I’ve been having a hard time sitting down to write lately. Not because I lack time, but because I lack empathy for my own process therefore how could I hope to have empathy for anyone else’s. There are a lot of things I could say about depression and creativity and in fact I already have said some here, but I don’t have the strength to go there right now. I am writing to here now to give the smallest of updates and the smallest of motivation to myself to keep going, to keep writing. Because in my experience writing helps put a frame around my experience to be able to look at it from that place in the mind that does not experience pain of living, the essence of being if you will. I promised you two books of poetry exactly a year ago, and truth be told I’m scared to release them. These poems were written in a very dark period of my life, and at the time they gave me a reason to keep on going, to keep on writing, but reading them now is painful. Painful that I hurt so much, and painful that I would wish to share that sort of hurt on the world that is suffering so much already. It’s a hard thing for me to reconcile with myself in my current black disposition. I have made a promise to finish them by the end of this year regardless because people have directly asked me to, people I respect, and people that have paid me money in order that I might keep going, keep writing. If it weren’t for these people that have invested their good faith in me I would probably give up on the project entirely. Which is depressing in itself. There is this idea that the only kind of pure art is art for art’s sake that the artist creates in this vacuum regardless of who will appreciate it, but I also believe that the creative experience is not complete without someone to receive the expression of the soul. It’s like trying to have a conversation while no one is listening. Between these two beliefs I feel a little lost about how to feel about the release of this body of work. It is coming though regardless if only so I can practice having empathy for the parts of myself and my work I do not like.
I am beginning a 30 day yoga commitment as I settle into my new home in Montreal. Fall is decidedly in the air which means letting go, accepting change of pace as days grow shorter, and harvesting for the winter ahead. This is a commitment to dedicating my days to the divine, and surrendering to what is as the seasons change in my heart & home.
October 30 day commitment:
- Reflection on dreams
- Divine Light Invocation in the morning
- 4 sides of sun salutations in the morning
- Karma yoga 1-2 hours minimum
- Reflection on Swami Sivananda's Daily Readings
- 108 Divine Mother prayers/mantras
- Thich Nhat Hanh visualization exercise before bed
- Reflection on days actions before bed
- Media black out before bed & before yoga practice
- Practice single pointed focus, no blame, compassionate listening, and mindful breathing in daily actions.
Hari Om Tat Sat
The events in Charlottesville are still reverberating around the world, and the legacy of white supremacist violence lives on unchallenged by the state. At home I am thinking about the anti racism billboard campaign that managed to enrage local white supremacists and "law abiding" racists alike. At the time of the release every public forum seemed to be flooded with a rage fuelled by fear of self reflection. Neighbours openly argued for racism (and against the campaign) unmasked and unashamed. Often with inconspicuous statements like "the city has better things to spend tax payer money on" moving the financial burden of education, let alone reparations, from the white public benefiting from the system to the individuals affected and their allies. As far as I know no direct violence erupted because of the ideological clash of the billboards, however I may be one of the last to know if there were as a white woman living and working in white neighbourhoods. Without obvious flair ups of violence such as the one in Charlottesville it's easy to fail to adequately comprehend the daily violence of white supremacy and everyday "casual" racism. I know that I have failed when I feel my "shock" in spite of reading daily about the worsening conditions in the U.S. and at home. I know that I have failed when I feel "afraid" for my future because of violence and prejudices that have effected other folks for generations. I know that I have failed when I feel "hopeless" in the face of dismantling 500 odd years of systematic violence from my relative position of power. I know that I have failed when I let my empathy for my fellow human's pain immobilize my body in "sadness" rather than extend a hand in loving service. I know that I have failed many times over, and yet I am here dedicated to the perseverance of love over hate, of knowledge over ignorance, of action over reaction, of peace over suffering. Today I share a few things that I am reading and considering as I face the shadows of myself betwixt the eclipses darkened sight. Rest in power to those fallen in service of compassion, peace, love, and justice.
- The Case for Reparations via The Atlantic
- Dear White People: I Want You to Understand Yourselves Better via The Establishment
- The Similarities Between Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Slavery via Huffington Post
- Indigenous Perspectives of Canada's 150 via APTN
- A Seat At The Table by Solange
- Donate to Support Charlottesville
The teacher is rarely the person at the front of the room. It is the person your heart connects with. Without a doubt you walk into the arms of their unknowingness & ask them to reveal their truth to you. The answer is always a surprise until hearing sounds too obvious.
I walked into a room surrounded by teachers to be revealed. My nails clawed across the chalkboard of my mind. Defiant pupil scared of her own short comings revealed in nothing but the awful sound. Hip flexors cried out in stubborn unyielding, unwilling to be yoked to the fate self same sought. Tears rippling internally against a frustration fuelled by the same tired complaint ‘Why am I here?’
Determination is so beautiful.
Suddenly a truth that can not be muted answers my disheartened mewing. This is where I belong. These are the teachers I have been searching for to the questions I dare not articulate. I am here & I am ready to be played a fool. Show me the reason for this hate & fear. Where for did it grow in my heart? Where for in my neighbours? A ring of candles glisten in the dark. I don’t have the answer, but I am waiting.
Waiting is a practice that can lead to yoga.
Or maybe that’s not what the teachers said, but I am barely listening over the inaudible din of my self studying. Turning the question over & over again. Why am I here? Why am I here? Why am I here?
I slept like a lamb new slaughtered. Blood on my hands I arrived on my mat ready to ply these butchers fingers. Awkwardly inflated, unfamiliar, groping through the dark in first morning light. I watch the shadows crawl across the wall. Somewhere in between breaths Mary started to glow. First dark like a shadow then bright golden light source unknown. Whose hand crafted such a sight? What hand supported me now?
Under pressure nerves cracked in newly familiar places. I’m crazy for love, but I’m not going on. How many years in devotion to the tower I built around myself? Who is the brick layer? Who stained the glass? What was here before I arrived? Who will stand here when I’m rubble in the sand? This moment passed unmarked from one song to the next. I crave oneness with one of it, so I pack light, travel alone, watch my own back as I walk away from myself on the ledge. Why so guarded on the mirrors edge?
A deer crosses the road & I am too empty to feel my heart beat in excitement. Saturday night pilgrims march towards fortunes neon glow, but Lady Luck slipped out the back while I unlocked the front door. Sweeping the floor well past closing time. I remark to no one in particular the parts of myself that I am afraid to name.
6:00 am comes easily when the purpose for rising is unclear. In the vast darkness my sneakers carry me through old haunts. Up empty streets to pick up berries in colours that remind me of secrets long forgot. The cashier gives me a knowing nod as I walk off into the sunrise. Silence slowly filling my ears as I walk down the street in the chord of D. Vibrations of kids laughing commune with the trees. This one cut down & that one planted. It will grow to be taller than I am in my lifetime. That door didn’t use to be red. These planks weren’t always so rugged. The sun didn’t look like this yesterday.
As we drive the day feels more welcoming. There is a thread in the day that keeps me tied to the window. There is something out there looking for me, but today I am tied to my mat like a life raft. A raft that is filled with humility at the things I’ve taken for granted in the blink of an eye. Here my feet are. Ten toes for balancing. Here my eyes are. Two for truth seeking. Here my heart is. One of everything.
I accept you into my heart as my sister, I promise to never speak ill of you, and I accept your love seeking only what is best for our collective highest good.
Your heart open to mine I feel naked in a way no skin can express. In that vulnerability you accept my sins for me & I yours. We are purified of imperfections because together we are whole. Together we can do no wrong. Greater than the collective sum of our hearts. Overwhelming gratitude electrified in your presence I stand alone with only my own wildness to answer for. I have a voice inside of me that knows what it wants. It knew then what I know now I’ve just forgot. There is a playfulness not to run from. There is a security that isn’t forced. A voice asks me to be whole in my knowing.
I am grounded in laughter, and surrounded by a sea of silence. 17 lighthouses blink in the distance. In my awkward steps I will climb the ladder rung by rung to watch the storm from your safe haven. Fingers clasped together asking for a way – Om.
A step together is a step forever.
In the quiet moments between lost & found you read to me my hidden texts. It is both a warning & an invitation to better understand this sanctity of expression. From my own silent utterance be true. Unshored it is soon forgotten. Sealed tightly it envelopes all mystery. My wholy unbroken.
A journey with no destination.
Together we have begun.
Grounded in uncertainty.
Unsure we stand united.
Pilgrimage of the heart.
Community of women.
Unknown maiden head birthed of sage wisdom.
Once upon a time there was a very sleepy pupil and a very smart teacher. Or wait, was it a very sleepy teacher and a very smart pupil? Once upon a time there was a very smart teacher and a very smart pupil. They sat down to a battle of wits, but they lost because they couldn’t stay awake long enough to see the conclusion. No wait, they were both asleep in a dream about a question neither of them could answer. Wait, I’m going to start again. Once upon a time a student asked their teacher why they always slept through their lessons “wouldn’t it be much easier to draw conclusions on the chalkboard awake?” The teacher said to the student “I am too tired to draw your conclusions for you anymore why don’t you dream some up yourself?” No, this is all wrong. Once upon a time a student asked their teacher to tell them a story that could illustrate this lesson, but the teacher asked the student to dream up their own. After a time the student said “Once upon the time there was a very sleepy pupil and a very smart teacher. Or wait-“
Often what unschooling looks like is a series of fascinating questions.
One of my favourite books as a child was a little picture book called Ernie Follows His Nose. It was a simple story of someone innocently following their curios nose to explore the world around them. It sounds silly in its naivety, but neatly illustrates one of the corner stones of student directed learning.
To make a crude comparison: the traditional industrial education model is structured to have a single point of authority stand at the front and deliver a lot of information that is meant to impart a series of answers which students are then graded on for accuracy. In this model questions only arise as a means to get to the end of the lesson. There is a shame for having too many questions. They gum up the flow of the knowledge machine, which is why we separate students out for learning too quickly or too slowly to improve efficency.
By contrast, unschooling dives in question first with no time to raise hands to authority. The student is at the front of the expedition actively engaged in wrestling with their personal multitudinous sea of questions “Where did that smell come from? Why did this happen? How does that work? When will this occur? Who is that? What am I?” The lessons are an accumulative experience as students gather information while following their curiosity only measuring success against their own appetite. The unschooling motto is “the world is my classroom – learning all of the time.”
I believe that to be deeply curios is to hold a simultaneous respect for rigor & whimsy. Curiosity must be nimble enough to chase after the glittering fascinating thing while also plying fastidious attention to the understanding of it. Questions manifest more curiosity manifest more questions. A healthy appetite for the unknown is essential to my creative practice & self studies.
With all that in mind here are…
Questions I am currently contemplating:
- What is the mind/body connection? How does this connection affect our health & growth?
- What is catharsis? What is its role in art, and what is its role in healing, and are the two related?
- What does it mean to be useful in society? Is it necessary?
- How do we cultivate nurturing love?
- How does the expression of self impact the relation to self & the selves experience of the world?
- What does it mean to be androgynous? In a post-binary world would androgyny be necessary?
- What does it mean to be in alignment? Is the idea of a best self a subtle expression of internalized shame, and if so what does self acceptance & actualization look like beyond that?
I write things
I write them so you can read them
If you so choose
No one is forcing you
I can barely be bothered myself some days
Reading is such a gift
That I’m grateful my mom gave me everyday
I was a late reader
Too active to be interested in sitting and starring at the page
There was so much world to explore
What fun was learning by book?
By the time I started to pursue reading more actively
I was already old enough to understand how complex the English language was
It daunted me
How could we expect anyone to remember all these rules and exceptions and definitions
Layers upon layers of symbols
That I wasn’t apart of
So I bolstered my ego with it
It became part of my personality
That I just “don’t like reading”
As if it were a matter of preference
I would put the bare minimum effort in to learn
When it didn’t click I would shrug and confirm
“It’s just not for me”
Meanwhile I still spent most of my time outside playing
I started to learn about story, and fantasy, and history, and drama
Our games unfolding their own complex narrative
I started a writing group with my friend although neither of us could spell and we both struggled reading the back of the cereal box
But we knew we could write
We would sit opposite one another on the floor in the basement
Pencil and paper in hand
Each taking turns reciting a line from the story
As one of us would spin the tale the other would jump in with revisions and edits in real time
We carefully crafted plot, character, dialogue, subtext
As we each wrote the story out in our own secret language
We called it our magic language
Because if you didn’t know how to spell a word you would just make it up
Little did we realize how important innovations like ours were to the strength of the English language
From Shakespeare to Twain to Snoop Dawg
English is a shapeshifter
To welcome the uninitiated
To expand the new frontier
To reflect the many tongues that have enfolded it
To reveal the unknown minds that have shaped it
Once I learned to live with language without the constraints of written literacy
I fell in love
I wanted to know more
To read for myself the stories of the classic authors that had come before me
To seek other worldly knowledge myself beyond my backyard escapades
I wanted to be able to record my thought, ideas, and stories
As scraps of information for future explorers to discover
Once I sat down full of intent to read and write it did not take me long
Granted I already had nine years of experience
Exploring complex ideas
Years of listening to my mother read to me
Of being immersed in theatre and oral storytelling
Of seeing the world uninhibited by language’s explanations for things
These were the hidden gifts my mother left for me
The most important of them all was time and trust
Only once I came back to it with my head emptied of ego
Full of wide eyed wonder
Did I learn how to read and write by heart
No sooner, no later