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!

What we bring to what we see.

allegory in art

When we make a snap judgement about what we see, we are being human.

day four

the way we perceive, how we perceive, what we perceive, is it’s manipulation art?

Is the frame we put around a picture, the duration of a performance, the context, are these the things that make it digestible? And within what we can bare to see and experience, the difference between entertainment, distraction and trauma?

I’ve been having a hard time with Facebook and the spectrum of information it assaults one with, this was even before I started chronicling my recovery from a fall. I have posted a picture of my face next to a piece of art  everyday.  (Doing this was my son’s suggestion.  He is a Vancouver artist, Linton Murphy).   I have joined the fray as it were with my posts.  I have no idea how many people are screening me from their news feed now. Ha!

Having a concussion has been interesting.  I have enjoyed an increased sensitivity to colour, while I am more exhausted by the rigours of conversation, preferring cats, dogs and small children to most adults except for the ones who are physically emotive.  People who have hugged me:  A technician who spent a lot of time talking about how she loves her children (while prodding me with an ultrasound device) and the effect of war and poverty on her mother in her home country;   The receptionist at the doctor’s;  The nurse’s assistant from the Philippines who helped me wash my cuts at the hospital. My daughter, her mother-in-law, my son-in-law, my upstairs tenant…  I am not an emotive person normally, nor a hugger. Moments outside watching dramatic cloud formations and being transfixed by awesomeness, for lack of a better word. As it wanes the usualness of my space and my expectations is settling in.  Some changes.  Some.