A part of something is only something that began within

I don’t want to be a part of anything that makes right something by making wrong another. 

I want to be a part of something that embraces growth, movement, holistic approaches to life. I want to be a part of something that takes a moment to question, a deep breath, a moment to ask… will saying this help anything? I want to be a part of something that takes that breath… holds that space… and remains deeply rooted in compassion and strength. 

I want to be a part of something that embraces the shadow as well as the light. 

I want to be a part of something that orients towards growth… that takes a breath and moves inwards towards personal growth… that expands and breathes out excitement, flow and clarity. 

~*~

You have a life that is yours to live

I like deep dives into anything and an open mind.

I like personal stories that touch the universe in us. I love humanness that I can relate to.

I admit… being in the trenches of life is what it’s about. I have lived so little of life and yet I feel like my caverns are deep, unmoored and ungrounded. 

I light up at the light pouring through the crack in the doorway. I like the idea that when one door closes, another door opens. 

I light up at the discussion of ideas… but more so… I light up when goosebumps ripple across my skin. When the only thing going for me is intuition and that intense body-mind connection. I know then… we’re on the same wavelength.

I light up when the dreamers scatter the night sky and resonance hums through me. 

I light up on the dance floor… dancing a dance from within and I light up at the little girl marching to the beat of her own drum.

I light up… at sheer honesty, radical honesty and strength. 

I’m inspired by strength and integrity, wool that is black, sessions on my yoga mat moving through vinyassa flows. 

I’m inspired by meditation and the awareness that I’ve felt, lists that don’t follow any particular rules, structure acting as support. 

I’m inspired by the concept of co-creation, nuance, sublety and detail along with the big picture. I love the process of expansion and I love the Winter cycles of renewal and root work. 

I love the idea of waking up every morning, purpose filled and ready to begin… and I love the idea of being gentle when I am not.

I love the way this gives rise to a new page, a new sentence, a new line… a new beginning, a new moment, a new lets try again right now. 

I love a new idea and I love a re-shaping of the old. 

I love the way life seems to flow with each rivulet moving me closer into the river and the center of the spiral. 

I love the thought of becoming. I love the thought that becoming happens to us when we allow ourselves space to grow. I love that allowing ourselves space to grow entails invitation. The new leaf of my orchid grows towards the sun as the old leaf at the bottom yellows. I love that the process of renewal and death can happen in tandem. I love that the new root of my orchid has sprouted on the side next to where I placed a rose quartz months ago. Pure delight to my inner child.

You have to love this soft human life of yours if you are to make anything worthwhile… even a cup of tea. You have to love the frowns as well as the successes if you want to live a life that is balanced. And you have to throw everything (or something) out the window and jump out of a plane, do something on the edge of your comfort zone… be embarrassed… if you want to develop courage… compassion… and whatever it is that will carry you through to the work of your life… that is… the work of living. You have a life to live that is yours. 

~*~

Symbiosis

When you feel a connection to the land, it permeates every part of you.

Imagine this metaphor, of threads, entertwined to form a cord laced with hints of gold, connecting us to life, in this sense, what nourishes us.

What if it has begun to sever and you are tethering by a thread?

Imagine… that the land calls to you… that the leaves whisper in the wind and the voices of the people echo the wisdom of the earth. 

You sink into it. You let go of all the knives that have been embedded in your heart, clenched in perpetual tension. Everything dissolves… Everyones light is reverberating back to you, into you and through you. You are a light amidst all the other lights reveberating to the frequency you are tuning into.

You inhale and sink into your heart, you inhale and drop out of your mind, you inhale and you see the world from this place. Suddenly you notice it’s different. You’re seeing it differently. You inhale and you exhale and the land greets you, around every corner and in the eyes of people. You feel the land and you recognise this feeling of belonging for the first time. 

It feels new and it feels like coming home. 

Some time later it dawns on you, how soul replenishing that journey was, how the land reached right into you and threaded you home, how… a place is made by its people… and its people by their love for the land. Warmth buzzes in your heart and goosebumbs ripple across your skin. It is a truth that resonates from the core.

~*~

Sand

Seeing the dance

Maybe my religion is beauty. If I define religion as the beliefs and views we accept on faith, that may or may not be true for others but is true for us. For me, for you, for others – whatever is true for them. 

Some artists reveal beauty through everything and everyone. Every moment of grace. An invitation into seeing the beauty of a flock of birds gathering in flight, soaring across the park. I didn’t see it until an artist painted all the shapes and ways that a bird could be seen in flight – and from that point forward, it marked my ordinary mundane moments, of walking through Belmore park and seeing the huge flock of pigeons with the occasional scattering of ibis’ and seagulls, take flight, no doubt, something or someone had intrigued them on the other side of the park – food, undoubtedly involved.

Most of the time art doesn’t land with me that way. There is always going to be art that resonates with you and art that doesn’t. The artist’s job, isn’t necessarily to reveal what is beautiful. If they draw forth an emotional response from me, or an intellectual one, I would say they succeeded. Though… it takes two, to see and be seen and I am not always going to be every artists ideal audience. There are emotional responses I enjoy having evoked… and emotional response I’d be happy to not seek out… and sometimes, responses that require maturity… where the art, not only didn’t land, but drew forth an immature reaction. But here’s where it gets interesting, several years later, present time, I am remembering that piece and my reaction… and I’ve realised, I missed the point, entirely. The purpose of that piece was an invitation to question the nature and the purpose of art itself, and the impulses that draw us into the context of galleries. 

Context… being the operative word here. That particular piece of art, a rusted something leaning against a wall, was post-modernistic. For me that evokes, “That’s a chair, but is it really a chair?” and If a tree fell in a forest and no one heard it, did the tree still fall? 

Those aren’t really questions expecting answers, and whoever that artist was/is, I am humbled and they have my deepest respect. 

Now I see, the nature of that piece of post-modernistic art, was to question. Often, uncomfortably. Because what is up for review, is the previously held belief about something. In this case, the previously held belief I had, about art. But it doesn’t make it smaller… the only reason I would fight to keep that old belief about art, is because it threatens the status quo, it threatens what art means to me by asking me to question it… how I relate to art… and what I measure art as, by, with. For instance – talent, skill, finesse, detail, abstraction, process, communication. And not necessarily, all in the same piece/work. But if those measurements are no longer operative… how do I know who I am in terms of my understanding and approach to seeing art? Suddenly, I no longer know, what art is, only that the very medium, has been used, to question itself.

That’s a very… uncomfortable thing… to do. To witness an artist and their art, invite you to do. There is an impulse to guard against the chaos that I sense, will ensue. And that’s exactly what I did, insisted it wasn’t art, and went on my merry way.

But now I also have to question… what is that insistence keeping apart, at a distance? And what does it really serve? I confess, art is my subject here because I don’t have my hands in the clay – in the mediums that are art. There is an objectivity that feels safe to me… and a subjectivity that isn’t intimately tied into my sense of identity. If it were, these questions would be much more difficult.

Letting go of a previous belief… is like that. Letting go of my previous belief about art… didn’t make my understanding of art shrink. Letting go of a previous belief… doesn’t make the subject of that belief… smaller. It makes it wider. It makes more room. It makes more space. It invites, more acceptance. 

No one ever passes from the beginning to the ending… by skipping the middle… the process… for me that included anger, justification, riling for, riling against. I can take that to mean that something is shifting, there is a desire for that shift, and there exists an equally powerful impulse… for it not to shift. 

And… seeing that dance, is presently… the beauty of it. 

Sand

We Remain

I remember back in 2016, I was listening to this song sometime after dinner. The house was deserted. It was the year that I found myself cracked open and this song buoyed me. 

All the ways that you think you know me,

All the limits that you figured out,

limits that you figured out,

mmm,

had to learn to keep it all below me,

just to keep from being thrown around,

just to keep from being thrown around,

yeah,

every single time the wind blows,

every single time the wind blows,

i see it in your face,

mmm,

in the cold night

there will be no fair fight,

there will be no good night,

to turn and walk away,

so burn me with fire,

drown me with rain,

i’m going weightless

screaming your name,

yes i’m a sinner

yes i’m a saint

whatever happens here,

whatever happens here,

we remain.

I was drawn to shadow work, not out of mere curiosity but because I had this sinking feeling that if I didn’t confront my demons, I would live out the same stories again and play the same scripts in my life with others.

Winston Churchill once famously said, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” It was my refrain.

My naivety died that year, opening me to what I saw as weakness for landing myself in that relationship to begin with. Were I to speak to that younger self now, I would say, no sweetheart, you are not weak, you are human, experiencing a bottoming out of life for the first time. Grow.

I found expressions for rage, for anger, vulnerability, for love and tenderness, sensuality, for courage and strength, to fight and to surrender. Movement and dance became an invitation to drop in… judgement ceased to exist when one flows. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains this concept as a state of consciousness we experience when engaged in creative work where our skill set is equal to the challenge… or simply, whatever it is that lights us up.

In the healing, I realised I was the one that had no boundaries. That bottoming out could be seen as an invitation to develop strength and courage… that we don’t have to be psychic to deepen into our intuition. To experience our emotions more fully, to experience my dysfunction more entirely, to experience the barren landscape of despair, so that I learned, the extent to which we experience despair is also the extent to which we can feel joy.

In the healing, I realised that whatever was dysfunct in my life and yours, did not begin in our dance but was rooted further back in our lives. Does anyone come through childhood unscathed? How crazy, to settle for believing that’s just the way the world is. Would we still be here if women said that to themselves 200 years ago? 

I realised how sad… how sad… how sad I was. How sad I was becoming, that there was a reality looming on the horizon that made me uncontrollably sad… that this life could disappear beneath the waves and I would have failed in all that I came to do. In that moment, crouched by the side of the road with the darkness and the streetlights around me, that possibility scared me more than the unknown… the kind of death with no rebirth.

As Clarissa Pinkola Estes put its, you fight to save your instinctual life. Her essays in Women Who Run with the Wolves, brought the archetype of the Wild Woman back into our consciousness… a reminder that domestication kills the wild spirit in us. It kills the part of us that is regenerative, full of creative life and power. In the culture of patriarchy, we lost this. In the political interest of patriarchy’s dominant religion, we lost our wisdom keepers. And in that loss, it is not merely women who can feel this emptiness but men too. 

Choices that feel like life or death – the slow kind, where one goes through the motions of life and work… drowning the truth of what has happened or is happening, is a death choice, no matter the reasoning. When I see you, I see your story and how it could’ve also been mine… perhaps with different characters and changes in the plotline… but you did not arrive at this point in your life without making all the choices you did… and I forgive myself. When made, life choices draw beautiful energy to them, doors open and you go through them and what you need arrives like a gift.

Fear is not a dragon to be slayed but a curious ally sometimes.

Halfway around the world… all things from childhood began surfacing. Understanding began to dawn in places that held shame and blame. Events that once held a shape larger than they merited… began to shrink in perspective. I learned that I could draw boundaries, that I could offer forgiveness and kindness and still express where my boundaries are. That I am enough, that I am worthy and my needs are real and they matter. I could offer that nothing we do… is unforgivable… and still choose not to re-experience the past. 

What does it mean… that a woman can judge another for being too free in her expression? Too playful, too flirtatious? What does it mean… when the offhand remarks she makes, places blame on her own sex? Is she aware of her own patriarchal conditioning… or has it faded into the background of life? How far would she have to go, to uncover her own pain?

How much it would hurt, to have everything heaved open, to upheave the life that has been built over decades… how much hurt is repressed?

How many years of patriarchal conditioning have we experienced in our histories? How did patriarchy take root? Sometimes there are no answers that suffice.

Out here, climbing mountains, stone walls, trudging across abandoned farms because I’d forgotten which path I’d taken… I learned to trust myself. Witnessing the chaos of life, I love it. I love the blue skies, the surrounding mountains, the traditional garb, the stray dogs… the bareness… of what is real. Of this life. Of my own privilege… I’ve learned, what that truly means.

I choose to experience my creativity fully. And that ones sexuality, is never, an invitation. That erotic energy is also creative energy and that the dance of life comes out of this spiral. 

Here, I learned to love. A different kind of love. A forgiving kind of love. A love that says… bloom… bloom… bloom.

Out here, away from everything else that is there, I understand the only person we can begin to heal is ourselves and that is enough. That we came together to witness each other, and that perhaps, we can carry the truth of each others innocence, deep within.

When you express the love you feel, when you express a desire to see me more fully, when you invite others to expand, when you see beauty… without needing to possess it… when you bear witness and offer strength and solidarity, you bring the healing. 

I am deeply grateful for your presence… for your guidance… for your truth… and for your faith in me. I am moved by the love you extend to me, the compassion you extend for me… not out of sympathy or pity but out of a deep inner knowing. In the way you witnessed me, you empowered me. 

I learned, to ask… what is here? What am I learning? And in my frustration, near to tears, the answer that came was merely, patience.

I know that stories will evolve and shift and wear new costumes as times change, but ultimately these stories belong to the collective and where there is resonance, there is universality. I have compassion for where we are in the process of becoming. I have compassion for the parts of me that have been afraid. For the parts of me that I disowned. For the parts of me now yearning for expression. To have boundaries and to honour them. To taste the mysteries of life. Eve’s story needs a re-write. To live is to experience life’s joys and life’s sorrows. Knowledge is not a sin and women are not responsible for men’s repressed lust. Before the snake was re-appropriated to represent ‘evil’ it was a symbol of regeneration.

To hear the judgements… and say… I know… and I am sorry. I know… and I forgive you. I know… and I am choosing a new story. I know… and I honour my truth, my boundaries and the life I am creating. That really, endings are merely beginnings… all beginnings come out of endings… so death, can be a doorway to life… to all that renews itself. To the rebirth, come Spring… and to the re-awakening of what is true for you.

July, 2019

Sand

When you let go of who you think you are… you might discover who you really are

She weaved her way through the throng of bodies, all undulating, in motion, swaying, some with their eyes closed, some with their eyes open… alert, soft, keen, curious, kind, intense, probing, stiff, present, childlike… the whole array.

She passed him in her periphery and smiled… not at him… but at the presence of him. Tonight eye contact eluded her. 

What was it about eyes? 

Her arm arched over shoulder, momentarily, fingers leading her dance before her hips spun and her feet found the next step, toes grounding into the floor, the muscles in her thigh dutifully supporting her weight. 

They say everything. Everything is sometimes too much. 

She breathed out a sigh, eyes closed, a breath followed by the release of the tension she’d been holding. Tonight her dance resided in the interior of her inner self.

Between bodies, her feet swept the floor and time passed as they danced themselves alive, their sorrows and their joys, their fears and their hopes, their pain and their catharsis, their shadow and their light… into the space of transmutation.

The music brought out the delight of her inner child, as though she was a child jumping on a trampoline in sheer joy… the sheer joy of knowing that feeling again. Her eyes opened for a moment to see bodies in unison… in staccato, in contrary motion. The music brought out the stillness from within, as though time slowed and the space grew silent in prayer and her wounds and her tears crept up to meet her again. The music moved the erotic through her, playful and uninhibited, sweeping into the center of her desire, spinning her like a spiral. The music moved through her intensity with its ferociousness and her body weaved the language it spoke, carrying it through the space. And as the night drew to a graceful close… the music brought the lyrical melody of the infinite and she followed its arc.

Turning, she suddenly found herself eye to eye with him and the shadow of a smile on his face.  

Surprise pulled her lips into a smile before her thoughts could assemble and he returned it with the same grace. As though that was an invitation, they moved together, energy sweeping around their bodies as whatever dance they began to co-create… weaved itself through them and in the space between them. They were the dance and the dancers, lyrical and languid, slow turns and graceful motions… drifting yet energetically intertwined until the music came to a gentle landing and whatever had been created… was in the uncountable depth of his eyes accompanied by his smile.

When you let go of who you think you are… you might discover who you really are. 

It was joy and love and the beauty of connection that she felt. Did her smile and her eyes, too, hold joy, love and the beauty of their connection? She bowed.

Joy continued to uncoil from her belly, rising its way into her heart, into the feeling that was unfurling there and buoyed her for the rest of the evening.

What was it?

She mused as she drove home. The way he moved and connected with her. How curious, that a connection like that created the joy and fulfilment she was feeling.

Respect.

The answer reverberated back to her.

Worthiness, platonic love and respect. 

Sand

Judgement: a compass with the needle pointing at love

i.

You… toy with this expression, and make it yours, and learn what you can do with it, what you can do with youth. And even as you whisper, it is going, it is gone, and I am old, I am a wizened old man who has little teeth left, what do I remember? The wars this world fought? How I was young once?

ii.

As the old.

The youth, bloomed and withered, and you are old. Old and sentient. And wondering what you lived for. Everything in you is soft, pulsating, waiting, and you said, you lived for the truth, for the art, beauty, God, woman. In her soft feminine curves. You found her. You found her. Imperfect… and not who she was in the shower, or on the floor, or picking herself up… but the one who actually did… who sat down, gently, allowed her to grow old. Compassionately, asked, what she wanted from life. 

And yet you… resist. You are not lured. 

The artist in you rails. Flails. His limbs. His mouth. His bottom. You are god playing human. 

God playing human

December, 2017?

Everything here is disjointed and confusing but there is a rawness about it that I like, the jagged edges that aren’t smoothed out but insist on being there, perspectives running into each other without any demarcation.

And so… I think there is something curious to the notion that how we view our gods, has a relationship to how we treat others. Is our god our Beloved? Is our god cruel? Is our god the pillars of modern day science or commerce and capitalism or both? What is it that we worship? What is it that we believe? What worldview… presides over the days of our lives?

My young self

made god out of the clay

and asked,

would you like to be a metaphor for cruelty?

he smiled and said okay

and came to play.

God as metaphor

October, 2019

To enter into the midst of life and discover that paradox lies at the heart of it. 2016 was the first time I discovered that I had been atheist/agnostic, yet at the same time, I had a worldview that god was cruel, yet it was buried in my psyche and when the line between my conscious experience and my sub-conscious blurred and faded… this was what I found. Upon reading Jung, I realised this wasn’t strange. Pulling apart my experience of religion, my childhood, my adolescent years and my relationships, how could I be surprised to discover this worldview existed and operated in me? It’s the remnants of what I might consider my early experience with patriarchy.

I acknowledge that… and I don’t judge that anymore. I don’t want to judge all the people that are operating and living their lives with this worldview… or that they’re trying to grapple with it. It’s admirable. I’m drawn, because there are two parts of me that still resonate to it… perhaps for that reason, when judgement comes to play in any form, I have been both the trigger and the person surreptitiously looked to for a fleeting feeling of being understood, of being heard and acknowledged. The discomfort grows intense for me… or the irony grows hilarious. In both regards… we are the person we most need our acknowledgement from… and that when we fear judgement from others… we are really being judgemental of ourselves… that some kind of pain is narrowing the perspective – a rusty story, a mental loop inside our head… and the other person has absolutely nothing to do with it… except be the trigger… or we are the ones judging others for being judgemental. Now… having been in both shoes… I find that quite funny.

Isn’t judgement a compass with the needle pointing at love?

xx

Sand

Abstract music, myth and Taoism and some ending thoughts on cultural appropriation| entry #2

Its been about 3 weeks since I last wrote anything on this. Well… I had the most fascinating lesson today (edit: two days ago). We segued between Catholicism/christianity… gnostic christianity… patriarchy… because we’d been talking about Debussy and the asiatic influence in his music and the world expo that exposed the sounds of the Gamelan to him, to which my tutor was certain that Debussy wouldn’t have produced the music he did, without the influence of the East. My comment was, ‘right time, right place’, and his reply involved ‘the hand of god’… to which I asked if he believed in god. To which his reply was incredibly interesting… and our conversation slipped away, but the impression left with me was that he didn’t and he did and he leaned towards the former whilst assimilating the latter.

We touched on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring… and again… its allusion to pre-christianity in Russia… It hadn’t occurred to me that Russia was like old Britain, pagan before christianity took over. More information over at wiki here. My tutor picked out the intervals in the opening melody and said Stravinsky’s aim with the opening melody was to evoke otherness because it was music harkening to pagan ritual meant to depict the sacrifice of the virgin – meaning she dances herself to death, as a way to celebrate? welcome? honour? Spring. Virgin in pre-christian traditions meant a woman powerful unto herself and for some reason I still feel like something is missing here.

His thoughts for me, after asking what I was doing modally in my piece, was to suggest I consider trying out an octatonic scale (diminished scale).

Two tutorials ago, we chatted about myth and one of the challenges he set forth was to bring the journey of departure and return, into my music, and this brought up a conversation on identity and personal/cultural histories. His and surprisingly, mine. Honestly I couldn’t figure out how to do it with the first piece and I liked it the way it was so I went away to think about it and came back with the assumption that he meant departure and return as in the often cited concept of tension and release in composition to which his comment was in short that I wasn’t thinking laterally enough about it, or perhaps just too literally. But it also led me to try and explore the mythologies of my culture, or rather the culture that belonged to my ancestors.

Nevertheless, when I draw on personal experience, I feel as though the myth most recently prominent to my life has been that of Persephone and Hades… but following that thread further back in history to the ancient Sumerians… there is the myth of Inanna entering the Underworld ruled by her sister Ereshkigal to retrieve her husband. These myths seem dualistic and are stories on the surface, yet hide the themes offered in plain sight by Taoism: integration, yin/yang, polarity, interdependence. Taoism encompasses more than what I have articulated but here I am picking out what I see that is similar. I don’t feel like the Way, cited in Taoism, offers integration as much as it is, the integrated whole. And that… the quality of being, is emphasised even when in action…

Well… I’ve definitely taken a left turn somewhere here. So… when I started writing my second piece… I listened to a bunch of Guqin recordings and remembered once upon a time in my childhood that I had wanted to learn one of these and presently discovered that I loved the meditative quality the instrument could bring. That the music could suggest a kind of stillness. But I also loved cultural appropriation when I saw it tastefully done… honestly… the more I get into this discussion… the more I realise, how much of my own youth was dominated by innocent cultural appropriation.

We see it as negative in light of ignorance… but outside of commercial exploitation, I think it suggests a desire to try out and try on different identities… and when cultural borders begin to dissolve… its inevitable this happens. I wonder if there is a link between this identity exploration and the hero’s journey suggested by Joseph Campbell in that many of us engage with the former to some extent during our adolescent years, whether haphazardly, innocently or offensively, because the initiatory quality of the latter has been lost in modern day societies.

Hmm. In any case, in my music journey, other elements are coming to the fore that are more personally important to me… such as an exploration of harmony, than specifically the sounds that belong to my cultural history… perhaps at this point in time, though I am very much enjoying the process of discovery.

On that note, I wrote most of this post listening to lighthearted piano jazz. 😀

Sand

Paradigm shift

What a paradigm shift feels like – when the past doesn’t determine the present. When the present doesn’t determine the future. When the present is what it is… but the perspective shifts drastically. When you allow yourself to step off the tracks someone else put you on and you thought you had to stay there… going in that direction. When you allow yourself to allow the next thought… to be a complete shift, from the previous one. When you allow yourself… to throw a chink in the linear conception of reality… in the linear mode of thinking. Is what a paradigm shift feels like. 

Sand