Grief: A Mysterious Lumbering Beast: An Article, a Poem, and Thoughts

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/23/magazine/the-rothko-chapel.html

Above is an article from The New York Times Magazine written by Jacqui Shine on beginning to grieve the death of her mother. She describes the complexities and process so clearly and speaks about how sitting in the Rothko Chapel helped her.

And here is a poem of mine:

 

THE RIVER OF HEARTBREAK

 

the river of heartbreak

glides slow today

moving me south

 

I lie on my back

stiller than I've ever

been.

Silent

as the rock—

longing

 

we are alone

here

we are alone

and so still

we can feel the

white planes of

our faces–

the hollows

without bones

 

breathing in, out

past the place of

weeping remains,

feeling the river:

the continuing river

the holding river

the caring river—

carrying us south

slowly

to the unfreezing sun

 

St. Francis

knew this

Rumi

knew this

Emily Dickinson

knew this

 

For adornment,

Meerabai

carved sorrow

to wooden

beads 

hanging

from her

nipples.

She danced and sang

                                      the river

 

I     float     home.

 

THOUGHTS

We all have spent time on this river. I have found if we let go, float, feel, and don't hold on,  we move towards healing. Others have also found that grief and joy are part of the same dance. I have experienced this in moments :-). And if the grief is severe or unbearable get help: friends, therapists, counselors, spiritual teachers, books—what ever it takes and however long it takes. I have done so many many times.

The Heart: Doors, Not Walls

The heart is a "flood" subject for me. I will be returning to it again and again. A dream awhile back told me I was to reveal the structure of the heart like Kandinsky. Whew. I forgot it and Kandinsky for a number of years.

I was shattered. Having your heart broken by betrayal is a good primer. I remembered my dream. I remembered my heart. "I am not going to close down my heart." I did everything I could to love others, hear others, reach out to others...while unconsciously building a wall to protect myself from others. I know this because I am slowly and gently taking it down. It's been 5 years. It's my time. And I am also discovering shards, bricks that date back to childhood. It is scary, disorienting, and some days I don't know which way am I.

The wall is made up of frozen emotions, protective patterns for possible future pain, patterns of intellectual ideals, fears about being abandoned or hurt by people. Of course the list is longer and of course the wall may not completely fall down. But it is giving me more room to breathe, to love, and be freer.

What I have discovered is that the heart is a mysterious and dangerous place. You can get broken here, but you have to trust it and follow its flow. You have to let it navigate you. This is the difference between knowing and feeling. It will take you into scary, exotic, painful, joyful places that can be both unsettling and exhilarating at the same time. Meet you there. If my door is shut, just knock.

And a poem:

 

One Night

One night

In the middle of the night

I awoke.

I realized

I would be on the same path

fighting the same demons

even if I had not divorced.

Nothing is wasted.

 

Also, I love him.

 

I tried not to

for five years.

He was mean

He had hit me

He scared me

He left me.

To let go I remembered

all the bad he had done.

Tried to forget the good.

Now I forgive myself

for my ceaseless heart

and don't know when the pain

will stop.

 

All I can write about now

is about my flesh.

It's all I have left—

Isn't that the case anyway?

For that is the place

 where love circles.

 

 

 

 

Play Time #1: "And the Word Was Made Flesh."

Play Time # 1: “And the Word Was Made Flesh.”

 

Words are powerful. They structure how we think and feel everyday. They help us claim our experiences. They help us claim our inner lives and help us communicate externally from one individual sack of skin to another. They can help us create new orders, structures, and relationships for governments and societies.

But here’s the but: we have forgotten the fundamental origin of words. Words come from our bodies. They come from our flesh. They have flesh. They have sound. When you say words out loud they have shape. They make shapes in space. Currents. Using tone, rhythms…. Fundamentally, spoken words come from the mechanics of our throat, tongue, state of tension in our bodies, shape of our breath leaving our mouths. Words are rooted in the sound our bodies make.

And when we claim the flesh of sound, magic happens. Word sound can take us right back to the object or experience the word names. Words come from the ejaculation of the breath about the thing it describes. Obvious ones: Yes!! Bye!! HaHaHa. Or onomatopoeic: Splash. Fizzle. Zoom. If you listen and play with more words out loud, you can feel the shapes of the words and their ability to evoke reality: The tones of the voice can go up and down, languid or fast: River.  Ri---ver. Ri~~~~~~~~~~~ver.  You can feeeel/create the trajectory, the flow of the river. (You hear this in songs.) Feel the cloud’s shape as your mouth goes through shapes: Clouds, Cl ou dss. Cl  OW dz. Or train.  In the sound hear the compact object hurtling down a track. Crush. Sound moving into compression that continues. “Let me hold you.” Feel the opening in the middle of the word “hold”. It begins with the clear, soft, but boundaried “h”, moves into the open space which includes you, and ends with the strong, defined “d”. You will be enclosed, held. Then of course the tones, pitch etc. can make the phrase go from safe to menacing.

Make the words flesh.  Listen. Speak.  Create experiential worlds with your words———. 

Some words you could start with:  steam, giggle (let the “g’s” vibrate), taste (feel your tongue), merrily. Notice what vowels give and what consonants do.  Kids could have fun with this too.

 

Have fun!

A Shout Out for “ C*NT: or the Horror of Nothing to See" by Monique Jenkinson, AKA: fauxnique

She said she was angry.  She was working on an angry performance. She hadn’t done that before. In the current cultural climate how could she not be.  I was talking to a womanly dancer in the next studio over from where I work. I heard snatches of voice and saw snatches of movement as I had rehearsed. She came across as balanced and as a performer who had deep craft. She was into interweaving wordings, sound, movement like I am.  I was in.

 I walked into the ODC main theater and saw a golden statue on a pedestal: a statue with push up cups under its breasts. I sat down. Statue was on its toes. Statue was wobbling.

The statue got down. A man’s back. A woman’s body. A woman in drag shaping her body to look like a man’s. She’s taking down the 3 heavy boxes of the pedestal and dragging, pushing them across the floor where another pedestal was created. Then, going back and ripping up a heavy strip of rubber floor. She was tired. Sweat gleaming on her man back.

Underneath the exposed floor—shimmering mylar. Lights cast feathery glimmers on the back curtain. Fauxnique came out in high high heels walking strides and then mincing steps over and over again. Came out in a bold oriental restricting floral dress and headdress. She kept dressing and undressing. Beautiful curvy, erotic dancing. Mostly tightly bound. Music wove in and out. Words spoken from dreams and sadness

A tight dress of paper petals slowly falling off and being torn as she dances until there is nothing left.

A swirling dance of open legs and vagina. Words of men’s sex so different from women. Women feel sex in whole body, in movement of labia, in beauty. To many men, vagina’s so different, so strange. The theory of penis envy. Women’s sex often defined by men’s sex.  The dance continued of curling, swirls of vagina and men’s fear at the same time.  

Men’s sex and fear impact the movement and dress of women to fit their fantasies and keep them constricted. The more women try to fit into these fantasies the more they loose themselves in nothingness —the nothingness of men not seeing.

 Her cups came off to painted nipples. Nylons came off to a tiny scarlet thong. Fauxnique took out a roll of scotch tape and began tightly rolling the tape in segments up her thigh and then the other. Flesh spilling over the tape. Rolled the tape tightly around her belly. WTF. Under her chin across her cheeks lifting them up, then her eyes, up. OH.

Last week I wrote about the restricting corset on 19th Century womanhood. Fauxnique deconstructed the restricting corset of 21st Century women.

 

 

 

 

 

A Shout Out for the film: "A Quiet Passion". Emily Dickinson brought to life.

An experiential diving into the soul of Emily Dickinson.  That's what I felt. It's dark, witty, passionate, multiplex. Diving into her vibrant inner life. A soul searcher trying to reconcile many disparate threads in her psyche and her restrictive culture.  She created an alchemy of her different loves, yearnings, griefs, bitternesses, illnesses while living a simple more and more reclusive life at home. This film takes all of these themes and helps you feel them. And in the center of that inner sensory trajectory of Emily Dickinson you can feel more deeply into your own conflicts and humanity. This is what makes a brilliant film and this is a brilliant film.

Terence Davies wrote and directed this film. The way he wove Dickinson's poems into her life was flawless. Cynthia Nixon played the role and it again was brilliant: The way she spoke and interpreted the poems unlocked many for me. The way she embodied Dickinson's rebellious, passionate life bursting to be free from the rigid evangelical corset of the Nineteenth Century. This woman knows her Emily. I believe she should get an academy for this.  Davies too.

Disclosure: Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets. I studied her "easier" poems in high school. I had tried to read and understand her other poems and got blocked. I just didn't get them. So I ended up writing a play about She and St. Francis. (I found parts of him equally concealed). I researched Dickson for a year and read every biography, treatise, essay, article I could find on her. Read and sat with hundreds and hundreds of her poems. Visited her home in Amherst. Finished the play and then kept on reading. Friends would send me finds. Birthday gifts were punctuated with discoveries.

 I started to find a portal into her work. I was stunned by its beauty. It's starkness. It's unflinching courage—ranging from the most detailed descriptions of the physical to the most ineffable metaphysics. Then I walked into this film and discovered its cinematic tellings matched my gleaned inner sense of Emily Dickinson. The relief, joy, and learning was/is immense. She has so much to teach us and Terence Davies has opened an important door into her soul.

 

 

A new poem: WE LIVE IN A PHYSICAL WORLD & a performance

Let yourself sink

into your deep pocket.

Get into your gravely voice.

Moan your existence

into this world.

Take time to

smear the mud

of the earth on your body

or you will loose yourself 

in your daily strivings.

For we are not born once

but are created

again and again.

It is a daily choice.

Sink your heels

into the ground.

Feel the circle of life

from light to night

spiral 'round your spine.

Feel the thrust of your pelvis

up, up to the sky.

Feel the bellows of your diaphragm.

Let your breath

steam the air

with the passion of becoming.

Let your heart burst/break with love/longing

for all things.

For we belong to all things.

We are all things.

Tremble

on the brink of emerging.

Every minute, we can be born.

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_t_jones_the_dancer_the_singer_the_cellist_and_a_moment_of_creative_magic#t-374444

(This is a performance gem by a master. I stumbled on this favorite from a couple of years back and to me it embodies this poem. If for any reason the link doesn't work, GOOGLE "Bill T Jones TED Talks 2016.  Believe me it is worth it.)

 

 

 

Kindness

With all the little “t” froufra and fear swirling around the country and so many good choices of what to do one overarching message has been haunting me. The Dalai Lama has said more than any successes or discoveries what the world needs most is kindness.

I was on the way to Walgreens on Mission St. several weeks ago to pick up a subscription for a friend and I was stressed out so I decided to park illegally in the Safeway lot.  Hey, I just didn’t feel like driving around for 15 minutes—looking. I dashed out of the car, and stopped.  Shouting. Screaming.  There on the street between me and the door to the pharmacy was a tall, hairy, bedraggled man dragging a couple of bags, jutting his face at everyone, and telling everyone to F---off. I was tired. He was scary.  People were walking around him in wide berths, eyes to the ground.  I took a deep breath, stood up tall and walked toward him. I looked him straight in the eye. Not angry. Not judgmental. But, straight.

He looked back.  He said, “When I am overloaded I lash out.”

I said, “I understand,” looking directly at him and wondering with a slight tug if I was putting myself in danger. Where is this gonna go? I was alert just in case.

He looked at me directly back again and said, “You are kind. You are really a kind person.” in a soft voice.

My face broke out in smile. His comment dove straight to my heart.

I said with deep feeling:  “Take care of yourself” and continued walking.

When I came out later I saw him sitting on the ground happily eating French fries. He was in a totally different place and I had a glow in my heart. It’s still there.

 

 

 

 

Epihanies about Fear and a Poem

I was in the studio today working on a performance of a poem about accepting fear and giving it its place in my life. I had written most of this blog yesterday, but in moving it, singing it, speaking it out loud, I realized I had papered over my relationship. I had put a big fat bow on it. I may have had some of the bones, but I was missing the basic relationship. I had two epiphanies: 1. When I am the most afraid of fear I try to control it by pretending that I am not afraid. 2. The many different parts of myself have different relationships to fear. And the relationships are constantly changing dependent on the situation, the stakes, and what it calls out in me.

I can ride fear, run from it, overthink it, laugh at it, let its adrenaline move me to act NOW, get overwhelmed by it, freeze it, give it too much power, make it bigger than it is, drag the past into it, make it more real than every other part of myself, get it confused with excitement. The list goes on.  All of this has impact. And I think it is important to know what the impact is.

But, the meat of the day-to-day relationship is just Feeling. It is a feeling after all. Just letting myself feel its uncomfortableness and let it shape shift and move in my body. Let me listen. Let the serpent tell its truth. Breathe, feel.( If it is too overwhelming I make the time short). There is a gift in this: almost always I end up feeling lighter and more fluid. And that’s it. There is no mastery, no finish line, no bow.

And now the poem:

 

I KNOW NOW THAT…

Black petals taste bitter

On the lips

Long fingers smudge my cheeks

While ashes keep

To their own circle.

Darkness

Can bring the gentlest things.

And Fear is a thread through life.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts About Feelings and a Poem

Feelings are apart of who I am.  They are a current that runs through me.  They can tell me to attend to something that is impacting me. They can tell me to follow a deep desire.  They can be distortions of thinking, old patterns, or induced by lack of sleep or drugs (Painkillers after surgery were a hard teacher). Sometimes they are only a tiny part of me. For me feelings are like dreams. They need attention and space to breathe and move to be part of my life and flesh out who I am.

 

And now the poem:

 

THE WEATHER

For Miyazaki

 

green green all is green

 

morning: pressure building mounting compression darkening clouds thicken

sky and me about to burst

a Scheherazade wind sweeps in

redwood boughs blow down and up

skimmering the roof of the old Dutch barn

setting off needles in a twisting twirling dance

 

and then the rains came

 

a rush of water tumbles down is struck sideways by sudden gust

and swims across the sky

 

a shift in the wind

 

water streams straight down in glistening strands

the sound of fall

earth becomes drum

and it in turn plays me

release

 

the wind comes back bouncing

 

puffs of air displace drips with pockets of air

patterns of water and clouds of space—

silence in the empty places

 

a shift again

 

rain begins to slant in a diagonal vector—                                                    

moves to syncopated pings:  ping   pingping  pingpingping           ping

(my lips curl in smile)

stopping

stop

stopped

 

the very air becomes a factor

 

still, clear

I can see straight through

to forever

 

below, green green all is…

 

my moods move like weather

(on any given day).

 

all is green

 

Shouting out for...

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  (Disclosure: When she first came out with “Eat, Pray, Love” I was both jealous and judgmental: to me it was a one-idea book without much depth). Years later and three weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of her latest book. I grabbed it off the table. I went home and devoured it: I have been struggling with beginning to look for publishers for my “Everyday Mermaid” book. I kept getting side tracked, making detours.  One day I realized: I was scared.

I found answerswhich I knew, but Gilbert defined so clearly: You live the creative life because it’s fun. It satisfies your curiosity, your deep desires, and takes you to places you could never imagine. It’s paradoxical:  It demands you work hard and persistently while it’s also a trickster. It demands lightheartedness. It makes you happy.

 She blows up the old tortured artist myth. It’s the ego which creates a lot of blocks and fears. So she says don’t let your ego mess you up with whether the book is a “success” or not. Don’t let this fear get in the way of either your work or putting it out.  Don’t let perfectionism freeze and stifle you. Put your book out with a “ferocious trust”.

Gilbert covers most of the demons and angels of the creative life, but always with a sense of fun and humility.  Marvelous anecdotes, good research into theories and studies. I personally could NOT have read another dry, self-help book.  It’s a hoot. Now don’t stumble on some of the “magic” ideas in the book. If it’s a problem for you, read these parts likea novel because they convey the spirit of a beautiful approach which can give you more tools for living life creatively.  Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for bringing me back.  I have been eating a lot of pie lately.

 

 

 

 

SOUND: TRA-LA-LA-LA

Words are precious. Words are multi-dimensional. Words have many different kinds of uses. They point to an object. They describe an object. They help us think. They create thinking. They express feeling. They help us differentiate feelings. But lately words are being more and more consigned to the printed page or the electronic page and in turn this use is impacting how we hear the words. Our relationship to words is changing. We are receiving gifts, but we are losing deliciousness. For words are tonal. Words began in the breath and the mouth. The breath took a shape in the mouth and on the lips. And this shape probably matched the feelings or objects it described. Exhilaration, exclaiming the experience of some feeling or something. Our animal response. Tones slip out and shape themselves in the world. Carrying our inner response out and making it concrete and physical to ourselves and others. 

Once out, these tonalities play you. They speak to the body part of you. These waves of sound with their tonalities and tastes of rhythm create physical sensations. Sensations which carry you more deeply into an experience, more deeply into contact with the object of the word, or more deeply into another world.  Words are music, and like music they can become the muse which expands your world, your experience, and your pleasure, help you more clearly feel your pain which then is released. Shakespeare knew this. Dylan Thomas knew this. Yeats knew this. Words clank, clang, bang, bonk and fuck, push and shove, send innuendos exquisitely sliding in the air like a seductive perfume caressing your ears and skin, sets you tingling and vibrating like a harp.  Or make you clutch your belly, stop you up, or fall you to the ground. This is being human.  This is living in the world.