Fear and Art, thoughts.

Fear fear fear fear, la la la la, fear fear fear fear, fear fear! This is the chorus of my subconscious, no matter what other lyrics abound. It all comes back to this. It is so automatic, so insidious, at every turn, however innocent or wanted. Writing an article, a blog post, reading a book I love, the doing of beloved things, fear blocks the way.

It is under my control, my jurisdiction. To be a dictator of ones heart – not ones heart, but of openness, to decree that openness and freedom in pursuing love be the immutable rule, this is the goal. Dictator in a good sense. The Romans used to appoint dictators for 6 month terms, in the belief that at times of crisis it is best to have one decision maker so that things get done. A wondrous idea! Rule your mind, or it will rule you. Horace. (I should add, Rule your stomach, or it will rule you. Although ultimately that’s the mind, craving satisfaction, soothing.)

I just finished reading Change Your Mind by Rod Judkins, an excellent read on creative habits and how to nourish creative endeavors. I am always heartened when I read advice on being an artist, as it’s always what I’ve known in my core, but allowed myself to move away from. Being stubborn with ones vision, but flexible with how it unfolds. Allowing wildness, strangeness, absurdity in the living of ones life. Idealism is paramount. Floundering is necessary for flourishing.

 

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Books, etc

In the spirit of personal growth, I am shrinking my possessions. Or at least, just keeping what sparks joy. A deep admirer of Marie Kondo and her Konmari Method, I’ve dedicated this weekend to the ritual of discarding what no longer serves me, and building my life on a foundation of what infuses my spirit with energy and motivation.

The past is scattered all around, but books in particular are a point of heartache. Heartbreak. As a writer, yes, I love books, but I’m no longer a voracious reader. I read a handful of books a year at most. I miss my teens, when I would read multiple books a week, and though I despised much of my university career, the number of books I read was a hallmark of happiness and success.

I have many unread and half-read books on my shelf. The half-reading is a chronic problem. Maybe it isn’t a problem, maybe I just need to accept that only certain books pull me in enough to actually finish. Or perhaps it just is a lack of discipline and regularity. If I start a book and don’t keep reading every day, it won’t be finished. I need to make a point of committing.

The books are who I want to be. Or hold things which were once important. What still is? Politics, theatre, languages. These are the ones hardest to let go of. I’m willing to let go of half or unread novels, poetry volumes, etc. But textbooks on Japanese or German, Peter Brooks and Grotowski, the untouched Chompsky — ah. Sometimes I have read books that I purchased years ago, and loved them. Kondo is not 100% correct that the I’ll read it one day! is never realized. However, most do go unread. There’s so much disposal of hope that goes into disposal of books.

Part of me wants to get rid of all my books. Start from scratch. Who am I? My bookshelf will answer this. I ultimately feel a desire to get rid of all my possessions. Of my life at large. But that’s the easy way out. The discernment of choosing what stays and what goes is what makes the process meaningful.

Not just books. People, experiences, memories.

It is a shock to think one has changed so much, that things which were once fundamental are now mere ornament. But to remember what is dear, what was once dear, is this wrong? Can it not transform? Theatre. Something I dedicated my life to is now something barely spoken about. But thought of everyday. Dreamt of everyday. It hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just become internalized, the metamorphosis of years occurring as we speak.

Politics. I want to read everything. I want to know every idea about how the world is shaped, who shaped it, why, and the consequences. When I push myself, I finish books. When I cultivate the time. Perhaps I if I create a specific project of reading my books, a dedicated goal… but somethings are just over.

I believe in Mari Kondo. I believe in processing the past and accepting that the time to read a book is when you receive it or purchase it.

…if you haven’t read it by now, the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it. There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway.

Ah. Poignant.

In other areas of my life, when I silence my mind and ask for an answer, I hear the chant of let it go, let it go, let it go. I resist in all forms. We always have the answers, but generally ignore them. I want to listen to the little voice, to make it the big voice, the only voice. Beyond logic, beyond emotion, there is the complete and true knowing that lives inside. The value of articulation is in how much we can clear the blockages and reveal the real.

To get rid of books feels like killing friends. Why? Why do I have to say goodbye? We barely had a chance.

Each book a marker of what could be achieved. Of dreams torn from the womb too soon.

To live in the present, is this the cost? Eradication of any fingerprints of yearning. Wipe it all clean.

let it go, let it go, let it go…

… Some hours later. I tried to bargain with myself, maybe I could make a challenge, read all my unread books in a month, six months, something. Anything to keep them. A variety of such tactics presented themselves. Denial, anger, bargaining, sound familiar?

I don’t remember the turning point, but I thanked a book outloud for what it gave and put it in the no pile. And then another, and I kissed the cover, an official goodbye. And another and another. And eventually I stopped kissing them but kept putting them in the no pile. It was enough to know I had loved them. It was enough to know what they meant to me, and in this deep knowing I could say goodbye to everything each book promised, without feeling that I had lost anything.

I said goodbye to even my favourite books, ones I’ve had for almost two decades, filled with post-it notes and scrawls. It became clear that I already held what I needed from them. I kept the newest books, including some unread, as they represent the person I would like to become. I realized this is not a betrayal of the old books, of the person I was, but simply making room for my unfolding, my own expansion.

Less than a dozen books remain.

Posted in Non-Fiction

Ramblings, Again.

The mind a maze, a labyrinth of choices and bullies and judgement. What is freedom, do we even remember? To sit on a bench downtown, I am free, yes. There are no hunters, no agents, no apparent bad guys. But fear is vivid. As though I know some secret or truth about the inherent danger of being alive, as though this knowledge was given to me and it consumed me to a point that everything I was ceased to exist. I had to regenerate, and in regenerating I forgot this truth, the very thing that ate me alive. This truth is still true, but whatever it is, I do not remember. The memory of being eaten alive by this persists, and though invisible, follows me wherever I go.

That’s right, it’s not fear that follows me, it’s memory. Is the power of memory greater than fear? Or are they the same? And is it necessary to identify what haunts you in order to exorcise it? Maybe it is enough to know it is there, and move around. Do not focus on the obstacle, focus on where you want to go. Freedom is what you do, the shackles are whatever you give power to.

Posted in Non-Fiction

Something Small.

A brief greeting.

Sleep, food, quiet – all necessary to rebuild. To renovate is perhaps more accurate, rebuilding presupposes that everything is broken. Everything is fine. We just need of what is good. Trading in what no longer serves. Thoughts, primarily. It starts on the inside. Clean your mind, your truest home. Clean your heart. Clean your words. Your deeds. This is the only way it works. And it works. But it must be done.

Posted in Non-Fiction

The Cavern

A lifetime of hiding leaves you only able to connect with others who know the cavern. You will live together in the darkness. You will strive to trust and love each other even though the nature of the cavern defeats the possibility of genuine connection. You will hurt yourself and hurt others. In the cavern, you will not be capable of identifying how or why. This furthers the pain. If anyone (the parties involved or an outsider) tries to bring in a flicker of light, you will retaliate. You will identify the darkness as protection, as opposed to the reason for your suffering.

What does it take to bring light into your life? You must abandon anyone who refuses to see. You must abandon the parts of you that refuse to see. The parts which, for so long, ensured your survival in a cruel world. You must say goodbye to your armour. You must learn to walk armourless in the sun. Develop weapons of relentless compassion and sharp self-awareness. See the best in everyone and everything, while being vigilant against recourse into darkness. This retreat is never singular, as it inherently casts shadows on those in your life. You threaten the light of everyone when you choose poorly. The reverse is also true. Choose light, add light to those in your circle.

Give thanks to the cavern for what it gave you when you needed it. Then close the entrance. Say goodbye.

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Befriending

Jealousy. Bitterness. Spite. Rage.

These course through me repeatedly at various intervals, turning the inner eye inside out. The minuscule veins bloom from the sight-bulb as it scans the lives of others through a putrid lens of desire. It’s an unpleasant place, but there is something validating about it as well. There is a strange pleasure in misery. Why?

It occurred to me that part of jealousy involves the desire for a better life for oneself. The characteristic of jealousy is wanting what someone else has, yes, but wanting good things for ourselves in a sign of compassion for ourselves. It is not reflective of the hateful anger swamp we inhabit when we feel jealous. There is a seed of wholesome want in the rotten fruit of jealousy, and in removing this seed, cleansing it, and planting, we can reap a great harvest from something that once was only pain.

Everything in us is on our side. We just have to undercover how it’s trying to help us, and what it’s trying to show us. Everything teaches. The demons aren’t actually trying to destroy us. They’re trying to destroy what they think gets in the way. Sometimes they think we’re the problem, and then we have these wars in our psyches, when the real problem is our inactivity in tending to ourselves. Teach the demons what to attack and they will serve us. Understand the roots of apathy and unhappiness and then we can use this ferocious energy of the darkness to our advantage.

Everything inside us wants to win. Befriend the demons. Create a unified front. Identify and attack the true obstacles. We can defeat agony.

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Feeling Good.

Again, the artists struggle. I feel good, so I have no real desire to write. But here I am, writing. Motivation, inspiration, they can come from all kinds of places. Do not stay miserable to stay rooted in creative impulse. There is a creative landscape beyond desolation, and it is fertile. Plant your roots here, grow your legacy here. Keep the awe of the desolate darkness but strengthen it with the liberation that comes from peace.

I have moments of integration. I feel like a different person. Or rather, fully myself, rather than being the torn rag of a woman. The psyche is a strange place. It automatically morphs into a reflection of what it is exposed so, and must be rebuilt and restructured as needed. This is your primary interaction with life: how you use what you’ve witnessed.

Anger, bitterness, spite, these can all be so valuable in building discipline and focus. They can be transformed into valuable energy, and can strengthen you in a powerful way. The value of sheer nerve. It’s beautiful. Life is beautiful.

 

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