Differing Visions, Differing Sight

Being caught in the same world but experiencing it differently. We look around us and different possibilities reveal themselves to us. I look at an empty wall and imagine a mural. What do you see? Today on my way into the city I ran into an old classmate on the train, “Hey.” He said to me. He moved up a seat and we talked for the next hour and an half. He told me about the time he spent on this tiny island, the southern most point of the world that is permanently inhabited, and how it changed his perception of reality. His language dipped into excitement about the lichen that grows on the trees, and how much more variety can be seen in such a far away world where the environment is not dramatically affected by human interaction. He told me about how he now looks intensely at the bark of trees, looking for the variety that develops at home in Texas. These are some of the curious ways we train our eyes to see.

Another curious thing to take into consideration -what is shared and what is not shared. How many physical things can someone share with another human, and yet these things are somehow not the same because we do not see them in the same way? Is it because the relationship to the thing is not the same, how the thing used is different? When the thing is used in the same way, but what if we both look at the same thing and think different things, use different words? I keep thinking of the French Press because it feels like one of the most basic things that we (Joseph and I) own and that we share and is fairly self explanatory. It is an instrument that allows us to make coffee or tea, depending on our mood. But several mornings ago is a good example of difference. I started boiling water so that I could make chai, and then I jumped into the shower so that when I got out the water would be ready, I would be clean, and I could enjoy tea before leaving for Cathy’s house so we could carpool. When I got out of the shower, dried myself off, changed, and then went to check on the water, I had discovered that Joseph had taken the French Press and filled it with coffee grounds. “Oh.” Was all I said, because I had seen the instrument in a different light and had a different use for what it was now being used for. Instead of saying anything I pulled out a smaller pot, filled it with water, and put it on the stove so that way I could warm up more water for a single cup of chai. It wasn’t a big deal, I accepted it as it was, and I knew that something was bothering Joseph, there was no reason to argue or blame him for having a different vision than me. But he doesn’t entirely understand how I feel, but I don’t say, but he doesn’t ask. It is no one’s fault and it is everyone’s fault. An action that under another circumstance would be considered thoughtful turns sour because instead of reading someone’s mind you do not understand and you read your own mind. The differing wavelengths.

The trouble with differing visions.

What do you see that no one else is able to share with you? How can you help me see? How can I help you see? Tell me about how often you have been alone in your own vision.

Talk soon,

J.

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My Future Days, My Current Days as of June 2018

How I would very much like life to continue to progress as we continue from this day onto the next, and so forth:

Waking up early enough to go for a run and do yoga afterwards as well as little exercises before I have to carpool with Cathy into work in the morning (Being able to still take the time to treat myself with morning delights -like the sunrise and the morning air and the empty streets and the first taste of chai and soft sounds)

Going into work feeling energized and productive – tackling every task I have each day with abundant ambition and delight. Putting my mind to use and exploring innovative ideas -always stretching and always reaching. Building strong relationships with my co-workers, our members, and the other people that I have the pleasure to meet and interact with every day. Learning something new and doing something new so that I grow into my job as well as growing into a better person everyday -to never be stagnant in the work that I am doing.

Leaving work feeling content with my day and ready to take on a new task and do more things. Finishing my evening with painting and drawing, writing, reading, and playing the harp so that I can hone my skills and also never stop growing when I am not at work. To learn how to do aerial silks and to become hooked into a community that will help me develop into new things that I have not yet had the exposure to yet.

To establish myself as a highly successful woman not only in the work that I do at AIA but also outside of AIA.

I will always have time for reading, writing, painting and drawing, playing the harp, practicing aerial silks, yoga, and running. I will explore my spirituality more and I will spend time talking to God. My weekends will be spent out in nature as well as working on constant improvement. I will be particular with who I spend my time with and I will make sure that my values align with the people that I have around me the most. I will love deeply and passionately.

Walking through the city I will find a place of quiet where I belong.

Joseph said that he was trying to compete with me. He said that if he did not keep up with me then he would see me surpass him further. I can see myself and I compare myself to others and I do not feel like it should be that difficult to keep up with me. I am not doing anything extraordinary. Going through the basic motions of life and trying to learn how to be closer to the entity that I imagine for my future self. I do not know where this vision comes from, but I can see her sometimes very clearly and she has been able to make it to where she has been trying to go. It is all a matter of putting in the work and being patient with yourself. Being patient with yourself. There is so much time that stretches out before us as long as we are present for the moment. As long as we give ourselves time. I am not anything worth competing with, but I am trying to be a better version of myself.

What I would like to be:

  • Athletic
  • Intelligent
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Musical
  • Thoughtful
  • Powerful
  • Kind
  • Well-rounded
  • Successful
  • Painter
  • Writer
  • Harpist
  • Aerial silk performer
  • Gardener
  • Mom

Maybe one day.

Talk soon,

J.

Oozing Desire

I keep thinking about the oozing baklava. Down the street from Lily’s home, off of Glebe Point Road, there is a small little shop with white shelves that are mostly empty and a front window that is full of freshly baked baklava. Everyday I am in Sydney I see the decadent little treats glistening on the other side of the glass, and it is usually just that: seeing. The baklava and I recognize in each other a desire: one is to be eaten and the other is to eat. The baklava has a fresh dusting of pistachio and the honey is dripping out from the sides slowly -the sight is evocative as the crispy pastry has the appearance of sunbaked skin.

On the eve of my last day in Sydney, with a fever and a runny nose, I went into the little empty store and I bought two large slices of baklava. My greedy mouth licking my lips as the baker wrapped up the treats in brown parchment. They were $2.50 each. After paying him I quickly left and ran down the street, pulling out my house key and scrambling through the dark doorway, the door closing with a strong and satisfying thud. No one was home, and I felt happy for this fact. I didn’t want to be seen in the throes of my desire. The long dark hallway took me to the kitchen where I delicately unwrapped the baklava, warm now from my sweaty feverish palms. My mouth oozing like the baklava.

I had bought yogurt earlier as well and I pulled it out of my bag and placed it on the wooden counter next to the parchment.

“Only one.” I told myself, looking at the pastry. On a small plate I placed the thickest slice of baklava and dolloped a thick layer of the yogurt on top.

With the treat prepared I slunk away to Lily’s room, closing the door behind me, allowing the darkness to swallow me.

I sat on the floor, my legs crossed, and with a spoon in hand I looked at the baklava and yogurt, trying to take my time. I could think of little else. My entire body was repulsed at the idea of eating or drinking anything the entire day, but now it demanded that I indulge. A body polluted with too much desire or pleasure.

That is the question that Lily had asked me the first day that I had arrived, “do you desire your desires?”

Do I desire my desires?

I ate that baklava without a second thought and without appreciating it as much as I should. Even though I told myself, “only one,” I quickly went back and had the second without thinking twice. What does this say about this desire? Or my self-control?

I can tell you that the baklava flakes in a decadent way and that the honey oozes out so that your mouth is flooded with a sweet aromatic nectar; I can tell you how the honey can spill out of your mouth and run down your chin; I can tell you about how the yogurt was like ice cream on the baklava and how it balanced out the crispy crunch of the pastry with a cool smoothness; I can tell you about the pistachios hidden inside of the pastry and how they were beautifully marinated in the honey.

But why did I give into this indulgence? What do I gain by learning the taste of something through the act of seeking pleasure? It is living in the instant. Being so consumed by the pleasure that all else falls away. A silence where only the pastry and I could exist together. Sometimes, often times maybe, it isn’t even the prospect of a possible pleasure that directs my actions, but only the habit of the action. How is seeking the delight of the oozing baklava while hidden in the dark a habit? The shame of being seen while in the act of mindless consumption?

I should be seeking more temperance. I want to be a saint.

Anyways, I felt like I should write something since it has been awhile.
J.

The “how” / Disease

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My brother and I

There is something diseased inside of me and I cannot get it out. The “how” of the eradicating is not lost on me, but the effort is what puts me off. It isn’t even the effort, it is the forgetting. It is as if I was a small creature with such a short memory and no sense of time that I constantly make the same mistakes because I have forgotten what would ultimately feed me, fuel me. This relates to what I have written about last time, the personal philosophy. The split self needs to heal.

The “how”of the healing is what I am seeking. This I also know, however. I know how to heal, I know what to do, and I have always known. It is easier to play at forgetting, but I am tired of forgetting and being as everyone else who plays at forgetting (most people). I want to be gentle and good and kind. I can see the self on the other side of effort and time that are both required in order to clean out the rot of my own body, and she is better off, she is grown and strong like a tree with deep roots. Until I have gotten better I must constantly remind myself with lists and to-dos and how-tos. I did a short experiment with myself and I stopped writing lists for awhile. Without list-making my productivity and my growth decreased drastically and I stopped caring about a lot of things. I would spend most of my time locked away in my room and avoiding human contact. I stopped waking up early in the morning and I stopped opening my windows. I haven’t let fresh air into my room for over a month now.

The care is what must be cultivated. Too much circumspection is allowed in my daily life and it impacts how I act around and treat others. It is easier to not look at people out of fear that the person will begin to demand something of you, but the only thing that anyone really wants is love and understanding. My brother texted me: “I crave another to look at me with eyes of compassion in place of misunderstanding and distrust.” My mother told me the other day about the interaction she had with a woman who she took a moment to look at sincerely and ask, “are you okay?” Acceptance is all that anyone wants and I am afraid of giving out my love freely and without fear. I love the people I love deeply, but allowing my love to stretch out to new people is a challenge that I must overcome. It is part of the disease inside of me that leads to mistrust and hesitancy.

This disease inside of me will be overcome in time. Mindfulness is just required, along with gentleness.

I will walk slowly at first.

J.

Seeking : Personal Philosophy

The end of the semester is finalizing and I am entering my final year of university this next fall. I am finally making time to write something for my blog (I know, it has been awhile), and I am sitting in a coffee house I used to frequent when I lived thirty mintues south of my current home. I have been spending the afternoon working on my final course work readings, as well as enjoying a disappointing chai latte. For one of my readings it was a concluding chapter for my Southwest Indigenous Culture class, and towards the end of the reading the author briefly touched on the importance of a personal philosophy. Since indigenous ontology is combative with the dominate western thought, the importance of a personal  philosophy is felt deeply. A song just began to play in this little coffee house and the chorus: “Got to be true to myself.” Fitting.

I have felt in myself lately also the need to be reminded more why it is that I am doing the things that I am doing and how I want to direct my life, live my life. I already make choices everyday that affirm myself within the world, but not all of the choices that I make align with what I feel to my “personal philosophy.” The dichotomy between my thoughts, my actions, and my words is disorienting sometimes because I am left wondering who I am and what I am trying to ultimately accomplish with everything I do. The chapter quotes Santa Clara Pueblo Dr. Greg Cajete who spoke on alcoholism specifically as one of “the spiritual ills which befall traditional people once they lose their direct connection to spiritual ecology. Tewa people call this state of unwhole, unwise existence pingeh heh…split thought or thinking, being foolish and doing things with only half your mind.” This distinction that is made, the split that Dr. Cajete draws attention to, is important. He also makes a point to mention, “It is not only Indian people who must heal this split in themselves.” The split in myself needs to be healed, and I must also recognize that nothing can be maintained without care -just because you have allowed old wounds to heal, or for the split-self to become whole again, does not mean that this wholeness can be sustained forever. Entropy does not allow for a thick web of stagnation to crystalize around us.

A little before this, the Navajo-Ute flutist, R. Carlos Nakai, was quoted about personal philosophy specifically. He said, “if you don’t have a personal philosophy of what you intend to do in the world you’ll get out there and begin drinking, and you’ll lose sight of your path.” Reading all of this made me wonder how a dismantled culture cannot support an individual and help without the foundation and creation of a personal philosophy. The quest for a deeply rooted sense of self (a self that also allows for change and the fluidity of life) should be the priority in this life if we want to be better humans that are true to others and to ourselves. All of this is akin to authenticity. 

This is a topic that can be explored more, and should be explored more, but for now I leave a short list as a foundation for my personal philosophy  to be developed further in another post:

  • Family, friends, relationships
  • Nature and animals (i.e. the world)
  • Books and knowledge and experience
  • Mindfulness
  • Honesty

Ultimately, I am just seeking how to be a fulfilled human and how to best contribute back into the world. It is easy to become distracted and catatonic.

Write soon,

J.

s-t-i-l-l-n-e-s-s and s l o w n e s s

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The lesson of slowness keeps reappearing in my life. I find it when I go for walks and everyone tells me that I move through the world with an unnecessary swiftness. I find it when I am trying to read poetry and I pass over the words too quickly. I find it when I cannot sit still or when I feel like I am not doing anything that is ‘productive.’ I find it when I try to meditate but my awareness of everything else moving around / through me is too overwhelming. S l o w n e s s and s-t-i-l-l-n-e-s-s.

The last full day that I was in Sydney, I walked with Lily to Rustic Pearl in Surry Hills for hot chocolate before she went off to work. We both have the tendency to walk faster and faster, to move our bodies from one place to the next with an unintentional speed. We did not speak, we just walked, which is typical for our time together -we are often immersed in a welcomed silence. After drinking a rose hot chocolate that tastes of Turkish Delight (a halved strawberry on the side of the bowl) and chocolate chai, we walked together until we reached Centennial Parklands. Lily went off in the direction of Bondi and I crossed the threshold and passed the gates into the park. I hadn’t planned on spending a lot of time wandering around, but I felt the slowness settle around me because I had nowhere else to be, I had nothing else to do.

One of Lily’s new roommates from Holland, who is studying philosophy and film, mentioned during one of our conversations the word ‘meander’ and the Greek root coming from a river in Turkey, Maeander. Since this conversation I have been fixated on this motion of moving through the world, and conversation, with an unfixed and nonstrategic agenda -ie, no agenda. This is how I had decided to walk about the Centennial Parklands and beyond, to meander. Moving through the world with this lack of purpose guided me to many mystical places. I had only Bon Iver’s most recent album downloaded to my phone, and so he was my guide through each place that I passed through.

I saw the roots in the ground like bones or fossils from an ancient creature and the bark of the trees were like scales on the back of a dragon.

There were sticks / branches strung together against a tree to create a small place to take shelter – a magenta shoelace used to string together the branches / sticks.

I climbed up three dozen steps and came across an empty green field filled only with birds and wind.

It felt silent in this park when I first began my meandering as I was farther away from the people. I did not feel like there was anyone else around for a long time and I sat with the silence to cultivate stillness.

When I moved closer to the commotion of others I saw a sign that read, ‘Labyrinth.’ There was a small arrow pointing the way and I followed the way. I thought because I was in a park it would be a garden labyrinth that I would come across, but instead it was something much simpler and much more interesting. Labyrinths have never been seen as good throughout my life because I have thought them to be something that is created for confusion / disorientation and to trap anyone who wanders into the labyrinth. When I finally reached the labyrinth, however, I was surprised that it was only a circular stone monument in the ground. There was a plaque that stood before the labyrinth to provide greater context and it read : “The Labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many different cultures -a truly universal symbol, used by people around the world as a place of reflection and renewal. It differs from a maze in that it has only one path and there are no dead ends. The Labyrinth is an inclusive and sacred space, welcoming all faith traditions. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Simply find your natural pace and feel free to overtake if the need arises. It’s a two way street, so you may meet others on the path. The Labyrinth offers an opportunity to quiet the mind and open the heart. Some people come with questions or to simply relax, and others come during times of grief or loss.” I saw at the beginning the slowness of moving from one instant and into the next. I saw how this can create an entire world by allowing the sacred details of living be sacred and seen. Sacred and seen. I walked towards the labyrinth and walked on the first stone, to the next stone. A deliberate slowness that directed me from one moment into the next. The entire outside world faded away and instead I was in the moments inside of my being and they directed my movement. I could hear the outside world but it was still outside of me and the moment and it could not penetrate the reflection that was necessary for the moment. It is all just a journey that I am always partial to begin and be part of, the journey of life and of awareness of the moment in a stillness -a moment suspended in amber. I remember walking with such a grand slowness that directed me and I did not want to reach the end of the labyrinth -the place that I was once afraid of, the place that I once thought to be a place of confusion was transformed into a new space that I did not want to leave. Once I finally found the end after moving without seeking I felt a sigh of satisfaction and rest settle over me. The thinking and the walking led to a prismatic room that led to many other rooms where I knew other wary travellers were resting their heads until they were ready to begin their journey anew. I felt as if I had reached one pivotal moment of my life and now was a time for rest until the next time for bring presented itself -and it came soon, but also slowly. Being in Centennial Parklands was an exercise in slowness for me and this was the first day in Sydney that I experienced a sense of uninterrupted being. I left the park to go on an extensive four hour walk throughout the suburbs of Sydney and experience new places and new sights.

The moment that I first became cognizant (ie, I wrote something down for another person to read and share in my awareness) was sitting in Kyle’s apartment after he had left for work and he laid out a poem for me to read. It was a decent length, and sitting at his dining room table in the silence and the stillness of his home I felt the world become caught in the moment. Each word took up more space, each word taking up an entire breathe cycle. I found that I could not finish the poem because I was overwhelmed with the first two pages that moving forward, finishing the poem in that moment would not allow me to take it into my being fully and instead it would be a poor imitation of what I could have from the entire experience. I stopped. I wrote a short note on three pink sticky notes. I left. I did not return to the poem until I was sitting on the floor in a bookstore in Sydney with Lily sitting next to me. I read it out loud for both of us to hear, and I read it slowly. I let my tongue linger over each word, each syllable. I wanted to be as invested in the moment as I could be as well as invested in the human that was sitting just a few inches from my person. I connected both this poem, the person who shared this poem with me (Kyle), and the human so near me (Lily) into one experience and was able to both live in the present as well as the past. Each experience created deeper ridges in the memories that have helped shape the person who is typing now. The slowness and the stillness in my life have allowed me to love deeper and be present in more ways than I have in the past. I know how to linger over things longer, and the labyrinth has shown me how I can wander from one instant into the next, but I will always return to that large cavern of a room where others are resting and I will rest with them and we will exchange the stories of adventure and life that have helped fuel us. I will not lose sight of those who cultivate the same sense of life that I cultivate for myself because we will all return to this place and find the other waiting. It is time for a deep breathe and a soft good-bye until we return again. To be able to recognize the time for experience, the time for reflection, and the time for company that can see / understand is important for walking the labyrinth -there are many ways to walk about and find yourself back to the center. It is about finding alignment.

I remember watching others move with harsh movements as if racing from one broken moment to the next. Sitting outside on the patio of Lily’s home in Glebe I saw many people that did not understand the importance of being slow / still, and I saw in them how some may see me. The un-reflected, or disconnected, movement that some put out into the world is something that I want to avoid for myself because it adds to the confusion. In contrast to the labyrinth, something that I thought would contribute to confusion, there is a greater sense of gathering together when walking along that meandering, wandering, path. Instead, many treat life -moving from one moment and into the next  -as a maze instead of a labyrinth. People find confusion and say things like, “I don’t know” (something I often do and must stop doing), when really they know and they can find the clarity that they seek if they approach life as a labyrinth that leads to a room of rejuvenation and other soft souls that can connect to the experience and honesty of life.

Being in Sydney and being with Lily and being alone and being far away from everything I have grown up in is important in helping me understand the person that I am, the person that I want to be, and the person that I have always been. I wander about the two-way street of the labyrinth and I come into contact with others who help illuminate the parts of myself that were once shrouded in a death mask. The time has come for silent solitary reflection.

Update from Facebook Hill

​from Facebook Hill, before this tablet dies:

At the beginning of this journey after landing in Sioux Falls to meet up with my brother, I crawled into his car and he turned to me and said: “We are going back to help a man named Seabird.”

This is why this is important. The mass of humans that seemingly have no separation from each other are in fact individuals and it is easy to forget this. In my short time here I have already gotten to know some incredible humans who are fighting as one in order to stop the construction of this pipeline. There has been talk of nefarious actions within the camp, however, such as possible tampering with generators (the other night a large number of new generators all stopped working). Because of possible infiltrators within the camp it is only that much more important to remain vigilant, but it also signifies  that we are making some sort of an impact. Fear would be one of the few driving forces behind such intervention. I have also heard that some people have been asking odd questions (“How do you plan on stopping this pipeline?”), and whether they are just journalists or not remains to be seen.

The community is strong here, and when we first arrived long after the sun had taken away his light, the gatekeepers said to us, “welcome home.” We handed them a few homemade cookies because every act here is done to continue the cycle of community, reciprocity. This is a home to many (this is everyone’s home ultimately). In order to fend off the coming winter, some people have even been constructing permanent shelters, and there are communal sleeping areas for the blisteringly cold winter nights.

That first night of our arrival, we lined the back of my brother’s truck with an odd assortment of sleeping bags and blankets in order to insulate the car. He told me that when he stayed the night in one of the teepees the first time he was here they did the same. In weather that reached well below freezing, we were still able to remain toasty. In the morning, I woke to the sound of Indigenous song and the red sun rising along the horizon. There is a microphone in the camp near the sacred fire that the elders use during the day to make announcements. In the morning they also use the microphone to wake up the Protectors (my brother told me how one morning someone said, “It’s time to wake up. The sun is rising. This isn’t a vacation. It’s time to wake up.”). 

Today we went into town to pick-up some more supplies and two fellow protectors joined us, Monique and Pebble. This had been the first time that Pebble had been back to ‘society’ since being here for the past three weeks. She expressed a feeling of complete alienation being surrounded by all of the humans who were so detached from what was happening only an hour away from them. I couldn’t help but think of my time in France when I was walking the Via Francigena and how in every town I felt the eyes of everyone around me peeling off my skin and judging me. The people in town most likely do not understand what it is that we are doing. Whether it is ignorance or callousness I could not say, but this is the time to be involved as our country reveals more and more its fascist nature.

As we were driving back to the reservation from town we saw a bright yellow Penske van pulled over. The van was filled with supplies, and the police were confiscating all of it. Pebble mentioned how this has been going on for awhile. The cops pull over vans going to the reservation and claim that the drivers are “conspiring to commit a felony.” There are so many powers at work against this movement, and so we must not stop fighting. The heart of these people is strong and you can feel it all around you. One older man who recently suffered from a stroke took his chair to the frontlines and sat facing the police in defiance. We are ready to die if we must, and we are not afraid.

Pebble mentioned how she wanted to put together an “Action Pack” to hand out to people going to the frontlines so that they can stay safe. If anyone is interested in helping put these together or donate some money for the supplies we would be eternally grateful. What we want to include in the bag is…:

  • Wool blanket
  • Gas Mask
  • Goggles
  • Ear Plugs

All of these things would protect us from the ammunition that the police have been using on the Protectors. We may update to include other items if we find that they are necessary.

I hope that the world will listen soon enough and pay attention long enough to put an end to all of this. It is still early here, but I wanted to post an update. I must return and do what I can to help.

J.

p.s. If anyone wants to donate to us you can via paypal: standingrockfund@gmail.com (I have received a few emails and so I wanted to put this out there)