Not What I Wanted to Write About Today

 

Today my brother’s/my car got repossessed. I have been staying at my dad’s for the past two days so that I can have a quiet place to study for finals and it was outside of this old familiar house that I discovered the car gone this morning. I went out for an early run before I had to drive back home, take care of other things, and decompress, and when I was running back along the street that my dad lives on I didn’t see my car. It has become a semi-ritualistic thing that I do when I have reached the final stretch of the run, and I see my car, I sprint towards the finish line. The car has become a beacon of home. It is comforting because it feels like I have accomplished something once I finally make it back and a moment of reprise is waiting. But when I did not see the old Nissan Pathfinder I thought at first that I had turned onto the wrong street, which isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility because it was just the other day that I had done just that. I ran back to the street sign and it registered in my mind that I had not been wrong, I had not turned too early, and then I began to think that my stepmother must have moved the car for some reason. But once I was inside the house I asked her right away where the car was and she had a blank expression. I first thought that maybe someone had stolen the car but I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to steal this car, and then we finally realized what had happened: repossession.

IMAG3880
My brother and I inside of the car months prior to repossession

On top of the morning excitement, today I also had court for a ticket I got a month ago on the car in question. The registration was past due and I did not have insurance at the time I was pulled over, and now I was meant to take care of a ticket for a car that I no longer had possession of. It felt both ironic and symbolic. Court was not as terrifying as I thought it would be and everyone was kind. I always operate under the assumption that the people at the DMV and in the courthouse are hard souls that deal with a lot of difficult people so that the people who work there become hardened in response. Everyone I have ever dealt with has been kind and thorough, shattering my assumptions every time.

Despite all of the different stressful elements of the day, I am mostly concerned about all of the books that I left in the back seat of the car, along with my wallet (but mostly the books). My eyes feel swollen as if I have been crying all day, but I know this isn’t the case. There was a decent show of tears this morning after the initial shock, but now that it has passed it is just moving on from here. I am not sure what to do, but this is just a moment in time and everything will come together again (sometimes it is just frustrating feeling like you are constantly being pulled apart).

What was your day like? Anything shocking happen?

J.

New Things (Thoughts?) that are Influencing Me

A new book begun today bought at an estate sale one Sunday morning on my way to the church I grew up in, but the main point of interest: on my way to church. I have not attended church seriously since I was a smallsmallsmall child. But an interesting thing about the book: Buddhist philosophy from a Tibetan teacher. I showed the book to a friend today and he said, “I am reading almost the same thing.” He pulls out a book of Jesus’ words.

Paying closer attention to how I talk to others, especially people that I take for granted. Along with attention-paying: making a point to apologize more and make sure my love overcomes my never-ending moodiness.

Making more of an effort to spend time with new people not to expand social circle, but in order to expand worldview. I have the desire to be able to love more people with ease, and in order to do this I must continue to engage with others and learn from them. Spending time with others in order to see the interconnected-ness of everything and to feel the love for everything/one without prejudice.

Noticing what I prioritize and how it serves me (or does not serve me). How do I spend my time? I have been making mental notes for months now and the results are in and changes are to be made.

The desire to start something that is my own and maybe is a bit drastic or a bit foolish but feeling like the start is the most important part of anything. Telling the people in my life that I am going to do a thing so that I will do the thing despite my own doubts.

Making the decision that I must create new things everyday so I end up writing a half-thought, not-thought, blog post late in the evening.

What has been influencing you?

J.

 

 

The “how” / Disease

69952.jpeg
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

imag4503

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)

Standing Rock : We Cannot Simply Sit By

After the events in North Dakota it has become obvious (if it wasn’t obvious before) that there is little to no regard for Native American (human) life. If you were not aware, since April 2016 the Native American Sioux tribe has been standing in solidarity against the Dakota Access Pipeline that would span across four different states if completed. This pipeline has been impending for years now, but it wasn’t until recently that construction has begun. All of the legal routes taken to avoid this have been unsuccessful. Part of the worry that spurred this protest is because of the proximity to the reservation in North Dakota -the pipeline is reportedly less than one half of a mile away from the border. Not only this, but the pipeline is said to also run along different sacred ancestral sites. As per federal law, consultation with the tribe is required before moving forward with such a project. This essential step is said to have not happened.

In the initial planning stages there were two routes that were proposed, one Northern, and another Southern. The Northern route would have been closer to the city of Bismarck, but there was an environmental concern about possible water contamination -this same concern was not expressed when the Southern route was approved. On the map drawn up for possible routes, the existence of the Tribal Reservation of the Sioux people was not included and the possible risks and the possible destruction of history is being disregarded for the pursuit of economic wealth.

Energy Transfer Partners is dismissive of the the concerns from the entire Native American community, and claim that building this pipeline is a safer alternative. However, pipelines are not impervious to environmental factors and hazards. Many pipelines have already broken all over the country. To build an oil pipeline underneath the Missouri lake would open up the possible contamination and destruction of a major water source for the Sioux people. This is part of the struggle for a larger picture. It is not just about what is happening now, but how these actions will have a bigger impact on the world in the future. The continuous disregard for an entire people, for the history of an entire people, is harming how we see others (not as people). It is also harming how we view the world (as an infinite thing here to solely serve us no matter the abuse it endures from human carelessness).

The protesters are “Water Protectors.” This is my brother.

This month, November, on the night of the 20th, the protesters at Standing Rock were fired on with water cannons in weather that was below freezing. My brother was there that night. My brother told me about the teargas. My brother told me about how the scarf I had knitted for him two Christmases ago protected him from some of the harm. I felt in me how harsh this world is and how we must do something. We are falling into decay, we are falling into a world that is devoid of love and understanding and seeking. The militarized police force at Standing Rock have used rubber bullets, tear gas, mace, compression grenades, beanbag rounds, and water cannons on these unarmed protectors.

I have been weeping, my heart is weeping. I wake up and the first thing I think is that I must do something. It would be so much easier to do nothing. It would be so much easier to sit off to the side and ignore what is happening and continue on with my life, but it would not be right. I want to secure a future where we can all live in security, safety, love, and respect. This is not the future we are going towards currently. Our ideals, our hopes, our dreams are giving shape to a toxic future that will only destroy us. This impending future will destroy this planet and it will take away the soft smiles of small blooming life -the giggles of experience bubbling up on blushing lips will be smothered under the smog of selfishness. This is the time when we must invest more than we could ever imagine into cultivating a better world. An honest world. A world that is not doomed to a harsh end.

As a people we cannot simply allow for such injustices to be handed off to us as “necessary acts” for “law and order” because they are not necessary and this is not order. As a country we have fallen into apathy and we sit around in our little homes isolating ourselves and consuming-consuming-consuming. We drink, we take drugs, we watch television because we know no other way to fill our time. This is why this is important. We have been taught how to not feel or care for the injustices that surround us everyday. We cannot sit idly by any longer. This is why this is important.

To say that this is “funny” is to declare nihilism. We must see the seriousness of these events and we must act or else all meaning will be drawn out of the world and we will be empty of all sensation. Our bodies are fading to the cold and empty comforts around us -nothing more but an empty life.

Listen.

After speaking to my brother he told me that some of the things they need the most at Standing Rock are…:

  • Fire (lighters and etc)
  • Meat
  • Tobacco
  • Headlamps
  • Light (!!!)
  • Electrical heater
  • Solar panel
  • Rope
  • Soap

I am spending this ‘holiday’ far from comfort and I am standing with the people who are fighting for and care for something we have forgotten about. We must wake up and be reminded of the world or else we will lose the world. Please help us in any way you can and do not fall into hopelessness. There is always something that can be done. If you are interested in joining us or helping provide supplies, please email me: jlboldt@outlook.com

To Help Contribute to Standing Rock Fund:

Official Website (with where to send things as well as other useful information)

For further reading and education:

The Battle at Standing Rock

The Standing Rock Resistance Is Unprecedented (It’s Also Centuries Old)

Police deploy water hoses, tear gas against Standing Rock protesters

7 history lessons that help explain the Dakota Access Pipeline protests

The Standing Rock protests are a taste of things to come

Dakota Access pipeline protester ‘may lose her arm’ after police standoff