Dipping Her Toes In

When did I start the draft of this post? I didn’t look, but it’s been a while. I’m slowly getting more bold to actually post what I’ve made or has arrived in my awareness, anyway.

I have to decide if I’m including the image that I’m speaking about here. I have a lot of reluctance to do that, but maybe it would all make more sense if I did. It was included at first, then I pulled it out, now it’s back.

Who is this woman, faceless, but full of these forms and these colors? Half underwater, half ashore . . . not unlike another image I made decades ago called The Mermaid Comes To Shore, her tail morphing into these ragged crooked legs to walk on land. Now this image. . . She faces that oceanic realm again, a choice of return, perhaps after learning something that can only be known on shore? Shapeshifting, the hardest work known to anyone. . .

Almost five years ago I went into a local tea shop. I came in to experience the atmosphere and see what it was like to sit and doodle there, an exploration that I call, after Paul Klee, but backwards from his phrase: “letting a line take me for a walk.” This funny image was the result, the beginning of a whole practice that has been developing over this subsequent time. First the moving meditation, a line or lines emerge on the paper, with water soluble ink. It can’t be too soluble, just a bit, so letting the ink dry afterwards a bit helps, before I wet it with a brush, blurring the line more or less. In this image it’s a fine line and didn’t blur much. Then comes the hard work of becoming more intentional: form emerges out of the background through color. I use Derwent’s Inktense Pencils and begin coloring shapes that I start to see in the overlapping lines, partly shaping some–or just begin coloring and then see what begins to form, as I mostly did here. It’s such hard work that it can take me years to do it. This piece is not finished yet. Unless it is, of course, which at this point is more likely. I actually pretty much have to enter a certain state of consciousness, which is a sort of resonant consciousness that is far over?–or far different than the awareness I’m often in and once I’m out of it, it can take quite a while to re-enter. It engages with what I call rhyming color, the color has to rhyme, by which I mean I feel on some level that it hits the right echo, the right chime of–what is needed, of greater wholeness. I can’t exactly speak of how to describe it, but the process has been teaching me for years. Every once in a while, I’ll even interfere and make a shape do something, though whether I need to do that I can’t say, but it happens and things flow on.

But this year, it’s so difficult to achieve the still attention I need, as I am slowly releasing so much of who I am that I have little real focus. This is both the process now within me and the process I see in the world around me, so doubly dissolving and chaotic, unfocused . . .

I had never given this image a name, but as I looked at it, what I saw was the image of the woman on a shoreline that first formed on the paper when I began and then the importance of her foot, which I had seen before, but it was the most focal in this moment. So the image was now today named: “Dipping Her Toes In.” Maybe that’s a permanent name, maybe only a facet that has applied for naming today. I see how this image chimes with my nowness, the rhyme I am engaged in with this presencing-moment.
It’s curious to look at this simple scan, which shows what doesn’t matter as well as what does. The blobs of color, the overrun lines, these aren’t very important for the process, but the wrong color in the wrong shape can derail me for a significant period to absorb or come to terms with, years or maybe forever. In this case, it’s not exactly an oracle of error, though that, too, but an oracle of finding what’s really right (though it’s always really right as well; it becomes what is, seamlessly, seemlessly). Such a big deal, this becoming, sometimes an overwhelming, but a curiously wondrous process of purely flowing, a magical feeling, a participation in something that is beyond me, a healing, a whole-making, that I understand only at certain moments and then forget again, but the sense of flowing so deeply remains. Who am I that it matters? I can see that it doesn’t, yet it does. And I have only this for answer. And that it somehow combines the simplicity of letting the line wander, taking me where it will, and then it adds in my intricacy-needing formative mind, that will sit and whittle it all into something suggestive over a long period of time.

Does It Matter?

A friend sent me this article today: Apparently information has mass. And I’m in a weird mood, so does that have mass? By crikey, I’ll give it mass.

https://scitechdaily.com/an-experiment-that-could-confirm-the-fifth-state-of-matter-in-the-universe-and-change-physics-as-we-know-it/

Ha, cool!

So what information is expressed here and is the Sun trying to tell us something?? https://scitechdaily.com/sun-blasts-out-3-powerful-bursts-of-energy-in-last-24-hours/

Hmm, maybe it’s time to read a lot more of this book? Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Lifehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_Man 

I’ll probably gain a lot of weight if I do, since I’m living in this earthly body. The book was always a must-read, but conveniently disappeared . . . out of sight, out of mind. Its mass must have diminished–or at least it’s certainly diminished in my brain: entropy ate it . . .

It must be around here somewhere in the books piling up, I haven’t seen it in the last few years, oops, so guess it must be at the bottom of a pile decaying, if not altogether gone, gone, gone far beyond–

But does my brain weigh more now that I’ve remembered the book . . . so will gravity bring us back together? Is there a lodestone to navigate my house I can use? Will that help detect the black holes where these things have gone–? The magnetite in my brain is losing its grip and exists partially in some other dimension. I think it’s magnetized only to my computer now. 

I don’t know enough to say what gravitational influences all these articulated particles of information have on each other, but somehow it reminds me of the stories about early scientists who used to go around and weigh the dying before and after death in an effort to determine if their souls had mass.

Or maybe the shock disorganized/erased each soul’s info and it’s weightless. It’s a hard problem.

Another story: in Jasper Fforde’s books there is an entropy detector; when entropy grows thin (and I presume, more weightless, or is that massless, or does it matter?) you can tell, because randomness diminishes. The entropy detector is a jar of rice and beans. When and where entropy is thin, the random rice and beans line up making neat layers of orderly rows, and then you can plan on accomplishing the improbable, if you need to. There’s a similar device in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, I forget exactly what it’s like, but rest assured that bit of matter does exist somewhere.

And does Schrodinger’s cat leave a massive probability hole where catness was/is not or not? Perhaps only cat P really exists? And was the Cheshire Cat his ancestor?
“:-P”
So P or Not P, that is the question. Or P & (Not(Not P)? And do these informational masses sometimes hit things, falling from space, leaving a photonic or olfactory dent in reality or mentality?

What happens while waiting weightlessly in the bardo? Do we forget we have thumbs to twiddle? Is eternity really weightless or massless? No wonder we never remember.

These thoughts might weight me down for some while . . . or wait, am I confused?

Cheerful and massive cheers to all,
Melody=she’s harmonically heavy by nomenclature (when not illegible).

P.S. And another friend reminds me:
“And your gravity fails
And negativity don’t pull you through
Don’t put on any airs . . .”

So I’m ending on a song after all: though that’s not quite the same weird mood I’m in, maybe this is a better choice–
“When logic and proportion have fallen softly dead,” or whatever those lyrics are–
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnJM_jC7j_4

Scorched Earth, a review of sorts

This is an excellent polemical argument–from the book Scorched Earth: Beyond the Digital Age to a Post-Capitalist World, which I suggested my local library get. In the book, which I was reading about on Lit Hub, Jonathan Crary argues: “All of the interconnected phones, laptops, cables, supercomputers, modems, server farms, and cell towers are concretizations of the quantifiable processes of financialized capitalism.”

I’m still not learning to use the WordPress editor, though I should, but hey, this whole post explains something of why I’m not quite bothering . . . but then I do bother to write . . . Hmm, skillful means? What that might be is the larger question I’m running up against, what fatal illusions might be carrying me along a certain trajectory, and for the first time I wonder, are these words, “tragedy and trajectory,” more than poetically akin? When they “rhyme,” suddenly appearing on stage with linked arms . . . well, whatever. Onward.

And Crary has another book, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep–that looks quite interesting, as we sleep less and less and less well. Pretty soon AI devices will be available to keep us running past those troublesome time outs in the night? Soon enough, I suppose–when there’s money to be made, the only real motivation left to us, the only one that leads the individual soul to an earthly industrial paradise of plenty.

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates through every hour of the clock, pushing us into constant activity and eroding forms of community and political expression, damaging the fabric of everyday life.” (from Los Angeles Review of Books)

It’s interesting, Crary’s arguments also remind me of one of my recent blog posts: “It Will Stay Awhile.”

There is, of course, the irony that I’m reading all this on the internet. What was it Audre Lord said: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. . . .”  But where to begin? I guess with the earth itself, letting ourselves be taught by the greater body we are, feeling our way back, letting our dissociated somatic network reconnect into the largesse of simply being here . . .

As I read about Scorched Earth it’s helps to feel there’s someone else out there who believes it’s time for a radical refusal to indulge . . . the earth is certainly saying, enough already! Time to stop engaging in converting everything in our life to more money and automation, the acceleration paradigm of more and more, faster and faster. But how?
Perhaps, I think, by beginning once again to tell time by the seasons of the earth, a nonlinear qualitative time? Perhaps even to think, the Sun now moves into Taurus. Where is that stable contiguous ground we can build on, a ground where is it is spring and day, in a season of burgeoning green and light, but what grows in us now? Step out of doors . . . Time to take a stand for the living ground beneath our feet . . . the eclipse season comes, the Sun and Moon conjunct Uranus, revolution sweeping the ground beneath us, even the most stable of things convulsing as these luminous hands arc darkly toward a horizon of change . . . when it’s time, it’s time.

The only thing I can think of for myself to is dedicate myself to fostering the return of the communities of the natural world on whatever small bit of the earth I can manage to serve, as best I can. (The Herbalism class I’m taking from Sajah Popham seems like one way to start that return, he’s quite amazing in the way he integrates old knowledge and experiential work–it makes me realize once again, how powerful gaining deeper knowledge by interacting with the natural world is. (As I sit at my computer in my house, still dreaming . . .) I heard a martial arts teacher say the other day, what is our original nature–? It’s our body and its networking awareness. Wake up. Which leads to Rumi:

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.”

“The internet complex has become inseparable from the immense, incalculable scope of 24/7 capitalism and its frenzy of accumulation, extraction, circulation, production, transport, and construction, on a global scale. Behaviors that are inimical to the possibility of a livable and just world are incited in almost every feature of online operations. Fueled by artificially manufactured appetites, the speed and ubiquity of digital networks maximize the incontestable priority of getting, having, coveting, resenting, envying; all of which furthers the deterioration of the world—a world operating without pause, without the possibility of renewal or recovery, choking on its heat and waste.

Any possible path to a survivable planet will be far more wrenching than most recognize or will openly admit. A crucial layer of the struggle for an equitable society in the years ahead is the creation of social and personal arrangements that abandon the dominance of the market and money over our lives together. This means rejecting our digital isolation, reclaiming time as lived time, rediscovering collective needs, and resisting mounting levels of barbarism, including the cruelty and hatred that emanate from online. Equally important is the task of humbly reconnecting with what remains of a world filled with other species and forms of life. There are innumerable ways in which this may occur and, although unheralded, groups and communities in all parts of the planet are moving ahead with some of these restorative endeavors.”

And not a song, but another poem–I keep thinking of W. S. Merwin’s poem: “Thanks” though I just discovered that there is a slight two word discrepancy in the last section, second line, of the online versions, and I don’t have his book to check it, still here it is as it most often is–(if only I could resist quoting everyone I’m thinking of/reading–and trying not to let this discourage me from posting and adding this particular post to the dozens of drafts I start, but never finish . . . let imperfection rule–)

Thanks – W.S. Merwin
Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

And I couldn’t think of a song at first, but then it suddenly appeared in my mind, of course–Tom Waits, “Step Right Up.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYyCitIDzvI

P.S. I had not heard this version of Step Right Up before, but courtesy of youtube’s accidental on-purpose-controls the autoplay switched onto it, and my mouth fell open at the first two notes. It’s really worth listening to. From the album Live In Bremen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_3EzQ_DUNY

PPS, And whoa, “Fumbling With The Blues” ! on that Live in Bremen album, at 7:56 minutes in.

How You Living?

There’s some knotted up energy right now in the cosmos. I think it’s calling us to be aware and engage in further unknotting of the energies within us and all around us. That takes a little development of consciousness while the universe kindly points out where we’re currently stuck and can’t just walk away—we have to learn to undo the knots our bodies and life energies are tied up with.

It reminds me of one of StoryPeople’s old stories, called “Angels Of Mercy.”
“Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life.”

I fell ill in the night last night–my stomach issues, which left me a little wiped out this morning, but I’m starting to feel better—I listened to Russell Brand talking with Wim Hof and there is a certain irrepressible optimism in what Hof is saying that helped turn me around.

Hof challenges Brand to climb Kilimanjaro in the span of one day with him and the 32 other people Hof is leading up the mountain in the cold and scant air wearing only shorts, shoes, and hats—well, the women get to wear a bit more. And Brand asks him what kind of training and preparation is needed to go on this expedition and Hof says, I think you are ready now–the preparation and training is step by step–just one step at a time. And Brand laughs and recalls something Ekhardt Tolle says: “Even if you are spending the rest of your life in prison, you are not in prison for life in this moment.”

There is something so empowering about what Hof says. And this has always struck me as the most essential quality in any healer, their capacity to empower others to find their strength and resilience, to go against the grain of circumstance and find where you need to go next—what’s essential for your path, a path that gives you more life. Hof says this work he does is not crazy, but it’s outside the box. And it’s possible. And nowadays we need to think outside the box. Which is another way to speak of learning how to unknot yourself.

About 10-12 mins into the video with Brand, Hof goes into an excellent rant in his fierce Dutch voice, yelling:
Just recently when Australia was on fire
more than a billion animals died—
Nobody gives a shit—
when the Amazon was on fire—

Nobody gives a shit—
. . .
Some people say something,
but in general everything keeps on going . . .
sodomizing the planet,
polluting the planet,
exploiting it,
and people staying insensitive,
they stay like blobs.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaKirqZYfv4  22mins.

Yes–you go, Wim! It feels like we all should be yelling and maybe we all are in one way or another; it’s so easy to have a sense that anything said, like, “Whoa, the emperor has no clothes!” falls on deaf ears while the weight of human folly grows and grows.

I keep thinking the tree pollen that I’m reacting to now has embedded in it the olfactory screaming of the trees that can’t take what we are doing to them, a life of dead soil, bad air, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and perhaps even deeper—a loss of any sense of their intact communities—while we plant them as mere ornaments to—or as instruments enabling—our ersatz life: trees as decorations in the toxic wastelands of our cities, captive and isolated in the terminal monoculture sinkholes of our urbane indifference, or as cloned plantations of our future toilet paper—so we think we alone are the essence of meaningful sentience . . . as if we can survive as the fittest alone on the top of an evolutionary peak without a web of trees and all our other relations—and still be fully human . . .

No wonder my body is uncomfortable with experiencing this tree pollen, but this perspective can only makes sense if I think trees are truly sentient. And everybody knows they cannot be.

We know humans have evolved past animals, but plants were never even in the running. All men know this comfortable truth, we can discount any life forms compared to human life, most preferably those humans of a certain color, gender, and economic status.

This video ends with an interactive demo of Wim Hof’s breathing. He and Russell Brand seem so into being who they are, taking such a fierce stand against the deadening inertia of habits and convention, I started getting better right away. I like to call Russell Brand, “Russell Firebrand,” but Wim Hof’s right up there, too. The droll Mr. Brand contrasted against that huffer-puffer, Mr. Hof, but they have a united front of a certain inconoclastic indominability.

Some background—I don’t know if you are familiar with Hof, but he’s a rather remarkable person. As his website says: “Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof got his nickname ‘The Iceman’ by breaking a number of records related to cold exposure including: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes.”

Hof uses some simple cold, meditation, and breath practices as his foundation and he’s been teaching all sorts of people how to readily practice some of these. He says that our bodies need to have cold and other environmental conditions that we have to exert our strength to deal with. This keeps us from slipping into a comfortable reliance on an environment that never pushes us physically, just knots us up with endless mental stress. Both of these are debilitating; we can’t explore and discover what our capacities for either strength or repose actually are. Hof has surprised everyone not only by his capacity for extreme endurance events, but the fact he’s also taught a lot of others to do things similar to what he does.

(As someone who also has had immune system problems and fatigue, I want to say it’s equally important to listen to your body and truly rest when you need that. But I think in general most people are able to do this breathing and a short time of cold showering that Hof recommends. Even me, and I have cold urticaria and have had anaphylaxis from jumping in cold water!)

You can look at Hof’s website if you are curious to know more: https://www.wimhofmethod.com

And here’s a song for the zeitgeist and the wake-up call? of this era we’ve been living through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBemo3nPW9s




This bodily love of being alive

From August 2021:

I love the photo my friend sent of being at the ocean, especially fun to see his wife’s sandy toes and feet, like she has been freely immersed in playing at the water’s edge; so much ease in her stance that speaks to the ease in all of us. Beyond her repose, the steady grounding and holding of the sand bluff, strata of a timeless tempo of change above the temporary tents of our housekeeping at the ocean’s edge. I can feel my toes responding–such a primal memory of feet and the grit of sand, salt water, and sun, a liberation into my childhood memories of the beaches of Lake Michigan and later the Pacific.

I’ve learned a somatic word for this, “resourcing,” the felt sensation of intrinsic relaxation, comfort, well-being, and safety, the body knowing what it needs to do in this world, to be open to experience: the visceral love of being alive, the here and nowness we are, the resonance of always presencing in body memory, waves of endless paralleling patterns arising for the tasting, self-similar at any scale, out of the cradle, endlessly rocking, every breath moving us more deeply in the world we came with, the rippling tide of our being spreading wide and swimming on.

The Feather River of my childhood comes as if calling, cold, green, and deep, the channel between rocks, the narrow beach, and above all, the cold, cold baptism of the mountain river, my middle sister’s lips blue with so many hours of immersion as we dove again and again and let the water carry us, so quick a rushing, so deep between the solid rocks, the watery plume traveling betwixt and between, the thread of human lives in everyday living, passage, rocky holes borne into the stony lining of the storied river banks, where the Native Americans ground acorn meal, the later boring of nomadic miners, sluicing the water, glints of gold in the grains of sand, then great hydraulic piles of rock and dirt, displaced earth heaping like stone stupas of industrial prayer-making. The lost land beneath Lake Oroville, and then the stratifying incinerations in all directions that perhaps history will sift through, remembering–

this sword of fire, seeds of embryonic return floating like ash, sticking in the spiraling body of the always present dreamtime, openings found in the rock, glyphs and food appearing again, water flowing underground, the circling passage into the heart of living out of the darkness of the edge, the ouroboros horizon around Eve’s apple, the mirroring world we fall mesmerized into, the serpent goddess, Chavva, who bore life in all its bifurcated cosmetic chaos, treading from the sea of origin, shiny with the dawning.

Time’s up! Interruption–

A neighboring blower starts like a chain saw to aerosolize the dust and debris of our living. Let us breathe in the complications of being human . . . without tension, without holding back, present to what’s there without shoveling it into the burying-ground ditch of dissing-stress, hear the time signaling the slower tempo of weekending, the orchestrating mercy relaxing the quickening tempo, a klaxon of annunciatory change, time in its human weather and ritual garb, the man on the dump sifting definite articles indefinitely while the moon rises in the empty sky: welcome home. *

Um, okay, to try to return to some grounding–

So far the day isn’t too hot! though last night I was talking with a neighbor, who said there was a 20% chance of rain, which isn’t materializing in this moment–so watering and the resourcing power of watery experiences will have to suffice for now . . . and grace and gratitude for a milder day so far.

My poetry group met Wednesday and instead of our usual workshopping poems we’ve each written and sent to each other, we are taking a little summer break and shared reading some favorite poems. One of the women in the group read three crow poems by Scott Ferry, I was much taken with them. His website with some of his poetry: https://ferrypoetry.com/poems/

And I read a poem by Janice Zerfas, (perhaps i’ve sent this before?) she wrote a poem about one of my photographs for Rattle Magazine’s Ekphrastic challenge, May 2018. I loved her poem–I got to pick it as my favorite for them to publish, which was fun. I am very drawn to ekphrastic art/poetry; images evoking poetry in me quite a lot. https://www.rattle.com/facial-recognition-by-janice-zerfas/

* Note:
A tiny pun, i can never resist the mythos of endless punning echoes, the return of infinite life in every word’s self-similar repetition, that fracturing into infinite possibility, the aptest currency of a-riving presence–see Wallace Steven’s poem: https://www.poetry.com/poem/37915/the-man-on-the-dump  Or perhaps as Joseph Rael said in The House of Shattering Light, we are all fractured light. As rainbows are the water of light congealed and riven, the circle is cornered and squared in the circle of time as the sun and body of earth always finding annual corners in their dance at solstice and equinox; pendulating stopping stands and swiftly shifting turning balances, places of transfiguration, plexes of hinging, the shifting rhythms plucked and plaited into the rhymes of qualitative time–words are the plectrum plucking the instrument of time’s braiding resonance of rhymes, the swift planchet of happenstance that hammers meaning out of meandering.

all those p-words from an old Indo-European root, plak, meaning flat, but flooding out into a whole concourse plain of meanings.

And this turned into quite a word ramble, I seem to have increasing challenges containing a torrent of imagery into words these days–I keep trying to turn this into a short message, but it won’t . . .

every time i try to end this more insists on popping out . . . i keep staring at it, but nothing for it, but to post or not–

but if my shadecast model is the pythoness herself, snaky forked-tongue girl, on her triple-toed tripod, inhaling the narcotizing chthonic vapors from the crevices of her infernal cavern, intoning the gibberish where all truthtellings begin–a counter-part to the man on the dump and my other mentor, that raving slut . . .

 “A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

W.B. Yeats, from “The Circus Animal’s Desertion

then i’ll post it.

And of course, a song for it all: “Mystery” by Beth Orton:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpEafEZbWIE

It Will Stay A While

I started thinking about this idea of sequestering carbon from air, by making rocks out of sea water, pulling the carbon from water instead of air.

“Petrifying Climate Change” https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/petrifying-climate-change/

[This is totally a rant, except maybe the end? Sorry for some of the inconsistent formatting in this post, the WordPress editor is diabolical that way or maybe just hates me especially? It won’t even open a preview readily right now, so I work on it in a hit or miss way. I hope WP doesn’t send out emails to anyone every time I fix something.]

I’m skeptical of technofixes for solving problems–these solutions just make us think it’s okay to keep on keeping on being so rapacious, but this seems interesting, a way to convert acidic CO2 in ocean water to rocks. A prototype was built to “run seawater through an electrically charged mesh, using electrolysis or hydroxide to trigger the chemical reactions needed to form carbonate rocks.” The water returned to the ocean is a little more alkaline that before and there is more hydrogen that can be harvested, so can offset costs?

Even if natural gas powers it, the author says it could still be carbon neutral–which is an idea that I’m not even doubtful about: it’s just a wretched sleight of hand greenwashing trick!

And combining it with kiln/flue waste from industrial production, as is mentioned in the article as one way to make it profitable, is not even greenwashing, but an f’ing miserable poisonous way to spread toxins all over farmland. Kiln dust is prohibited in organic agriculture production for a very good reason: it’s full of toxins, heavy metals, especially, and it’s already being dumped on farmland along with other industrial waste hidden in various agriculture products, including fertilizers.

I’m starting to lose any notion this process could be a good idea, simply because it’s human nature to subvert everything for profit in this era. We simply won’t surrender the notion that we can make civilization work for our personal profit, that we can have our cake and eat it, too, and if in the end we shit on the earth and kill most everything, well, cost accounting done in the heavenly corpse-a-rationing, cost-to-benefit halls pronounces it was worth it.*

[*a sequence of endless rationing, erecting, scraping, crapping, rapping, raping – this is the progressive declination of industrial power profiteering.]

Economically viable means it kills the earth, but we get to ignore that for as long as we can dream the little wet dream of human progress boosterism that rape is a great way to live.

But it is somehow an interesting thought to make lots of mineralized rocks . . . maybe it could shore up some shorelines without a huge cost. . ?  Oh. It destroys the local marine ecosystems. Well, there’s the true price of it, never mind. Just another technofix that costs more than the earth?

We don’t get it, we don’t get it, we don’t get it . . . the story of civilization, making mountains of dead things for a few crumbs of plunder and calling it great. The earth is our body, and we can’t kill it without killing ourselves. We don’t get it.

Time’s up, humans. Our fate is knocking . . . climate change is petrifying us, get used to it.

If we’re lucky, we are going to reincarnate as microbial hydroxylating(?) or oxidizing(?) life forms, yeah, maybe we can just eat those rocks directly–there’s appropriate tech karma. Then we can make them into living dirt with the symbiotic help of the communities of diverse microbial life and soil organisms?

Oops, those soil organisms we’ve already poisoned past saving(?) with lots of kiln dust, pesticides, herbicides, etc.?

Scientific American just came out with this most interesting and devastating recounting of what we’ve done to the living skin of the earth, where a handful of soil holds more living beings than all the people on earth, something actually worth more than all the human inventions we’ve ever dreamed up in our lusting.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pesticides-are-killing-the-worlds-soils/

“Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on the planet Earth.
Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water, recycling nutrients and helping to regulate the earth’s temperature.”

Just as our guts are full of the same microbes that mutually create the living earth, our internal microbes mutually create our living bodies. And what is happening to these inhabitants as they digest what we eat, breathe, and drink as we take in these same poison potions? Do we notice that the holy grail of our profiteering progress is leaking out as the petrifying dust of grave consequence?

I had a dream once, about twenty years ago, at a time in my life that I was worried and fearful about loss, not unlike now–

I dreamed I was climbing a hillside, the late afternoon sunlight falling in late autumn on the golden dried grass of the hill and as I walked I was singing this simple 5-note song:

“It will stay a while–

it will

stay a

while.”

Which seems to be a final truth, and there is something there of comfort. Here we are, and things stay a while. When I woke, I managed to pick the notes out on my father’s violin, though I don’t know how to play. I remember a musician friend later told me that the song perfectly fit the violin strings’ setup of intervals of fifths, the song starting with the open A string repeating, then I remember creating the next note on the next string, and so on, on each string, but I can’t remember exactly what I did, though I remember the tune.

But maybe humans get to be busted back to interstellar hydrogen to start an evolutionary apprenticeship at the cosmic bottom? What does the Tao Te Ching say about dust? Things are permanently temporary in form, but temporarily permanent.

“Energy is constant,
matter is always.
Why do these things outlive us beings?
Because they do not promote
their own existence.
Place yourself last
and thereby be first.

The earth and the universe
have no attachments.
Everything is dust
to them, within them.
So, too, the wise
have no permanent attachments.
To them also
people are dust, ideas are dust.”

All this is from an interesting translation of the Tao Te Ching, a sort of contemporary Western-phrased version: https://terebess.hu/english/tao/kunesh.html

(Also, that translation’s quoted stanzas below also remind me that I just re-encountered Les Fermi’s Open Focus meditations the other day, which meditate on the empty space, in our bodies, everywhere, the spaciousness that pervades everything.)

“Engine and alternator and U-joint and tires and accelerator and steering wheel and headlights and bucket seats
all together make a car,
but it is the space within
inside the empty seats
that makes it
useful.

Clay and glass and plastic are molded to create
jars and vases and cups and bags,
but it is the space inside
that is empty
that makes them
useful.

Houses and skyscrapers are built
and cut open with doors and windows
because it is the space inside
that is empty
that makes the buildings
useful.”

Dust to dust, rocks and people aren’t different, one becomes the other in the end.

If we think we are in charge, we become confused–

    “When nature is forgotten and abandoned,
    goodness, justice and morality are created,
    and theisms flourish.
    When intelligence and knowledge appear,
    great advertising campaigns are created,
    and religions compete.”

And what did T.S. Eliot say? “I will show you [petrifying] fear in a handful of dust.” ? I’m subverting Eliot here to my purposes.
We are busy making ‘The Wasteland’ come true–whether by rusting or bleeding–it’s the same in the end?

    “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
    Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
    You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
    A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
    And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
    And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
    There is shadow under this red rock,
    (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
    And I will show you something different from either
    Your shadow at morning striding behind you
    Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land

It’s always good to end on a favorite song: lately I think of this song every summer, here in ‘the West’ (wherever that may be) and consider that the opposite of holding on to petrifying permanence is some kind of ignition:

“Burning Down The House” 1983, Live in L.A.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBUe_v6Mi70

Oh, all my beloved, the sun has not yet set, but you have stayed a while, and things are moving on.

“Sit next to the void
become empty
quiet and still
at peace.
Years go by
you contemplate your return.
You see the years,
they shrink and return.
Everything returns to its origin.
This return to origin is called stillness;
stillness is called accepting the natural laws of the universe.
Accepting the way of the universe
is enlightenment.”

https://terebess.hu/english/tao/kunesh.html

Body And Breath, part 1

I’m in the process of deciding to learn breathwork as a path that unites my far-flung interests in healing and self-expression. In a way, it comes down to the body and breath. I’m a long-time yoga practitioner and now teacher, but also work with various realms of creativity and self-expression, particularly poetry and the visual arts. I practiced vipassana meditation for a long time, but have found it more difficult to sit and remain simply attentive mindfully in the last few years.

I have an increasingly strong interest in the felt sense, which is the term Eugene Gendlin created for his Focusing Therapy, and in Peter Levine’s somatic experiencing and other somatic trauma work, all  of which I think is a huge missing piece from conventional healing and medicine. The class I’m taking now with Giten Tonkov, who started Biodynamic Breathwork, combines so many of my interests. I really enjoyed the first class and had a remarkable experience connecting with my heritage in the meditation we did last week. I found the way the material in the class was presented to be very lucid and engaging. It seems right at the heart of what I most need now, and I want to understand how to respect my being as a whole, expanding the frame of what I consider to be my body and shifting it, literally, and even seeing the earth as a part of who I am. I want to feel that all is sacred ground, all dimensions everywhere and if Errors are Oracles, it’s because they call us to reframe our stuckness into letting go and open us up in humbleness to the grace we hold within us, and the grace all around us.

This work on expanding from living in a contracted state, recognizing how far I’ve sunk into a kind of black hole of limitation, and stayed stuck there, feels like essential work right now. I think this is true collectively as well now. Healing is a kind of reframing, and our bodies and the body of Earth are the hidden frame that is opening and transforming us now. I once read that a spiritual or mystical perspective is the opposite of certain assumptions in scientific rationality, which regards the universe as being a single thing, with billions of discrete sentient beings existing separately within it.

A mystical perspective sees a myriad of universes, but there is only one consciousness, though there are profoundly different forms it can take, forms that are universes in themselves . . .
Is consciousness always fundamentally universal in form? It has been interesting to regard myself as also that person I am viewing, but in two different universes. People and even other beings are simply myself, but living in another, sometimes very different, universe– The sort of empathy that has welled up in me for this way of “being” is so vital–that a part of me that has such responsiveness to different conditions is awesome. It’s very wonderful to contemplate that “my” narrow stem of being flowers out of such a deep root. When I fill my body with breath, a universe flowers, a universal connectivity wells up in and out of me.

I remember zen teacher John Tarrant’s book, The Light Inside The Dark, he says there:

Attention gives us more life.

Breathwork is the dynamic path deepening attention follows, we take in the wholeness all around us, circulate it, and give it back. “Feel how your breath enlarges all of space”–as Stephen Mitchell translates Rilke’s poem in Sonnets To Orpheus . . . a space existing within us and around us at once.

Using my breath as the gateway to a more grounded awareness helps me more calmly attend to the ways I shut down my breathing and my body to be in safe mode: simple, limited, small. So small, no one or nothing can see me! How much I dissociate from what’s happening in my body and the important messages held there! I’ve set up a barricade/bandage against the overwhelm triggered by openness. Living in my head after a difficult childhood has meant that I have a lot to learn from the shift into grounding in my body and my breath. It keeps opening me up and also keeps me from flying off in a so-ready imaginative dissociation that is both a gift and an issue. Just as I am disconnected from my body, it means that I am just as much disconnected from nature and the organism of the earth whose body I are also part of. This is a deep painful collective pattern, too.

One tool that I use and want to explore more with breathwork is a kind of “automatic” drawing, which is a terrible word for it, another better one is haptic drawing or art, which is based on letting sensation and touch be the guiding elements of what emerges, using your felt sense and breath to explore line and color a palpable extension of our bodily awareness. It’s a movement like a dance, a flow of line and texture and color, not distinct from my bodily rhythm and coherence. The arc of my being translates into another universe, a universe I flow into as it flows into me, enlarging all my space within and without.


The path of kinship: Ki and Kin as pronouns for the living world

Robin Wall Kimmerer, a scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, suggests that language can be a path of healing. In this article in Yes Magazine: Nature Needs a New Pronoun: To Stop the Age of Extinction, Let’s Start by Ditching “It” she suggest that when speaking of the Earth and the living beings on it, we use not “it,” but “ki.” The plural of ki is “kin.”

Singing whales, talking trees, dancing bees, birds who make art, fish who navigate, plants who learn and remember. We are surrounded by intelligences other than our own, by feathered people and people with leaves. But we’ve forgotten. There are many forces arrayed to help us forget—even the language we speak.

Kimmerer is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants–a book I’ve been reading bits of for several years; but now this has inspired me to continue steadily reading it. Reading this article she wrote was such a relief. I often feel so discouraged by our culture’s blindness and objectification of the natural world, which we are killing as readily as we kill other people, people who we think stand in the way of making everything and everyone into a thing we can own, use, and spend as we like.

Changing this overpowering relationship seems like what is left for us to do in this time, learning respect, service to the natural world and other beings, and humility as humans. Since it seems we are so much about ends and don’t acknowledge enough concern for means except as to how ruthless we can make them, perhaps it’s time to learn something of the path of kinship. Think of all the ignored resonance of the word “means,” and how it could be a careful path of action, as in a daoist sense, the low path of utmost respect, awareness and humility. Here, as we see ourselves as kin, we think first of all our commonness, that which we share and are not truly different or better. In our language or culture, have we not valued gratitude enough . . ? Now in this time, do we begin to see a different possibility?

But I find myself angry still and I recognize the feeling I have is not the path of humility, but rather I’m stuck in rage at so much blindness. Why am I so angry? I see how much I desire to achieve victory over all the ways in which others are out of balance and destructive. So I ask that of myself. Can I enter back into the sacred, that is, the path of deep relationship and respect, sacred ground all around me, within me and without me–and not be about conquering everything in my path through aggression or rage? Can I begin to really grasp that revenge for the blindness of the world will not heal me or bring what I need? Can I accept what feels like defeat or weakness, and continue on my path without suffering over it?

What does it mean to learn to “take it,” not overcome it and possess it, but to take a very different path that starts with the assumption that well-being can always be found to be there . . ? I’m certainly not there yet, but can begin to see it. Sometimes. Everything shines in that light and as I saw in my prior post, here is the humility of finding strength to have renewing intention and action that stops without also intending a particular result.

But it seems so much trauma insists on reparation for any loss, a core of pain we want acknowledgement for, through overcoming a world in which we feel we’ve become less, so we want to take more as our due . . . make that which might hurt us into a victory, the power to stand on top of everything. But victim and victor are two sides of the same corrosive coin, that we can go on spending endlessly and meaninglessly . . . thinking it’s what gives us greater life. But the path of shared connection gives us more life, is a real healing, a dedication to connection beyond victory.

Robin Wall Kimmerer:

” . . . in English, we speak of our beloved Grandmother Earth in exactly that way: as “it.” The language allows no form of respect for the more-than-human beings with whom we share the Earth. In English, a being is either a human or an “it.”

Using “it” absolves us of moral responsibility and opens the door to exploitation.

But in Anishinaabe and many other indigenous languages . . . We use the same words to address all living beings as we do our family. Because they are our family.

What would it feel like to be part of a family that includes birches and beavers and butterflies? We’d be less lonely. We’d feel like we belonged. We’d be smarter.

On a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter. Come back soon.”

We Are Not Apart

I’m reading this post on e360.yale.edu on the value of natural regeneration.
Simplistic thinking of natural regeneration’s value mainly for carbon sequestration feels limiting, but it’s what’s we listen to.

“When Susan Cook-Patton was doing a post-doc in forest restoration at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland seven years ago, she says she helped plant 20,000 trees along Chesapeake Bay. It was a salutary lesson. “The ones that grew best were mostly ones we didn’t plant,” she remembers. “They just grew naturally on the ground we had set aside for planting. Lots popped up all around. It was a good reminder that nature knows what it is doing.”
Sometimes, we just need to give nature room to grow back naturally. Her conclusion follows a new global study that finds the potential for natural forest regrowth to absorb atmospheric carbon and fight climate change has been seriously underestimated.”


I say:
Let it grow! All over–
It’s what’s left to do (thinking of Ursuala Le Guin’s essay “She Unnames Them” ).
And remembering we are entitled to our actions, but not the fruit of them.

It’s so hard to hold that clarity.
The world will manage itself, we just have to follow.
We are not apart.
The beginning of our path.

Like Antonio Machado’s poem, which I can never find quite the right translation for, but is sweet to read.

XXIX
Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
Traveler, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveler, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveler, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”
― Antonio Machado, from Border of a Dream: Selected Poems


“Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.”
http://www.favoritepoem.org/poem_CaminanteNoHayCamino.html

Easy Is Right

I haven’t been feeling well the last few days, but this morning I was reading the blog Mast Cells and Collagen Behaving Badly and her post today encouraged me to look at finding some inner strength and healing energy. It helped me this morning keep from going into one of those familiar dark spaces of discouragement and fearfulness when I’m low energy.

It reminds me of a couple of other things that have encouraged me, too. This quote is from, I think, Thomas Merton’s book on Chuang Tzu:

“Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy. Continue easy and you are right. The right way to go easy is to forget the right way. And forget that the going is easy.”

Yes, wouldn’t it be grand to give up my feelings that things are hard? It’s the first step on the path of giving up the idea that things are easy.
If I could do that, just really give it up–what might be possible? Well, I just don’t know . . .

Another quote that I think about sometimes is from Pema Chodron in her book When Things Fall Apart, who said:
“Life is a good teacher and a good friend.”
I think if I could really believe that in those dark moments . . . well, that’s when I’m really up against my limits.

The other day, I didn’t realize I was starting to get sick, it started as a feeling of deep tiredness, but then turned into another IBS episode where all I can do is stop and listen to my body and its sometimes inexplicable messages of pain and discomfort. I still don’t understand these messages very well, but I’m practicing learning more. I did try to keep pushing my energy into doing tasks that needed to get done–but hey, the body rules! It looks like I have to learn how to accord it my utmost respect, or it plays hard ball with me. And even thinking of it as something separate, is limiting itself. But I don’t know how not to, not really.

One thing I’ve been doing lately is practicing some qi gong, just some very simple things, illustrated by this short 4 minute video of Daisy Lee on the ocean shore, a place where earth and sky, water and land meet, doing a very simple flow, Showering Qi. I’ve been practicing that, in the evening at a nearby field, watching the Moon rise each evening toward fullness, but then I stopped as I wasn’t feeling well. Perhaps the Moon’s cycle also speaks to this, a balancing of light and dark at fullness and then surrender into the waning of what had become full. The Moon’s face illustrates the constant flow of Yin and Yang energies so powerfully. I could feel the practice changing me. So then I had to stop to incorporate the power of that change? Perhaps. Who am I now? I don’t know and is that scary? When the light of what has been darkens, it’s hard not to be fearful. But grounding myself in the flow between earth and sky helps me to let go, to just be present in the movement and being here, a level of paying attention I desperately want–and avoid.
Daisy Lee: Reconnect to Mother Earth and the Limitless Sky with This Vertical Alignment Practice

Another wonderful healing comes from a poem I read recently by David Wagoner, entitled “Lost.” I have been reading this poem every day and it expresses so powerfully what I have been feeling, I’m deeply grateful for all these allies that have come to me as I venture into what feels dark, but perhaps is simply the unknown, the seed of what’s next, and I look for what light I find that shines to guide me on the way:

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~David Wagoner