Friday, June 8, 2007

Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. Iris Murdoch

View from The Cottage, Mull, March 2007

"The shoemaker on earth that had the soul of a poet in him won't have to make shoes here." Mark Twain, from Extract From Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Last night, I had dinner with Kit Kat and the magical Pixie~Sue (whose partner has now been nicknamed Dixie in honour of her new found virtual fame). We ate fajitas, drank wine and put our lives to rights from the safety of the Heights. We talked a lot about the future, and about our plans (if you want to make god laugh...), and as ever, the company and conversation - ever softly spiritual - left my head reeling today with possibilities.

This afternoon, working in the Peace Cafe, I remembered something Kat posted to me on the blog after my uncharacteristically long absence last month:

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. (Buddha (563-483 BC)

I thought about how many offers I make to assist the creative work of others, how often I have bowed to the needs or desires of others whilst sacrificing my own duty to myself, and I thought about my past loves - how I got there, what I gave, what I lost. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that I should limit what I give out to the world, but I think that the spirit in which I give is increasingly important. The three of us talked last night about the significance of honouring yourself, and that until you do so, your attempts to honour others - whilst of enormous benefit - can often be spiritually false.

For example, last night we talked about the act of apologising. We all confessed to being frequent apologisers, and how sometimes, apology acts as a way of accepting blame that isn't yours and can be an attempt to pacify others.

"I apologise all the time," said Pixie Sue.

"Me too!" announced Kit Kat, "In supermarkets, people bump into me and I apologise."

I confessed I was the same, "Sorry! Sorry you bumped into me! Sorry I exist, sorry if my presence on the planet is disturbing anyone! Sorry!"

We all laughed. I told the other two, "The only way I've ever been able to stop myself from apologising all the time for my very existence is to think of the apology as a request for verification from other people. That way when I apologise for something stupid, I hear it in my mind first as, 'Please will you make me feel better about myself?' and that usually stops me saying it when I don't need to."

We tried this for the rest of the night and there was a lot less apologising.

It strikes me that in many ways, much of my life, my interactions and particularly my loves, are like this. I am so busy requesting verification for myself in one way or another that I quickly lose my ability to see where I really am, and to construct an idea of what I really want. With my current focus on self-acceptance, I am certain that, as ever, the only way to change the world for the better, or to help, amuse or love others, is if I'm coming from a place that is holistically self-embracing (after all, everyone needs to embrace themselves once in a while. Not too much though, or you'll go blind).

This has been, even in its early days, a strange summer for me, so far. Beauty and pain have been dancing through my spirit in an offbeat, oddball tango, tripping together memories of the past and experiences of the present, to make a gossamer trail of emotion that wings behind them through my days. Perhaps life is just like this.

Today, the sun is shining, I'm half in love with lemongrass tea, people I meet seem filled with beauty, goodness and creativity. My mojo has returned and all is tight and right with the world.

And the acid is starting to kick in. Clearly.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The sound of a whisper

Firstly, I’ve just looked on the comments and found one from the lovely Karen and Ian, from the Peace Café! It’s so lovely to see you guys here in cyberspace and can’t wait to catch up again. Karen, can I also say that the memory of you reciting poetry to me in Welsh will undoubtedly remain one of my favourite and most enduring memories! It was great to meet you guys too and well done for tracking me down – the Peace Café really is magic!!

I’ve had a couple of down days since the fabulous weekend of birthday plenty. Admittedly, some of this was pure hangover – or as Rodders put it, “praying to the ceramic god.” But the last couple of days in particular felt like a blue funk after a sunshine haze. Then last night, I think I worked it out, with the help of a three-hour documentary, some Cistercian monks and the difference between discipline and practice.

Last night, I went to the No 6 Cinema, one of our city’s still under-discovered cultural gems - so please make an effort to frequent it, soon and often – with Kate to see the Phillip Groning documentary, Into Great Silence. We were lucky enough to bump into Dean, a friend of the ever-loved Peace Café, in the queue. With a little trepidation, and unsure what exactly to expect from three hours of silence in the cinema, the three of us headed in.

On the website, Groning also writes that it was his intention to shoot a documentary that examined: “The physical world and the turning away from that world.” He uses shots of the Grande Chartreuse Monastery and its lands, weather, fields, and machinery, but also shows extensive scenes of prayer, chanting, services and the faces of the monks themselves. It’s the first film of its kind. As the website states, there is, “No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.” Groning waited 16 years to make this documentary, the time it took for the Carthusian Monks to prepare to be filmed. The result is a stunning meditation of a film that makes the viewer for once as aware of themselves as they are of what’s happening on screen. The silence – or rather, the human silence; there is sound, but rarely voice – is at times overwhelming, uncomfortable, painful, but made us sharply aware of each image, sound and movement that took place on screen.

But the real power and fascination of the film for me centred on the dedication of the monks themselves, ranging from the very young to the very old, to lives of almost complete austerity and discipline. It reminded me of something I recently read on Peter Clothier’s website, concerning the difference between ‘practice’ and ‘discipline.’

“People sometimes ask me where I get "the discipline" to sit down at the computer and punch out something every single day. Well, almost.

It's just that I don't call it "discipline". I call it "practice".

Practice is not hard. It means quite simply showing up every day and sitting down. It means getting in touch with that part of myself that wants--and needs--to write, and listening quietly for what it has to say.”

When I read this, I realised what the source of my recent down days might be.

I stopped practicing.

Caught up in the joys and excitements that have followed my decision to self accept, open up and say yes more a few weeks ago, over the past week, I’ve been enjoying myself so much that I forgot to keep doing these things. I’m hoping this realization, along with a much-awaited dinner with the Psychic Peace Pixie tonight may well spur me back on track.

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire the sound of a whisper.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The One with All the Birthdays...

I find a wonderful blog, called simply Jenova's blog, on one of my many hunts for other things over the weekend. One of the first posts that I look at is titled Animanity and introduces an amazing clip from YouTube.

It's long, about 7 minutes, but I'm asking you to have a look. It's important. And amazing.

Whew. What a weekend. A lot of babies are clearly born in June, because the world and his mistress seemed to be celebrating birthdays this weekend. I hit a major coup of celebrating two birthdays on Saturday (other people's, not my own - I'm so obviously not a Gemini): the beautiful Rodders from the Ministry (aka She of the Glamorous Nails), who was celebrating with her beautiful people (including the Already Missed Lyds, who has just left the Ministry) and the lovely James of the Peace Cafe, who hit the big 30 this weekend.

Needless to say, I spent most of yesterday staring the Death of Hangovers squarely in the face, and, at one point, passed a pretty half hour gazing at my own reflection in the toilet bowl. Ahem. If there hadn't have been a damn good reason (two, in fact) for being so ridiculously drunk, I'd be booking myself into the Priory.

So, today's blog is dedicated to the many Geminis who have already or will celebrate their birthday this month: Dad, my grandfather, James, Rodders, Scott and Dawn.