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Archive for the ‘Returning to the Flame’ Category

Language finds a place in the world. Language finds a place in the body.

 

One of the best things about working for myself is that sometimes almost everything just stops. There are lulls in the workflow, where regular work comes in but it’s not crazy. The daily to-do list is manageable. There are spaces in the rush of New York. I love being busy and working on a huge project and kicking ass on it and being inspired and energized by deadlines and the great teams I work with. And I also love when it slows down and I wake up to quiet mornings and slowly drinking coffee and reading and answering emails without the pressure of fifteen deadlines ticking through my brain.

 

I have been working on getting more honest, with myself, in the words that I speak to others, in what I write. I’ve been working with observing what I’m feeling and thinking and asking myself, are these honest thoughts? What am I really feeling? This bareness of observing and awareness to come to a place of truth is a solid path. Awareness itself becomes the stability, is the stability. When the pace of life and work slow down, there is room for this inquiry. And for noticing and listening without agenda or goal. Giving up of goals is difficult in an accomplishment-driven era. But that is the only way to really see your basic nature, hear your heart, allow your soul to express itself in unbidden and unpredictable ways.

 

So, lately, work has been slow. I finished up two big projects that took up much of my time and energy and mental space about two weeks ago. The silence and slowness have allowed me to get back into the imaginary worlds of my poetry manuscript and novel and spend lengths of solid time there. These are the stories and lines and paragraphs I write and live inside that are distinct imagination and creativity.

 

Then there are the other stories, the psychological constructs and emotionally driven patterns that are created. The slow pace of days and nights has also allowed me to separate my emotional reactions to events and see where the raw emotion is and where the story that accompanies the emotion starts. We all have memories and past hurts and past joys that connect to present events and we have overarching stories about who we are, what our lives are, what they’re going to be. These stories are based in fear and reaction, not the true presence of what is actually going on in our lives. It’s easier sometimes to create scenarios and outcomes in our minds than to face an uncertain array of futures, the fact that the future and even some things in the present are uncertain.  So we build stories, attributing opinions and actions to the people in our lives that we don’t know are real, but they comfort us, in their known-ness. When we allow ourselves the time to look at these stories honestly, and really break out which of the storylines are ones we have clung to so that our lives make sense, it becomes clear that most of what we think we know is not actually known to us. Then we are left with the honesty of that: that we don’t know what other people think and feel, we don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t know the outcome of the path we are taking. When we face this, it is easier to stay grounded and make good decisions and choices, based on where we are right now, rather than reacting to a scenario in our heads.

 

Our concern then is: what can we do now that is true to ourselves and honest? What can we do now that feels right in a grounded way? This is a beautiful thing, this awareness and slowness and quiet. From this aware, slow, and quiet place, we make decisions based not on fear but on that quiet, still space inside of us that is connected to our root, our heart, our soul. Right action for the sole purpose of itself. Not to get anything or get anywhere but simply to be in the right place doing the right thing. The attunement to what feels right becomes steadier and is easier to gauge. This affects every action, from answering an email, to making a salad for lunch, to whether or not to move or take that job or sign that contract.

 

From this place, we naturally do what is most beneficial in a wholesome sense for ourselves and those around us. Beneficial in promoting peace and understanding and growth.

 

From this place, writing becomes a measure of silence, of the spaces between lives, where the dead speak and the unknown reaches of time and universal space inhabit themselves. Life, the way it moves, is an uncertain paradox. My connection to the words and the space that words represent becomes deeper and more intimate. Language finds a place in this quiet and quiets me. Quiets my breathing and my mind and my heart. This allows the stretch of language, of writing, to go deeper, to awaken musculature that has been sleeping, to open up the prime numbers of the mathematical equations that underlie grammar. I love the quiet intensity of these times of writing where I feel closer to language itself because it becomes a code through which the world is deciphered, for a minute, then the code breaks in another direction and is as soluble as so many substances in water.

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from a prompt by Elizabeth Treadwell

 

Gloria

 

I

We will be as we are

in death, a Glory

—platooned flowers

at the grave of a Matron

Saint.

We don’t celebrate

with balloons—

or Time, or Fascia.

We are atonal, bruised,

sore from wrastling.

Rested, poured

{fourth} from the Lantern

of Perpetual Madness::::

right, you thought we were

crazy, the kind of crazy

matched only in bed

by fools and paid companions.

Concubines, forest-raised,

because, in truth you marred,

we gave birth and birth

to sky, pine, oak, pattern

of life: cell, DNA, chromosome,–

(flowered wallpaper, small, pink

roses, no, petunias, no, Venus

flytraps—you heard the sound

of mandarins—)

 

 

II

“the first time we made love”

was in an arboretum, or a tin can,

floating high above the planet,

we woke up in 1974,

or wait, there was macramé

and streamers, it was my sixteenth

birthday, I remember all this

as you lick up my spine,

warm flame,

yours, philosophy, nightmare,

never the same Hour twice—

never the same Hollow—

or window, or

take me, take me, I carved

the waking dream from wood I found

in the forest of your birth, said Tunic,

said Leaf and Hand—

 

III

I am frozen in this position;

my clocks have stooped.

The history between us

is imagination

built in structures of anatomy

and minerals.

You need loneliness to survive.

Bone of pond;’

this Carriage.

 

 

IV

I am crossing the imaginary bridge

between flat and open—who is starving,

who is alien? Bloodlet, weak from leeches.

Landscape of virus; what had been chosen;

what lies; what begins.

You begin and end in shelter-a hut-a hidden

basement-where you hide things-a small shell,

bucket, axe, whittled sticks, two white candlesticks,

history, but history comes rushing out,

a river under the encampment,

sticks, tools, metal, wood

carried by the current,

water glinting in shards of purple

and gold. The weather, the world—

opening to portals.

You died for us once.

We made a deal and brought you back.

How raw-boned and gaunt

it was for you to be back in this world;

made visible by the angle of light

from the first stone-

 

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I was tagged by Susana Gardner, mermaid of Rhode Island.

….SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/batman916/Desktop/EndofSuffering.doc: : : …….

“”Unsolicited blurb:magnetizedfield: “We called ourselves howrse, stars shining velvt poured fourth from hearts aching for sound. I am deliverance —and”””

What is the working title of the book? For the poetry manuscript, The End of Suffering or Autobiography of Love; for the sci-fi/fantasy novel, Bird Diaries, I: Waiting for the Nightjar

Where did the idea come from for the book? Both stories began with the premise that we can all be somewhere else, as someone else, but still ourselves, and that the notion of fated placement in a particular period in history is questionable. Being born at a certain time and place is frighteningly random. Concerns about history and heritage, the blood-knowledge that comes from ancestral experiences play into the narrative of both stories. Also, thinking about relationships and solitude and how the two exist together and communicate, both in intimate relationships and communities, world and universe. Reading a lot about Western Buddhism and the application of Buddhist principles here in the West–and, personally, how Buddhist practices of mindfulness, kindness, compassion and unconditional love transform and deepen my experience. How unconditional love and compassion are ethical mandates–the power of fighting the good fight, knowing our power as citizens of a world and a planet, connected irrevocably to each other, in the face of an ever-present Apocalypse.

What genre does your book fall under? Poetry and speculative/sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Tilda Swinton. Jake Gyllenhaal. Vampire Bill. Spike. Mulder. Scully. Buffy.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

fortune smiles,- the obtuse perimeter regards itself to say, “Axel,: patterned, exact cut of cloth that makes us;:who we are is metronomical.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Five years,…and counting.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? Most of the driving force to write this book came from feeling like a lucky bastard, having wound up in this century, in this country, born in fortuitous circumstances and thinking of the sheer absurdity of that luck. Also, feeling passionate love for several different men over the last ten years, traveling a lot, and then settling in of a sort, here in New York. The various dichotomies that are not really dichotomies between what seem like discrete years and times in my life, and the idea that time is cumulative, not linear. And the thread-blood blessing of every part of it is love. The realization that love underpins all phenomenological being. The crude structures of life, biology, death, physics, chemistry, are intricate spacetime measurements. Thinking about how physics relates to the density and bareness of language.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Love and sex are interesting. Parallel time and the paradox of random fate are thought-provoking.

Also: from the title poem:

There is no place that is here, ethere in the stomach, heart, lungs”

The end of suffering appears as a glow on the edge of thought-eye, the belief that at the end of the subway ride, there will be coffee and scones waiting.

My Astronomy. falls regal to the side, like a lamb’s leg.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It’s looking for a home. 🙂

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: Maria Damon, Kiala Givehand, Ash Smith, Errant Tiger, Michael Newton, David Hadbawnik

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For years, I believed I couldn’t cook. I come from a long line of brilliant cooks. My grandmother’s cooking was ridiculous—goulash, schnitzel, chopped liver, fruit soup (compote), and a cheesecake that defined every adolescent craving I ever had. My mom can make a queen’s meal out of an egg, a couple leaves of lettuce, an olive and pita bread. No matter what I see when I look in the refrigerator and cupboards, she sees a whole, satisfying, hearty meal. She cooks very simply, without a lot of salt or oil, no heavy sauces or dressings—a simplicity of food that is exactly what it is: carrots and cucumbers and lettuce and tomato and yams and bread and cheese and turkey—all simply cooked so the taste of the food is the taste of the food. This is the way I grew up, eating natural, simple food that my mom calls, with the greatest honor and pride, peasant food. I am all about it. It’s hearty, humble and filling.

In the past year, I’ve changed my whole diet, eating healthier and simpler, and have been learning how to cook. The first time I cooked chicken was uncomfortable. I started eating meat again after seven years of being a vegetarian because I felt my body really needed it. I love animals so eating meat is a difficult and complicated endeavor. Deciding to cook meat for myself is a way to be closer and more honest to eating meat. I say a blessing over the meat and thank the animal for providing me with the food and protein I need. I buy meat that has organic certification and from farms where the animals are treated humanely. Still, the first time I unwrapped uncooked chicken and washed it and cut it was difficult, to say the least. As I prepared the meat, I smelled a scent from long ago, from a different place and time—my grandmother’s house. The memory so overtook me, I felt my grandmother standing next to me, smiling with her whole face, a smile that has never left me, one of the most joyful and full-hearted expressions of love I’ve ever had the good fortune to know. My mom’s voice on the phone guided me through the rest of the preparation.

There is something deeply comforting and calming about a home-cooked meal. I love everything about it, the smells of the spices and meat and vegetables baking and steaming and sautéing, the sounds of cutting and stirring, the beautiful colors and textures of the vegetables, cutting boards and colorful bamboo bowls, moving around the kitchen with purpose, the feel of making a delicious, healthy meal, primal, simple and natural, and of course, the end result: the tastes of a delicious, satisfying, yummy meal. I am still a novice so I become completely absorbed in what I’m doing and forget everything else. I am completely present and focused fully on the exact, specific task in front of me. And I get to talk to my mom and share cooking with her. She patiently goes through each step over speakerphone and waits until I complete it and then we move on to the next one until the meal is done. After doing the dishes and cleaning the stove, sitting down to the gorgeous meal I’ve cooked is so relaxing and full of a childlike wonder that is home and family and delight.

Find something new to do this week. Something you’re not good at. Something you’ve always felt drawn to but didn’t know why. The focus of learning a new skill is life-affirming and generates a state of joyous flow. At a certain point or at a certain age, beliefs of who you are and what you do well, or what you do at all, set in and seem to prehistorically petrify. It becomes embarrassing or uncomfortable to be unskilled and a newbie. But this is exactly what life is and what art is and what joy is. The power of changing a belief that limits you is limitless. Novelty, falling down a million times on skis when you’ve never skied before, traveling to new places and missing trains and getting lost. Burning your first roast or overcooking your first veggie stir-fry. What amazes me, as I learn to cook more and more dishes, and develop a more natural flow and skill, is how these tasks aren’t new at all. They’ve been in me, in my blood, in my family, and connect me to something so deep and so connected in the history of my own life and my heritage and family.

Making time and, more importantly, making space in your mind to take on new experiences is a priority well set. It opens up new confidence and expands your field of vision. It allows you to discover aspects of yourself, your soul and your heart, that are rooted in the Old Days, in instincts you’ve had your whole life. These Old Days, these original instinctive curiosities are a vital and primal element of the present time. Connecting to the Old World reveals a history and heritage that is rich, fascinating and utterly relevant to life right now. Becoming intimate with their practices and lessons and stories is healing and a source of great discovery.

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Listening to John Coltrane and thinking about the courage of the human heart this morning. Woke up too early after too little sleep. The Insomnia Project in full effect. Every humble daily act is an act of courage. Being in the world. The intensity of being keeps mounting. Deepening life in this way, the intensity of each moment holds me to it like a moth to a flame. The route to the flame may be direct or uneven, but that road is a true trajectory. Knowing you’re on the path without knowing what comes.

In the wordless words of the immortal Coltrane-

Acknowledgement

Resolution

Pursuance

Psalm

Truth abounds. A love supreme.

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