifest in just this way because I think at this point in your life, you are ready to have more compassion; let people a little bit closer to your heart; be more vulnerable to their own problems and pain, etc. You had been a very armored person and I think that you are gradually losing that armor that you realize now that you don’t need. You, just being you, are just fine without any armor of attitude, or persona or mask of any kind. You are just fine. And so, although I completely agree with everything you are saying, I will go through that first.

The drama is interesting, but not to be mistaken as being nearly so important as those who are experiencing it. You see, your own attitude is basically that you have a very strong observer-self. You are observing the drama and you are making a distinction between the illusion of “we are all players treading upon the stage,” (whatever that Shakespeare line is) and the imperishable beings, those parts of that soap opera, whether they know it or not. I think that you see through that and you realize other people don’t, a lot of the time. I agree with you totally about that.

And I agree that our purpose in life is to be as open to it, and as vulnerable to it and to learn as much from it as possible; to perceive as much as we can out of every passing moment; to feel the resonance of the heights, and the depths, and the breadths of the passing moment. Not just experience it as linear line of life that wanders along the grass, going up and down. We live in a very, very dimension-filled world and we lead very holographic lives on many different levels. I think you see that in yourself and in others, and you are saying that you are beginning more and more to be aware of the energy of others. You are examining, “Have you done all that you can to be karma-balanced at this time?” But mixed in with all of this, coming back, and back, and back is this reliance at least upon a persona that I guess I would have to call “L, the optimist,” or something better than that, but I can’t think of anything right now.

“Nothing is ever really hopeless to me,” you say. We’ll ask the losers in the last World Series how they feel about that statement. There are losses in life. There are situations that can be transformed. I think the important thing is that it is not a given that nothing is ever hopeless. What is happening here is that you are capable of transmuting within your biocomputer, within your own self, within your own life, within your own feelings and emotions in your being loss, and failure, and hopelessness into gain and courage. Taking up a challenge in a firm belief that merely is faith. It is not a belief in anything. It is just an attitude, and again and again, you go back to who you are. I think you are going through something here, and it is important to you, and you should do that.

You say you don’t feel like you are living with your true love. Like I said, there is such a thing. It doesn’t have to end well, but there is such a thing and I experienced it for fifteen out of the sixteen years of Don’s and my relationship. Of course, it wasn’t romance as this world sees romance. It was romance beyond anyone’s dream. It was incredible, and it was basically unreal and pretty unhealthy because when you love that much, you become one person. When Don died, I died literally. There was very little of my actual personality left and I had to rebuild from the ground up. I had a lot to deal with. It was a difficult time.

Even true love has got its drawbacks or is it, draws back? But at any rate, in living with Jim I am not living with my true love. Yet, I am living with someone I have the highest trust level I have ever experienced with. Someone I can always talk with; someone who is as sensitive to me as I am to him and who is as sensitive as I am. And we have something bigger than both of us that we share, a deep, deep belief and commitment to our work that I don’t think will ever change. It has been ten years now that we have worked together and neither of us shows any signs of anything different except, of course, at 7:30 on a Sunday night when no one shows up, and I wonder if we are going to have a meditation tonight. I wonder if we are going to get to watch TV.

We always meditate whether anybody is there or not. It is just that I won’t channel unless there are three people here. Now that K. is in the group, we almost always have three people unless she is off on a dance weekend and nobody else comes.

Glad to hear about your sister’s back surgery. Not glad to hear about your fellow’s mom. Pre-leukemia just means that she has got a really high white blood cell count, I guess. I hope the twins are okay.

My little brother and his wife now have a beautiful, bouncing baby girl weighing in at 7 pounds and something, named Christiana Rose and they are going to call her Christie. She is my first niece. Silly me. I really like that. I am at the age to have grandchildren, but you see Tommy was the kid that called me “mommy” until he was well over 2 years old and so it is sort of a generation gap there. At any rate, she is my niece. She is not my grandchild.

“Daily events,” you say, “only hold an interest for me inasmuch as they contain potential for spiritual growth.” A noble sentiment. My guess is that off and on you find yourself at 90 degrees to that sentiment and wondering why you are there, and then you get back on target. It is always dangerous to set yourself up with categorical imperatives when you, as a person, have PMS sometimes, or voluntary lapses or uncharacteristic days, or a bug up your ass or something. I think we all surprise ourselves at the width of behavior of which we are capable.

Although I absolutely agree with you, the daily round of activities is inherently quite boring, I do think that the actual truth of the matter is that we do get caught up in them quite often. Not only that, but they always contain the potential for spiritual growth. Because if you do absolutely anything for the love of the Infinite Creator, you are growing spiritually. If you are washing a dish, you need to do it with love. The dish sits there. It isn’t as alive as you and it thanks you. It is calling, “You really did me. This is really neat. Thanks a lot.” I have experienced that. It is real so if you fall off of that ideal that you just said, you are still on the idea. It is just understood on a different level. That is, that anything done for the love of the Infinite Creator aids your spiritual growth. That the tiniest, stupidest daily grind event, if it is done for the love of the Infinite Creator, is putting you right where you want to be. And nothing is that at which one may stop. Nothing at all.

There is nothing outside of the spiritual experience. Everything is holy. And that is a rough one because everything doesn’t feel holy, does it?

I am like you. I never did care about career goals. I just wanted to help people. I was really lucky. I always found that I was helping people. My first job as a bar maid—I ended up sitting down at tables, and talking to lonely guys, and making them feel better and just really feeling like this was a wonderful job. I really was being of service.

When I settled down after one year of teaching a kindergarten and started library work, I discovered what an incredibly great opportunity that was for service because here you had this school with students who didn’t know diddly-squat that they had to get their assignments done. They were just totally lost in the library. And some of the teachers didn’t know that much idea about the library and had no idea that they could have any input into what was in the library. Here the books were put on the shelf in some kind of order so that people could actually find the doggone things and take them home and read them.

I came into a situation in which there hadn’t been a librarian there for 151 years. That is how old the school was, except the year before there had been a librarian come in for the first time because it was required by Kentucky law, but she had had a nervous breakdown in March. I don’t know why. I think she didn’t like children. I think that was the problem.

We were in this wonderful old mansion. It was a school for girls—13 grades, very preppy, preppy, which was okay. I went to prep school. I could deal with that. And my library was in two wonderful rooms. One had been the dining room of this house, a huge place with a whole wall of windows at the back. The upper school had been the front parlor and off the front parlor was the sun room. I managed to talk people into donating money to put up shelving and get the proper shelving, etc. and I catalogued 5,000 books that year. That is how many books were in the library, none of which had been catalogued properly.

It wasn’t that hard. You order the cards. Most books are not weird in the child’s library. Most books are very well known or people wouldn’t buy them for their kids, or give them to the school so I had about 16 “Bambis.” It is real hard to do that kind of job. I got everything categorized. I was talking to the teachers. I was showing them this, and this, and this book. “Don’t you think it would be interesting for people in your age group that you are teaching in the subject you are teaching?”

“Oh, I didn’t know there was a book like that out.” I’d find out what the teacher had heard in that advanced degree, and those are the kind of people who teach at prep school. They don’t get very much money, but they get nice small classes, and they get very bright kids, and they get very motivated kids because these children are going to be disowned unless they get into a good college. So everybody is real motivated. Everybody was saying, “Isn’t this great? Thank you. Thank you.”

I was just having a ball. Running your own shop is always fun so I did that for 7 years and then, of course, working with Don was just really interesting. Although I often questioned whether I was being of service to anybody but Don. As it turns out, the whole thing was preparation for being of service to a lot of people.

And so my patience at that time was a kind of service that I did, even if I didn’t understand it. But as for money, I never made more than $300 a month in my life. It is hard to believe.

I am glad that you are going to decide now to settle down and stick with something. I think you are right. I think it is time for a change in your life, not that the adventure should go out of it, but that there should be a bottom to the boat, and a rudder, and compass and some idea of how to trim the sails. And how to sail day-by-day now that you have goals, and in the far future and all that is necessary.

Just the willingness to be guided day-by-day is what is necessary, but you do need to have the equipment in order to steer. I think that is really what you were lacking for so many years as you went sort of rudderless from one situation to another. You didn’t have any feel, any rudder, any stability inherent within you because you had no feeling for a nativity of being native to you of what was in front of you.

Actually what you are supposed to be doing, see, is not doing that you are in your native land. You are supposed to realize that you are not in your native land. That you are here to help in this society, and with all of this work, and with all of this shortcoming, and you deal with them at their level, in their vocabulary, in their language, from where they are.

That brings me to the one thing that I wanted to call to your attention. There were a tremendous amount of sentences (I didn’t count them) that began with the word “I.” This is because you were being very introspective and were trying to talk to me about yourself. And that is totally right, but as you embark on this voyage, as you begin to feel your sea legs, and the wind in your sails, and your hand on the wheel knowing that you have the ability to steer, develop the ability to listen. Develop the ability to let someone tell you his story without feeling the need at each and every juncture of saying, “Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I have had a similar experience and this is it,” and then telling your experience.

At a more advanced level, that is very helpful. At a primary level, and that is where you meet a lot of people because a lot of people are in real trouble, the best that you can do is listen. The best thing you can do is accept, and understand, and not judge, and just be there and listen.

And you don’t begin your sentences or your thoughts with “I.” This is simply an indication that you are so much more assured, self-assured and full of self-knowledge that you have come past the need to examine yourself. You can hold the self as a whole holograph, containing all that there is, and all that you are, and all of your essence, and you can turn all of that to your ears of listening. What you say in response may well be, “I know exactly what you mean. This same thing happened to me and this is how it happened.”

You will find often times, you won’t feel that that would be the appropriate thing to say, but rather that you will be working with tools that would be of direct help to that person in his present mode-of-being (which isn’t anywhere near yours). Get him started from where he is in the desert towards an oasis where thirst and hunger can finally be quenched, in a spiritual sense.

That is what we are here to do. We are really here to be. We are here to listen, to understand and to love. Anyway you will find that more and more as you become aware of your own patterns of speech and your instantaneous reactions to people, the humor of the situation. Here you are, listening to what people have to say and jumping in with your own experiences, so you have basically altered communications into something that was not before, and it may or may not be useful to the other person.

You are not any the less loved because you say, “I.” You may be more loved because you say “I,” because of the things you have to say are so much fun and so witty and so wise. And that is the way you are, to help people.

That seems to be more or less a full expression of what it was. The letter sort of left the impression you are doing great work. Here is a little something to watch out for.

Your friend, D, sounds like a real winner. I love intense people. I love fierce people. And I hope she burns them up and that she gets to be governor one day, and if she ever runs for anything, let me know.

As all is good with me. I am basically all the way at sea. I am waiting for my rudder to show up. This life sentence deal has really thrown me for a loop and I don’t mind admitting it. I don’t feel angry right now. I have though. I feel all over the place. I feel like, “Oh, God, please just let me sing.” I feel, “Wow, this is going to be great,” I feel one day at a time. I feel real sad. I feel a lot of things so I guess I will just have to wait and let it all shake out. I am not going to push myself around.

I am walking half a mile a day, but I can’t say I have made any gains that I am aware of yet. Or made my hopes of getting back to church and singing more probable. As a matter of fact, I seem to have lost a little ground because if you have paralysis in your shoulders and your neck, and you are told to stay in one position, and instead you walk every day for half a mile, you are doing nothing for your shoulders. You are just prone to accepting some pain, which has to be accepted. I am not going to get in a wheelchair. Forget it. That is just out of the question, unacceptable. Not unless it happens.

It may happen. But I will have given it the best shot I can.

You know, L., you and I are clear. I know exactly what you would do in this situation and you would do what I would do, keep on and on. Plug away as best you can. And try to stay cheerful enough to have a ball because that is really what life is all about, and so I send you off with love and life.


I had the time. I was all caught up and here was your letter. I thought what the heck. I’ll write her.

God bless, and it was a wonderful letter. Perhaps I will have a better picture of myself next time. I expect I will need some time to adjust to a life sentence, or what is supposedly a life sentence. It is okay. Meanwhile, love and take care of yourself. You are doing great, kid.


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