Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tugging the Chain

Pride and Joy
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

How can I write you my joy before it dissipates into uncertainty once more?

Why, oh why do I always need such a long, laborious process and a complete physical breakdown before finally coming to the conclusion that whatever happens next, happens, and what happens after that, happens after that. What blissful relief.

And when I finally get there - actually, for-real get there, it seems so obvious. Just do the best you can with what you have, every day, and chill out a little.

The problem I have is when I don't think I'm optimizing. Who am I to say, anyway? I'm so impatient. Arrogant to be impatient, like my son wanting to build the Buzz Lightyear spaceship when he should be building the Mickey Mouse Car. Just shut up, quit getting freaked out by the emotion of how incredibly big this task is, and practice already.

(But there is this voice that says: you need to be greater at this, already. Fast track. Somehow. Quit waiting for permission. Quit waiting for assurances from other people who don't know either, even if they know more. Figure out your position, narrow it down and spit it out already. Get on with the show!)

I need to pat her on the head and say, yes, shhhh, momma will feed you when she's ready. When she's ready. And tug on that big chain to make her heel.

Musical Accompaniment A Sea Chanty of Sorts by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's followed immediately by Curve's Hell Above the Water

Wolf spirit watches

Friday, May 20, 2011


Essence Flickers

I'm reading a book my husband picked out for me for Mother's Day, called, "Tibetan Power Yoga: The Essence of All Yogas, A Tibetan Exercise for Physical Vitality and Mental Power." How's that for a title?

The book is written simply, in story form. It outlines the steps of a straight-forward set of postures, strung together like a wave, referred to as "prostrations." I find I have a hard time with that word. In any case, the monk shared 35 verses that people recite as they practice, then shared a simplified version for those of us in the West, consisting of 10 verses. I was delighted - the ten spoke to me far more than the 35. I had been kind of dreading all that contemplation, but the 10 felt like truths I could sink into.

Still, I couldn't remember them. So I wrote myself a little song, and I'm sharing the lyrics below. It's a bit corny, but I do feel a warm glow inside reciting this to myself. It helps remind me of the true verses, which are much more eloquent.

I'd like to share it (she says shyly)
I am in love with all alive
I am one with patience
I am one with honesty
Sidestepping complacence

I am compassion incarnate
Tolerance, reflection
I am kindness, true and real
Steeped in circumspection

Today my gift is life itself
And those who share my way
Their essence calls my own aloft
I am myself today

*Based on the “Verses for Western People Who Practice” in Jutta Mattausch’s Tibetan Power Yoga

These are the original verses from the book (I hope I'm not breaching copyright by sharing, but it seems that sharing is the point)

I prostrate myself into the love of all living beings
I prostrate myself into the endless patience
I prostrate myself into absolute honesty
I prostrate myself into compassion for the poor
I prostrate myself into absolute tolerance
I prostrate myself into radiant truth
I prostrate myself into deep circumspection
I prostrate myself into true kindness
I prostrate myself into the golden abundance of all encounters that this unique day will give me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life lesson #18: Dethreading

Life Lesson #18: a gift from Fila, who insist on sewing tags inside their workout wear that are made of cast iron along the edges, and integrated as closely with the garment's actual seam as possible.

In other words, the tag won't go. It bugs. It itches, so I cut it out. But the part that's too close to the actual garment remains. It bugs, it itches. So I go in close. Still, the nubby back end and pointed corners laugh from their protected zone under the seam. You can't catch us here, they gloat. And I grab the scissors.

Stop. Do you see where I'm going? The tag - the unnecessary, unwanted thing placed in my tool (clothing) by its makers for their own benefit alone? The thing that itches, nags, even bites at times, and keeps me from flow? You see the life applications, yes?

Anyway, the scissors. And patience. It always does come back to that. How mad am I at that tag? How fast do I want to get this over with? Will I wield the scissors carefully enough? I start out well - a carefully placed little end-clip, a bit of tugging with the scissor-tips to pull the threads. It's coming out. I check the seam - unbreached. I keep pulling, tugging, making precision-snips where I need to. The tag won't go! It frays, breaks off, forces me into tighter and tighter competition with the regular seam. Do I have the patience? Can I keep at it till it's gone? Or will I face another workout with that damned annoying picking in my back? Is this good enough to go on with?

While I'm thinking that thought, my decision made before the thinking began, I take a deep cut into what I see as the heart of the reluctant left-corner contingent. I yank the ends with force, paying little heed to the seams or the garment. This is between me and the tag. This is personal.

And of course, I nick a seam. One, tiny little nick, waiting to become a big, gaping hole unless I sew it up, which never really works. GRRRRRR!

And in the end, I have to ask myself: am I okay with that? You know, for next time.

Musical Accompaniment from the Pixies, covering the Jesus and Mary Chain: Head On

Monday, May 16, 2011

A perfect form

She awaits (hope)
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

A perfect form
Repeats in nature
Where we look, we find

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Love grows where it finds itself

Love grows where it finds itself
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

Too Much

(I'd love to credit this shot, but I have no idea where it came from)

When a child is out of control or afraid, and I am also afraid or weak, it is still my job, as the grownup, to be in control. I must put away what I feel to ensure that my child feels safe. 

I parent every human I encounter in this way. And when I can't, I'm reminded of the reasons why I must never, never let down my guard with anyone. Letting down my guard leaves me with vulnerable spots open, and if they hit one, I might hurt them with my response. Not physically, but that doesn't reduce the impact. 

I am too much for most people. Too much immediate intimacy because I already know their soul - and trust me, it's not on purpose. Too much love, which I can't help. but feels like over-intimacy to others. Too much power in my excitement and in my disappointment. Too much strength in my defense to hurt. Too much. 

The only way I knew how to avoid being too much was to be nothing at all. To give people only the surface, the smile, the encouraging word. To not let them really touch me beyond a brief reachout to see who they are so I can gauge how to behave. To keep myself well back of anything they might see, so that even if they hit a soft spot, I would only feel a tiny prick through the layers of distance between us, and I wouldn't have a gut-wrenching response that might throw them off-kilter. I honed this skill over years, with precision. People liked me. I got promoted regularly. People invited me for social engagements. I "had friends." It just never turned into what I needed from friendship, and I got lonely in here. 

Here's what I discovered along the way: I can't give all the good stuff of intimacy without risking that I get a big hurt. My hurt is too much for another person to experience in its rawness and still love me (my husband being the single exception currently in my life).

As I daily reach over a chasm that I dug with my own hands, trying to bridge between my dangerous, powerful, incredible self and the person people see and meet, I have no idea how. I'm clumsy. I'm careless. I vacillate between intimacy and coldness. I tell them what I think they need to hear to know what I want them to know, because if I listen too closely I'll get sucked into their humanness and let down my guard. I don't trust myself to be open without being unable to protect others from what I can be when I'm hurt or, god forbid, angry. I can't even be unguarded in casual conversation, or I might overpower you by accident. I must choose my words carefully so that you don't misunderstand me. I can't let you close enough to hurt me, because if you do, and I hurt you in return, it will break my heart into pieces. I can't trust you because I don't trust me not to be clumsy. I am the grown up, and I must remain in control. I only know one sure way, and it largely denies me.

I used to think my "authentic self" was not ready for prime time. Lately I've been thinking I was right in the first place, and maybe my authentic self simply has no place in this world except inside of me, a powerful watcher caged behind a carefully constructed wall. This week could be enough to confirm it.

And yet. Here I am, writing this out loud. So where does that leave me?

Music today from The Music: Breakin' (I need to move!)
(or if you want to stay in the heaviness a little longer, here's Jane Siberry: the Walking and Constantly)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bound by the beauty in the muck

Beauty in the Muck
(Hold on Hope Series, 2011)
Would I walk among these humans if I had a choice? (we are always at choice)

Careless, clumsy creatures. Clumsy with each other. Careless with our words. Careless with blame, shame; clumsy with judgment, labels. Dependent on maps for thinking, a little lost when the detours come along. Lovely creatures, but really, can we be trusted with something so delicate as my raw little heart and all the muck that keeps it safe? The proof is in the living.

Would I walk among these humans if I could soar with the hawks? If I could prowl with my sister lions? Would I take on all this extra baggage? Would I place myself before them, again and again, with failings they dare not stare down, so they can make me what they wish they weren't or wish they were?

I would. Because I do. 

Humanity. I haven't quite decided about you. I have seen many signs for hope this week amidst my turmoil. I may vouch for you yet.

Musical Accompaniment from the wondrous Ms. Jane Siberry, Bound by the Beauty

A quick note

My last post, Labouring, was removed  by Blogger during their scheduled maintenance yesterday. They say they are restoring it. If you were looking for it, sorry! But there's lots here to read in the meantime.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A morning revelation


I had a revelation this morning upon waking. I don’t need language to know and love another person.

Perhaps this sounds banal to you. Maybe it’s a truth you’ve always held, but I find, now that it’s revealed, that I never believed it. We think we speak each others’ language. But we don’t.

It is very difficult to communicate truth so that someone else can hear it. Next to impossible. But we think we do it every day. We think everything we read, everything we hear, accumulated, amounts to what we call understanding. We think the words we say mean the same thing to the person beside us.

I remember as a child, learning that everyone sees colour in their own way. I was fascinated by the idea that what I saw as blue, someone else might see as what I might call a similar shade/grade of purple, and yet by agreement, whenever this colour appeared, we both called that “blue.”

How much does this happen when we say love, like, hate, wish, disappoint, worry, wonder, help, ask, brave, join, community, feedback, input, mother, father, wife, husband, good, bad, trust?

And we think we know each other? Well enough to judge, make decisions about, dismiss or accept as worthy?

We haven’t begun.

Yet, we can know each other, maybe only beyond the language that confuses us about each others' meaning, when we try to teach each other what our words mean to us, through what we do. And we can love each other without ever understanding  a word.

(my question for today: what do I feed?)

This month, this blog will also appear at http://holdonhope.ca/timeless/blog/ - check out Timeless!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So frustrated with my fellow Canadians that I could spit

The results of this election can only be symptoms of a larger social problem that I'd tricked myself into thinking was maybe smaller than it is.

Now we must exercise democracy a different way and I wonder if anyone is up to it. The current government has used our fear and low morale to create the very conditions that keep people afraid and mean. This vision for Canada will weaken our social fabric and hurt the families it claims to protect. Our middle class is already decimated - and why not, all dissent comes from a comfortable, educated middle class who looks around and says, wait a minute, that's not right. The cult of self-interest won a major victory over the communion of humanity.

There's a part of all of us that is self-interested. That part knows that she's selfish, but because she's selfish, she doesn't care. There's something primal in us that wants the world to be a contest, wants to engage in hard, fast play and see who comes out on top. We want the game to exist. We want it to be rigged so that, if we're smart enough, we can figure out the rules and win. We don't mind cheating because this game is life and death. We don't mind accepting the luck that comes to us as our deserved reward for existing. It's very fulfilling.

And there is something primal in us that understands, at a deep level, that while any of us suffer, the rest of us are culpable. We don't want to face that part. We don't want to accept that we could decide to value the human dignity of every life through all our systems of government, because if we could then we must. So it must be a complex problem. It must be unsolvable.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

We know exactly, precisely how to solve the problems of poverty. Not that it can be done overnight, but we know. And we choose to starve the systems that would do it, and design them to opposite effect because the short-term cost is prohibitive, yes, but more because we want to avoid being cheated. Almost everything that is wrong with our systems is a direct result of our primal fear that someone might get ahead at our expense.

So does every human life have dignity, or do I need to look out for me and my own first? What balance can I live with and still sleep at night? Do I keep myself ignorant to tip the balance for my own comfort? How much? Can I even have enough perspective to know that? What is the cost, in the long run, of paying money to enable poverty instead of spending a little more and beginning to eradicate it? How long will I have to pay for the social and health effects of deep poverty? Forever? How much of this is really about not wanting other people to be able to live with dignity unless they work for it, damn it! And do I even understand one thing about the "people" I think of this way? Where does my understanding come from? Is it up to date? Oh, I can go on.

I demand that people start asking themselves questions like this. It's a responsibility of citizenship. It's a responsibility of being human. I demand that we slow down our "growth" until we know what we're growing for, and give people time to think and breathe again.

But I must not demand. I must convince, cajole, plant seeds, influence, demonstrate. Slow, passive means. People are in distress, in fear, in anger. They are deciding from a very limited scope, deliberately, because they are not responsible for what they don't know or don't believe to be true. Depth of knowledge would require acknowledgements people can't live with and sleep at night. So I must not confront them with these truths. I need to find ways to get them across with love, not frustration.

Good thing I have a blog.