Looking in the Mirror

Looking in the Mirror…

I read my horoscope everyday, not so much because I believe in the power of celestial bodies messing with my life as I believe it is the acid test for how I am feeling when I read it.  Today it said something to the effect that I would be likely to get into arguments, which pissed me off.

I do get angry. It is hard not to sometimes but I try to be aware of it before I am in some action that can do harm and also, I will admit, gets me in harms way.

I used to toss a coin when I couldn’t make my mind up about something.  Never anything really important, usually when either choice was valid.  I found if I didn’t like the outcome of the toss I would simply do the opposite. Again, either choice being valid, my inclination was the question. I learned that didn’t need to waste my time. I am not as quick witted as I once was, but I am more measured.

Inclination is in itself type of coin, perhaps a coin we don’t know we carry until something in life causes us to choose an action and we have to turn it over. Granted there are plenty of thoughtless thugs who never question their inclinations. Often if they have some part to play in history they become celebrities at least in their own pub or whatever cultural gathering place that includes mental incapacity due to alcohol or religion or the combination that results from professional sports. Or they become infamous villains depending on way things play out, how attractive their features are and if they survive or end up on t-shirts. Those who question inclination often become ineffectual in the grand scheme and hardly thought of at all when the dust settles except perhaps when they say, “I was alive during that time”.

My question is, within the mass of humanity that might get caught up on the streets in some sort of demonstration either by folly or desire or virtue, are not most feckless wanderers who despite the rightness or wrongness of their inclination would choose NOT to cause harm to another human being, especially if they could toss the coin endlessly until the question of being there or staying home was exhausted?

I once spent a weekend with a lovely couple in the seventies who had been caught up in the arrests without cause that followed the FLQ crisis back in ? She was less ardent but he was sure a war between French and English Canada was coming and after hours of talking concluded that I would be shot by both sides. The assertion being that NOT CHOOSING was a greater sin than being wrong.

But again, there are people who just show up. People like me who don’t know how to effect change but recognize at some point you have to decide to show up in support of this or that. The hard part is not falling prey to the inclination to do harm. The miraculous part is seeing some who can show us how to address the harm that others might do without perpetuating it or fueling it.

Wow. Just writing that last sentence got my heart pumping. The scary thing is being scared and not succumbing to acts of violence. Not condoning aggression even as pay back. It is the fear of losing the peace that I enjoy that reveals the fear and perhaps the dishonesty of my pacifism, but that peace includes everyone I endeavour to love and that includes everyone. So when whatever war comes to my door (because I will stay in) I will try to be brave and say, “either side can kill me, I will not defend myself if it involves harming others.” My inclination will not decide for me. Regardless of how close to what history will bare as the most important choice a person can make in these times, a gut reaction will not be useful. My practice and commitment to love and to do no harm to others will be what determines my actions. I will be wrong perhaps but not untrue. I tend push back, it is my inclination, but I submit by choice.

These are frightening times.

P.S. I have just learned of the events in Charlottesville, in the U.S. yesterday. It is hard not to want to strike out against the monstrous mental paralysis that has lead to these murderous acts. It is not terrorism, it is bare-faced murder.

These people who are in the mental paralysis called fascism want to kill the opposition. They do not recognize any people who have opinions other than theirs as being human, as anything but a target for their hatred.

So how do you respond?

I think that it is good that the statue is coming down and it shows the success of government and civic responsibility. I don’t believe that the fascists have done anything to change that. (I hope). I am sorry for all the people who were injured and their families.

I Stammer When I Write, but I am brilliant when I read.

I do, and I have an odd habit of saying things in a back-assed way. It is as if addressing a glove that is turned insideout I imagine turning the world inside out to accommodate it. So it is of paramount importance that I learn to edit. If I want to share that is.   (What is the deal with EM dashes really?)

Unfortunately I am doing most of my reading through audio books these days. Presently I am listening to “City on Fire” by Garth Risk Hallberg and it is AWESOME.  It is set in 1970’s New York and that was MY TIME in history, –as pathetic as that may be– I feel at home there.

Mostly I am enjoying the writing. He is a beautiful writer. Every sentence I want to swim in, dive in, gulp.  Truly. And now I feel I need to see the words so I can discern the magic of them.

Ah words, you trap me everyday.

So that’s all I have to say: I stammer when I write.  I spent a year stammering as a child and had to go to speech therapy.  What I learned was if they take you out during regular class time you will get beaten up at recess.  So I fixed it because of my sheer determination to not be different. That’s what the 1970’s were, the struggle to be normal and the results of how impossible it was to be normal.  The punk, post humanist posture, and it’s darker preppy twin, the hyper vigilant, fake it till you make it, corporate minion was the result. All of this is delineated in his book wondrously.

I don’t know what started my stammer or really what ended it but it ended.

I can learn to write better, perhaps not brilliantly but better.  I just have to find someone to threaten me with a beating if I don’t. 😦

Getting there is not the issue.

I should have expected this. Right on time I went a bit crazy with anxiety over my writing. I know about the hard work of writing (and just about any creative endeavour)and I had the crazy idea that because I have overcome so many of my “demons” I would be able to slog through the nasty bits of finishing off my novella for possible publication. I also thought I could handle having to talk to other people about it. Instead I sunk into a black despair which I commonly call “being in the grip of the black dogs”. I think I have written about this and how it compares to grief, both of which are not really the same as sadness despite the social misuse of the term “depressed”.

*sigh*

Where I have fallen down and continue to fall down is not in falling down but
in trying to hide it.

I can’t write the “great novel”.  I can only write my novel and be as true as I can possibly be. That includes letting it fail but doing the work anyway.

Sometimes when I am riding my bike home with my groceries I am passed on the road by someone all suited up with the latest apparel and newest bike and I think of the old lady I used to see in Ottawa. She carried her groceries in the front basket of an old bicycle. She made lunches for a local day care. I would see her everyday. She always dressed in a skirt and wore a hat or scarf and she rode very erect.  She is the one I remember out of all the cyclists whizzing by me in my lifetime. I have no ego invested in the daily chores that riding my bike help me complete, I don’t compare myself to athletes or pretend to be other than who I am.

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Wheeeeel, Wheeeel, Wheeeel, BUTTERFLY!

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wilficecream

About Writing

 

 

Back in the good old days of Live journal I used it as my personal diary and sometimes forgot to click on “private” in the drop down so it was sort of like a Rear Window event only I was the victim or the murderer, not sure which.  I did share a lot of my attempts at writing fiction in that ghostly world of on-line journaling.  But it was unsubstantial, like a life that only happens when you are sleeping.

I recently gave my novella to a couple of friends and then to a woman who is a professional editor. She offered to give it a read and then an estimate for the edit…  This is about as REAL as I have gotten with my fiction writing beyond a few teen magazines when I was a teen and a cook book and short story anthology that I gave my oldest son.

btw, WHAT THE F*&K ARE EM DASHES?

forgive the brain fart

Here is what they have said:

  • Friend who makes her living writing, or a portion of her living, we will call her J.  “Hi Rio, I’m just starting to read your book. I love it! I don’t want to put it down!”
  • Friend who is very much the opposite of sanguine. Lets call her D.: “Hi my birth name, I’ve read half your story and here are the notes I jotted down while I was reading. (The majority are spelling mistakes.)”
  • The Editor, hence called “the editor”: I read the working name of my novella and found it very engaging. The storytelling is strong; you have a clear tone and good flow. I really like the stories within a larger story concept. You’ve created a dystopian environment that is still recognizable, and timely!” Then she said she would do it with suggestions for story for $1000 to $1200. I paid her $100 for the read and begged off for now.

Ack.  Should I go in debt to get this book published?  I am old.  Am I just an old fool?

I would say yes. I am an old fool. This morning I received my first phone call from my grandson. He is 1 1/2 years old.  He can say “Hi Nana” and his own name, and a bunch of adorable and clever things but when he gets tired of prompting he says, “whhheeeeeel, wheeeeeel, wheeeeeel” -which sounds like a British ambulance- and then, “BUTTERFLY!”

Gaud I wish I could do that when I feel overwhelmed by the pressure to do something awesome!  Oh, hey, I did!

Sharing our Humanity

 

flowerseller

Nivia Gonzalez, “El Mercado de Flores”

Two days ago I went for a follow-up mammogram and ultra-sound. Nobody likes to get these things. I always tell the technician a glass of wine would go nicely, sometimes it gets a laugh but I NEVER get a glass of wine.

 

It was good.  I mean, I had a nice time if you can believe it.  As it was a follow-up exam I made a point of telling everyone that actually had to touch me that I have had cancer twice and am now being monitored for a pre-cancer.

“I can understand how you might be nervous because of that.”

It seemed to make a difference, but I can’t be sure if it was a result of the release of tension I probably carry without knowing it or because of the technicians actually showing more than the usual amount of compassion.

I like to say that compassion is not something anyone can own or take as a virtue but an environment that we can share when we let go of the “self and other” mentality.  I have no proof for this and only a vague recollection of experiencing this as my usual internal narrator was absent. The moment, transitory and aberrant has only a tether to my Zen practice which is almost impossible for me to talk about.

Nevertheless my own pressure release of expressing what could likely make me feel separate from other people, (or at least one of the things that so often limits me) did serve to connect me to what was going on and that usually has good effects.

Something else I realized, if you make people aware of your shared humanity, they increasing look ridiculous as they try harder and harder to deny it.  You only have to look at ranting racists on social media who are confronted in a calm but consistent rebuttal by the people they are invested in hating and how they look more and more pathetic, eroding in their rhetoric into petulant potty mouths.  I think it is interesting because they look like two year olds… just a thought…

Nobody should be written off as hopeless.  We all behave like children often enough and yet, like children, given a shared opportunity to learn we can be quite remarkable in how kind, helpful and even courageous we are.  Oh and good news, results in, it’s fine, nothing to worry about. 🙂

the poster was in the waiting room of the breast screening clinic

Buying Time

This is a link to some famous guys talking about their time.  You can Google Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and find out who they are if you don’t know.  Which is cool right?

http://www.swiss-miss.com/2017/03/you-control-your-time.html

Anyway, a basic lack of awareness is the biggest time waster of all and no amount of structure, lists or schedules can provide it.  I remember when a mom I knew who had been a palliative care nurse in a hospital told me she had had nervous breakdown.  She said the cut backs in support staff were so severe that her job had become moving patients around like cords of wood just to get the basics done like changing sheets and cleaning bed pans and she realized that she had started to see them as impediments to the function of the floor rather than the reason why she was there. “I wasn’t interacting with them as human beings. I had lost it”.  What had she lost? She lost the awareness of what she was actually doing there, perhaps because it was no longer possible.  I don’t know, I don’t doubt it was devastating for her.  She loved her job, she said she felt had been good at it.

This is a drastic example but not unusual.

Still, we have more time than we know, we have right now.  We have the breath in our bodies. We have the light entering our eyes from whatever screen we are looking at this from, the air moving around us, perhaps playing with dancing tiny flecks of dust, the sounds around us, intentional or insidious, humming aspects of twenty-first century life.  Or maybe nature: Robins bursting with exuberant declarations of spring love, or trees swaying in the wind or rain falling on hard ground…

Ah but there is that other blog we wanted to check and the coffee we want warmed and damn aren’t we late for something!!!  But if we bump into another human being as we rush to where we are going we can take a moment to notice them (if we are Canadian we can apologize) before we rush off.  We can be AWARE and it can make a difference.

Have a Nice Day!

This moment is brought to you entirely free. 🙂