Thursday, July 24, 2014

The feminists' mistake

The feminists made a big mistake along the way.

They jumped right into demanding the right to work for money. They could have asked to be paid for the work they were doing already.

Not paid by their husbands, paid by society. Each day I spend with my children, I am contributing an investment into society's future. Whether they are ready to contribute, capable of engaging in the compulsory socio-economic system, depends more on me than any other human.

Further, each hour I spend balancing my family's finances and planning for the future helps keep our social burden low. Every minute I spend keeping a clean kitchen so vermin don't accumulate benefits my neighbours and the planet (providing I use green products). All the countless hours I spend planning and preparing nourishing meals provides society with a healthy set of learners for their barely-adequate education systems, which parents like me prop up with volunteering.

For this, I pay. I pay directly in the difference between our single income and our costs, using investment savings to invest in my ability to do a good job of Managing a Household (instead of in some imaginary retirement). I pay in opportunity costs, the money I'm not making in my profession, which is a substantial loss. I pay for the privilege of doing a job I don't like.

It's not that I don't love my kids, my husband, the moments of joy that sprinkle every day. Those things, I love. But I don't love the rest. The monotonous drudge of doing repetitive labour that results in no long-term creation, but rather, just a churn of the same work again. I don't love being responsible for all the food and nutritional needs of 4 people across all their various tastes and needs, only to be met with groans and pinched noses, or apathy. I don't love doing dishes and laundry in a constant, never-ending churn of wet and dry hands. I don't love the dreaded complaining and fighting that seems to erupt among the children whenever my attention turns away for a few minutes. If this were my job, I would quit.

What we missed, feminists, is that it IS my job. I may not love it, I may pay dearly for the privilege of doing it, I can't quit it, but it is my job. I should damn well be paid to do it. At the very least!

And not by my husband. By Society. By the Government. The work of care, of running a Working Household, benefits society greatly, keeps our social burden low. Doing it well matters to society. Doing it poorly costs society. Society should pay for it to be done well.

We should have asked to be paid. Then asked to be allowed to quit if we wanted.

Now we're stranded in Man's Land where it's cold and harsh and we work twice as hard and get paid half as much when we get paid, which is for only a small portion of the work we do. We're screwed.

But it's not too late. It's not just women's work, anymore. At least not everywhere, for everyone. Men are feeling it, too, now that women have to work because two incomes is what a family is expected to earn, two producers is what a family is expected to provide. All at no cost to society. The cost comes somewhere. It comes from families.

borrowed from http://womeneconomicrights.wordpress.com/
Isn't this whole, big, economic system and governmental orchestration meant to be about helping us all live together in peace, working together to understand the world and improve the overall quality of life for humans? Humans live in family units of various types. These units require maintenance and proper management to allow humans to live together in peace. There is a cost associated with that, and that cost should be born by society as a whole, regardless of who is doing the work.

I wish I could go back in time and convince those early feminists to focus on getting paid before they focused on finding a new job, but what they did, they did in good faith. I can't fault them, exactly. Still, it's time we pay attention to work as a whole - the work of being a human participating fully in the compulsory socio-economic system into which we are born. There is choice, like the choices you get at the hair salon, if you can afford to go to a hair salon. We are born here, and we are expected to stay healthy, be educated, work, live in peace, possibly raise children, contribute to society, grow old gracefully and die, within a defined set of parameters we cannot escape.

The profiteers have convinced government that they don't owe us anything, but they do. They force us to be here with their laws and jails, they force the game on us, and there are minimum overhead costs associated with participation. If we want to live peacefully and have low social burden for most families, families need slack. They need a person with the time to do the job well, without the stress of having to earn in the profiteers' markets. This is the overhead of society. Women were largely doing this work when men were the majority of the profiteers' workforce. Guess who's largely doing this work now? (hint: the more things change, the more they stay the same)

Every company would love to externalize their overhead costs. I'm sure the government has been very happy to operate without the overhead costs of household maintenance. But those costs have been externalized to us, and it prevents us from earning in the profiteers' system, while costing us money every day that we don't. Or, it requires us to participate fully in the profiteers' system, earning and paying others to do the work of our households. Except it's not that simple - there is overhead involved in hiring, managing and paying others, as any company owner will tell you.

A basic income makes a lot of sense from a number of perspectives (see http://biencanada.ca/), but I haven't seen much conversation from the perspective of re-valuing the work of household units, which props up and makes possible all the paid work the profiteers engage. A basic income accounts, somewhat, for the value and costs that are currently hidden in our commerce-heavy GDP. As a society, we fail every day to take proper account of the ROI of all this activity. Accounting for the work of households would be a small but important step to understanding our own systems.

Just a few thoughts to ponder, as I ponder my day...











Sunday, July 6, 2014

Seven Steps

Captured Glow (July, 2014)
Just seven steps from path to depth
Sun flickers strobe lights
Wind rush-rises flexing branch muscles
playing leaf whispers loud in chorus and cacophony
of sound, the only sound
white, like the light
dappling down

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Head Explodes

Tonight my head explodes with it
No breath can still the tremors
No calming waves of thought bring balm

All the stories lose their meaning
All the meanings lose their luster

Not wine, nor chocolate nor backrubs
Touch the aching dread of certainty
That nothing actually matters

That any feeling that isn't despair only marks my delusion
in indelible ink

The anxiety creeping like ants under the surface
of skin
of sanity
of knowing what I know
what I cling to anyway, knowing:
even delusion is better than this.


(Not a problem to be avoided, this. An experience to be in. Water and air are never still unless they are stagnant. The drops of a wave don't seek balance, they seek flow. Flow is not forever still, "okay," even and clear. Flow is messy and turns you upside down with dirt in your mouth sometimes before rising you on a wave of glory. What is, is, perfect regardless. A blessing and gift to experience in full.)


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hop, skip, jump

We all want the same thing. We all want Earth to be a full time vacation resort catering just to me. That’s what every single human dreams of. And we could have it. We could have it if we gave it to ourselves. We don’t choose that because dichotomy fails to build consensus.

On the one hand, I believe that humans do not and will not possess the capacity, as a species, to treat each other decently and fairly in a consistent show of good will over time.

On the other hand, I believe that humans possess the potential to develop the capacity to treat each other decently and fairly in a consistent show of good will over time.

When I believe the first, the logical world view for me leads to actions designed to streamline my own experience to take best advantage of all the world can offer me. This is survival mode. What’s the point of caring what happens to people who fail where I succeed? Isn’t it up to them to figure out this world, just like me? Further, I will support subjugation, force and power-based behaviour control structures for people who threaten my success. It's the only way to control the beasts. 

When I believe in humanity's potential, I may still decide I am not responsible for, nor do I care about, its long-term prospects, since I’m only here a short time. What’s it got to do with me, what all this looks like in 95 years? In 300, or 1000? Maybe I think, the trainwreck is inevitable now, might as well enjoy the ride as best I can.

For many, it’s hard to enjoy success built through the widespread misery and exploitation of human souls. Rationalizing that it’s inevitable and not my problem may suffice for some people, for some time. And then, there’s those of us who just can’t leave it alone. Like picking a scab. The world’s insecurity mars the happiness of my otherwise wonderful life.

And so I stubbornly hold space for the belief that humans possess the potential to develop capacity towards peaceful and pleasant co-existence on this planet. There is ample evidence, considering where we’ve been and the long way to go, to support the idea that our species is evolving increased consciousness and capability for peace. Of course, the process is likely to take 200 years or longer. Perhaps I’m optimistic, or maybe I’m a pessimist in disguise.

Why does it matter to me? If all of this is true, I will be dead and never see the fruits of any labours I commit to encouraging peace among my neighbours and the humans of the planet earth. I am a drop in the bucket, a nothing, compared with the vast systems I am forced to learn and manipulate as best I can to thrive. I want to thrive. Giant vacation resort dedicated to me, remember? Why should I care?

Either I feel it, or I don’t. First I have to notice it, to decide whether I will allow that feeling in. Because once it’s in, the sense of responsibility, it settles itself and takes over the operating system. Feel it, or don’t. Every moment we choose. One day at a time.

When I feel responsible, the logical world view for me leads to actions designed to encourage people to behave decently and fairly in a consistent show of good will, at some point in humanity’s distant or not-so-distant future. Like most achievement, the amount of time or energy I put into supporting humanity varies depending on the strength of my belief (conviction), my security (bravery) and capacity (means).

And a step comes naturally next, from there, to hold both truths together – that humanity is capable of peaceful co-existence, and that humanity is not capable of peaceful co-existence. How the latter holds true becomes the work of the former for those who choose to feel their part.

Feel, not think.

And so a hop, skip and a jump to understanding it doesn't really matter, that pursuing what excites my soul serves to awaken those who know me, those who notice me, regardless of whether I owe or I flow. That more people being noticeable, living in uncertainty as truth, can be the key to maintaining this evolutionary path towards peace, despite our burgeoning population’s influence in the other direction. For the first time in history, we can deliberately harness an evolutionary trend. Cool, huh? (but I digress…or not).

And finally, no more input required, no more thinking or defining or deciding. Read the currents, ply the oars, watch for rocks and rapids, enjoy the scenery when I’m not paddling for my life. And sing to the others on this journey. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Earth Update #84

(An update from Earth in Spring of 2014 recovered from dataset BL857386)

I've been detaching.

Netflix to make the housework bearable. Flavour to make the housework bearable. So sick of the grind that all I can see is the grind - make food, clean up, make food, clean up, rest, make food, clean up... I barely left the kitchen yesterday, that gorgeous day of sun and fun and holiday. I relegated myself to the duty and my duty done, spent, I went to bed. Is this how I am best spent?

I feel quite sorry for myself. So I indulge my addictions to flavour and tv because those indulgences overlap the housework, give it texture and a way to keep my mind from noticing the repeating monotone drudge. If I can't have a life, at least I can be entertained. The things I'd rather be doing don't overlap with housework. Housework never ends.

At least, I let that premise lead. It's easy to be petulant when you're run-down and short on time.

Today I cut the carrots for the stew. Without the tv for distraction, I boiled the stock, spiced the meat (sorry, chickens). Calm overtook me. I was cutting carrots. I was cutting potatoes. I was mixing stock. I was just doing that. I was in the doing of it. Quiet and stillness around and inside me. I was the doing, and the doing was me. I stepped outside myself and saw this avatar of Cheryl Making Stew. I knew myself one with Essence, with a Knowing that the perceptive instruments of this human machine can't compute. I don't know how long it's been since I felt that way. Weeks. I felt such longing it almost knocked me down. Oh, yeah, that's why I was detaching. No time for this intensity. No energy left over to devote to life's devotion.

So we're back to pace, back to slack. Not enough slack. Too fast a pace. Even without employer, as soon as I touch other humans, I don't set pace. Staying calibrated in this rapid a current takes discipline, energy, and that's not an answer I want. I want slack to feel more comfortable, not demand so high a price. But we get there together, or we don't get there. And I'm tired.

(Even my purpose distracts me from my purpose. The world conspires against clarity, which terrifies the creatures here more than death.)






Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Three Minutes


We need more time to do nothing.

Last night, driving home from Kung Fu, the pinks and oranges of sunset glinted in my periphery through the trees. You should stop, myself told myself. You should stop and watch.

But I'm driving, I reasoned. And when I get home, I have to empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, make lunches and fold laundry before I can spend time with A and go to bed. There's no time to stop.

Yes there is, myself told myself. Just for a minute. Just for three minutes. What difference will three minutes make?

While she was talking, my body had already turned the car down Beaver Creek Drive where I know there's a good place to stop and see the water. So I said yes, of course.

I pulled over, near the side of the water. I turned off the ignition, silencing the loud music to which I'd been rocking out. It felt like one beat of silence. And then...

the car suddenly filled with a wall of noise - a buzzing, croaking, clacking, singing, calling, solid brick cacophony. Or, another way, an unrelenting ocean of earth's song. I found myself completely and absolutely immersed in sound, filling my ears and nostrils, my lungs and heart and liver and pancreas and kidneys and uterus and all the spaces between the pores of my skin.That sound was me. I was that sound. I walked out on the concrete pier.

Hidden from me, frogs, insects, birds and animals sang loudly to the dusk with my spirit. Flocks of small, dark birds practiced precision aerial maneuvers against the glowing pink-orange sunset, cheered on by geese and warblers below. Fog billowed its smokey effects across the water's surface, as even the clouds joined this earthly celebration. Reflected upon the rippling surface, Sunset smiled a glowing smile of recognition and love to herself. Mosquitoes danced with excitement at the prospect of piercing my fresh flesh.

We humans are not a part of this party. We are not welcome guests. The birds warned each other of my arrival. The little animals scurried away from the harsh sound of my shoes on gravel. Only my stillness allowed them any ease. We have placed ourselves apart from the celebration of life that the rest of the planet is having. More, we have treated all other parts of nature as enemy, now vanquished enemy, devalued and enslaved. No wonder they don't want us around, no matter our intentions.

And yet, in my stillness, they accepted me among them. They did not stop their party for me, and my spirit joined their song to refresh and refuel that essence in my otherwise distracted existence. My heart opened with gratitude.

Three minutes made a difference, after all.

We have established society on top of nature, without regard for nature, even our own human nature. We need time to just be with what is, for our well-being and to begin repairing the rift we have created.



CULTIVATE SLACK.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Goofy (another Bad Mom post...or maybe not)

(before we begin: if you are Ksenia Solo, click here for your letter.)

Goofy

"Mom,  you look goofy."

A dart, straight into my heart from eight years old. I feel embarrassed, maybe a little betrayed.

"Do I?"

I suppose I do. I'm wearing a blue jersey dress with some kind of swoopy neckline, over black yoga pants, with pink and neon green runners, a grey granny-sweater and a knee-length patterned scarf. I have no make up, and my hair dances in chaotic curls. I do look goofy. I smile.

"I'd rather be goofy than uncomfortable, I guess."

And it's true. No point in worrying about whether I look goofy or not. I used to watch my appearance closely, try to control it through the day with brushes and make-up and fussing. I used to take an hour to dry and style my hair in the morning. An hour! Of my only human life! Every day! And all for how I looked. Ridiculous. I'm beautiful to the people who see me, and the rest - why am I making SO MUCH EFFORT?

I'll make a little effort - if it's important, if it's an event or a celebration or a formal kind of thing. But I got myself a nice wash-and-wear style that sometimes is even more beautiful than my fussing ever produced, and I bought a few pairs of yoga pants which pretty much cover most of my leg-covering needs. This is as much attention as I allot to my appearance, of the limited attention I have left in this single life.

Maybe I don't mind looking a bit goofy. It surprises people when they find me such a serious being. Maybe I kinda like it.

Then there's the side benefit. Because I read a "Christian Dad"'s blog a few weeks ago, with all sorts of advice for women on how we should dress so we don't put his brothers at risk of transgression about us (that means, don't trigger their sex noticing). And it turns out, I follow almost all his rules. The jersey dress - it shows my curves, both the stomach I want to hide and the ass that should be hidden, lest it attract undue sexual attention. So I wear yoga pants under and a sweater over, and in case my protruding bosom attracts attention, I cover with the scarf. I'm following all his rules, because the truth is, he's not wrong - if I want to avoid unwanted attention, there are aspects of dress that encourage or detract. Which sucks, of course, but look at me, so obedient.

Since I've adopted my eclectic, wash-and-wear style, the only people who notice I'm beautiful, maybe even sexy , are interesting people. The mundanes don't even notice I exist. And how could I mind that?

Anyway, I think I'm kinda cute, just the way I am.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Dear Ksenia Solo (an open letter)

Ms. Ksenia Solo
c/o The Internet
World Wide Web

Dear Ksenia Solo

I just binge-gorged Lost Girl’s first three seasons, the whole time thinking, this actor might actually be able to carry Mouse.

I’ve been writing Timeless my whole life. I started capturing the story as a novel maybe six years ago, when my son was two and my daughter almost one. If you can imagine. Actually, no one can imagine until they are living it.

While I struggled between my anticipated identity as fast-tracking career mom and the real-life reality of how priorities shift; while I changed jobs, careers and sectors in search of an ever-elusive sense of purpose; while I learned about how the world actually works and got mad; while I gave myself permission to reclaim my agency; throughout, I wrote Timeless. While I learned how badly I’d fooled myself, made friends with my body, faced what lurks inside me, recognized my essence with joy, I wrote Timeless. Of course, Timeless is about none of that. Timeless is about rock and roll.

I wrote Timeless out loud, here. I learned to build a website and put up my writing as I wrote each scene. I cultivated a following of social media readers who commented on my raw words. The interactions began shaping the characters, plot and themes, revealing aspects that I had never understood until I saw through a reader’s eyes. I learned and I wrote, when I could. It’s hard to build momentum that way, but forward is forward as my grandma would say. The years passed.

I finished 2/3 of Timeless, and then, the story closed to me. The characters turned their backs and wouldn’t talk to me. The plot hid around bends. I felt abandoned, rejected by my own story, the world I’d created. I read the story over and over, waiting for something to open, a whisper to tag onto. And then I realized that Timeless wants to be seen. I started over. With no idea how to write a screenplay, I gamely began translating the story to a script with notes, a starting place for people who know the technical ways forward – a community project waiting to happen.

From first-person narrative to script – wow! Suddenly, Mouse became herself. She spoke her thoughts more because she had to, and it changed everything. It gave her the practice she needed to have the strength for her climactic argument with Trix about power and love. It let her ask the questions she needed to, for other characters to reveal themselves. It made her more solid than her first person narrative had managed. It let her become, out loud.

I’d like to say I’m finished, but I think I have at least 300 hours of writing left. I do have a good idea what’s going to happen when I write the next scenes, and I know how it’s all going to end (and I will tell you if you ask). I smile when I write, and I smile when I think about writing. I smile when I think about you, playing Mouse.

So I wrote you this long and heartfelt letter. Can I tell you my secret imagining now?

I imagine a community of people producing Timeless as a series of webisodes, over a period of years, as part of a larger ecosystem – graphic novels, audio scenes, spin-off story-lines by other people, music videos, maybe a clothing line, dance choreography, stage design, art. I imagine a niche of people who totally get Timeless the World, and relate to the characters in a way that inspires them to create. A girl can dream, even in her forties.

I don’t have any money and I have no experience with production. That won’t stop me, though it does keep me very slow. Excruciatingly slow. A turtle will drag itself toward the sea until its last breath. I can be at least as noble to my vision as that wise creature.

In any case, letters should conclude with a specific call to action, because by now you’ve learned all you need to decide if you’re interested in knowing more. As Trix tells Mouse, there's pride in the asking, even if you don't get what you want. And so,

Ksenia Solo, will you read the current draft of Timeless as though you were considering playing Mouse? 

Notice, I’m not asking you to actually consider playing her, but to suspend your disbelief and read as though you were considering taking her on. Take as long as you need, even if it’s years. I’ve learned that Timeless is a life-time project for me.

Letters should never exceed one page and this one does. I seem to break every rule, but that's okay with me. Thanks for reading. Let me know if I should send Timeless to you in pdf. Below, I’ve provided the “back cover” synopsis, since I realize I haven’t given you anything but my own backstory.

Thank you for sharing your talent in the world.
Best wishes,
Cheryl


TIMELESS: 300 WORD SYNOPSIS

A week before her 25th birthday, guitarist Christine runs away to the big city with new-love Chris, leaving behind her small-town existence and long-time boyfriend in search of big dreams and a new life.

Christine soon encounters Trix, the intense, charismatic lead singer and proprietor at Timeless, a converted theatre where society’s outcasts join forces around shared ideals and a dream. Trix beckons Christine toward a whirlwind of music and mystery.

Intrigued and attracted, Christine finds herself drawn into the world of Timeless. Trix holds strict court with the homeless youth who find shelter and purpose in her space, imposing a set of principles she believes will change the world. Together, they are building a digital, social and musical Movement meant to rock the city this Friday night. But who’s paying? And what “means” are really justifying whose ends? Christine begins to suspect there’s something big at stake.

Timeless explores the deepest paradoxes we face as our social worlds close in and inequality raises the stakes for everyone. Christine provides a middle point - not old, not young, not rich, not poor, both educated and street-aware, both straight and gay; at the same time, Christine becomes a hub where worlds intersect. Using the bus system and any ride she can score, Christine navigates social norms of glitz-rich society, street-involved youth, musicians, academics, working stiffs and corporate elites, all while outrunning her past, wrestling her present and trying to believe in a future.

Now that nothing makes sense, how will teflon Christine choose between a life she’s supposed to want and one she can’t even imagine? Pushed and pulled between power and love, bravery and shame, trust and fear, ambiguity and decision, Christine discovers what it means to live out loud, and how to be Her Own Girl after all.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mine not mine

Night Tree Council
I look at stars
Feel cool air on my chest
and face
Smell night
Hear chips and chirps and
wind-rustle in leaves.

then for a moment I am the dreamer before now,
cursed with knowing as the first faded devils came like ants
when we had a chance to protect our ways
and future generations from this future.

behind entitled, shallow eyes I observe plastics and crammed-in-ness and know
this is not what my mothers and grandmothers want for our people.
But I am a woman, my dream will not be heard
so I watch this future world
with despair

this vision not mine, I hold as mine
in this moment, in solidarity and honour


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Honour


Employers should feel honoured.

They should feel honoured to have these amazing creatures, gods-in-bodies, these single points of consciousness holding space for all of Isness, only keepers of the consciousness of the Universe, these miracles of complexity...employers should feel honoured to have even one Person paying attention, of any kind, to their petty problems of commerce. They should bow down before the amazing awesomeness that is each human life and thank them for service, ask how they can make service more pleasant, and give generously back of the bounty created for them by the magnificent creatures they call Employees but I know to be Human Beings.

Instead, Power bulldozes bullshit brainwashing, convincing the humans they are are not amazing, but in fact undeserving, unimportant, uninteresting; insufficient, ignorant and replaceable. As if any person could every truly be replaced! Outrage! Sacrilege! How dare they treat a human spirit to such blatant abuse? To be a human is a high honour; to have a human serve you still higher. As if a human life could ever be commonplace, let alone unimportant. As if any human life could not matter.

Ask all the employee surveys, all the data screaming the same message, across industries, across job titles, across socio-economic circumstances, across countries. They will tell you clearly that what people want, what people need, what people desire, what people feel in their hearts they deserve, is honour. They deserve to be honoured for what is essential in themselves, for their gifts manifested on this plane, for their courage to live a life in 2014 just when the shit is starting to hit the fan.

And by the way,
when you honour what is divine in each person, they will continually amaze you
when you expect people to behave honourably, they often do
when you meet people as honoured helpers rather than chattle,
their gifts can overflow
into abundance.
This seems to me like a tremendous competitive advantage to try for. Does it to you?

Crow and Hawk (April, 2013)


Friday, April 18, 2014

A Message from Power, delivered through Emissary and inadequate Translation

A Message from Power, delivered through Emissary and inadequate Translation:

Okay, Humans, here’s the deal.

This planet exists for a finite time. Some of us have been playing since the start, and we made sure along the way to provide for the next generation of Us. We are not like you. We are better than you. We deserve what we have because we have worked for it since the dawn of time. We hold an uneasy truce among ourselves, some of the time, and engage each other in war, the rest of the time, on many, many battlefields.

The field of The Economy is less bloody than making you fight each other in numbers with weapons. You should thank us for enslaving you in such a kind and benevolent way. But don’t mistake our attempts to improve your lives and include you in decision making as equality. We have never been equal. We will never be equal. We are better than you. We hold the power, and among us, we now own every square inch of the world with the weapons to back that up. You should let go of your delusions that you might own a piece of it. You are not worthy. We give you our scraps.

You are a worker ant, a drone. We keep you busy with our big global game called The Economy, waging our wars as we’ve always done, shifting around the piles of resources which include you. We let some of you have power over others, to keep your systems and your attitudes mean and uncooperative. We love our game. Manipulating your participation is the joy of the play. 

What are you whining about, when some of you suffer, when some of you die? When have you ever had it so good? We give you TV’s, we give you movies, we give you a man on the moon and plastic wrap and microwave ovens and cell phones, trying to keep you busy and entertained enough to play your small role in our armies. But we need to control all the resources to do that well. We can’t have you demanding safety and happiness and fulfilled lives. We can't have you bugging us with all your demands. You're here to work. We're here to play. You need to be in play. So get back to work. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quick, Puff, Gone

Burn Hole
Sometimes, weeks of clarity trick me into tentative self-congratulation
before dissipation 
erodes my small understanding
with alarming efficiency
(sparks on tissue
quick, puff, gone)



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coles Notes: Productive Social Dialogue

Section 1. A few simple sentences about increasing the productiveness of our dialogue


  • Housing Stability is a more productive conversation topic than Homelessness.
  • Food Security is a more productive topic than Hunger.
  • Reducing Stress is a more productive topic than Crime.
  • Capacity Building is a more productive topic than Prison. 
  • Increasing Joy is a more productive topic than Depression.
  • Reducing Economic Burden is a more productive topic than Poverty.
  • Increasing Social Value is a more productive topic than Reducing Economic Burden.
  • Peaceful Coexistence is a more productive topic than Protection.

Pass it on. 
Thanks.
Power of Persistence (April, 2014)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Selective Employment, Productive Unemployment

Selective Employment, Productive Unemployment.

Come on guys, we all have the same goals. We all want humans to work less and stay out of our way. The corporations are on a single-minded mission to remove the human element as far as possible from every human system, as quickly as possible and faster than their competitors. And the humans would rather be doing pretty much anything else than working. 

So what are we doing? Why is full employment the goal? If we have full employment, who's going to do all the actual work of making society go? Not the mothers and fathers rushing to drop baby at daycare at 7:30am, and hurrying to avoid late fees at 6:34pm when they pick baby up. Do you think those stressed-out time-poor people can join the PTA and raise money for school trips no one is paying for? Who is nursing our elderly, caring for our disabled, running our households, preparing food(!), raising our children to peace, keeping the infrastructure running, paying attention to society, spirituality, art? Why are these activities given no true economic value? Without them, the economic system grinds to a halt. 

We should be paying people to stay home. It's the inevitable future of automation and robotics. The humans who can't or don't want to contribute to the design and maintenance of systems and tools, for whatever reasons, become redundant in a fast-approaching new economy. The only other option is service, and we don't want to pay for service. So how will the money flow? How will it make that round from the bottom back up to the top again? Will we increasingly just let the bottom fester?

What if we let the humans do exactly what they want. Give every one of them a guaranteed minimum that is just a little less than a person can live on comfortably, and then encourage them to do what we need done, as a society, rather than what some corporate profiteer thinks he can sell. Offer support, offer training, offer connections and mentorship, no strings attached. Profits must be curtailed at the top end to allow society to be funded. 

Productive Unemployment becomes a career option when society chooses to tax its resources appropriately to pay for it. Caring for loved ones, raising and teaching children, supporting people who need support, pursuing our highest, deepest passions. Raising art, voice and spirit. Living happily, in peace. Eating nutritious foods and taking care of our bodies and each other. 

Regardless of whether we think it's possible, it strikes me as a worthy alternative goal to simply spiraling downward past austerity into cynical, violent unrest outside the castle walls. 

Could we talk about how to make it possible? As if it were, actually, possible?

Because, maybe it is.

And on the off chance, I'd like to see us try. 

(I have more to discuss here, over time, but today I need to move!)







Monday, April 7, 2014

Pressure & Release

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.


( Release valves: Short, intense bouts of crying - driving from place to place is a good time. Exercise, preferably involving a punching bag. And/or Dance. Music. Sleep. Cuddles and Love. Writing. Nature. Breath.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another day

What Lies (Sept. 2012)
One day, everything makes sense. Paths seem clear, I can't believe I haven't seen them, acted on them, already. Each step is a step towards, into.

Then another day.

And on that other day, all paths reveal into dead ends and bristle-prickle bushes. Dreams dissolve as delusion. What If turns from possibility to threat.

I shiver and shake in my inadequacy.

And then I take another step.


Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Time

(Provence, France, 2004)


We are like children still running around
begging for someone's approval.

Always will someone know
something we don't.
Always will someone have
constructive criticism to share.
Always will our offerings
fall short of perfection.

Yet they are worth their weight in gold.

What I see and what I know is utterly unique
A gift for the world of my perspective
that no one, no one can match.

This is true of you, as it is of me.

Advice exists in abundance.
We could drink from that fountain endlessly
and never be sated.

Action teaches faster and with more precision.

Plans can be made in abundance.
We can dance for years with our plotting,
the illusion of control it spins.

Action acts faster and with more effect.

Ideas can be explored to endless heights.
We can spark and expand them into wondrous story
Until they fly from our grasp.

Action tethers ideas to now
And asks them to serve.

What I am, now, also tethers me here
and asks me to serve.

One day, ready or not, we just have to decide to climb
or go home and forget the wonder (if we can).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Little Lost Post

I don't write here often
Because writing requires the long and painstaking task
Of overcoming my sense of futility in the effort

Why do I owe the world messages it doesn't want to hear?
Why do I care whether the humans lose their civilization to inequality?

Isn't it all just a game, in the end?
Isn't it all just a hologram?
Isn't it all the imagination of a tree or the dream of a dolphin or the fantasy of quarks?

Does it matter if I write or I don't write? 

Can't the universe hear my heartsong either way?
(maybe not)
(and so)

Us and Them

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Things to do:

Things to do:

1)      Remind people that happiness is the reason for all the work
a.      Remind people that they deserve nature
b.      Remind people that they deserve rest
c.      Remind people that they deserve fun
d.      Remind people that they deserve love
e.      Remind people that they belong
f.        Remind people that they matter
g.      Remind people that they are bodies
h.      Remind people that they are spirits
i.        Remind people that they are unified selves
j.        Remind people that they are not an individual at all
but instead, a cohesion of energy pulses committing to be me
and how these eyes see
how these lungs breathe
how this heart beats
is all the world and nothing much; test tube for this sample
that can’t survive the air on break of glass

Behind Glass (Toronto Zoo)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slack (primer)

http://www.subgenius.com/


Slack is when we take care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future.

The rest of our time is work. If it's not slack, it's work.

Maximizing contiguous slack is a primary purpose of a schedule.

Minimizing work. Maximizing slack. That's right.

Work is what we have to do to maintain the status quo.
Slack is when we get to focus on what it takes to get to the next level.

No slack, no next level.

When we don't have enough slack to take good care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future, we cannot pursue happy lives. Which is supposed to be the point of the work.

Slack enables systems. The car won't drive if the belt is too tight or too loose, but give it appropriate slack and we're off to the races.

Slack enables organizations. It breeds relationship, creativity, trust and loyalty. Which support and feed productivity and innovation in the work. Control breeds resentful laziness. Slack breeds thoughtful commitment.

Purposeful slack can change the world.

(call me a Slacker again)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Viral Understanding

I read a piece by Thomas Frank today on Salon and it felt like such a relief to read his strong, reasonable, well-researched words.

I so often feel like I'm the only person bumbling around under the delusion that anything could or (gasp!) should be any better for the masses than it is.

Scarcity mind has been bred into us, taught us that we don't deserve anything but hard work and limited, controlled play. It's been called out in history but so few people right now are calling *bullshit* that it makes me doubt my own sanity. Human reluctance to see what is plain chills me to my bones. It's horrorshow, for real.

I have a lot on my plate and a million dreams in priority order, but only what's left of this one life to pick and do. When I see words written so well, I think about all the guilt I feel around this meandery bloggy attempt at communication, and how I don't do it better. I expect to feel ashamed, but instead, I feel relieved. If the bigger-following boys and girls out there start using strong language, I can stop sounding like a lone nutjob. Maybe I can just tweet their stuff, and spend more time painting and taking photos.

Seeds Fly 
Who am I kidding? I live for the idea that somewhere, at least one real live human being might gain awareness from something I manage to write in words and send into the universe as part of the general digital consciousness. I love getting strong words and good research to throw in my stew of understanding. I feel compelled to share here, because you read here, which means my way of wording it works for you. And however you word it with your other people will work for them.

I think maybe the answer to inequality is strong and inspiring words, translated through each of us for the people who can hear how we say it. I begin to see that as the "people's war" - a war of understanding, a spreading virus of understanding, that demands more SLACK for the work, and teaches us all we deserve it.







Monday, February 10, 2014

Building Trust

An open letter from Maverick
(to Anyone Who Cares),

Humans can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you when I know I have a society-backed remedy if you fail to master yourself.

Since you are not imprisoned, I should be able to trust you to have developed enough control over your animal self to prevent you from killing me. Even if you are a mythical Barbarian or a cruel murderer, I can begin to trust you won't murder me, because society will punish you on my behalf, will uphold my right to punish you.

And the punishment must be terrible, worse than the amount of harm done, worse than the potential reward of violating me. That message of a harsh punishment, shunning, banishment, is steeped into our "justice" and socio-economic systems.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

Instead we use law and governance to decrease insecurity, attempting an ever-losing battle to prevent people from being untrustworthy. We use laws to control people, force them to develop enough self-mastery so as not to be a menace, and exact retribution when they fail.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

We use it to prop-up mistrust, instead of teaching the humans to be trustworthy.

We start anti-bullying campaigns to end bullying. We could establish pro-trustworthiness campaigns to teach kids how to feel for each other, care about community and be worthy of trust through ethical choices (many have).

We put people in jail to learn disfunction from each other and the system-keepers, developing fear and hate. We could house people securely and meet them where they are with support, helping them achieve a level of trustworthiness that allows them to participate in society as an equal member.

We set up nursing homes and establish stringent rules around patient care, which are routinely ignored or forgotten. We could value the care of elders as an important investment in the continuation of society, and pay the people devoted to caring with love for friends and family as they age.

We can't teach the humans trust when we treat them with mistrust. We have made inmates of our species, when we came here to be free.

That is the punishment we require extracted under the misleading, mistaken assumption that control builds trust.

Unless the trust-breakers are rich.

If they are rich, they are rewarded with accolades for behaviours based on betraying trust. Some smart guys figured out how to subvert the spirit of the capitalist market, and they're spoiling the game for everyone, breeding mistrust along the way. But aren't they slaves, too?

Slaves to a system based on the worst of human characteristics - greed, and cynicism.

Slaves to a process of squeezing the human element out of the extraction of resources into profit, regardless of the consequences to individuals, communities and the planet.

Slaves who have not achieved the self-mastery necessary to resist the temptation to use their blessings as the means to extract from the common good more than is sustainable for all. Slaves who use their talents, positions, capabilities and luck to extract as much as possible. The same succumbing each of us will do, to some degree or another, with whatever level of wealth we acquire. They give in to the human self-imperative at the expense of what is shared.

Slaves of a system bent on cannibalizing resources into their limited spans of private control.

Systems that squander this pooled power on increasing power.

Systems that, left unchecked, have quickly sucked us right smack into the pain-point for every living thing on Earth except crazy-rich people. Accumulation without purpose, the greatest sin against the nature of what is, a choice that excludes and otherizes, objectifies.

People sucked into ruthlessly playing a game that doesn't exist with deadly consequences. They are slaves to their role in the game.

We do not jail these trust-breakers. We allow them to rule us with ever-increasing transparency into their disregard for everyone else, their high regard for themselves. Even the ones who "give back" have the arrogance to believe themselves better qualified to decide what is important enough to merit investment. We hold these men as gods of smartness, because they outsmarted us all, so they must be right.

We can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you if I know society will back me up if you fail to control your worst animal instincts, if you fail to develop the self-mastery to avoid behaving in a breach of trust with me, with society.

And, I can more easily trust you if I know that we both understand compassion, and we have both been raised and taught with support and a sense of community, to be trustworthy.

Policy Makers have dealt poorly with our trust, selling it to rule-skirting geniuses, pop-culture celebrity-pushers, oil-controllers, lucky smart guys and inherited lords. The pack of them have breached the trust of being in control of the capitalist system, and undermined democracy.

Thanks to their decisions, we are at a point where Keeping Peace and Increasing Trust appear to most as unrealistic goals. It's sad and unnecessary.

In place of Trust we rely on controlling the population through fear of law. We can invest in the caregiving these human animals so clearly crave and need. Peace is achievable through peaceful means. We choose otherwise.

And for what? A faster race to the bottom. Is equilibrium such a foregone failure for this planet?

So, Crazy-Rich guys, I say, give it all back and start the game over. Enough pain, already. Put a cap on it, give the rest back through environmental-based operational shifts, wages, education, healthcare, dependent-care, mental health support and restorative justice. Step out of your slavery, and let's all get on with trying to win this planet for the good guys.

For the rest of us, I say, keep up the momentum! Because I do see the attempts being made, the work being done, the progressive insistence that our humanness be considered, and our quality of life assured, before the rich get any richer.

The crazy-rich have dug until they hit bottom. They are still pushing to see how much we will swallow, while we retch.

We don't want to live in the world the way it will look if we progress with only status quo behaviour in governance, law and our financial and other markets. When suffering begins to surround us for the benefit of such a small number, fear and anger grow, and eventually the people revolt. History has inflicted much to teach this lesson that our species seems unable to collectively grasp.

So teach the humans about Trust - the rewards of honesty, forgiveness, openness, generosity, honour, respect, fair treatment, equality, love. Teach them through example, and demand our systems evolve to do the same, over time. Insist upon it. Stay active enough to keep others ignited. That is what we can do.

Or we could just hang out and see what happens. After all, it's not our show, we're just the pawns.

(what do I choose?)



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Deserving

Converge (2013)

This is a long and winding post, but the ideas converge, so I hope you'll follow me through.

I finally got around to figuring out what this "Chris Christie" thing is about - basically, his office purposely orchestrated a huge traffic jam because the mayor of the place wouldn't endorse him.

This is IT people - this is where even the most "la la la, I can't hear you!" among us MUST see that the people in those offices no longer understand that this is NOT a giant game where you're moving strategy pieces around. They've played so long that it's about winning with your hand, not finding the best way forward, and they are no longer even ashamed to cheat. Christie was one of the few Republicans who sometimes made sense, and look at the scheming of the people he hired and nurtured. What scheming led to his election in the first place?

How can anyone believe anything anyone in high-level party politics says? Even the "good ones" are twisted at the core, like biting into a red apple and finding it brown and rotten inside. They are playing strategy games with people's lives. Do we really accept that this is the way we will govern ourselves, where money and power are the primary goals of the game?

What are we going to DO about it? (yes, the rhetorical question plaguing society).

I was reading Noam Chomsky this week, as he filtered through various ideas of what constitutes "the common good" and how that has been co-opted. Heavy, dense reading, and I don't see many people following it through all three pages but well worth it. He shares Thinkers' well-reasoned arguments that government should be seeking the common good, and where structures and systems of government prevent that, they should be disassembled and replaced.

First, he shared John Stuart Mill's classic "On Liberty":

"The grand, leading principle, towards which every argument unfolded in these pages directly converges: the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity."

How daring! How dare we expect or ask government to do THAT! That is not economic development! That is not growth. Do we really think people DESERVE, individually, to have their own development considered, their own uniqueness embraced? Everyone?

No, I don't think we do.

And so we don't dare expect it. Because we don't expect it, we don't demand it. Because we don't demand it, we don't get it. We get "growth" that is really just the acceleration of the transfer of all public resources into a few private hands. The people buying the politicians are playing a game to take over the world, and we don't believe we deserve anything better.

Also this week, I met with two sister circles, and found myself understanding that, somewhere along the way, I internalized the idea that other people don't want me to share myself. Sharing my own perspective, my essence-based offerings, was pushy, self-indulgent, facile, annoying, demanding, intrusive, irrelevant, unwanted, disruptive, amateur, and/or overpowering. I had come to believe, unconsciously, that my offerings had no real value, were unnecessary and largely unwanted, and best kept to myself or shared only through filters, barely-open valves. More than that, I internalized that sharing my gifts was, in fact, selfish and arrogant, and that they were probably, in any case, unworthy of sharing. I let myself feel that how others valued my offerings was, in fact their value. And then, over the last few years, I didn't.

Something shifted over the last 8 years. I find my own work beautiful. I write because I crave to read what I write, instead of not writing because I don't have time to do it perfectly. I blog. I share my nature photography. I allowed myself to paint, for the first time, just before I turned 40, and give my canvases away with the shyness of a six year old. I've expanded my horizons in understanding enough to start unwinding the mess we're making, at least in my own mind. I'll never know enough, but the patterns and the proofs have stacked up to the point where I feel pretty comfortable with my world-view and the direction I'm going.

But I still held the belief that I wasn't worthy, to other people. I can know my work is beautiful but not expect the humans to see it that way. I can know my words have meaning and not expect the humans to understand. I can understand how my writing perfectly captures something and still figure that no one but me will ever grasp the greatness of what I'm doing. I decided I needed to harden myself to that, the idea that no one would get me but that doesn't make me unworthy, it makes them mistaken.

I'm find myself skittish, going further than that. What does further look like? Believing my work is worthy and it's up to me to find the people who might be interested in learning to understand, and help them. Accepting that my work not only deserves to be experienced by the people it does speak to, but that I have a responsibility to share it just in case.

Today I wonder, what if the political problem and the personal problem are the same? What if our collective inability to hold our governments and corporate leaders and financiers to account is really a manifestation of our collective inability to accept our own worth? To own responsibility to persevere through all the people who aren't interested or see our offerings as pushy, self-indulgent, facile, annoying, demanding, intrusive, irrelevant, unwanted, disruptive, and/or overpowering, to believe that we are worthy of development? What if nurturing our own development., and sharing that, is the best way to personally support "human development in its richest diversity." Us, and the people we touch.

What if we know we are worthy and deserving of developing ourselves, and so is everyone else. What if we believe that, pursue it, and try to act that way? Won't it naturally fall out that we demand policies that support us, that we curtail and create tolerance limits that support us?

What if the most political thing I can do is believe in my own worthiness?













Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tugging Threads

(I can't credit this photo because I don't know where I got it)
Have you ever tried to untangle a bunch of necklaces? I don’t mean one or two chains curled together like sweet, tarnished-silver lovers, all loose knots and no kink. I mean a big, hairy knot of chains, like someone took your jewellery box and just shook it and shook it in a crazy hair-flying, paint-mixing, booty-shaking frenzy. Up, down, sideways, crossways, other ways, rattling your precious pieces like the insides of a maraca to a heavy metal beat, rocking and rolling until those chains are good and blended. That kind of tangled.

Sometimes I imagine my little jewellery box is actually a magical vortex that sucks and swirls my chains like flotsam into a whirlpool black hole and spits them back out again, T&T (tarnished and tangled).  It's the only explanation I can muster, because I remember hanging them oh so carefully, polished and separated, on those tiny little hooks the last time I touched the box.

So, anyway, this was supposed to be a metaphor to say: I untangle stuff. That's something my mind likes - looking at that giant pile of interlock and seeing the specific loops to pull, the exact clasps to unclasp, to loosen the knot.

I've been applying this particular skill to my own society - Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada. A few years ago I started looking at the systems we live in as though it's a tangled hair-ball of necklaces, chains wound upon chains. Now, I have some ideas about the knots to tug at - the ones, once freed, loosen so many others with no maddening, nail-breaking picking and tugging at all.

Specific things to do over the next 20 years:

Social Order:

Provide a set number of free counselling sessions per Canadian per year under OHIP.

Provide financial and facilitative support to local restorative justice efforts, neighbourhood associations and neighbourhood projects.

Transform most prisons into secure mental health and addiction treatment centres.

Provide adequate supportive and co-operative housing to demand.


Health Care:

Expand OHIP to replace the dental and prescription drug portion of the average health and dental plan provided by employers.

Expand the Community Health Centre model.

Provide personal support workers as prescribed by qualified medical specialists.


Education:

Provide all children with a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school.

Fund at-school before-and-after school care.

Gradually increase to a 1:5 ratio of adults to children in schools.

Reimburse post-secondary education tuition of trades, college and university grads, upon agreement to work at least two years in Canada in the eight years following graduation.

That's the list.

It takes time, but the direction is what matters. It takes finessing and finagling, consultation, experimentation - yes, it does! But pull on those threads however you can for 20. Then (but maybe only then), you'll be ready to implement a basic living standard to stabilize Canadians' incomes, subsuming all income assistance programs. It won't be as hard as you think, because when you pull on the threads I shared, you will loosen hundreds of others, and they will shake out with what feels like little effort or cost.

You think it's expensive? You should see what NOT doing these things is costing us. And then, try to imagine all the unimagined benefits that would cascade, exponentially, from the specific investments I mention. I'm not crazy, I know what people are like and how power works. But I also think a lot is possible if we think longer term than your average politician. I think about 200 years from now, and what's possible if we pull on even a few of those threads today. Even if we don't do it particularly well, just loosening them will cascade lower costs and greater prosperity in justice, health and continued economic competitiveness, while inspiring new activity in lower-stress community-based daily lives of people. Remember people's lives? The reason for the system? Government has forgotten.

These sound like policy ideas, for governments to do, but they are not just that. They are specific ideas to start discussing as if they were possible, instead of dismissing as impossible. Suspending disbelief to ask, "What if..." When we begin to believe in the possibility of something, we open pathways for possibility.

And that is the first thread to pull.







Monday, December 2, 2013

Current

Current
Current

I resist the pull of flow
only dip my toe
afraid to be taken
into current
out of time

because it's not mine
this life

not just me to get to shore
anymore

My choice of currents
makes every stone my fault
my default

flow flows regardless

flow's flow can't care
about particulates
particulars
displaced, laid bare

while here in the matter, all matters

flow flows regardless

and me here caring
about particulars
these particulates
gloms of enlivened matter entrusted
ensnared

flow calls my sway
but I can't live day to day
like this

can I?

(Musical Accompaniment: Take the long road and walk it)



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Big D

In my life I've heard stories from many, many humans existing in highly varied circumstances. Each is a unique combination of nature and nurture, resulting in a personality. Each interacts with others using a subset of that personality to filter behaviours.
Emission (July, 2011)

Psychological analysis models compare combinations of certain behaviours to a number of different diagnosis tools, identifying standard and deviant behaviour according to established norms. These diagnostic tools are based on observations by many earnest people over time. They help us to understand patterns of human behaviour and possibly shortcut desired behavioural modification through proven assisted learning techniques. When possible, pharmaceutical experimenters can modify a body's brain chemistry, causing it to fall within acceptable thresholds and make desired behaviours easier to achieve, or undesired easier to avoid. It has its important place, but is not the only way to address life. It is important to note that the accepted norms psychology has chosen are not necessarily inherent to the human animal.

In fact, human animals have always been prone to screaming out loud, having sex in public, attacking each other, picking their noses and eating it, and other behaviours that people consider outside the current norms. It's only in recent centuries that population density has forced many different-thinking people to live in close proximity. World peace is a new concept for this species. People haven't been prone to consistent niceness for that long, in the evolution of things. To me, all these "disorders" are personality and body-chemistry makeup that falls outside what we have recently decided is acceptable.

Be that as it may, the thresholds exist and we must live within them. We want people to live within the thresholds of behaviour that allow for peaceful co-existence, and as rational creatures, we ourselves want to live in ways that make us easy to live with. People need various kinds of help with that at various times, and it should be ready, respectful and effective in response to those needs. That supports society.

So now you know how I see it, I want to share my experience with my own vague diagnosis.

Shadows in the Depth (July, 2013)
Five years ago, I had feelings associated with the diagnostic criteria for Depression (that's a big D, don't mistake it for just plain old depression!). I wasn't sure whether this was in addition to, or because of, my chronic inflammatory condition, or possibly my ongoing "battle" with Anxiety (big A). What I knew was that I wanted help.

I tried the doctor. He gave me a prescription and sent me to a therapist. The therapist explained about what psychology and psychiatry can offer - a recap of my Psych 101 class. But when we talked more deeply, the goals she described for my therapy didn't sound like my goals. When I described my goals, I never felt she understood what I meant. I tried her goals for awhile.

I also tried the drugs. They made me feel flatter and sick. There went five months, worse than before the drugs. Then a few months for detox. On the next drug, I found I didn't care about anything, lower than flat, detached. There went three months. Then a few months for detox. I decided No More Prescriptions for me. I felt more depressed about handling my Depression than I'd ever felt in my worst depressive bout.

Then I had a thought - Depression is not actually a thing, it's a construct. It doesn't have to be mine.

I am what I am. I feel what I feel. It's up to me to find ways to make sure those feelings can stay within my thresholds for behaviour and thought, the ones I choose because they matter most to me, the ones that keep me whole and approaching life from love. The ones that nurture my relationships and my creative spirit.

I started to change things.

I left my job and actively began trying to slow my pace to one my body could handle. I increased my sleep. I took what I learned from psychiatry and psychology, avidly read about many different spiritual practices. I took up meditation and began training in yoga and Kung Fu. I sought out wise women as mentors in critical moments. I contemplated and tried to change one thing at a time.

I blogged out loud through my worst and my angst. I wrote short stories, a novel, a screenplay (in progress!). I took up nature photography and painting. I engaged with an online community of seekers and began reaching out to people and groups in my community who share my values.

I started seeing a Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist. I cut out gluten and lactose. I focused on presence, patience and compassion. I took deep breaths and tried to stay curious in the face of judgment. I invested time in friendships and made more time for fun with my kids. I tried to take a lighter note on life.

And a bunch of other things I'm forgetting. Over time. That's the key.

Three years in, I keep doing all that. Because it works for me. It's hard to stay with everything, I fall short more than I'd like, but that is my path. I have strong relationships with my husband, children and in my wider family circle. I am involved in my community and make connections for others whenever I can. I pursue active interests. I vent the sadness with music, movement and mini-cries when I'm alone. When I feel, I feel it, and allow myself to feel it, and accept that's part of me, too, not something to avoid or end fast. Feeling can feed my compassion and my creativity in ways that the flatness never did. I have places to put it. It doesn't hurt me.

I realize it's a rarefied set of circumstances that allows me to build my life this way, and one that might not last. If the drugs had worked without debilitating side effects (or worked at all), or if the therapist had been better, I might not have had to embark on it at all. But I feel richer for it.

I am happier with my life. I even have some ideas about paths forward to be paid for my work in the world, instead of just selling my time for money. I feel hope more than nihilism, and when I check in with myself through the day, every day, I find myself content and happy a lot of the time (with allowance for some bad days here and there). I feel now, as I did not a few years ago, that I have created expression in the world that I am proud of. I even dare to dream a few big dreams again.

I do what I can, every day, and try not to hate myself for what I can't do. I avoid people who hate me for my failings. I try to handle and roll with what comes at me, and when my impatience or the hopelessness barge through, I do my best to notice and quiet them. I get better at that over time, and that makes me smile.

Do I "have" Depression? Do I "battle" it? "Cope" with it? "Struggle" with it? "Manage" it? Have I "beaten" it, or failed to?

What does it matter? I have a life, and a self, and I find ways every day to live fully, to feed my relationships and create in the world. That is my way, for better or worse. And you, by reading this, are part of that life journey. Thank you.

Mindseye



Friday, November 1, 2013

small d democracy


consumption is the last vestige of democracy.
corporations shape policy to public opinion 
expressed through buying 
or not buying. 

every purchase is our vote.

we agree to the conditions that produced our purchase
we click the box and hit next
and thus, we create the world.  

our vote is not a ballot 
it's a receipt.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Expectation



I have walked this planet for 42 years, and I have so little wisdom to share. But some experience, for whatever it's worth to you, now. One thing I want to share today is this:

Deciding to wake up is not a path to bliss.

When you’ve slogged through your anger with everyone and the Universe for the ways their imperfections harm you (slinging mud and throwing stones)

When you’ve crawled through your swamp of guilt and humiliation for all the ways your own imperfection has harmed others and harmed you (always at risk of drowning in the sludge)

When you pull yourself over the edge by your bleeding finger nails

There comes some relief

in knowing that you can never know
in holding the perfection of your imperfection
in learning that what Other People think doesn't trump
what you know and choose with love. 

And there come people who can love you, 
who do love you, 
when you love you, 
regardless of whether they do.

There comes some relief 
in releasing yourself from 

expectation 

and its inevitable disappointing end

(whenever you manage to allow it)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Hand-wringing (because what else can we do?)

These human bodies are precious, impossible things, each one built from scratch using available materials, each one designed to contain one flame, one lick of spirit, caught and held up like a glass jar to be observed and experienced. Each spirit using its exoskeleton to interact with other incarnations and navigate the physical world around it.

Bodies built of cells built of molecules built of atoms built of sub-atomic particles built of energy, designed and assembled by the energy transforming itself over billions of years. To now. To this opportunity for experience. To this chance to be a human, in a body, alive, awake and aware in a word of wonder.

Bodies gassed. Bodies beaten. Bodies raped. Bodies diseased. Bodies starved. Bodies constrained. Bodies in peril. Bodies in fear. Bodies in pain. Bodies discarded in piles.

Bodies jeered at, sneered at, objectified, derided, abused

confused
alone
afraid

Everything it's taken to get to here, and we still can't see the value in each one. We stand by. We let the crazy power-distorted half-humans use the power at the disposal of their bodies to decide what happens to all the rest. How is this possible? You would not allow it. I would not allow it. But we allow it. We cannot see what to do, so we do nothing.

Even if we eliminate the crazy power-distorted half-humans perpetrating the atrocities of the world, more will spring up. The human animal is not capable of governing itself in peace. But why not? At this point in our knowledge of how to manipulate our environment not just for survival, but for ease, we should be equally mature in our social development. But we're like Lord of the Flies with bombs, missiles, chemical weapons, guns. Where are the simple checks and balances, and the ongoing cycle of democratic dialogue that allows them to continue serving their purpose? Where is the basic agreement that peace is desirable and every life has rights?

I don't know how to reconcile myself to this without becoming numb or nihilistic.

We are the only known keepers of the consciousness of the entire universe. And we are fucking it up.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time Travel

Try to understand this. We are back in time. You and me. We're back. In 2013. We are at the point where we can still make a difference, where we can stop the death-march of profit-based ill-logic and choose a shared, sustainable life on planet Earth.

Can you comprehend the impossibility of our situation? We scratch the surface of a small rock floating in immensity, a dust particle in the eye of existence, at absolute risk every instant of complete annihilation, just the statistical anomoly to let life replicate at an alarming rate.

In 2083, it will be too late. In 2013, there is still a chance to build the world we all aspire to (except the ones crazy with power - they are too damaged to want anything that involves love).

There is still a chance to keep them from owning everything and everyone to the extent that they no longer need to keep us very comfortable to keep us quiet. They will use force and incarceration and make this a world of fear and judgment - that is the inevitable outcome of power without accountability among the human animals. Don't you see it happening all around us, here?

But we have a chance. We aren't in 2083. We're in 2013. We're in the past, at the cusp, in the moment.

What will I do today?

*Musical accompaniment from They Might be Giants "The World Before Later On" and the Flaming Lips "Do You Realize"