Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking for Signs

 You can tell a lot about a person when you ask them what they want in life.  Some will rattle off a tangible list of things, even experiences, but honestly, there seems to be a cultural divide.  To want hope, peace, faith and love more than money in our culture seems to be unthinkable, that is until the unthinkable happens.

We pay people to solve things for us.  If we don't like how we look, we reshape ourselves through the hands of a skilled surgeon.  We buy our way through life, and in some very real ways we have friends based on what they possess instead of who they are.  This 'throwing money" at problems in order to 'solve' them doesn't seem to solve anything.  We try to make ourselves look better, but then that means that someone has to look 'worse' than we are.  The 'better' new me, because we have been taught to hate the 'old' (and younger) version of ourselves.  We want to go to the past or the future, but never enjoy the moment we have right now.  We want to leave this world, because another world will solve our problems.  We want to understand where we came from because we want an answer to why we are here because we cannot seem to deal with our inequalities and differences and continue to strive towards a sameness without realizing that we all just want to go in the directions of our dreams, ahhh, but the problem is WHAT to dream about.  We tend to forget that we all need each other, but the goal for many is not to need anyone because need is weakness.  The wealthy have seen in their own minds that they are the gods to be caretakers over humanity and the poor have also seen the wealthy as their gods and providers.  It's a codependent relationship.  The wealthy cannot care about death or famine because it would drive them insane.  They would weep in a nonstop fashion if they realized their ability to do something, but their friends ensure that there are no bleeding hearts amongst their group.  After all, we have continuously have been told that there have been too many of us.  On the other extreme, there are nations that brutalize the females, children, those of questionable sexual orientation, minorities, differing faiths and then call themselves a free people.  If freedom only exists for a segment of the population, can a nation ever call themselves free?  Economically, not even America can call herself a free nation.  Our voices are kept silent and we are left to figure out systems to try to 'make' ourselves.

We have our pursuits of happiness, and basically, this nation was founded on the principal that mankind is good, not evil.  The deepest desire within us all is to have the power to give kindness to each other.  We want to be trusting, as trusting as a child is of each other, but when you have a nation full of child abuse, rape, sexual violence, war and addictions; how is it possible to go to a place called 'happiness' when senses are distorted?  Not everyone is abused or the abuser.  No, but there is a huge void in many lives, and we try to fill that void with things.  Happiness is not a pursuit.  Happiness is a state of being.

The material world debate has been going on for quite sometime, a lot longer than I had perceived it.  There was a work written by D. H. Lawrence where the elder generation was criticizing the youth, "All they care about is money, so they know nothing about living."  I know I may have paraphrased it out of it's context,  but it was the most remarkable line of Lady Chatterley's Lover.  Here was a woman, who married well, in terms of her social and economic standing; but she had a business marriage and not one of love.
Only the poor know love?  I heard it said by many women, "The first time you marry, you marry for love.  The second time, is for money, but if you get it right the first time, you get both."  There is a bitterness about love that I cannot seem to understand because I still idealize love, even at my age.  Love isn't a 'thing' to be found.  I think where we have it wrong is that love is not an emotion, far from it.  Love is a state of being that is not based on economic give and take.  There isn't a balance sheet.  The problem is we talk about what love 'feels' like as though there is an emotional cue that this is what it is like to 'fall' in love.  We often mistake what true actions of love are.  Love is not an emotion, it is an action that cannot be repaid.  It is a display.  

I have to say that I have spent my entire life learning about love.  I will never fully comprehend love, but I feel that it is a noble quest.  Does love give way?  Does love allow us to grow if we try to control the actions of others?  Why has love been hated amongst groups that seem to profess the word and still fails to comprehend the depth of what that state of being is?  To be loved without loving is the most selfish kind of love there is.  Love is like water.  It is a tangible and intangible force.  It is the source of life.  Yet so many will say love doesn't exist.  
So what is the ideal?  Perhaps that would be to have the ability to love.  If you have the ability to love, you have the ability to live wisely.  Now if only we knew how to stop being so damn fearful of each other.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Follow the White Horse

There is a saying about small towns, everyone knows everything because there is nothing to know.  You can give a vague description about anything in a town, and immediately someone will pipe up, "Oh yeah, I know what you're talking about." Everyone has discovered everything so nothing is new to them.  But I am a stranger here in these parts so I looked completely foolish to them as I went completely ga ga over this miniature white horse.

The horse saw me walking down the street and approached the fence, almost like an invitation.  It's interesting about its conditioning because it stopped by a sign that simply read, "Don't Feed The Horse".  My guess is that the horse is an experienced beggar, and people tend to dislike being told what not to do.  Perhaps it is to prevent the owner from being sued if the horse bit them.
However, this horse showed a smile and not its teeth and posed so beautifully for me.  Of course I couldn't resist its eyes and I just happened to have a huge green apple in my bag that just might have made it over the fence as payment for its kindness.
Sometimes we have to ignore what the signs say and just do what is right.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Since When Is Life Safe? The Sorrow of Time Travel.

It was the first of November, 2012 and the anxiety of the approach of 21 December was being acutely felt in the world.  Did it feel like 1999 all over again?  I started thinking about how many times in my life I had heard the world is coming to an end, and if life is going to end, what is the point?  Right?  I mean why do anything if it is all for nothing.  Why get out of bed?  Why plant crops?  Why raise children?  Why do we need to do absolutely anything if all that is waiting for us is one great big long dirt nap?  Life is vanity.  Someone else screwed it up and well, it is all damnation.    How would you spend your last 24 hours or days or years?  How would life go on if we all had the lifespan of a butterfly?  Well in terms of eternity, that is exactly what we have been allocated, but even a butterfly starts off as a caterpillar, spins a cocoon, waits and then eventually emerges from its shell as a butterfly.  Before it dies it mates profusely just to ensure that life does go on and it dies.  The interesting thing about butterflies is it doesn't question its existence, nor ponders about the meaning of life.  It just produces life and as a benefit, it also helps farmers with cross pollination.  The butterfly is just being a butterfly.
Published in The Allora Advertiser Issue No. 3220, 1 November 2012, p14

I love being around nature, and during my time here, I haven't really spent very much time on newspapers, television, nor even the internet.  Instead I have been writing, taking pictures, and exploring this small town in Australia.  I have spent a lot of time in meditation, talking to people and sharing stories with new found friends.  We have been learning from each other, and honestly it has infused life into my veins.  One of my new friends showed me the local paper for the market specials and in the advert section was a request for an adventurer.  I had to remind myself that the population is less than one thousand people, and someone posted a request that was completely original and paid for.    Someone was seeking a time traveler.  For a half-second, which is an eternity, I thought about calling up the fellow just to ask how many Allorians actually called.  Then again, I noticed the number was not a local number, but I decided not to reply.  The ad itself is enough for speculation.  Since Australia has been progressively changing their firearm laws and gun ownership has been challenged year by year since 2008, I wonder how many have their own weapons to bring.  Of course, I also love the line, "I have only done this once before."  Perhaps he was the gent that showed up in an all tweed suit trying to sabotage a Mountain Dew delivery to CERN and then subsequently disappeared without a trace from the psychiatric facility he was taken to.  So I decided to go on a time travel walk about to the old train station.

In many parts of the world, train travel is making a resurgence, actually train travel for many parts of the world has never died off.  As a matter of fact, newer, faster lines with improved technologies are most evident in Asia.  In the West, we just cannot seem to figure out that train lines shouldn't be privately owned.  There are some things that have to be managed for the service of all, but we can't seem to strike the right balance of what it means to live in a cooperative society.
 There is something striking about seeing the disuse and as I walked along the rails, I came to the end of the line and wondered why we were all so quick to assume that the automobile would be the answer to our transportation needs.
 And so I looked at how nature is overtaking this abandoned line that once hauled cattle and sheep and coal and possibly passengers on the fringes of the outback until one day there was no more profit to be made and it simply died.
 And I wondered about this time travel scenario.  Should someone go back in time and tell people not to build this line because it wouldn't be used one day?  Of course, I am not serious and I have no weapon with me.  Speculating on what a person would or could do if they went back into time is simply not taking responsibility for the life you have lived so far.
 It is better to remember that you cannot unmake your choices, but you can correct along the way.  You can make mistakes and you can choose to change.  It's better to be slow to anger and to speak up at the right times.  Isn't life about mastering yourself and not desiring to control the actions of others?

 So often, you hear about people wishing about what they could have or should have done.  You hear about people (maybe even yourself) that cite many things they wish they had not done at all.  Perhaps they were deceived, hurt or worse, perhaps they were the perpetrator.  My point is, even if you could undo one mistake in time, it doesn't change the person that made the mistake to begin with.
It might seem like it would be as simple as flipping a switch and all of your fortunes would change.  One thing that remains the same is you, your character.  No matter how much wealth, how much health, nor how much wisdom is acquired; that person is still the same with now other identities in place.  No matter how much wealth, fame or power one acquires in life; you still have to deal with yourself and no amount of time travel can change that.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Walking in Sapford's Corner

 On one of my many walks in Allora while trying to catch a vision of whatever I was trying to catch a vision of, I thought about my journey.  It seems that we go through life getting nicked up along the way.  Sometimes, we get bruised and in a way our own pain gets in the way of seeing a bigger picture. It can also get in the way of being the person we were meant to be.  Sometimes our fear of pain leads us to do things to protect ourselves and others that we have no desire to hurt.  Sometimes that desire to shield others from pain actually hurts them even more.
Here, at the historic Sapford's corner, I spent a lot of my time trying to tap into something greater than myself.  There were many themes and theories explored that took me back to something deep within me that had died, my heart.  There is nothing harder for the world to take than that inability to love again.  Part of that reason is perhaps, the world just really doesn't know the difference between love and sexual attraction.  It's made me think hard about intentions when interacting with people.   You see the open nature of a child.  I want to be that child, but I have had to learn about love again.
Allora is sheep country.  When I approached the sheep to take a picture of them, because I was amused by how the driver just pulled up and stopped off for a pint at the pub, the sheep cowered away and started bleating.  Instinctively, they are afraid of people, yet are born into captivity and know nothing else.  They are handled, sheared, rounded up and marked as owned beasts.  Fear guides them, but fear doesn't save them.  I have never heard of sheep living in the wild, but mountain goats, yes.  Sheep have been described as dumb, but peaceful animals that run in herds.  I decided to look up wild sheep and of course saw almost all breeds of wild sheep have horns to defend themselves.  Domesticated sheep breeds, not so, so they resort to the flock mentality as their primary defense when they are in groups as small as four.  A lone sheep is viewed as without protection from the world and is not expected to survive.
 In the Goomburra Forest Reserve,  I saw this tree completely stripped of all of its bark.  Actually, stripped is the wrong word to use, it sheds its bark, standing completely naked.  It was glistening in the sunlight and I just stared at it, thinking that quite possibly something was wrong with it, but as I continued on, I saw several other 'nudist' trees.  It was just its nature and I was questioning it because it was different from what I had seen before.
So the last sign to see was one that told me to keep on walking,  For a town that has a total population of less than 1,000 people I began to see that it's true, we do see the world as we are and not necessarily as it is.
Sapford's corner, historically was a place of both healing and pain; and often healing does not come without pain.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Icing the Equator

It was snowing back home, or trying to, when I finally landed in Australia. Today was new firsts for me.  It was the first time I had crossed the equator.  It was the first time I crossed both the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.  It was the first time I was in Australia.  I had neglected this blog during this trip, so I am retro posting because I did want to document along the way my journey and actually reflect on this journey that taught me about our cousins.  There is a saying about how everything tries to kill you in this country, I supposed that could have been said about the new world when they colonized it centuries ago.  With regard to Europe, it seems they have always had a concern about population size, and so many were forced to leave Europe and find their fortunes in either the New World, or if they were in Debtors prisons, forced to make the journey to Australia.  I had lived in the United Kingdom for two years during the end of the Thatcher administration.  One thing I observed was their class system, it's so pronounced there.  That need to be titled, positioned or well healed and their subservience to the royals.  I observed the tax battles first hand when the ill fated poll tax proved to be the fatal blow to end the career of Margaret Thatcher.  
But it's not 1990, and I am not in the United Kingdom.  What is the best way to describe Australia at first blush?  They have their own brand of English and the people are incredibly down to earth.  In Queensland, it was not uncommon to see people walking into the local stores "black footing", which mean sans shoes and socks.  I resisted the urge to be snobbish and smiled and people would say g'day to me.  I was quiet at first as I listen to the rate and color of their speech.  They had their own language and coarse wording, but what I noticed about so many people was their incredible love of exploration and they knew their history.
When I first arrived, the driver was telling me about the horrible droughts they were having in Allora, which is an incredibly small town where the author, P. L. Travers grew up.  Those of you who have read the "Mary Poppins" series will know who P. L. Travers is.  I hadn't know that she had spent her childhood here before I arrived, but it's kind of a funny thing, because I would say about myself, "I'm like Mary Poppins, I go where I am needed."  It's also the location of a small museum that houses a replica of the Talgai skull that was found here, estimations range from 9 to 11 thousand years old.  For religions based on the story of Adam and Eve, that throws a horrible wrench into that theory.  The original skull is housed elsewhere, in the Shellshear Museum, Department of anatomy at the Sydney University, but nonetheless, the replica is housed their small museum.  I thought it was interesting that Allora township in Darling Downs actually sold the skull instead of donating it.  
 It was an incredible drive from Brisbane to Allora, and I have a habit of shooting photographs out the window, because it helps me to keep the moment alive when I go someplace new.  The weather was terrifically warm and I was very happy to have stowed my winter coat in my luggage.  Here, spring was coming to an end and the very beginning of summer was upon them.
 I was getting use to the altitude of their small pass, and was shown and told about the aboriginal affection for these mountains, which the driver apologized for their lack of size and said, "well, they're really not mountains, more like hills, but to us, they're our mountains."  The aboriginal people call two particular mountains 'the guardians', not allowing anything bad into the outback.  I was only able to get a quality shot of the one below.  I have to say that I felt like Dorthy, in the Wizard of Oz.  Only I wasn't off to see the Wizard or looking for a place called home and I have only passed through Kansas and have no desire to return there anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Going with the wind, but not gone

There is a wanderlust in my blood that just won't go away.  There are places that just seem to call to people, like a secret is about to be whispered to them.  When the whisper comes, I have found, in my past experience, you go.  There are many people who don't understand what I am talking about.  They are stuck with their obligations, their responsibilities and there is nothing wrong with that.  There is a time and season for everything.  However, there seems to be something wrong with staying 'safe and secure'.  If we don't allow ourselves to be pushed and strengthened, what happens to us in moments of weakness?

Sometimes when a new adventure comes my way, I can't help but feel my stomach churn.  I don't know it all.  I don't know the whole path.  I don't know the plan from one day to the next.   I only know that first step that leads on to the second step.  I can't see how it's all going to come together and for once I don't have all of the answers.  I have a round-trip ticket to an adventure that I don't have all of the pieces for, and though the destination is a physical one, I am wondering what I am going to learn and who I am going to meet along the way.

I am on my way to Allora, Australia.  What awaits me?  I don't exactly know.  Does that worry me?  It's is the good kind of nervousness,  like the kind I went through the first time I went to Paris or my first flight or my first kiss.  It's the not knowing it all that actually gives us that tingle of excitement.  It is that state of being when you just realize we really don't want to know it all.  We really do love learning for ourselves and not being told how it's all going to turn out.  It's that innocence I love. Whatever I see, whatever I will experience, it will come unadulterated.

In this age of information overload, it seems we get fewer opportunities to not know.  It makes me realize how we may have become too comfortable with the boring and predictable.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Just out of reach

It's Sunday, not a calm one, a blustery one.  The kind where the cool winds bite your cheeks instead of kiss them.  The evidence is the ruddy nose that threatens to run, but I wouldn't know that right now as I have been obsessing over a pair of dispossessed shoes that are twirling in the wind, suspended in the air  and performing a sort of dance.  All of a sudden it's a story, the unknown kind, the best kind.  Some little boys shoes wound up being tossed up there, put out of reach but just dancing in the wind.  Perhaps  they were always there and I just noticed them as a sort of trophy of the conquered.  The asphalt is full of underdog and bully stories.  Sometimes we forget how violent children can be.  Those first battles in life where you learn to stand and not be afraid, even if it means you might lose the battle.  For many, it's the story of the internal mob.  For others, being the adored.  But the vast audience of the group seem to be controlled by a desire to be unnoticed.  There is a fear in being noticed, a greater fear of standing outside of the crowd.  The enormous fear of not belonging to anyone. 

The goal was to be liked for many and there were so many who just absolutely hated school for a very good reason, the pecking order.  Popularity meant a lot to kids when I was growing up, but then again, it depended on what neighborhood you were in.  Not every child has had to fight, not every child has been laughed at, but many do the laughing.  Children have a way of finding ways to pick at each other as they grow older, have you ever noticed that most people will say their favorite class was kindergarten?  The younger children were sheltered, isolated from the older population of children.  They arrived and departed before the others, had songs, arts, ABCs, 123s, and the ever popular nap time and snacks.  That is the first year, where you learned to control your bowels and say "please" and "thank you".  Everyone was beautiful and you never grew up.  

You never hear about a horrible Kindergarten teacher.  The memories are usually warm, and then comes first grade, where you are released into the general population of your primary school.  You marvel at your new classmates, the halls, the bigger kids and there are new expectations placed upon you.  I was tested for advanced placement when I was very young because I could read like the wind, the only problem was I couldn't understand what I was reading.  The words were just words and held no real meaning for me.  My transition into the first grade was a little rough, because they had placed me in a classroom with much older children.  I was small, so I could barely fit into their big desks, and I was wondering (and so was the rest of the class) what I was doing there.  All I had done was figure out the cipher of our script and was able to read aloud anything I touched, it seemed strange to me that this should be perceived as any sort of superior talent.  I hadn't really 'learned' anything.  I was a functioning parrot at the age of six, and wanted to be more than a parrot.  

I looked around the classroom rather alarmed.  Either I hadn't grown enough over the summer, or I was in the wrong classroom.  How could that be?  I reported to where the card told me to go, even the teacher was besides herself.  The adults muttered amongst themselves about my presence in the class, and I remember being hustled into the library for about a week where I was given a series of tests, reading evaluations and the like.  One week in a library going through their entire SRA reader series.  I think I was asked if I would like to stay with the big kids or join my first grade class, I elected to join the first graders.  I recall that I had a lot of fun with them, but I sometimes wonder what could have been if I stayed with the giants.  They had given me the choice and I had opted for the safety of the small ones.  

The shoes are still dangling on the power line.  I can hear the screams of children playing in the park, hopefully not tormenting each other.  Fall has come and already the sun is setting on this Sunday.  It's a very good thing we remember laughter more than tears and still look for faces in the clouds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Today I felt the rage and let it go

As I sit here, writing, with an unlit cigarette in my mouth, not trying to quit, not trying to start, but just letting it dangle from my lips, I realized I smoked for so long because it was the only way I knew how to breathe and not kill someone.  I smoked my anger and rage for so long.  I hurt myself because I didn't want to hurt others.  I have heard it said that smoking was some form of slow suicide, but I disagreed with that comment, because I found it meditative to breathe in the smoke, think of a solution, and burn up the anger and rage with each puff.  I exhaled all of the darkness and thought of how the Native Americans used tobacco.  They used it, we abused it.  It wasn't about being cool, hip, or social smoking, as a matter of fact, smoking is very anti-social, but I never was the very social kind of gal.  I usually go against a crowd because, well perhaps I just don't trust group think at all.

After all, group think usually has us killing each other off, looking for a scape goat to kill or terrorize.  No, I would rather be that loner that stands and says, "No."  I have heard a lot about people who have said that we need to be more positive, and I have sincerely given that a great deal of thought.  However, we have to still clean the house.  I usually equate positive thinkers to those who wish for something, but don't do anything.  I think I have wasted a better part of a year just thinking about this.  I think I was trying to assess my own mental state of polarity and I came up neutral.  If you go overboard into the positive realm, perhaps you create a false vision; actually this might apply to both realms of thought.  

What if you just take the polarity out of life?  I thought about that for a moment.  The world of science works that way.  Nature works that way.  So if I am unaffected by either, then I can let my rage go.  The change agent is myself.  However, no matter how many times people say these words, it's just air passing from their lips.  Let's go back to the dirty house.  The positive person looks at the house and says, "What a clean place this is."  Perhaps believing their words to 'speak life' into the home.  

The negative person walks in and observes with the kindness of the most vicious critic you can think of, "What a dump!"  Have they spoken death on the place?  Haven't they just made an accurate observation?  

In both cases no one is doing anything about it.  

I see myself as a neutral person.  I will say, "What a dump." and I will look at the potential to transform it.  I will start visualizing what I need to do, get the supplies, and clean it up and put my signature on the whole process.  After I am done, I will smile, take a hot shower, and quite possibly, smoke a cigarette and wonder why I was so pissed off to begin with.  Everything gets dirty.  Clean it up.

So, those of you who know that I like to refer to pictures that I take along the way of this journey, here is the ribbon to tie this mess of words up.  Many people go around looking for a sign of what to do next.  Perhaps, not everything is so divine at the intersection of Cook and Rice street, perhaps it is; but do you really need a sign to tell you to make dinner?  

Life is the act of living.  Each day, you need to decide if you are creating or destroying.  There are seasons for both.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Be Anxious For Nothing

It was a few months ago that I found this place, a used bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I rushed through the stacks and saw someone's breathing dream.  There is just something about old books, the dog-eared pages, the musty smells that sometimes accompany them.  They have been lived in, dreamed about and sometimes it's just the pulp of pulp.  It's the readers that keep these works alive and you can tell a lot about a culture by what is celebrated or pushed into a hidden corner. It's a strange thing to discover a book store and then when you try to scour the web to find it again, to remember the details, the seating areas and how almost each and every detail had the touch of the proprietors hands, only to come up short and not find it.

I had been in a rush, it was the end of a day, and I snapped the picture because I wanted to remember this place, this storehouse of secret pleasures, serialized novels, the ink that had been poured out because there are many stories in this world.  In spite of the economic downturn, the bookstores still go on and the invitation to hear the lives of others continues.  I had remembered my excitement as a youth about finding these places throughout the cities.  New authors, old olds, and the ancients that had stood the test of time.

I have remembered, not forgotten going through those marvelous stacks, perhaps to find an obscure work, a celebrity's biography and advice about how to live life.  There are no shortages of others trying to tell us how things are or what to do to be like them.  I used to read them for their comical value.  Even more hilarious are the books that try to tell you how to be yourself, how to love and accept yourself in a world of forced compliance and conformity.

I lingered, I scanned the aisles, the stacks and thought how I could lose myself for days here.  The winter months are fast approaching and winter usually meant finding a good book during the hibernating months.  Little seeds of thought and wonder, when perhaps you find a work that isn't so well read, or well written and perhaps you wonder how it made it into print.  Books were times of sharing stories, inspiring thought, an intimate exchange of ideas between the writer and the reader.  I remember what it was like to be enthralled by the voice of the writer, and have know times where a work laid there, half read because there was nothing that engaged my mind.

I remember the days of actively seeking out new works, discovering old voices and hearing the dialogue bounce like music in my mind.  The conspiracy that would take place as you worried for a character, and cared, in spite of their obvious flaws, you had compassion for them.  There was something about them that you identified with and at times, there were those you had little in common with, but their story compelled you to listen.  How did they deal with the circumstances of life, of love, and even of death?  That wanting to know, perhaps gleaning some lessons, or hearing the pastoral display of their image, surroundings, the stereotypical use of language to immediately project an image in your mind of what surrounded them, who they were speaking to, and how they reacted to the latest threat or travesty that befell them.

If you notice, there isn't a story without tragedy or conflict.  There is a war and in the midst of all of this drama that plays out there is a challenge of the heart.  We sometimes bemoan the choices of the characters and have to be swayed by their decisions or not.  The reader could decide to be the impartial observer, having a moment to forget about their own troubles in life to concentrate on the fictions or real problems of others.  However, do we have a sense anymore of what it would be like to be in another person's life?

I thought of how much work revolves around our material appetites of money, sex and food.  The higher works try to take us out of the base realms into love and virtue.  Still higher yet, we see the works that act as puzzles to stimulate our intellect.  Until we reach the spiritual realms of morality, God and Church,

The range of our human experience is catalogued in books, without a right or wrong place of being.  Still, the need changes as our words and usage changes.  Languages that are used are living languages, but the human experience is ever changing as we go on.  Bookstores are those repositories of just how much we have changed as documented by the writers of their ages.  What was valued, believed, shared and reserved is a deep reflection of what mattered most.

It's not always easy to go through these changes, but the results are usually worth it.  Humanity wasn't built for comfort or easy answers, it was meant to grow in ways we may never get to witness in our time.  That's where hope comes in, a deep hope that we will value one another and our collective experience on this world.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Looking Up

Many times we don't bother to look up.  As summer draws to a close, I have found myself moving on in many areas of my life.  Change is a constant in my life, sometimes it could appear that I am adrift, just floating aimlessly with my life, but I choose to view my life as going where I am needed and where it fits my needs.  While looking up, I observed the clouds, the total absence of airplanes, the quite, the beautiful sunlight, and the depth of the hues of green in the trees.  I breathed in just contemplating the peaceful scene and watching the children of diverse creeds laughing and playing together.  

I am in a new city, a city that I lived so close to as a child, but rarely saw.  What I saw has been the immense change that has seemed to bring little bits and pieces of the world moving into the city.  Some cultures have brought bits of what they identify with, with them.  That has been the case since this country was established.  We forget, we did not adapt to the native American life, we brought what we knew.  In some cases, we learned from the natives about the land, their culture, foods and hunting.  

When you ask people, why they have come here, many will tell you is they were fueled by a belief.  A belief that they would be able to start a new life, prosperity, a dream of freedom and in a lot of ways I understand the freedom of being a stranger in a new land.  Their politics don't seem to matter.  Their ways don't seem to matter.  Their manner of appearance doesn't seem to matter, because in the end all you can be is you.  In a manner of speaking, you realize the freedom of having to accept who you are.  

It's like looking up at the stars at night in a rural area.  You realize by looking at the immense expanse how it's all meaningless because it's meaningful.  That somewhere out there, some other being could be looking out at their night skies, if they in fact do have a night sky to look out at, and wonder themselves, if their problems, no matter how big or small, and quite possibly wondering the same thing. 

Perhaps that is why I look up at the skies so much, because I cannot get over how marvelous our temporary existence is and resolve to enjoy it more.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jiddu Krishnamurti: A Reminder

During this lecture, or rather conversation, Jiddu Krishnamurti was 90 years old.  He quickly admonishes the audience not to applaud him.  The Year was 1985, the first night of a two-night speaking engagement in Washington DC.  They were the Reagan years and I was only 19 years old.  The heart beat of our nation was concerned with Communism, nuclear war, and we felt, at the time, that we were not crazy enough to push the button to destroy the earth.  The greatest fear was the cold war with Russia. 

It was still the "spy-versus-spy" days and we had felt, with incredible certainty that we were the ones wearing the "white" hats.  We were good, loved peace and were not in the business of creating war.  We had fought for those who could not speak. 

That was our self perception.  What is our concern?  What is our desire?  There is a saying that where your heart is, there lies your treasure.

As I think about the nature of the days, where we tried not to think about the threat of living under a nation where weapons were pointed at each other, and we tried to understand, as young people, how our parents generation had allowed the bomb contest to grow to such insanity.  At the time we had an inventory that could have destroyed the world several times over, and that was just OUR inventory. 

Like most Americans, I didn't pay attention to the Iran-Contra scandal.  It was "their" problem and we didn't want any part of it.  However, the war in Afghanistan had resulted in the bankruptcy of the former Soviet Union.  It also resulted in the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  It resulted in nuclear draw-down, that I had thought was a miracle.

The world came together and watched with tears as the wall came down and yet, the old Europe was still terrified of a "unified" Germany instead of hoping for a unified world.

At the time, I had thought to myself that I actually could have a family, during the age of one nation pointing weapons at another in some sort of Mexican stand-off, I was not about to bring a child into this drama.

Unfortunately, the drumbeat of war began and continues since 2 August 1990.  When one group tries to dominate another group to do its will, we have terms that have changed our language and our mentality.  To objectify humanity has crippled our hearts and consciousness with bitter seeds of hate and revenge.

Not all are as such, but individually and collectively; we are responsible for the world we want to see reflected in each other.  Is peace really so controversial?   Is freedom without a real meaning when we use the freedom to inflict control over each other.  To rule each other?  Over each other?  To treat each other like cattle?  Our competitive spirit serves not to better each other, but to destroy each other.  What is this carrot we are chasing?  A plaque?  A bit of recognition? 

For a moment, consider what is driving you in this life.  Consider your motivation.  Is it to be free from need, just to preserve your mortal body for as long as possible because life is so much more preferable to death? 

How much more is learned when we collaborate and share with each other instead of chasing little slips of green paper that we exchange with each other for wants more than needs.  So, perhaps we need to realign our thinking.  To face our fears of each other.  To realize this is not an ugly world, but one that has an enormous amount of potential instead of just passively and blindly accepting that we "have to" be divided through beliefs, race, creed, culture, language or nationality. 

Ponder carefully...why are we afraid of peace?  What wouldn't be needed anymore?  What could that energy be put into.  We live.  We die.  The next generations come and the ancestors hope their knowledge and experience is passed down. 

No matter what is feared, which is the unknown; have the courage to make the unknown...the known. What follows is the second night of his dialogue in Washington DC. If we can ever hope to have peace within the world, we must restore the intention of the word.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Into the Night

Another sunset comes and the night was adorned with a full moon and mosquitoes as I went for a long walk with no particular destination in mind.  Tonight my heart is heavy, my stomach is in anxious knots, and there is a part of me that just can't wait to go out into the world again, but that is my own battle with my desires.  Usually, I have found that when I have my sojourns into a quiet space or place, it is a prelude to a lot of sifting.  It's more stuff that I have to come to terms with in this school of human experience.  Often, the lessons have been about thinking too much or not enough.  Sometimes they have been lessons about trust and how to actually listen to my instincts. 

This lesson was a familiar one, one about the human heart.  Do we often listen to ourselves when we are in our periods of seclusion?  Do we even know what to listen for when we have well meaning people telling us what they want for us and what they would love to see for our lives?
This week I came to terms with something that isn't easy for many people to talk about, independence.  Ironic, because this week was the celebration of our Independence Day and many other nations celebrate the establishment of their countries, more correctly, their governments as well.  Actually, we are globally evolving into Interdependence, but I am running away from my original line of self questioning.

At issue is my lack of interest in establishing relationships.  I, realized that it's a peculiar thing for many people to want to help me, because I keep hearing how I am attractive and shouldn't be alone.  This isn't about giving 'love' a chance, it's realizing I have no desire for that kind of relationship with men.  A friend of mine had once told me, "you know it's right when you can't live without them."  However, the truth is, do I even want that kind of relationship?  The answer is a resounding "NO". 
As I looked up into the night sky, I realized that what I wanted most was to view people the way I had when I was a young person.  I was content to be myself.  I was content with however many people were around me.  I was focused on my dreams and I wasn't focused on 'finding' someone.  Many people get addicted to the dramas that are created, the emotions and passions that get stirred and they call that "being alive'.  Sure, there are people that get excited by others. 

I have known that feeling, but too often we focus on the things that fade out in people.  I have come to a place in my life where I realized what my real desires are.  That is the real pursuit of happiness by finding out that in order to be independent, you must realize that no one can make you happy.  You are the only one in charge of your own emotions.

There are many people out in the world looking for someone to complete them.  The truth is, we were all born complete.  It's just our relationships, at times, we forget it's really a partnership, and the only way partnerships really work is if they travel together.

Nothing in this life works if it is forced.

The greatest fear people have is being alone.  The truth is, I am not alone, not lonely, but that most important part of my life is this journey.  What that will fully entail isn't even important.  What is important is the willingness to learn from it all.

The anxious knot in my stomach finally untied itself the moment I realized that I needed to stop conforming to what other people wanted for me.  It didn't have to make sense to them, it only needed to make sense to me.

Passion is an imitation of living that smolders with an intensity that is often misleading.  Love is consistent and when you follow your soul, it keeps you truthful.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some Things Old Are New

I have found a strange new obsession with old things and within the past week, the Twin Cities area had a back to the '50s car show.  For some reason it made me remember a place in New Mexico, a small town called Clovis, where there really wasn't too much for the kids to do on Saturday nights except drive their cars up and down Main Street and shout out to the girls.  The guys with the flashy rides, souped up with their hard working hands, would perform this slow crawling ride, that the town just accepted on Saturday nights.  We dubbed it "Happy Days." so for that night, none of the adults drove downtown, "The whole 2.5 miles of it", would be bumper to bumper in a town where there were only 30,000 people.  We had rattlesnakes, tumbleweeds, and "Happy Days".  I used to think Stephen King had based his book, "Desperation" on that little sleepy town, where the weather barely changed during the year.  There was only one thing that set Clovis apart, and that was the need for the young men to show their worthiness by the care and pride they showed in their vehicles, and the girls would smile and wave to the boys. 
Some of the Twin Cities locals loaded up their folding chairs and tailgated in a shopping center parking lot last weekend to see the cars drive by instead of going to a show to see them on display.  They would extend their hand in the parade style wave and cheering when they saw or heard a car they liked.  The deeper the throaty rumble, the louder the cheers from the young boys at the stop light, begging them to 'punch it" when the light turned green.  Some drivers humored the boys by revving up their engines, which only made them scream louder.  
I was just amazed by how many cars seemed to survive long past their 'expiration' dates.  The bodies seemed to have new life breathed into them.  Many of these vehicles were on the road long before I was even thought of, let alone my mother being legal to drive. 
And I thought to myself, wouldn't it be wonderful to convert these cars to alternative energy?  That's a kind of repurposing that I would have the heart to be a part of.

There is a strange love affair I have with old things, and I think it's because people used to love making things.  That's the signature I am looking for.  I also believe many look for that signature...some spend a lifetime looking for it, but when you find it, you know.

It's rare.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Poetic License

Gaza Shield
While cleaning out my email, I received a request to enter a global poetry contest through the "World Poetry Movement".   Sometimes you just go with it and let the words flow and get out of the way.  That is movement.  Since this is a "World" emphasized "Contest", I placed special emphasis on the world.  The real movement comes from within your heart and getting honest about what we want to change.  These words do not apply to a specific nation and yet they apply to all of us when we do nothing when we can do something.  Empower your voice against the apathy of the world in whatever medium you choose to use.  I remembered the movie "Gaza Shield", a short movie about how a video game was used to send a response to an Israeli on-line video game that promoted the killing of Palestinians.  Well, in that same spirit, we have to know when to call out our leadership in whatever nation we may reside in...because we all know, it's not OK.

Oh, and a note about the "Contest".  The goal for me isn't about winning's about the message and I hope that you pass it on.

Picture: Güven Mendi

Crushing bones of war kissed with words of peace
Sounds of bombs exploding in the air
as the aid packages turn the food into blood
River run dry as the oil flows
another swollen dark belly
with skeletal frames crawl in the dirt
Throwing money at problems
leaving ill fated leadership to cut up the pie
sinking another immunization into a frail arm
with tongues swollen for thirst
and eyes that have only been blackened
by a heartless earth, laying barren and dry
soaking up the lifeblood of a native soul
no concern for the words,
no concern for the wishes
only want something on the dishes
No threads to pull together
No crops to sow
Just another body to bury with their plastic smiles
as long as its not their child but mine
The shadows of aid in a wasteland
with flowers in one hand and bullets in another
Is my skin not the right color?
Are my words understandable?
Would you have me hate my mother for giving me life?
Would you have my kill my brother just for a slice?
For a tank of gas...I cannot breathe.
For a diamond bracelet...the blood flows.
For your life, you demand my life.
For your peace, you give me war.
Behind the smile is a wall of words.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Please Do Not Touch The Sculpture, But Let It Touch You

 Touch.  To touch and not to touch.  Please don't touch me while I touch you.  As I was going through my pictures of my time in Washington DC, I found some shots that I hadn't edited yet and simply wanted to post for those who would appreciate them.  The raw humanity of torment captured in these faces conflicted with the sounds of laughing children in the background.  The story of the Burghers of Calais that Auguste Rodin captured in Bronze has moved me for sometime.  To see this version and the other in Paris, is a treasured memory for me.  I know that Rodin is quite possibly most remembered for "The Thinker", but for me, "The Burghers of Calais" whispers something new with each viewing.

There are many reasons artists 'go into' art.  One artist has mentioned that perhaps this is the only compensation received.  In troubled times, I beg to differ, after all, with art, when applied to any vocation, that imaginative touch becomes something more.  A skilled hand only remains so if there is life in its utilization.  As with anything that is not used, it withers away into oblivion.

In viewing Emile-Antoine Bourdelle's "The Great Warrior of Montauban", I have wondered if it was only the physique that was called great.  A raised sword, an outstretched arm, surely is this not greatness?  However, destruction of life is easier than preserving life.  Death is easy my friend, living is where the challenge is.  Where is his foe?  Whom is he protecting?  But that is art, that essence that makes you mentally explore the pieces that are rendered.  And when each person has the opportunity to do that instead of having it told to them, they find their truth as to what makes art real in a world of illusion.  You are free to be touched by the work only if you allow them to touch you.