Giant Radishes on the Tree of Life

Radieschen - Raphanus sativus - Marktware

Radieschen – Raphanus sativus – Marktware (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My responsibility is to Joy!

Giant radishes hanging from the Tree of Life

A bountiful harvest on a daily basis

The insights born of experiences shared, savoured, loved

Swimming out to the Island

With the tide

Moon light and jagged rocks make the sweetest resting places

Dreams realised

Pressed against the warm air

Mid-Summer; Gentle Shore

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Waking Up Before Sunrise to Write – Can I do it???

Reading this wonderful post, I laughed and recognised:

http://www.julietallardjohnson.com/blog/

These words at the end hover around me……

“Write first thing, before sunrise if necessary. Carve out that time in the early hours and let every thing else be after your writing –-”

I try to carve it out in the day.  Snatches of time where I can write.  Now that I am committed to the Wheel of Initiation, my writing obligations have doubled.  I owe both my thesis and the stories of the West my time and energy.  This amongst everything else that needs my time and energy.   There are plenty of very good reasons why I don’t have enough time to write.  They are valid and true and real.  And if I allow them to persuade me to put off my work for another day or more opportune time, well, for a split second I am vindicated.  And after that just plain old hollow with a gnawing feeling in my chest that something is missing.  I have sat with that feeling for years, putting things off for another day.  And that sort of scares me.  That so much time so easily slips away.    Because for better or worse, writing matters, or rather, honouring the Creative in whatever way you do it, matters.  And actually, funny this, when you get down to it, when you get started, it’s no big deal.   Wow.  I let years slip past me for no big deal?  Yup!  And no big deal there either… because another manifestation of resistance is to get all caught up in how much time you’ve wasted and what’s the point now it’s too late etc etc etc etc ad infinitum.

Still.  It is hard to find the time……

Lately, my son has been waking me at dawn everyday.  Around 4.30am, he cries softly and I wake up to give him some milk, and we both fall back to sleep.  This time at the point of daybreak has become very precious.  Sometimes, instead of slipping back into sleep, I have listened to the dawn chorus (one of the few times you ever hear a symphony of birds in Central London).  I have slid out of bed and looked out the back window at the colours of the dawn.  I have chanted Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padme Sidhi Hum under my breath as my son feeds.  I have felt the infinity of the moment of dawn and realised that dawn is always breaking somewhere as the planet revolves.  I have felt a connection to all those who rise at dawn to meditate.  And I wonder if I can wake up a little more, and use this spaciousness to write in… even if only initially for a little time.  Maybe half an hour to start.  Even ten minutes, then back to sleep till the alarm goes off at 6.45.

This feels like a big deal, and yet, my desire to write (even write badly) my way out of the West and out of my Thesis. is bigger than my desire for an extra half hour of sleep.  This is a new thing.

So….  I take the step and say I will try.  Perhaps trying is not good enough and doing is better, but I’m being gentle on my sweet little self.

Just for this week.   Just for the morning that is coming up.  I am giving this space to the West, and to the Thesis.  They need it, the quietness, the solitude.  No blogging at this time.

I will blog in the day, in those snatched times.  About how it’s going, if it’s happening, how it happens.  Because this kind of public, organic writing is a cool way to reflect and summarise.  And get unblocked too.  Blogging for me right now takes the pressure off the other writing I am doing.  In the years that have passed, I have asked too much of various pieces of work… asked them to bear too much weight.  So they have become stuck under the burden.  I am grateful to this medium for providing that relief.  And I also acknowledge that those other labours require more privacy and space.  I will try to provide it.  I will try to be awake before the dawn.  I hope that however long this pre-dawn writing time lasts, I will be able to mark the end of the space by responding to my son waking, as I do everyday, and falling back asleep with him for that final hour, full of the love and energy of the Creative.

I wish this!

When Rooibos Was Ordinary

There are shivers.
So I write.
When Rooibos was ordinary,
We drank out of old china cups
Yellow flowers, gold edged
I, three years old, green headscarf
Rooibos, black, lemon slice, sugar
A teaspoon to blow and sip
Later, there on the shelves
Of the Hypermarket
(bring your car, you can park it)
Beneath the mine dump
(mysterious steps reached the stars, I swear it)
Between ricoffy and five roses
The souls of gold seekers wandered the aisles
Though we did not see them
When Rooibos was ordinary.

 

Commentary

This poem was inspired by a beautiful piece I read on Stirring Conversations.  In it, Rooibos is the tea that is drunk during a conversation between the author and interviewee.   It is scented with lemongrass, and forms the backdrop to a moving and insightful conversation about the nature of friendship, regret, reflections on younger selves and the importance of being present, rather than thrusting forward to a point of resolution.  I thought about how the meaning of things changes.  How objects and products acquire layers of associations and resonance over life times that are contradictory and ambiguous, though they surround the same material reality.  Like Rooibos tea.  Growing up in South Africa, it was ubiquitous and so ordinary.  Unglamorous, yet comforting.  And also in the background as my life moved through various landscapes.   Now, living in what I suppose you would call the ‘West’ , Rooibos takes on other qualities… more elegant, refined, healthful and exotic.  As I read the interview on Stirring Conversations I shook my head because the way things transform is so compelling.  Reflected in the shifting meanings of objects, spaces, places, memories, people and the unfolding of conversations.

http://stirringconversations.com/2012/05/31/cup-2-lemongrass-rooibos-with-linda-griffiths/

 

 

Fear and the Initiate

What is it about initiation that requires a state of fear to emerge? This is in addition to the exhiliration and the wonderment of excavating the layers of pain that have accumulated over a lifetime.  In anthropology, it is a central question in the vast literature on initiations across myriad cultures – are initiations by necesity violent and disruptive? Violence itself requires clarification here.  Yes, many initiations contain elements of physical violence, but there is also the violence of rupture in the psyche as the old ways of being are dismantled and the initiate is cast into a state of confusion.

This is where I am.  Stranded in the West, the place of purification and release, writing chapter after chapter of a life story which becomes more detailed and demanding even as the time I have to write it shrinks.  Aren’t initiates supposed to be unfettered by family obligations and parenting responsibilities? What does undertaking the deep work of examining your life in this kind of detail mean when you are NOT the ideal neophyte? To be plain, how do you do it?  Right now, I’m blundering about bludgeoning my way through without much finesse or clarity.  I snatch writing time.  I wonder how on earth I will finish my thesis, or write my way out the west when the baby is sick, school pick up is now and the laundry won’t do itself.

I see and read the wonderful work of other mothers, with more children than me, and I feel a little envious of their composure and connection to a deep well of joyful conversation with the Creative that right now seems to be elusive.

I recognise a pain story here.  The one I tell about how other people have the answers and resources, not me.  I feel this one tugging on my arm now.  A shadow that whispers if it’s not perfect it’s not worth doing, and leaves me floundering in the messy uncompleted.

In between, I scan the skies for signs and melody.   Anything to give some indication that it’s worth continuing.

And here’s the rub.  There is no choice but to continue.  And I mean that.  Signs or no signs, when you’re this deep in the woods, you kind of have to just get on with it.  Sigh!  And there’s me hoping for some dazzling sideshow of brilliance and recognition to keep me going.  Entering the Wheel of Initiation on the high of a quasi-miraculous series of lucid dreams means its hard to let go of wanting those fireworks to keep going off.

Anyway.  I’m glad I wrote this.  Gave myself the permission to write.  To be here now.  Sitting in the dark, tapping this piece into my phone for a quick upload.  Hanging in there, fearful and without the razzle dazzle.  Somehow going forward.  Inch by inch.  The state of fear is a messenger.  It tells me to watch out for those inner saboteurs who would gladly kill my fledging process because there is not enough acclaim or tangible reward in sight.  It reminds me that sometimes its necessary to keep your head down, crack a joke and get on with it.  Cheeky smile intact.  Judgement put on ice.  And if I really need a sign, just look up.  There it is, on the left side of Waterloo Bridge, crossing to the North Bank.  Fight the Nothingness.  Big Ben chimes eleven, and I’m done.

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The Tortoise and The Lama

Keeping up Zoo Time

And the passing of a Lonely George

I ask, in whispers, giggling behind hands, soft

What do you think?  Of a vision quest?

He answers with Lamas…

Little hands and mine reaching up for a soft touch

Meanwhile, missing the sign….

Still!  When the universe is on loudspeaker…..

they call out..  Lama is coming!

Looking up, sugared smiles

Stupa at dusk

A magical bridge

Bright with lights.

The Art of Invisibility

As they figured out
The next phase
Of their
Six Point Plan
Love blossomed
Until we are cleared
Of murder, we
Hide our groceries
In busy shops
There is an art
To invisibility

Commentary

This poem is made out of last nights dream scrawlings.  I woke from a scrambled dream at 3am.  It was a night of broken sleep as the baby was poorly.  There it sat, vivid and fresh, though my exhausted body had not caught up.  Catch this, so I write in my bedside notebook, in the dark, as I do when dreams wake me in the dead of night and my body is not fully able to co-operate.  Strange, looped handwriting, widely spaced to avoid overlap.  When I read it back the following evening, now, I get a wow sense.  Because now I don’t remember the dream at all, just the fact that I wrote bits of it down.  And it sounds like poetry.  These words bubbled out of my sub
conscious and writing them semi-comatose was how they got to connect with the outer world.  The last time this happened, the writing down of a dream I then had no recollection of, the result was the poem Dream Mermaid.

https://myyearofinitiation.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/dream-mermaid/

Those strange scrawled words that had formed themselves poem-like…. it was cool to see them, they had come through me, but they were not consciously mine.

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Sharing Too Early vs Not Sharing At All.

When’s the right time for a butterfly to emerge?  At what point does an idea, piece of work, intention or practice benefit from being shared?  It’s a fine line.  The one between sharing something you have been working on too soon, or not putting it out there through a fear of exposure that ultimately also destroys the creative life.  I walk this line a lot.  Walking it right now.  I publicized some of my poetry the other day on Facebook, thus opening up the possibility of people I know reading my stuff.

It was good to get some positive feedback, but this was outweighed by the sense that I’m not quite ready to bring my embryonic blog to the attention of everyone I know right now.  This is not a forever statement.  It’s a right now statement, one which acknowledges that I am at the stage of accumulating power and belief in my creative life, and that it is worth being protective of this space while it is still so vulnerable.  Don’t crack a chrysalis before the butterfly is ready.  That shit kills the winged life, to paraphrase William Blake.  To kiss the joy as it flies, don’t be rushing the germination process.  Equally, you can’t be trapping the life when it is ready to emerge.  Tricky balance.

One way to tell if it is the right time to share, is recognising when work is being put out into the world because some part of ourselves is looking for external affirmation that what we are doing is good.  This is a way of getting permission to carry on with it.  the permission givers are located outside of ourselves.  It’s a disaster because it is always unsustainable.  If praise is recieved, the ego issues another demand for more.  If it is not recieved, the ego can be sufficiently crushed to refuse permission to enter the space of freedom in which creativity thrives.  It gets really hard to let go of the judging self.  Steven Pressfield puts it like this,
“Resistance wants us to cede sovereignty to others.  It wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work.  Resistance knows we can’t take this.  No one can.”

Again, the dangers of seeking out external validation are not to be confused with the benefits of sharing embryonic work and processes in spaces of camaraderie that generate genuine insights.  Did I mention the minuscule thinness of the line? Microscopic.  I’m aware as I write this also of how vital it is to share work as part of a process of getting past fear of failure or rejection, which freezes action and prevents movement of any kind.  The channel must be kept open.   Now.  How to tell the difference! I’ll keep working on that one.  Hoping to let some butterflies free in the process.

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