Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Moments in Passing

"Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways."

-Stephen Vincent Benét

Moments in Passing

Life is found underneath the fingernails
Inside that space between your foot and the floor
When your mind is racing for tomorrow
and your legs are heavy with last night
At the moment before you cross the street
when you're just standing there
the light that's meant for you
life is found

At the intrusion of desire-for-the-next-moment
life is found

Inside spaces we rarely look
In places we never thought were real
life is spilling over
without a hand to reap its bounty
So it wanders
It wonders why

In the months
lives spent
waiting for real love
to realize your love
Then -
in realizing you're love
life is found

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Suppressing the Inner Child

You know what I'm talking about. --
That hold-your-breath feeling of trying not to laugh at someone tripping in public.
That way we deny our hands from playing with our co-workers freshly curled, bouncy hair.
The genius bathroom pranks we don't let the world see, because 'we're at work', or in some undistinguished professional setting.

You don't know it? This feeling?

Well, what about the suppression of instant excitement when anything wondrous in our daily life happens? 

The simple things...
That stray dog just peed on the wall in a motion that reveals the word 'buns' - WOW!
Sue just said 'catastrophic events' at the same time that I was typing it. - Whoaaa that's crazy!
I found a single flower alive in the garden, in the dead of winter - COOL!
We're ordering Mexican for lunch!
Anything, really. Do you feel the restraint in you? No matter how subtle.

I feel it for sure, and sometimes if I'm around close friends or family I can release the burst. But if not, I'm a dormant volcano.
Anyway, that's part of growing up, being a sane member of society. I see its logic, and I wouldn't suggest flipping out with pure joy when someone arrives with your lunch. But, the question is why, or why not? 
Why not hug the messenger? Why not stroke your office mate's hair? Why not do a cartwheel in the hallway, if you're feeling it? I don't mean those instances of displaying this behavior when your particularly elated. I mean on a day to day basis, from the mind state of curiosity, or even boredom, when we feel our inner child spinning in circles under our skin, why do we not act on it more often? 

I think it could be a fun experiment. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Who is, Where is, What is?: Cultural Differences in Our Sense of What's Divine

What is divinity? Who am I to define what is divine for anyone other than myself? We can only give the context of divinity to something with our own attention of what divine is, upon it. These are the thoughts that dizzied my mind after trying to induce a 'translation-by-gesture' for a word I didn't yet learn, while living in Thailand. That word was 'god'.*

...That is, the idea of 'god', not one specific proper noun type figure...

I was tutoring a group of teenage girls in conversational English. Their English was not bad for their age and never having been immersed in it. My Thai, on the other hand was an embarrassment, when considering the fact that I was supposed to be the teacher. They were respectful and understanding as most of Thai culture seemed to be, at least to my face. 

One afternoon as the rain threw itself at the windows, we worked on a poetry activity where each girl created a line to add in order to make a complete (and ridiculous) poem. Somehow the topic of god came up, as often does in good poetry. The word wasn't spoken yet, but the idea was there in our minds as we struggled with the language barrier, with such a complex topic. 

What happened next as we exchanged languages for the words to pinpoint that all encompassing being (as some like to call it), will stay in my memory forever as one of those subtle, powerful things that no one even notices has any effect on you. I, the American said something like "You know… 'god'….Sorry, I'm not sure of the word in Thai"  while I pointed up to the sky to gesture what I've learned most person's interpretation to be, and I guess location, of this God character. 

One student, Pooki sensibly whipped out her iPhone and translated faster than you can say 'Adam and Eve', then said "Ohhhhhhh…prrrahjowww!" while she motioned all around her. 

She gestured not above or away but to everyone in the room, her friends, myself, herself and waved her fingers through the surrounding air as if it were made of some silky, touchable light while she said the word for 'god' in Thai. She shook her head excitedly in comprehension…."Prahjao, yes, God".  The other four girls recognized her motions as god too. Oh Pooki, you've touched my heart forever, and so simply you did it without even knowing. 

Moments like this are what I live for - the faint, untouchable realizations of truth in our differing perceptions. Wisdom can be caught in the shifting of awareness. 

Simply, all this young lady pointed out to me was the difference in Western religion's view of God's presence vs. a Buddhist's one, which is something I guess I already knew rationally. But the expression made it clear in my body and bones, made me ponder longer than words do. How might our culture be different if this one small detail were altered? I don't mean what if our dominant religious groups were completely different, for I'm pretty sure at the heart of all of the world's religions lies the same chamber of knowledge, if we look closely. 

Rather, what if we Westerners were taught, spiritually, to regard god or divinity as literally all around us, inside of us, a part of everyone we see? Some might argue - hey, that is how we view it! Is it really though, for most? Maybe it's something you realized later with thoughtful examination. But I remember as a child born to Catholicism, in my most formative years spent in Catholic school, being taught that God is not only a 'He' but He is up there, separate from everything I could see, hear, touch, and relate to. 

What if God was that dead squirrel on the road, or inside of that half eaten sandwich you threw away today, or the next breath you take?  Maybe nothing would change. Or maybe some confusion would be lifted in our lives, so that more conviction could truly be felt. Because I remember feeling this thing at a young age, even though I couldn't put a name to it, and I bet others could too if they think back far and deeply enough to that purer version of themselves. I remember this 'god sense' all around me in so much that I saw, in small experiences like a homeless man's eyes, the smell of a hospital, or the way my brother's shirt crinkled when he moved.

I haven't experienced many Eastern cultures, in fact only one. But I can say that at least in Thailand where Buddhism is the main religion and it seems that this divine presence is perceived as pervasive, connected, and within everything, that their sense of community is strong. Compassion comes as a reflex. I realize a lot of kindness also stems from Buddhist's thoughts on karma, how it pervades everything we do. Karma is really just another way to say cause and effect, another way to give the power of our beliefs to the world around us and within us, as opposed to something outside of it all.

Of course, I can't speak about every person in a culture, only my experiences and I believe that I was lucky. People are people everywhere with their flaws and wrong doings and traditionalist intolerances; religious glitches happen globally, I know. All I'm saying is - I wonder. What if there just happened to occur this one tiny shift in spiritual perception for a whole society? What would be important then?

*side note - I hope you understand my confusion about when and when it's not necessary to capitalize god, as the context of the idea and the figure is always changing and murky in my mind. I guess that makes for a whole nother topic.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Expose the Undies of Your Mind

"Well, well, well, it's about time." I said… myself.

I'm starting this page because I've been revealing my soul to paper (and/or text documents) since I could form whole sentences, or maybe only half sentences. But you know I've been hoarding it all my life, my writing. I've been stuffing it into books, into boxes, in closets, in hidden corridors of my computer. For what? There's no big secret; I am just that wary of lifting the curtain on my half-naked thoughts. I've been thinking lately, it's a stingy thing to do. 

I don't want to be greedy or possessive of thoughts. They are not perfect or beautifully composed, but they are potential. Minds were made to be set free into the world, even if no one's looking. If at some point in all of eternity, just one more set of eyes other than my own can read my words and feel something, a connection, an affect, than that is something of value. That goes for everyone, especially those like me who sometimes pang in jealousy at those talented individuals who express themselves flawlessly through speech. I'm talking about those times when you feel as if someone has been given the script to life, and you weren't aware you were supposed to go over your lines every morning. Am I right? Am I right?

Your thoughts get claustrophobic when you make them wear a turtle-neck. The person we are all affecting most by writing or expressing in any form, is ourselves. We find the truer versions of ourselves through it, and that can be a healthy type of self-centeredness; or better to call it, self-focus. 

My old friend, reflecting

Anyway, who asked me this question I'm answering?
I think I'm writing to myself again.
Writing about writing.
Don't be greedy with thoughts.
Scan for some worthwhile ones.
Let them seep out.
Then share.