Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2016.02.10 — A Poem and Some Life-Changing fushigi*s


A poem and a nice bunch of fushigis that continue with Marie Kondo and her ideas on how tidying up has the magic to change a life.

I wrote a poem,last week for the Goodreads group WSS / Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company. The subject was Cabin. Here it is:

Living Truthfully

This is solitude.
From the city I have driven in comfort to sit
way out here,
the car a few feet from me,
in comfort and safe.
I am restless, pace within the well appointed walls
look out the different windows, hoping to see nothing
but my reflection,
and instead I see the lights of the other cabins dotting the lakeside.
I sit. I bounce my foot. Shake it. Cross, uncross and recross my legs.
I stand. I sit.
I pick up a book, one that used to evoke the idea of peace in me,
but it sits idle in my hands, my eyes unable to focus on the words enough
for them to be meaningful parts of a sentence.
I put the book down.
I decide to shower, but before I finish taking off my sweater
I change my mind.
Maybe a walk, but it’s raining outside.
I dither, remembering the childhood pleasure of getting wet and delightfully
muddy.
Where’s that book?
The one about finding joy in embracing your inner child?
What a perfect time to read about that!
I begin to look for it
And find, instead
That I am distracted
by the things I’ve brought that are not
books.
Fancy letter writing kit, paper, envelopes pen.
I look at that puzzled, unable to think of anyone to write to.
An old and unused water colour set. Really?
Film camera, in error. I have no film.
Two shavers, one that no longer works.
I stop.
Where am I?
I look around and remember that I have come to here,
this busy and popular cabin resort,
to find solitude in a cabin.
I walk to the window and look out,
and see the lights of the other happy-looking cabins dotting the lake.
This time I see two people,
in silhouette
walking drunkenly along the shoreline.
I can hear the low unintelligible mumble of their voices.
They stop, turn to face each other
and begin kissing and stripping off each other’s clothes like tomorrow
would never be coming.
I turn away.
I sit. I pick up that book on living truthfully. After a few minutes, I set it
down.


And last week I spent time with an old friend and work mate, KT. During our conversation, I mentioned the amazing and fantastic and life-changing book that came into my life, fushigi-like, a few days after I accepted, with full intention, that I would be packing my books and getting ready to move. With that clarity of intention had come the real challenge and puzzle of how to deal with my library. I guess, from the Goodreads library feature, that it is comprised of about 1400 books. The book that came to my assistance at just the right time came via my getting introduced to the KonMari way of folding clothes. That folding clothes would need a method was a puzzle, and some of what Marie Kondo said about cloths and energy and joy caught my ear. And so with some googling I discovered Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In it I learned how to keep and discard books, as well as all my other possessions. And how to fold clothes and why that doing that well is an important part of expanding joy in one’s life.

So that was a nice little fushigi. (See my blog 2016.01.28 — On Joy, KonMari (Marie Kondo) and Softly Folding Fushigis*.) But it gets better. During our talk I told KT about this book, and it turns out that she knew about it because someone around her had told her about it, just a few days earlier. Nice tiny little fushigi.

What gets really interesting for me was that a part of our discussion was about personal growth and awareness. And this is one of the most important parts of Kondo’s philosophy. And it has been a cornerstone for me, too. And so I cited to her my favourite passage from The I Ching, one I have had pinned around me for more than twenty years:

When we are faced with obstacles that have to be overcome, weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only strong individuals can stand up to their fate, for their inner security enables them to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness with themselves. It is only we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self deception or illusion, that the light will develop out of events by which the path to success may be recognized. This recognition is to be followed by resolute and persevering action, because only when we meet our fate resolutely will we be able to deal with it adequately and overcome the obstacles.

My edit, to remove gender bias, from I Ching. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981. Tr. Richard Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes. Introduction by C.G. Jung. ISBN: 069109750X, #5 Hsu p.25, my emphasis.

And that set up a beautiful continuation of the Kondo fushigis! Later that night, I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and read the following:
[W]hen we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.

The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past [my emphasis]. Many times when confronting my past during the tidying process, I have been so ashamed I felt like my face was on fire. My collection of scented erasers from grade school, the animation-related trinkets that I collected in junior high school, clothes I bought in high school when I was trying to act grown-up but that didn't suit me at all, handbags I bought even though I didn't need them just because I liked the look of them in the shop. The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves. it is dangerous to ignore them or to discard them indiscriminately as if denying the choices we made. This is why I am against both letting things pile up and dumping them indiscriminately. It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them [my emphasis].

There are three approaches we can take toward our possessions: face them now, face them sometime, or avoid them until the day we die. The choice is ours. But I personally believe it is far better to face them now. If we acknowledge our attachments to the past and our fears for the future by honestly looking at our possessions, we will be able to see what is really important to us. This process in turn helps us identify our values and reduces doubt and confusion in making life decisions. If we have confidence in our decisions and launch enthusiastically into action without any doubts holding us back, we will be able to achieve more and more. In other words, the sooner we confront our possessions the better. If you are going to put your house in order, do it now (181-4).
What makes this a double interesting fushigi is that one of the points of KT’s and my discussion was the problem or challenge KT was having with having recently received a very large amount of family stuff she’d inherited. The family’s ‘treasures’ had overwhelmed her home, and to a greater extent, overwhelmed her ability to process them. As the sole child from her extended family, she was stuck with having received many family ‘precious’ items from various branches of her family, not just dishes, but also letters and personal histories. Precious to the family, but not to her per se, and which left her unable to decide what to do with them.

And one more fushigi element. During our long talk, KT mentioned with deep love her appreciation for her eighteen year old truck, how well it has kept her safe in bad weather, and allowed her to carry things. She positively glowed when talking about it. Earlier I’d read from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the following:

Appreciate your possessions and gain strong allies

One of the homework assignments I give my clients is to appreciate their belongings. For example, I urge them to try saying, 'Thank you for keeping me warm all day,' when they hang up their clothes after returning home. Or, when removing their accessories, I suggest they say, 'Thank you for making me beautiful,' and when putting their [purse] in the closet, to say, 'It's thanks to you that I got so much work done today.' Express your appreciation to every item that supported you during the day.

I began to treat my belongings as if they were alive when I was a high school student. I had my own cell phone. Although the screen was still monochrome, I loved the compact design and pale blue colour. I was not an addicted user, but I liked my phone so much that I broke the school rules and slipped it into the pocket of my school uniform every day. I would take it out occasionally to admire it and smile to myself. Technology progressed and everyone was getting cell phones with colour screens. I hung onto my outdated model as long as I could, but finally it had became too scratched and worn, and I had to replace it. When I got my new cell phone, I hit upon the idea of texting my old phone. It was my first replacement and I was probably feeling quite excited. After thinking for a moment, I typed the simple message 'Thank you for everything' and added a heart symbol. Then I pressed SEND. My old phone pinged immediately and I checked my texts. Of course it was the message I had just sent. 'Great. My message reached you. I really wanted to say thanks for all you have done,' I said to my old phone. Then I closed it with a click.

A few minutes later, I opened my old phone and was surprised to find that the screen was blank. No matter what button I pressed, the screen did not respond. My cell phone, which had never broken since the day I first got it, had gone dead after receiving my message. It never worked again, as if the phone, realizing that its job was done, had resigned itself from its post of its own accord.

Of course, I know some people find it hard to believe that inanimate objects respond to human emotion, and it could indeed just have been a coincidence. Still, we often hear about athletes who take loving care of their sports gear, treating it almost as if it were sacred. I think the athletes instinctively sense the power of these objects. If we treated all things we use in our daily life, whether it is our computer, our handbag, or our pens and pencils, with the same care that athletes give to their equipment, we could greatly increase the number of dependable 'supporters' in our lives. The act of possessing is a very natural part of our daily life, not something reserved for some special match or contest.

Even if we remain unaware of it, our belongings really work hard for us, carrying out their respective roles each day to support our lives. Just as we like to come home and relax after a day's work, our things breathe a sigh of relief when they return home to where they belong. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have no fixed address? Our lives would be very uncertain. It is precisely because we have a home to return to that we can go out to work, to shop, or to interact with others. The same is true for our belongings. It is important for them to have that same reassurance that there is place for them to return to. You can tell the difference. Possessions that have a place where they belong and to which they are returned each day for a rest are more vibrant.

Once my clients have learned to treat their clothes with respect, they always tell me, 'My clothes last longer. My sweaters don't pill as easily, and I don't spill things on them as much, either.' This suggests that caring for your possessions is the best way to motivate them to support you, their owner. When you treat your belongings well, they will always respond in kind. For this reason, I take the time to ask myself occasionally whether the storage space I've set aside for them will make them happy. Storage, after all, is the sacred act of choosing a home for my belongings (168-171).
And is not her experience with her cell phone also a fantastic fushigi, given that fushigi is Japanese for ‘mystery’ or ‘magical event’?

And there have been many more small fushigis that have come from this amazing book.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016.01.28 — On Joy, KonMari (Marie Kondo) and Softly Folding Fushigis*


Today, in my second effort at blog resuscitation, here are a couple of sort of, soft, fushigis. This is my effort at keeping it short, because I have other ‘important’ things to write today.

Sort of fushigi #1

On Tuesday I was talking with a young man about fushigis. And, for some reason of all the examples I could have given, the one that came to mine was coq au vin. In summary, while in a grocery line, the man in front of me was describing how he was going to make coq au vin. Later that morning I watched someone make coq au vin on the TV Show Chopped. Today, Thursday, my wife had the TV on while I was doing yoga, and I heard chef Lynn Crawford on the Marilyn Denis Show refer to coq au vin as part of a wine pairing discussion. I don’t know if she made the recipe or not, as my wife flips channels.


Sort of, soft fushigi #2

It begins with the discovery, on Tuesday of KonMari, the method of decluttering one’s home and life following the methods of Marie Kondo, who uses ‘Spark Joy’ as the guiding principle behind the method of decluttering one’s home and life. My first draw to KonMari was her idea and technique for folding and storing clothes, which I absolutely loved. And I have since then been going around my home KonMari folding things! I’m not following the proper principle, but am more or less randomly folding. (For a nice intro to KonMari folding, see Lavendaire.)

When I did a bit more research I learned that Kondo is about much MUCH more than ‘just’ folding clothes. And I feel myself embracing her approach to decluttering my life. And I am both excited by the opportunity, and intimidated too, mostly because Kondo addresses decluttering books. I have probably 1400 books or so in my library, and her method requires taking every book from every corner of the home from every shelf or drawer or floor and piling them up around you. The decluttering begins by first energizing them. After they have been energized you decide, one book at a time, whether or not it ‘sparks joy’. The nots are removed from the library.

I’m blown away by the simplicity of this method of increasing joy in our lives!

So, sort of, soft fushigi #2 part I: I recently talked about my having come into joy, and the ‘energy’ of the universe. See The Liminalist #49. I loved how Kondo’s ideas have a parallel. I know, weak, but it has a resonance with me.

Sort of, soft fushigi #2 part II
: As it so happens, my wife has been seriously badgering me to pack my books away for several months now, and last week I accepted in my heart that I would move forward with that project. I had been thinking I’d just pack them up, but I have been putting it off for various reasons, including the monumental physical task it is. But now, I will energize my books, find those that still spark joy, and thank the others and let them go from my life. This I find intimidating, and maybe even a little scary, because it may mean letting go of books that have been very important to me. And that is, of course, part of the process of decluttering and emotionally and energetically detoxifying my life. My mind knows that, and my heart at this time, too, and yet that niggle of fear. So much to learn, still.



Sort of, soft fushigi #2 part III
: Last night I was at a friend’s place. They are joy-filled people and I was excited to share with K my discovery of Marie Kondo and her idea of organizing one’s home by keeping the things in it that spark joy and to remove from it all the rest. He’d never heard of it. ‘I’m doing that!’ his wife, B, said. ‘But he doesn’t know.’ And so we chatted about her attempt to organize the closet as per KonMari, but that her son and husband were unintentionally undermining her efforts because she hadn’t told them what she was doing.



Update! About 2 hours ago, around the time when I started to create this blog, I confirmed a coffee date with a friend I haven't seen since early last year. In my confirmation I mentioned my recent discovery of Marie Kondo. I asked CB if she'd heard of Kondo. Her reply was perfect!   
Just talking about those books this morning! I'm borrowing my pal's copy to apply a little magic to my circumstances...
LOL! Does that contribute to the sort of fushigi nature of this post? [Headshake.]

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016.01.24 — Today I Wrote a Short Poem Tanka Style — Resonance


Well, to honour my effort at reviving my blog, what better way to hinder that, not much less than not posting at all, but to post a short poem. A poem I wrote today for Week 296 of Poetry Stuffage in the WSS in Goodreads. And if you could follow that sentence you get my highest praise and respect, because could I have written a more convoluted and horrible one?

The topic of the week is The Space Between. (If you read these before Jan 31 2016, write a poem and enter it just for fun!)

Anyway, here is a some words in the shape of poem styled in the English version of Japanese Tanka:


Resonance

There are no more words.
The silence has stony weight
So precarious
That what had been seen as sound
No longer has resonance.




Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016.01.17 — Conversation with The Liminalist, a weak fushigi* and a Poem


Hello. It has been a long, long time since I’ve been here in my blog. And as I write that, wondering how to be creative, my blood is beginning to dance and my cells vibrate with the joy of blogging. And with that I am sorely tempted to say that coming into my mid fifties has seen capital “L” Life fill my days with a busy-ness that is challenging, filled with wonder and the expansion of joy. Even now, I am “stealing” away time from a course manual that is demanding that I get it completed. Ah well! LOL! So be it. A blog today will get me smiling as the manual, even though fascinating, will not.

My friend Jasun Horsely, has given me the final push of inspiration to write this. Thank you Jasun. Specifically, he has just completed a blog post of the conversation we had. It was fun, and I found it very entertaining when I listened to it, the way we explored ideas of ego, self, deservedness and other ‘liminal’ stuff. And I am blogging to share that, and at the same time to promote his very interesting blog.

So, if you are curious about a light discussion on the liminal ‘truths’ we wrestle or struggle with when we aren’t busy making our lives work, here is Auticulture. (And the music he incorporated is perfect to the conversation!)

And, in a very quiet *fushigi, I wrote a poem that presaged the conversation, to some extent. And so this blog is to bring the two together, and put them into the blogosphere.

I laugh at that, as I wonder if that is ‘just’ my ego self wanting my writing read, or is that truly my intuition asking me to extend my creative expression into the world. [Shrug.] Does it matter, really, in the end? Not at all, of course, and so here I am. Writing a blog with my words in writing, and as they were spoken in early January with Jasun.

Here’s the poem.

The Clock Struck Six
“For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.” - T.S. Eliot

One
There was a moment
when the meaning was clear
a difficultly understood with a
brilliance that gave me the hope
of truth.
I remember that moment
in yesterday’s words
with a clarity that
adumbrated uncertainty.
Foolishness is the truth
of yesterday’s truths.
And to be unembarrassed in
the remembrance of the joys
born in each final truth’s finality
other than death
before death
instead of death
means something also true.
I am old.
My words no longer resonate
with the possibility of a future
remapped by words as sutures
with the power to unknot
what I had once been convinced
I had been able to unravel
more elegantly than
Alexander had done his Gordian.
Knot.
And whatnots.
Sew what.
The words that look back up at me,
now,
have a weight to them,
as if they are now eyeing me
as something worthy or not
to eat.
Sorrow, perhaps, for having been
wasted in my fervid well meant
fruitless looping back
to discourses in logic
looking for the mind
in my mind
in my books blinding my eyes
that would
cut
that
cursed knot,
answer
the demon Sphinx’s
riddle.
Oedipus in the end
put his own eyes out
for having been blind
to his truth.
I wonder,
was that enough to keep him
from getting lost in labyrinthian
words
words with points like the sticks
stuck in his eyes?
That had stuck him with what
had been
untrue?
I scribbled something,
but it was illegible,
or maybe just unintelligible,
and of dubious intent anyway.
As I squinted at it,
from my neighbour’s home,
through the open window
on this warm evening,
I heard his old fashioned clock
strike


Two
As I squinted at it,
from my neighbour’s home,
through the open window
on this warm evening,
I heard his old fashioned clock
strike
six.
Another day over
done, just
to
start over again
after the beginning
and the end of
night.
The movement’s indifference was
deafening,
Dawn to dusk, over and over
again.
I put from my face,
off of my nose,
the glasses I was blind without.
Hung them from my loose fingers.
I closed my eyes and
rubbed them
as if my fingers could erase
the ghosts of
the striata of
too many words read and re-read
again and again and again.
A living made and done,
long since done,
writing the same things
the same tiny little words,
over and over
again.
I set my eyes’ glasses down
pick up my scribble of ink
on paper,
and I stop. Reading.
Start to read it, again.
Stop. Again.
Through that open window
I hear young voices,
passionate angst,
fighting to find truth
in
love.
In the words of love,
misconstrued as words always are,
mistaken for the real
and the true.
I crumple my scribble
throw it away.
How appropriate,
I thought,
that my trash
can
had been
replaced by a recycle
bin.
Pre-canned.
Has been.
Has bin.
Well, that is my attempt at a blog.

And perhaps a good way to begin, late, this ‘new’ year.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

2015.08.09 — 10,000 Views, Mr. Palomar and the Fushigi* Zazen of The Upanishads & The Nature of Personal Reality



[Begun on the 9th, and re-commenced on the 13th.]
The fushigis continue to outpace my ability to blog them. Even now, even though I sat down tonight to write a memoir of inertia, my inertia has kept me from writing it and I found myself writing silly Zenish fushigi things instead.

And now, I will begin with music from last night’s small fushigi,
mostly because it involves the joy of listening to Laurie Brown’s The Signal and how her music interacts fushigish with my life. I had Laurie’s music in my ears as I was writing a letter to my sisters. We had had a reunion the night before. I hadn’t seen the one sister since 1991 the other since 2004. We shared our own paths of survival and recovery from the trauma we’d experienced under the charismatic and sociopathic cult-like charms of our mother. (That’s for another story.) I began the letter struggling to describe how I felt. I wrote “I am smiling at how easy and peaceful, perhaps even tranquil, the time felt to me.” As I was writing that, I heard Laurie Brown introduce the next song with, paraphrased, Alana Yorke
bringing ‘comfort, peace and tranquility’. How often do you hear or read the word tranquility these days? And yet as I’m writing it Laurie’s is speaking it. Anyway, I went and found the song from The Signal’s play logs because it is quite beautiful. Enjoy: Song of the Piano Man.

And tonight there was a funny fushigi. It began with my beginning to share on FB a small miracle, or magic, in its own right: Thursday [yesterday, the day of my reunion] I received an email from the Readwave reader/writer webpage that my total story and poem reads there have reached 10,000. That ‘milestone’ occurred on the same day I met with a sister I hadn’t seen since 1991, which is some kind of milestone. While a little amusing, that is not the fushigi. And, funny enough, as it turns out she is married
to a writer! Too funny, how life goes. And even funnier, he is not a mainstream writer, as he explores the liminal areas of human experience. Jasun Horsley is fascinating, and an excellent writer and podcaster.

When I went to share my 10k milestone on FB, I wanted to be clever, and find some quotation on the limits of words. That words have limited functionality and are prone to creating serious miscommunication is a regular theme in my writing. I began to flip through a few of my books. After a few unsuccessful flips, I came across this one in a book that I bought today:
How to Awaken
Most students of Zen apply themselves to mindless zazen [meditation] — a grave error. [It is to be remembered] that the mind is transmitted and enlightened by itself. The non-sentient cannot attain the Way. Students today can’t seem to grasp that to feel cold or warmth, hunger or fullness, is to be mindless and on the right path (61).
Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes, Interviews. Translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto.
Nice! I thought to myself. And marked it with a sticky for later, when I would put together this blog.

Well, for some reason, I decided to take a quick look at the other book I bought at the same time as the Zen one. It is Mr. Palomar by the amazing Italian writer, Italo Calvino. And this is what I read!
Ch. 1: Reading A Wave
The sea is barely wrinkled, and little waves strike the sandy shore. Mr. Palomar is standing on the shore, looking at a wave. Not that he is lost in contemplation of the waves. He is not lost, because he is quite aware of what he is doing: he wants to look at a wave and he is looking at it. He is not contemplating, because for contemplation you need the right temperament, the right mood, and the right combination of exterior circumstances; and though Mr. Palomar has nothing against contemplation in principle, none of these three conditions applies to him. Finally, it is not "the waves" that he means to look at, but just one individual wave: in his desire to avoid vague sensations, he establishes for his every action a limited and precise object.

Mr. Palomar sees a wave rise
in the distance, grow, approach, change form and color, fold over itself, break, vanish, and flow again. At this point he could convince himself that he has concluded the operation he had set out to achieve, and he could go away. But isolating one wave is not easy, separating it from the wave immediately following, which seems to push it and at times overtakes it and sweeps it away; and it is no easier to separate that one wave from the preceding wave, which seems to drag it toward the shore, unless it turns against the following wave, as if to arrest it, Then, if you consider the breadth of the wave, parallel to the shore, it is hard to decide where the advancing front extends regularly and where it is separated and segmented into independent waves, distinguished by their speed, shape, force, direction.

In other words, you cannot observe a wave without bearing in mind the complex features that concur in shaping it and the other, equally complex ones that the wave itself originates(3).
And that was perhaps an almost perfect example of a writer using words to move beyond words and, at the same time, embodying the antithesis of the Zen teacher’s lament that student of life cannot live within the ‘natural’ order of life. So delightful.

This was almost immediately followed up with a delightful
‘analytical’ version of Calvino’s Mr. Palomar. I found it in The Nature of Personal Reality by Seth/Jane Roberts.
As mentioned (in Chapter Four), the conscious mind is a portion of the inner self; that part that surfaces, so to speak, and meets physical reality more or less directly.

You are mainly concerned now with physical orientation and the corporeal materialization of inner reality. Therefore the conscious mind holds in ready access the information that you require for effective day-to-day living. It is not necessary that you hold in steady consciousness data that does not directly apply to what you consider your physical reality at any given "time." (Pause, one of many.) As soon as the need for such data — aid, information, or knowledge — arises, then it is immediately forthcoming unless your own conscious beliefs cause a barrier.
The exquisite, precise and concentrated focus of your conscious mind is quite necessary in physical life. It is because of this highly selective quality that you can "tune into" the particular range of activity that is physical (95).
I decided to search a bit more, and a flip or two later I came across something from the Chandogya Upanishad. I read it in The Upanishads, translated by Eknath Easwaran:
Narada, approached the Venerable One, Sanatkumara,
and asked him to teach him. The Venerable One replied, “tell me what you know, and then I will teach you what is beyond that.”

“I know the four Vedas, Rig, Yahur, Sama, Atharva — and the epics, called the fifth. I have studied grammar, rituals, mathematics, astronomy, logic, economics, physics, psychology, the fine arts, and even snake-charming. But all this knowledge has not helped me to know the Self. I have heard from spiritual teachers like you that one who realizes the Self goes beyond sorrow. I am lost in sorrow. Please teach me how to go beyond.”

“Whatever you know is just words,” said Sanatkumara, “names of finite phenomena. It is the Infinite that is the source of abiding joy because it is not subject to change. Therefore, seek to know the Infinite (188-9).”
How does all this tie into a family reunion? Each of us related our struggles out of the deluded illusionary world our mother had made up for us. We had all come to the awareness, had woken up in Zen language, that our mother’s world was ultimately an empty and psychologically poisoned one that only words and the blind who will follow them have the ability to make manifest. Only words have the power to create ideas and ideologies that are completely disconnected from the real world, a world that is comprised of the complexity of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual beings. We each of us had, in our own unique paths, left the cult of ‘just’ words that our mother adeptly made. And ‘cult’ is not my description. Some time after breaking off communication with our mother, our eldest sister described her shocked realization that the documentary on cults she was watching was describing our childhood.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

2015.07.02 — For the Love of Psyche Out Fushigis*



Yesterday was Canada Day and I managed to spend the very hot day doing something I haven’t done in over a year. I spent much of the afternoon sitting and reading. I primarily read The Inner World of Trauma: The Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit. And I managed to collect a trio of odd fushigis during the day and then closed the day — it was after 11:44pm — with a musical one.

Fushigi #1 began with a comment June 30th on the TPBM (The Person Bellow Me game in the WSS). Garrison commented on self-esteem:
TPBM believes that accomplishment comes before self-esteem.
Since I disagreed, and was the person below him, I wrote:
No. Without self-esteem, what appears to be an accomplishment will be short-lived. And no outward success has the power to transform someone without self-worth, into one with it.
This is, I well know, nothing special or particularly enlightening. But I smiled when the following came up, later yesterday, in my reading of the myth of Psyche and Eros:
… Psyche with all her beauty received no fruit of her honour. She was wondered at of all, she was praised of all, but she perceived that no king nor prince, nor any of the inferior sort did repair to woo her. Every one marvelled at her divine beauty, as it were at some image well painted and set out. Her other two sisters
which were nothing so greatly exalted by the people, were royally married to two kings; but the virgin Psyche sitting at home alone lamented her solitary life, and being disquieted both in mind and body, although she pleased all the world, yet hated she in herself her own beauty (111).
The Golden Ass Apuleius. Translated by Adlington in 1566 with an introduction by Harry C. Schnur.
And, from The Inner World of Trauma: The Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, I read the following:
This is the problem of narcissism, i.e., the identification of the ego with beauty, wealth, or fame — all collective values that inflate the ego with numinous, archetypal energies that do not properly belong to it. Psyche is ‘inflated’ by everyone else’s desire (she carries their projections), but her own desire is unawakened. Her ‘spirit is broken’ and she is full of self-loathing — precisely what we have seen as the legacy of early trauma. Only her outer beauty sustain her self-esteem. Inwardly she is empty and without an authentic self (168-9).
Fushigi # 2: Yesterday I wrote a Haiku in the WSS’s Haiku Game thread, my first in quite a long time.
The new day's new dew
Blessed a thousand leaves of grass,
Bedewed the ado hair-do
Today, while continuing my research of the myth of Psyche and Eros, once again from Schnur:
Thus fair Psyche being sweetly couched amongst the soft and tender herbs, as in a bed of dewy grass and fragrant flowers, and having qualified the troubles and thoughts of her restless mind, was now well reposed: and when she had refreshed herself sufficiently with sleep, she rose with a more quiet and pacified mind, and fortuned to espy a pleasant wood environed with great and mighty trees, and likewise a running river as clear as crystal; in the middest and very heart of the wood, well-nigh at the fall of the river, was a princely edifice, wrought and builded, not by the art or hand of man, but by the mighty power of God: and you would judge at the first entry therein, that it were some pleasant and worthy mansion for the powers of heaven (115).
Fushigi # 3: I continued to read the tale of Psyche:
Then straightway all sorts of wines like nectar were brought in, and plentiful dishes of divers meats, not by anybody but as it were by some divine spirit or breath, for she could see no person before her, but only hear words falling on every side, and she had only voices to serve her (116).
Later, in the evening, I read a FB post in response to a delightful song based on the voices of women telling the weather. Here is ‘Weathered’ by Dark Orchard.

And here is a copy of the comment from Malana Orr: i wonder if this is what "voices" in somone's head would sound like…. To view the comment, join the FB Group the Signal. This was originally posted June 19th by Jim Casson.

Does that count as a fushigi? It is all a matter of opinion, of course.

But to close off this post, as I was writing this I was listening to The Signal with host Laurie Brown,
and after her introduction, which I didn’t pay close attention to, I heard the following spoken word song come into my ears around 11:27pm:

Shoulders by Shane Koyczan. (And I found the lyrics here.)
Like many, I love to look at the stars.

I love the fact that ours is just one among many.

What I love about astronomy is that our constellations tell a story.

Our constellations were born from mythology.

Mythology was our first attempt to understand the world in which we live

We put a God in everything and those Gods would give us our reasons.

Why is the sky blue?

Who chose blue?

Gods.

How come men have nipples?

It’s the will of the Gods.

Why does this wine taste so good?

There’s a God in it!

And for a while, there was not a single thing that the gods could not explain.

We believed that their anger gave us lightning;

Their despair gave us rain

We whispered our desires to them, believing that their charity would sustain us.

Those Gods… were just stories.

But stories became a large part of how we learn

They burn lessons into our memories

They become a part of how we remember; we can remember almost everything,


Right down to that first unbearable bee sting

When we learned that this tiny blue marble we call the world has rules.

Rule number one: don’t fuck with the bees!

An unforgettable lesson brought to you by your memories.

I remember that I grew up loving mythology.

I remember the story of the titan Atlas, who was also the god of astronomy

The original global positioning system sending sailors safely home by telling them which constellation to keep starboard.

He taught us about the stars, and in all this, while he held up ours

Our pale blue dot.

But Atlas is caught between two different tellings of his story.

In the first, he leads a rebellion against Olympus and is then sentenced to hold the heavens on his shoulders for eternity.

In the second story, he is chosen to be the guardian of the pillars that hold up the earth and sky.

I prefer the second story.

It means that the world is not a punishment; but rather, a responsibility.

But how can just one be charged with such a burden?

How can just one be responsible for all this?

When I think of Atlas, I think of a single drop of rain

I think how unfair it would be to hold a single drop solely responsible for making the entire world clean again.

I remember how my grandmother tried to explain our world to me-

She told me a story

She said the ground and the sky, they love each other

But they don’t have arms

So rain; that’s just how they hold one another.

I began to see how the earth and sky need each other.

But I wondered about us.

In this perfect design, where do we fit?

Which piece of the puzzle are we?

Like constellations, I began to see a connection between dots and numbered my thoughts

And drew lines from one to the next.

I began to see us in the context of a bigger picture, sharpening the blur slowly into focus

We are Atlas.

I saw that this pale blue dot, this one world, is all we get.

There will be no reset button, no new operating system, no downloadable upgrade

We will not be allowed to trade in our old world for a new one with climate control or better fuel efficiency

We get one shot at this.

Dismiss all reports of second chances; we get one.

And yet we draw advances on our future as if we one day won’t be held accountable-

We will.

We are.

The human race runs toward a finish line emblazoned with the worlds ‘too far’ and wonders,

Will we ever cross it?

Have we already?

We are faced with the seemingly impossible talk.

And it’s okay to be afraid.

Our dilemma stands before us like a mountain carved into a blockade, the sheer magnitude of our problem would be enough to dissuade anyone.

How do we save the world?

We lay in our beds curled into question marks, wondering

What can we do?

Where do we start?

Is hope a glue crazy enough to hold us together while we’re falling apart?

The burden seems immense.

But we can do this.

We must take the martial arts approach to loving our planet-

Love as self-defense

Forget about the cost

There will be no other thing as worth saving as this!

Nothing more important; nothing as precious;

This is home.

All of our stories start and end here.

We are sheltered within an atmosphere that has given us every single breath we will ever take

Every monument we have ever made has come from the flesh of our planet.

Water like blood, skin like soil, bones like granite

It is not a myth, there is no debate, facts are in

Fact is, there’s never been any question.

We are facing crisis.

We dismiss the truth not because we can’t accept it, but because having to commit ourselves to change is a scary prospect for anybody.

The most alarming part of the statement ’we are facing crisis’

Isn’t the word ’crisis’,

It’s the word ’we’.

Because those two letters take the responsibility away from one and rest it squarely on the shoulders of everybody.

We are Atlas now.

But our strength will come from finding a way to share in shouldering the responsibility of turning the impossible into somehow

Somehow, we will do this.

We can do this.

We can dismiss apathy; we can reject uncertainty

We can be the new chapter in our story

We will not see change immediately

We must act in faith as the hour hand grips the minute hand and they land on the eleventh hour

We must believe like the seed that change is possible to see.

Never seize the flower, it grows knowing it must become more than what it was

It changes, because in growth, all of its potential can be unlocked.

Change is like rain, it starts with a single drop.

Just one, like our pale blue dot.

Caught in an endless waltz called gravity, we circle the sun, wondering who, if anyone left the light on.

We are constellations drawn upon the earth, we are connected to one another, we are bound.

We must behave as the arms that connect the ground to the sky.

We must try to be more like the rain.

Our stories may differ, our goal is the same:

How do we save our pale blue dot?

We act as the rain, realizing that each individual drop is as equal and important as any.

We act as one.

Now, we are many. [My emphasis.]
Good night. I've had more fushigis since beginning this post, one involving a mojito, but time precludes me from adding them all.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

2015.06.13 — A Drivel of Small June Fushigis*


Hello. It has been long since I’ve blogged. At last I have a few free moments, which has become a rare thing. Well, define ‘free’ of course! I have several letters I’d like to write. And a ‘humorous’ essay, that I began a few months ago, that examines the subversive nature of humour. And it is still unfinished, even though the idea of it and ideas for it are constantly running through my mind. (The synopsis: I think that what is subversive about humour is that the outward humour of comics pointing to our naked emperors does not change the society, but allows it to continue as it is regardless the inequality that may be extant. But that when someone moves from being angry to inwardly laughing at their friable humanity, that is when the transformation of the world begins.) [[Odd! As I'm writing this, Laurie Brown on CBC Radio is quoting someone's opinion on the nature of what it takes to write about what is close to the heart and soul.]]

My life is filled with strange tiny fushigis. Here is a quick sampler:

I learned from one of my sisters that a sister I haven’t seen or talked to since 1979 scanned and uploaded old family pictures for me. As i have been estranged from my family, I haven’t seen any of them for more than 35 years. I struggled to remember the names of some of my old elementary and school class mates. I struggled to remember the name of one in particular. The following morning I heard on the radio her name, well almost her name: Anitra is what I heard, Anita was her name.

Yesterday I asked a young woman* in a clothing store what the text in her tattoo said. She answered ‘There are no coincidences’ (I think — or something like that.) So I told her about this blog, with its fushigis and my old black books filled with small fushigis. And then I told her “I don’t usually ask people about their tattoos, and so isn’t it odd that I would ask you about yours?” And now I am smiling, because the last time I asked a person about their tattoo, that had fushigi elements in it. It was a quotation from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette, now forgotten, about being true to one’s self, I seem to remember.

*[Addendum 2015.08.23. I was once again asked by ML to pick-up clothes for her from the clothing store. And this same young woman happened to be there and be available to serve me because the CSR who was helping someone chose not to help me when she was done. After our ‘Hellos’ she smiled and mentioned the following fushigi. It was she whom ML had called to place the clothing order a few days earlier and shortly after that call Michell (I asked her her name) found the note I’d left her with my blog’s url. So she was curious to see if I’d blogged this incident, and smiled to see that I had.]

Yesterday morning before going to work I gave to ML ‘my’ pair of scissors from upstairs because she had misplaced her downstairs pair over a week ago. (She is largely confined to a wheel chair and is physically unable to get upstairs.) As she is very hard on scissors, dulling them quickly by using them on things like trimming plants, I planned to replace ‘mine’ with a new pair. Well, yesterday afternoon, shortly before it was time for me to shut down the office computer at work, I visited the WSS word association game thread — it is one of the few things I seem to have time to ‘write’ these days — and was amused to read Leslie’s word: scissors. And so yes, the universe helped me to remember to pick them up on the way home from work. And, as I’m writing this, I just realized that I had those scissors with me when I asked the customer service rep about her tattoo, because I bought them while on my way to pick up some clothes ML had ordered.

Today I planned to make chocolate chip cookies. (Sigh. Didn’t get to it before the day ran out.) But while standing in line at Galloways, I engaged in conversation about the store with a blind man and his severely vision impaired wife. When it came time to get our stuff, she asked for chocolate chips, because she was going to make chocolate chip cookies. ‘She makes the world’s best,’ her husband said. And then, after they had gone, and I was paying for my order, the woman behind them set her stuff on the counter. And I recognized couscous, and I was thus reminded by the universe that I had indeed forgotten that I needed couscous! So I apologized to the customer service rep, and rushed off to get the couscous. Now it gets strange. I thanked the woman for reminding me that I’d forgotten something. She asked me what she had that had helped me. I pointed to the bag of couscous. ‘Oh!’ she said with some excitement. ‘Do you know how to cook it? I’ve never cooked it before.’ And so then I gave her quick cooking instructions.

And while I walked back to the car, I reflected on how the universe was helping me along in these tiny little ways. And I realized that for the universe to help me I had to be present, in the moment aware of my surroundings and the people. This is relatively new territory for me, as I have spent most of my life being unaware of my body and its presence in life, and mostly oblivious to everyone around me. And I realized that the yoga has been making very interesting changes to my presence of mind in the here and now. For example, I have become aware of my clothes, how they look on me and on them getting dirty by life. Again, yesterday: for the first time in my life I became aware of how I splashed water on my clothes while washing my hands. For years ML has complained about that, and I have never noticed nor cared. And today, while shopping, I was aware that I did not want to brush my light coloured clothes against my dirty car. In the past I would not have noticed that I had dirtied my clothes until ML, with frustration, castigated me on having gotten dirty. I am definitely more present. Funny, I was going to include that changed awareness of my physical self in a blog about how much I’ve changed.

Well, there is more. But time to stop. It is time to do my daily meditation exercise. Yes. That is another change. Six weeks ago I attended a meditation class, and have, since then incorporated twice daily meditation practice in my life. That is another blog, as I am seeing huge changes in my physical and emotional states of being. Hmmm. Is my changed state of awareness, just discussed, related to it? Interesting timing, to say the least.

But before I go, maybe another small fushigi. A few weeks ago a young friend, who just happens to be burdened with a philosophical turn of mind and with whom I’ve been exchanging e.letters, expressed her puzzlement over what Chuang-Tzu meant by ‘good’. This brought a huge smile to my face, and I jumped in with a Taoist take on age old problem of ‘Good and Evil.’ I cited different translations of Chapter 8 in Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. While writing that I have been reading The Inner World of Trauma by Donald Kalsched that has been blowing my mind and connecting things up. It is completing and connecting things between my unconscious and mind in a complementary way with what yoga has been doing with my body and spirit. Anyway, a key part of Kalsched’s discussion is about the good/bad dyad, which he has called the persecutor- protector duplex. Fascinating discussion, and explains much of my own experience. Anyway, as I was reading this and writing about the age old problem of ‘good and evil’ to my friend, I did not see the connection. Amazing, even as I am discussing becoming aware, how much I keep myself unaware of. In fact I did not see the connection until I followed my intuition and answered the call of a book I purchased several months ago, and opened it at random June 8, 5 days ago. Wow! This is what I read:

… [T]he prince asked the master again, ‘Venerable Teacher, if good men and women are motivated to attain correct awareness in order to restore their integral nature, how can they maintain the awareness and subdue the delusive activity of the mind?’

The master replied, ‘Kind prince, good people who are motivated to attain the correct awareness of an integral being should dissolve all conceptions of duality. With integral awareness of their moral responsibility, they will be able to help all people to eliminate the darkness of the dichotomous mind and the delusions stemming from concepts of existence and non-existence so that they can finally attain the essence of the integral subtle transcendence. When this has been achieved, the one who renders service to others discovers that, in truth, there is no one being served; he no longer perceives other lives as external to himself, nor does he perceive his own existence as separate and individual. If integral beings still held any concepts of self and others, longevity and brevity, life and death, [good and bad,] then they would not be beings of true integral awareness.

‘Kind Prince, what do you think? Did I attain awareness of the integral nature of the universe through the use of any special esoteric method [such as science or other religious practices]?’

‘No, Venerable Teacher,’ replied the prince, ‘As I understand, what you teach us is not something that can be obtained thought the practice of any esoteric method, for there is no specific device that can uplift one to the higher realms. Once something is labeled as the ultimate method or device, it has already become a hindrance to one’s attainment of integral awareness. Therefore, to an integral being, any external, established means is not the Integral Way.’

‘You are right, kind prince. There truly is no way for an Integral One to separate his being from the nature of the universe. If I had used any particular way to attain awareness of the integral nature of the universe, then the masters who live in the deep central realm of one great life would not have recognized me as an integral being. They refer to me, however, as a cosmic person who lives in all times and all places, and this is what an integral being should be.

‘If there is someone who states that an Integral One has attained the correct awareness of the integral nature of the universe by means of any specific way, then he is simply mistaken. There is no relative, specific way in which one can achieve awareness of the integral truth. The integral nature of the universe cannot be distinguished through a dualistic mode of perception. … What are labelled as methods of achieving enlightenment and uplifting one to the higher realms, wise prince, do not exist in the integral realm (114-5).

The Complete Works of Lao Tzu Translated by Hua-Ching Ni.
Well it is now indeed time to go. And I apologize for this being all words. I want to post this, and so am doing so before I my day runs out, and that precludes pictures. Good night.