Saturday, October 20, 2012
I’m sure to die! My body is aging. My mind ripening… I celebrate myself on this macabre and gorgeous journey!
At a recent wake honoring the life of a young person who left their body, I realized that I had not thought too much about what I’d like in the case of my death.
But first! A casual short-list of things I want to do before I die:
1. Get a tattoo.
2. More sexual things, exploring consent and sexual action.
3. Practice handstand away from a wall.
4. Resolve financial stress.
5. Make a nice house (wherever I am): comfortable and welcoming for my self and others.
6. More connections in the world, community healing.
To be continued…
Okay, let’s say I died. I’d like everybody who feels connected to me in some way to have an opportunity to gather, but to also know that it’s okay to mourn privately if you'd prefer that. I would prefer that my body is not there. It can be cremated, placed in the earth or buried at sea, but don’t bother much with my corpse, it doesn’t have a lot to do with me, so it does not need to be present for the party. And I do not want a plot of earth marked and reserved for me; I’d like the earth to be enjoyed by those who are alive!!
At the gathering, I’d like you to do exactly how you feel, whether it seems appropriate or not. It is not necessary to be solemn or to act the way one thinks that one should act at an occasion like this. I just ask that you are mindful of not hurting others who are also there. In fact in honor of my playfulness, I’d like you to celebrate in a way that you’d like as long as you are not hurting others. You can dress in an unusual or colorful way, or not wear much! That would honor me as long as you are expressing yourself. At my wake, it’s okay to laugh and cry! It’s okay to honor yourself and your needs at the time. It’s okay to dance and smile and feel good. It’s okay to sit and think, or talk quietly. At some point in the evening (I see it happening at night.) I request silence: a moment (minutes long) for being together to honor the great mystery that is suggested by someone dying. It is okay to cry into this silence.
Remember what you want to accomplish while you are alive.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
I am grateful for opportunities to explore my queerness.For me, queerness has something to do with questioning the power structures supported by the notion that 1 man + 1 woman = marriages/families/privilege, and power imbalances that often exist within this kind of contractual situation. And the reality that I see includes many people, like myself, who are choosing to live their lives differently from this model.
I really do not want my life to be seen as legitimized by the presence of a male-bodied person. I should be allowed respect for my self, even in my female body, and my life as it is now: an independently living person. This in itself for some people might be seen as kind of queer.
Queerness in my mind is not based only in sexuality. I think it might be based in freedom: freedom to explore ones self based on perceptions and self-definition instead of trying to make a life that conforms to traditional hierarchy and historical images of power. These systems and images generally disregard people not living as 1 man + 1 woman, and tend to crush women’s power and ability to determine self in any case.
And yes, I want to claim the power to explore consent-based intimacy, love and sexual experiences with people I want to. I am thinking that what is important to me is the person, not necessarily the expressed gender of the person, that attracts me.
So, yes! I am grateful for queerness, and opportunities to explore the topic personally in relationships and life-choices, and socially in art, performance, poetry, spoken word, music, parties and activism. It offers me hope that there is the potential and vision for a more just world for people to live, be heard, and express themselves in.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say "Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace." What is "this"? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another "this" that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only "the hope of peace some day."
~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart
I’ve been revisiting this piece on peace by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is one that I’ve referred to and revered over the years.
But, when interpreted in that way there is a possible warp in ones commitment to life, and a preference towards spiritual practice or whatever a person feels connects them to peace—it could just as easily be drugs or another addiction. This take on the importance of not feeling anxiety or anger (opposites of peace) could be used as an excuse to escape life.
Can we have peace and debt? Can I have peace and unmet needs? Can I be angry and be at peace? I think so. I think that the situation is that challenging. I can’t afford to neglect the calls of my life in deference to a fantasy of peace. That just closes me off: isolation is not an appropriate response to my life.
I think that what is being asked for here is a level of engagement with life that exceeds a casual acknowledgement of what is happening. So even in moments of emotional turmoil, an aspect of myself is patient, and I am present to experience that. Even in moments of anger, I feel the spark of love. And when I’m really sad, I also know and trust that the storm will subside.
I used to imagine peace as a pure, clear, undisturbed state of consciousness, almost as one could imagine deep sleep or death. If someone is going for that kind of idealized peace it might be almost impossible not to neglect one’s own life—one of the most precious gifts of life around!
One can get spiritual, physical or chemical highs that are experienced as pure ecstasy or total peace where someone might say to their self later, “I got it!” or “I had it!” While those experiences are awesome, those things are not the total “it.” The bigger picture includes one’s pains, ordinary pleasures and sufferings. The bigger picture includes living ones whole life with dignity and grace, or whatever words you might describe your best offering to the world.
So “living in peace right now” right now for me means that I am present for the full variety of experiences, always (as best as I can) trusting that there is peace along with my joy, anger, resentment, lust and jealousy. And perhaps with an openness towards fuller and deeper understanding I can make the best choices and say the most helpful things based on where I am at the moment. And when I completely loose it, I am there for myself to pick up those pieces and commit to the healing I need then.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
I have just suffered a deluge of self-doubt! Ugh!
I really rode it out, and fully experienced all of its total nastiness (not the good kind…).
Seriously. Choking sobs that were close to puking. Mental turmoil, almost a state of delirium, that would swell and calm. And I decided to weather the storm, and then what I would imagine to be sessions of coma-like sleep. Events had happened that brought up flotsam of past incarnations, practically, and I had the opportunity to process a big chunk of my psychological shit!! So a part of me is excited because I trusted the adventure, and today I am back and better.
During the storm, I even noticed that my posture was different, more child-like: I just didn’t feel like myself…
And I think I feel better, at least partially, because I just remembered that sometimes people snipe at me when they are feeling inadequate!! It has nothing to do with anything ugly in me...
I had been really letting myself experience all those old wounds as I suffered, and I also believe myself to have experienced a sort of healing for having gone into the darkness as I did.
And at the same time I am also reminded of the importance of self-care. The best solution, I am convinced, is to take excellent care of my body, mind and spirit in all the ways I know how to so I am strong as others feel weak (too) and sometimes act out in ways that can unsettle me.
I had gone out a bit far, and forgotten my mooring, or connection to my sense of stability, and was tossed around in the sea of inadequacy, inner poverty, insecurity… And perhaps it was really a good reminder for taking good care of myself, and remembering that I can know myself.
Some may read this and say “oh no!!” And I know what you mean perhaps… But know that I am saying “oh yes!!!” I am back, feeling good and ready for more life!
Saturday, October 6, 2012
It happened first at the party of a friend. I was staying late. Someone was leaving. There were three people in the room when they came in to say their goodbyes. I was one of the three people left in the room when they came into it, offering a lavish hug and warm smile to one, and a joyful squeeze and a few words to another. Then they paused and looked in my general direction, but not at me, really. The gaze dispersed as if they were perceiving a pocket of empty air just above my head and a little off to the side. So full was the evening (apparently), and so warm the night, that even a pocket of air, full of glorious nothingness, in itself was worthy of generous acknowledgement! But I, the person sitting in the chair below and slightly to the right of the empty air, was not worth a nod goodbye.
No, I don’t know this person well. We had talked a few times earlier at the party, and I had reached out and started a conversation when they arrived. We don’t share a past, or an argument or anything that I understand to merit such a demonstrated lack of acknowledgement. But we do share friends.
And just a few days later, I saw them again at another gathering and once again I saw that same look on their face, offering the same gaze that was possibly seeing some interesting air in my general direction. It’s strange because as much as I know that there is a lack of acknowledgement being communicated here, I also think I see that they are aware that I am in the room. So maybe I should feel important that I am deserving of such non-attentive attention. It makes me a little nervous, though. We were in the same space long enough that I begin to feel like I am in cahoots with this behavior, as if I am also choosing to ignore this other person. But I’m not. I see where they are, but I couldn’t really find a way to break the silence then. ..maybe I didn’t want to, suspecting an unfriendly response.
This story has another “3” because just a couple days later I saw them again, a third time within a week. This time they arrived with a friend I thought I was meeting at the bar. And this time the silence was broken at two interesting times. The first was almost right away. I had greeted my friend at the bar when they were getting a drink. It was crowded and I didn’t yet know that they had arrived with the one who is not acknowledging me. But then, back at the table, suddenly my friend has to go get another drink for the quiet one, apparently because they had lost theirs. When they left to get the drink, after a pause, the silent one gestured to a drink on the table and said something like, “this might be my drink,” and a half smile started to grow on their face. And then somewhat later after we had all had other adventures like dancing and talking to others, we were all back at the table again, and there was a pause before this person said, “Hello…,” directly to me, and I proceeded to ask questions about their art, seeing it as an opening to talk, and why not? But then, with an unfinished sentence this person turned to focus on our mutual friend. And that was it for our talking.
I think that if this pattern continues I may choose to just ask this person, “what’s up?” or something… When I consider what I’ve written, I wonder why I was so passive in my recollection, as if the world is just happening to me, and meanness just happens to me. When another way to see it is that I, too, am happening to the world, and I, too, seek to assert demonstrations of what I am seeing.
The picture in this post is of a black box with hearts that were spray painted on it. I chose it because I’d like to think that if I am holding a placeholder in someone’s mind I’d prefer to be thought of as a space that contains love. Whatever negative projections I might hold occasionally for others are just that, projections. To know something about me, you have to know me. This is a process that takes time, kind regard, communication and an open mind.