There is a lens to our awareness of others that we constantly have to adjust for context and proximity. For example, the personality of a comedian is one that often explodes the personal to mythic proportions for laughs, and as the audience grows, the message changes because the audience and impact also changes and the comic must take responsibility or create derision. But, as ego also inflates with the kind of surreal success of celebrity (often) it tends to shut off empathy. The very thing that gave them insight when they started, becomes their blind spot. And those they love, loved and lost, suffer in that darkness too. It is a trajectory we see often in those we once considered “great”.
This is an excerpt from a post on my blog “Quilting is My Addiction”.
Without getting too boring or pedantic, I want to say that what I love about quilts is thinking about the anonymity of all those who have thread their lives, industry, and economy into their art. I love imagining the stories they shared, heads bowed over needle, the hopes and secrets, surviving in the fibers, if we can only listen.
No quilt can be reproduced, not really, because it has time sewn into it.
There is an obsession with permanence and naming things that comes with Empires, stamping coins and art and contracts, (all with men’s names, never with the names of women or slaves which sometimes women were by law). But we never run out of the proof that there was always art that was made to gladden the heart, to ease the pain, to connect with hopeful birth and to commemorate loss.
And in a way these proofs that artists were there survive better than the art that is dependant on Dynasties or Holy Empires, because they borrow from each generation, each carefully cherished item and thread a different history, one that includes women and slaves and reaches out to a future undaunted by circumstance, for joy.
Because Empires fall and art becomes fatuous.
But quilts become stories.
Just went to a launch for this charming book written by Peter Reynolds. First off, Quilts! Secondly, thirdly and well, I lost count — Time travel, an only child with siblings, and a tale of family and traditions!
A magical story, nicely illustrated and told with wit and compassion.
I find writing excruciatingly difficult but it feels so good when I stop. And just having someone take the time to read something I’ve written thoughtfully is huge for me.
The idea of making enough money to live on from my writing is like comparing me, stumbling along with my bundle buggy to the grocery store, to an astronaut in a rocket shooting for the moon.
HOWEVER, I don’t think there is an astronaut who doesn’t see the same moon as I see when I am happy to sit by my window and stare at it.
So, we made it through the month, I have followed advice on Facebook and marched around my two room apartment like a F—ing Champion. I have kept some sour dough starter alive for two weeks, I have no idea what to do with it but it is alive and I have already made arrangements for it should I die…
There’s talk that enough is enough. Freedom and blah blah blah, lets get back to “normal”. Normal like baloney and American cheese!
Right so, Should I die? YOU TELL ME.
I am past my “best before date” and except for making a bunch of masks (by the way I have run out of t-shirts to re-purpose for ties) I am pretty useless… I am not THAT OLD, but I have had cancer twice, I have asthma after having bronchitis last winter and now use a puffer and I have a blood disorder that they haven’t figured out yet, so I am a pretty good candidate for not surviving if I get this Covid19.
Maybe you don’t like clowns?
There is a difference between “JUST GET OVER IT!” and letting it go. It’s weird but one is a problem and the other is a strategy.
“Get over it!” is a very industrial revolution era type suggestion. This was a time when changes were brutal and corporal punishment was the way of the world. Any one who cared about you would caution you against any action you might take with the fire of injustice your belly. After all life was cheap, your life actually. Your only hope was to some how move on, get over it. This is a very toxic thing to have to do but probably not much worse than the air you had to breathe, the water you had to drink and the hunger and cold you had to endure.
“Get over it” was something I did hear often enough and young enough that I thought it had some validity. The trouble was there were too many indications that real justice could exist and maybe life wasn’t about just enduring shit. I was born in the 50’s, by the time I was an adult I didn’t believe it and society didn’t either (although there are indications it has made some major losses in this area recently).
But so is hypocrisy and we have learned enough about that in the last century or so that the one thing that made forgiveness possible, namely faith is really hard to maintain, if not just plain crazy. When faith was strong and instead of streaming t.v. shows the only stories you had for entertainment were ones where faith conquered over the bad guys EVERY WEEK, I think people might have actually managed to believe in forgiveness. (Lets not hasten a return to the Dark Ages okay?)
I myself have never been good at forgiveness. Forgiveness arises when I am lost in the delusion that I am some sort of ENLIGHTENED SAINT floating in my PERSONAL NIRVANA. It can happen. I might believe I am actually forgiving someone until I wake up from my spiritual revelry and I find am still pissed off. That’s not to say that someone else can’t manage forgiveness*.
As for “crazy” some Christians might tell me it is my faith in science that is crazy. I’d say fair dignum. I have actually had experience with how limited my understanding of science is and how weird my ideas are so I leave lots of room for possibility, and geez, won’t I look dumb on judgement day!**
But for most people Christianity just isn’t the Kool-aid that makes forgiveness possible any more, myself included.
So Finally “Letting It Go”
The advantage of Letting it Go is two fold. It doesn’t negate the injury you have suffered AND it doesn’t lead to you thinking you have a right to do something equally heinous to the person or persons who made you suffer.
Letting it go requires practice. All of the people who seemed to have the skill for moving past personal injury to address injustice had to work at it. So whatever it is you need to do to let go of the pain, you need to do it over and over. And OVER.
Every time the congealing of space around a thought or feeling arises come back to the breath, wiggle your toes and do your zen practice. You will eventually see this dense emotional state get thinner and more transparent and less of an affliction. It doesn’t mean you will lose your motivation to address injustice, but you won’t be suffering and communicating from a point of anger. Whether you call that “True Nature” or whatever it’s a lot like how it always is before a human gets messed up.
And you will have information that you can use to address social change and the strength to make real choices in your response to all the stupid stuff people do and say.
**you had to be there
Every cloud has a silver lining!
I’m Rio, most of you know that already, but it wasn’t always the case, so I am very happy to see my name listed on this wonderful book. I am sorry that I was unwell and couldn’t attend the launch, but I am so proud to be included with these women, many of whom I met at Sister Writes. They inspired me to push beyond my comfort levels and share a bit of my history. And they continue to inspire me to write with their brilliance.
and of course the cover…
I am in that weird place in life when I have lots of time to just observe things. I see when the wheel on the wagon is wobbling but it’s not my wagon.
Not any of it is my wagon.
I just try to appreciate every moment and applaud every success. “Yay!”
Crazy people, cruelty and all the other painful things humans can perpetuate on each other, hatred, confusion, obscuring the way forward; It is a crazy time. Maybe it is always a crazy time.
I find zazen, sitting staring at a blank wall excruciating, but preferable to action often because I don’t know what I can do in the face of so much suffering. I know I am probably getting my practice completely wrong. I imagine Bodhisattva cringing. I remember teachers telling me not to talk about my practice outside the Dokusan room…
The other day the bus was so full the driver told us to try to get on at the back door. It looked impossible and I was the last in line. All these backs towards me, every shade of skin a human can possess represented before me, me, covered in liver spots and freckles. For the doors to close, fat, thin, male, female, shy, brazen, tall, short, young, old, we had to smoosh together.
“Well, we are all good friends now!” Laughter and smiles, people looking over their shoulders at me in the crush, somehow making room for me where there was none.
That was enough.
It is never a personal Titanic on which we arrange the deck chairs.
Comedians in Cars
Sometimes I think the genius of the old Jerry Seinfeld show was how his character might think he gets the point better than his other co-characters but the actual point is usually completely missed by all of them. For me, often the whole point of the show was that awesome bass rift. Literally the cherry on the top of the situational sundae.
But I don’t know how much of any of that was actually Jerry Seinfeld. But supposedly on Comedians in Cars the guy really is actually Jerry Seinfeld. He likes to complain and he likes to talk about how he and the people he admires did it better than anyone else, namely comedy but occasionally there is a moment in Comedians with cars when the awesome bass rift should be present, when on some level your brain shifts and you go, “that is actually brilliant, I think my brain is developing.”
When I am tired but can’t go to bed because it is only 9pm I sometimes let The Netflix roll out one Comedian in a Car After Another ’till it asks me “Are you still there?”. Which seems nice, but The Netflix doesn’t leave room for any response other than “click” which is annoying because I think it is a question that requires a longer answer. AM I, am I really?
On this occasion the comedian was Mario-Joyner and it seems he and Jerry Seinfeld are good friends. Its like the going for coffee with friends who completely ignore you and never acknowledge you or apologize at the end for being rude, which is sort of every episode and the big joke might be that The Netflix is passing the cheque to us. But then it comes to this bit:
(First skip the crap about watermelon and black people pleeeeeease.) Around ten minutes in Mario talks about Sammy Davis Jr. and how he could do everything Jerry hits his usual note about specializing in comedy and comedy alone and why that is how a comedian gets better, or at least a seat in the car.
“That’s your focus theory. (However) You can get good at anything you can get good at, it’s not one or the other…When you are focused on something you are focused, there is no other thing.”
And he, Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian he is says, “I’ll try to agree on that.”
It is funny because, whether it is just shtick or not we laugh because Jerry, being smart, has still missed the only point in the whole seventeen minutes that was worth hearing and we are sad, so existentially sad that we let out that ‘POP’ of laughter.
Awesome bass rift.
All these thoughts came into focus while watching this video, which was part of Sigrun’s post called, The world as a process of unfolding.
I once saw a cartoon with a very chest fallen man getting a tattoo. You can see that it is just being finished and there is the common mistake, “looser” instead of “loser” and the tattoo artist is saying, “Oh, geez, sorry man!” and the sad is saying, “Naw, doesn’t matter…”
I used to write long and what I considered heart-felt and thoughtful letters by hand to a friend who moved far away. When I finally got a letter back he said, “it is really annoying how you always write ‘really’ with only one ‘l'”. In my defense, it was before personal computers and GOOGLE.
So now I have no excuse.
I just re-read my last blog post.
I apologize to everyone who’s eyes bleed when they see such glaring mistakes!