Tag Archives: love

Subsistence

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I know what it is to subsist under the weight of darkness.

I know about the exponential effort to drag yourself through the day,
limb by leaded limb.

I know about that magnetic force that paralyzes you,
into the chair in front of your computer screen:
a planned paramnesia,
as your only antidote for this suffering,
when you “can’t make it,” again.

And I know how these very words- “I can’t,”
become a repetitive reel,
ruminating and rising,
ton by laden ton,
they build bars,
around your soul,
you struggle for air,
yet all you find is anger.

But I also know what it is to live.

I know what it is to bathe my spirit in sunlight,
and breath the sweetness of serenity.

I know about allowing oneself to be carried, by wisdom,
gathered of seamless connection,
the common pulse of all living beings,
and the oness that confesses,
that light and darkness are the same.

I have been held by the healing energy,
of an embrace,
washed in the humble purity,
of children’s laughter,
reveled in my own worth,
and in that of every other,
seemingly insignificant life,
of this whimsical world.

I also know enough,
to know that I know less,
than what I don’t,
and that I cannot live in,
perpetual poise,
because to do so,
would be to fall into deception,
and roll again,
under the weight of darkness.

Race, Power and the Flu

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I have been battling the flu and with it I have had time to confront my own feelings of inadequacy in terms of the appalling violence that has been occurring in the US. My tendency when sick, to my stomach or heart, is to retreat into paralysis, and besides a few Facebook posts, spend my grief in fetal position feeling isolated and alone as an expat.  Sometimes I wonder if my living overseas is not an escape, an avoidance of responsibility to the deeply flawed nation that raised me.  To my American students, mostly white, I teach intercultural competence and urge them to see the unequal power structures that plague our world.   Some take their privilege head on and want to learn more; others avoid the topic all together and disappear.  The latter is what I have been doing lately with the weight of the hate-filled violence I have been reading about.  I am effectively speechless and breathless, perhaps the cause of my hacking cough and fever.

I have known for some time that my task at hand, is to find my voice and to never shut up.  It’s an ability that I have had since I learned to speak.  But now in my mid-thirties, after having recently survived an abusive marriage where my voice was essentially silenced, I find it hard to say anything at all.  Yet I also now know the savory taste of freedom, of autonomy, of an unencumbered heart, and a mind teeming with ideas.  Why is it, then, that my words do not find their way forth? Today I have decided to push past this silence. As a one-year-old takes her first steps, I am attempting to form my first words, as awkward as they are eager.

I will begin with my heart which is in pain, no longer because of the trials I went through but because of the state of the world.  It seems that violence has become commonplace as a way to exert one’s power over another, and it is done mostly without consequence because of the failings of the justice system.  Even if justice were fulfilled after such horrific events, we would only be alleviating heartache with a band aid, not with a cure.  True healing comes when we change the system and culture that produced the murderer, and the ethos of fear and hate that provided him the ideas and the weapons of mass destruction to carry out his dirty deed.  I am referring to white supremacy, male supremacy, police brutality, homophobia and the mass shootings which have become all too familiar.  But how do we even begin to change such a massive and destructive structure under which we are just a pebble?

I believe change begins as a spark in the inner most point of our hearts.  The spark might feel like anger, pain or sorrow, but it carries a hint of hope. And if you listen to it, validate this tiny energy with your conscience, it grows stronger and pretty soon a flame evolves and you start to feel its warmth.  If you can be still long enough to notice it, you can warm yourself from its heat and encourage it to grow into self-compassion, then into believing in yourself, into believing you matter, into discovering you have power, into using your power, propelling you into action.  What is this action? It is whatever action you are lead to.  Life has a remarkable tendency to lay trials and opportunities before you at just the precise moment.  But you have to be awake to notice them and to discern the right, the just, the good action.

We are all different beings on this earth, with different pasts and different futures, and yet we are all connected as part of one wonderful whole.  What our world needs is more voices to question the status quo, voices of protest, voices of love, more than ever. We need to trust our own voice when it comes from the heart, even if we then decide it could have been said better.  Silence is the world’s biggest enemy, because most of us know that something is gravely wrong and if not righted, the future of humanity is at risk.

Yet we say nothing. Like me, in my fetal position, silently hurting.  It does nothing.  In fact, my silence is most harmful to myself, because I end up reinforcing my paralysis, believing that I can do nothing, that I have no power, until I forget I even have a voice.  This is a function of oppression, to believe one’s inferiority.  It is incredibly dangerous because it is the most insidious way that privilege or tyranny, which is the same, stabilizes the current power structures, eliminating and invalidating descent. Don’t collaborate with the culture of fear and hate, say something!  If we start to speak up, others will feel that they have permission to do as well.  When two people are talking, we have a dialog, with three, we have a conversation, when a community of people speak up, we have a social movement, and on and on.  This is how it starts, one voice at a time.

Walking Poem

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rocky Maine shoreThe Sea breathes gently in my ears
as the light surf strokes the rocky sand
in an ancient song that began before the invention of time.

It was not long ago that I mastered the art of scampering
across this rugged Maine shoreline,
first carefully testing each step
then hopping from rock to rough patch of sand
to slippery seaweed covered ledge.

It was here I first learned about beauty,
that the pulse of nature that surrounds us,
is the same that sustains us from within.

Today my feet skip and spring in graceful memory
of the rhythm I have danced so many times gone by.

Today I find new meaning in this timeless,
perpetually shaping coast.

Today I understand the wisdom
in the lessons learned here.

For it is honest and wise to be cautious before stepping,
But there will come a time we must trust in the dance,
and only in letting go do we learn to leap.

Vulnerable

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Here is my heart on my sleeve:
treat it gently, please.

My mind and history are behind,
screaming to accept its defeat.
Sometimes all the energy I have,
is for standing on my own feet.

But I have decided to wear it there,
even if it drains me of durability.
I am beginning to walk again,
swaying in vulnerability.

Be kind to me:
I am learning to trust again,
to reach my hands before me,
when I stumble in pain.

No longer in order to brace my falling,
but because I am hoping- you see-
than when I inevitably do,
there will be someone to hold me.

Ready

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Tonight just under the surface,
there is a stirring in my soul.

A passion suppressed,
beyond the reach of my memory.

I feel it budding,
Pushing from behind my skin.

Craving to be freed,
from the darkness I’ve held:
too long,
too buried,
too painful,
for contention.

Tonight I will not struggle,
I will not strain,
I will not fold.

I will open towards the moon,
Unveiling my cracks and bumps and bruises,
I will breathe in light.

Tonight,
on my 34th birthday,
I am ready.