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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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

Not Knowing, I go on and on…

I am so happy to have undefined time!  Holiday!  One of the time wasters is following the white rabbit down that inevitable hole that is the internet. This morning, a Facebook spirit posted this:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/george-michael-dead-death-somebody-to-love-queen-freddie-mercury-cover-rehearsal-video-david-bowie-a7496046.html

It is a rehearsal with George Michaels singing Queens “Somebody to Love” (which is possibly the purest genius of Western music, just my opinion).  And there is Mr. Jones smiling in the background.

So that got me thinking about Bowie and the time I spent trying to look like him.  I spent some time during my teens doing a lot of psychedelic substances while wandering around back alleys with friends, who like me, had no place to go, their family homes having turned into fortresses clearly defined by their lack of comfort or welcome for the likes of us.  If we had become unrecognizable to our families they had also become unrecognizable to us. But we were seeking guidance from heroes who were children themselves, reading voraciously in a way our parents never had, Ken Kesey, Vonnegut, Carlos Castaneda, Solzhenitsyn, Tolkien, following Art and Culture, yet undefined, with a kind of devotion  found in cults. (No wonder our parents were afraid of us.)  But I was still just a girl, in love with a boy… so I looked up what I wrote about  David Bowie, here on LJ and found the following. (I edited a bit).

An artist questions… she is naked, so we dress her in what we understand, but we only show our own misunderstanding.

If we can bear the embarrassment, and this is the point when we can change, when we laugh and start open up; we realize we all are these frail and imperfect beings, naked in what we thought was our brilliance, vulnerable.

Our true brilliance is, …we are all like stranded aliens, homesick and searching. Looking for a name for ourselves and hiding in our lies. When a voice reaches out of the rubble left by our insistent need conquer anyone who questions us, it is a voice of pure desperate need.  George singing in joy, in desperation, “Find me somebody to love”:  These are the moments when even the Gods are gobsmacked.

And then I came to my friend (? I flatter myself), Sub Rosa, here on W.P. Her writing about art has challenged me in new ways and the work and writings she has exposed me to in her blog have lit a bit of a fire in me.  This poem is advice on how we keep the brilliance from shredding us to pieces. Have I reached the time when I can?

<a href=”https://omstreifer.com/2016/08/05/live-the-questions/”>https://omstreifer.com/2016/08/05/live-the-questions/ </a>

I will end here because I am hungry because I now know what my desperate need is, not someone to love, but something… I have to tighten it till it reaches the pitch required to achieve escape velocity, just for my own satisfaction, as if it’s all I ever wanted.

Because no matter how horrible we humans are we do our best when we are lost and on the brink of disaster.

And now, in addition, I come to the loss of Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher who so artfully made struggle for mental wellness lyric, and comic and true and made room for all of us to admit our vulnerability. When she was Princess Leia the boys pretended to love her tits, but it was her courage we all loved. As temporary as youth and beauty are, courage can grow and she showed us how.

(Side note, apparently sleep is the new way to stay young. Oh Gwenith Paltrow why must you?  I must admit I giggled a lot when I read that.)

Remembering a Dream

I had a diagnosis of stage four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2002. I got in a panic about several areas of my life that needed addressing.  So as soon as I well enough after the chemo rounds were done I started painting.  I joined the Scarborough Artist’s Group. I also took probationary monks vows in the Soto Zen lineage.

openingtoopenness this was one.  “Opening to Openness, the four great vows”.

I don’t know where it is now.  I am still practicing just about everything there is to practice about being a human being.

 

Walking Woman’s post about Doris McCarthy brought back this reminiscence at: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/1450339/posts/1210833758

Did a spot of face painting!

Got invited again this year to face paint at a street party in the East End. Took it easy this year and kept it to only two and a half hours. A sign was posted ahead of time alerting the street to the hours, a much better approach as it avoided tears and breaking my back!  Still I have promised some kids to come back next year as they had SO MANY GOOD IDEAS and only one face to paint each.

I had two pumpkins this year.  I never had a request for a pumpkin face before!  Also the usual jungle camouflage, lots of those, several butterflies and angels.  The little girl in the picture showing me the heart she made was my favorite.  They had a painting station with an easel and paints and instead of freaking out when a smaller child put a mark on her page  she took my advice and incorporated it in her composition!  A happy happenstance!