31 March 2012

In Memoriam - Adrienne Rich, May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012

 North American Time, by Adrienne Rich


 When my dreams showed signs
 of becoming
 politically correct
 no unruly images
 escaping beyond border
 when walking in the street I found my
 themes cut out for me
 knew what I would not report
 for fear of enemies' usage
 then I began to wonder


 Everything we write
 will be used against us
 or against those we love.
 These are the terms,
 take them or leave them.
 Poetry never stood a chance
 of standing outside history.
 One line typed twenty years ago
 can be blazed on a wall in spraypaint
 glorify art as detachment
 or torture of those we
 did not love but also
 did not want to kill
 We move     but our words stand
 become responsible
 and this is verbal privilege


 Try sitting at a typewriter
 one calm summer evening
 at a table by a window
 in the country, try pretending
 your time does not exist
 that you are simply you
 that the imagination simply strays
 like a great moth, unintentional
 try telling yourself
 you are not accountable
 to the life of your tribe
 the breath of your planet


 It doesn't matter what you think.
 Words are found responsible
 all you can do is choose them
 or choose
 to remain silent. Or, you never had a choice,
 which is why the words that do stand
 are responsible
 and this is verbal privilege


 Suppose you want to write
 of a woman braiding
 another woman's hair--
 staightdown, or with beads and shells
 in three-strand plaits or corn-rows--
 you had better know the thickness
 the length     the pattern
 why she decides to braid her hair
 how it is done to her
 what country it happens in
 what else happens in that country
 You have to know these things


 Poet, sister: words--
 whether we like it or not--
 stand in a time of their own.
 no use protesting     I wrote that
 before Kollontai was exiled
 Rosa Luxembourg, Malcolm,
 Anna Mae Aquash, murdered,
 before Treblinka, Birkenau,
 Hiroshima, before Sharpeville,
 Biafra, Bangla Desh, Boston,
 Atlanta, Soweto, Beirut, Assam
 --those faces, names of places
 sheared from the almanac
 of North American time


 I am thinking this in a country
 where words are stolen out of mouths
 as bread is stolen out of mouths
 where poets don't go to jail
 for being poets, but for being
 dark-skinned, female, poor.
 I am writing this in a time
 when anything we write
 can be used against those we love
 where the context is never given
 though we try to explain, over and over
 For the sake of poetry at least
 I need to know these things


 Sometimes, gliding at night
 in a plane over New York City
 I have felt like some messenger
 called to enter, called to engage
 this field of light and darkness.
 A grandiose idea, born of flying.
 But underneath the grandiose idea
 is the thought that what I must engage
 after the plane has rage onto the tarmac
 after climbing my old stair, sitting down
 at my old window
 is meant to break my heart and reduce me to silence.


 In North America time stumbles on
 without moving, only releasing
 a certain North American pain.
 Julia de Burgos wrote:
 That my grandfather was a slave
 is my grief; had he been a master
 that would have been my shame.
 A poet's words, hung over a door
 in North America, in the year
 The almost-full moon rises
 timeless speaking of change
 out of the Bronx, the Harlem River
 the drowned towns of the Quabbin
 the pilfered burial mounds
 the toxic swamps, the testing-grounds
 and I start to speak again.

28 March 2012

The Manly Attitude

Is it testosterone that makes so many men aggressive in conversation, feeling they must cancel or obliterate statements they don't agree with?  At intermission, I say "That last scene made no sense to me at all" and Manly Man will say "It's not about making sense. It's about..." Could he not have made his point with "Oh, I understood exactly what the playwright was saying.  It made sense to me"?

I post an Adrienne Rich quote on the wall of one of my FB groups --
“When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.” RIP Adrienne Rich
and Mr. Man comments:

"And not just when a woman tells the truth...." as preface to posting a quote by a male film critic. 

I feel for you guys -- and also, would you please cut it out!!

27 March 2012

Por Ejemplo

I sojourn now in a fragrance-free, mindful peace-building, vegetarian, Buddhist, drug-and-alcohol-free, low-flow, strict recycle house with a beautiful garden and a baby grand I'm rarely allowed to play.

As I tiptoed around getting ready for the drive to Santa Cruz this morning, some low volume grumbling escapes my lips now and then. I am resisting the particulars of my present life situation.

Just writing that last sentence reconditions my experience. So much so that the photo above is very funny to me now but I had tears of sadness in my eyes when I chose it initially.

Things are the way they are.  Breathe. 

Let's go play with those YES kids!

26 March 2012

The Pain Body

by Ginny Schmidt
From "Practicing the Power of Now:  Essential Teachings, meditations, and exercises from The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle:
The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created... The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment...
The more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering... 
...every pleasure or emotional high contains within itself the seed of pain:  its inseparable opposite, which will manifest in time.
There are two levels...:  the pain that you create now, and the pain from the past that still lives on in your mind and body. ...every emotional pain that you experience leaves behind a residue of pain that lives on in you. It merges with the pain from the past, which was already there, and becomes lodged in your mind and body
...This accumulated pain is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. ...It's the emotional pain-body.
...Anything can trigger it, particularly if it resonates with a pain pattern from your past. When it is ready to awaken from its dormant stage, even a thought or an innocent remark made by someone close to you can activate it.
...Watch out for any sign [italics added] of unhappiness in yourself, in whatever form -- it may be the awakening pain-body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have some drama in your relationship... 

She sucked her teeth and tossed her head. "That is a privileged point of view," she said, clearly irritated. "Just more of that privileged new age thinking that makes me sick."

Talking about the Pain Body triggered her pain-body.

Mere mention of "power of Now" or Eckhart Tolle is sufficient to trigger pain-body for some people.

Sometimes, mention of God or Christianity triggers pain-body for me.
The pain-body has two modes of being:  dormant and active. It may be dormant 90 percent of the time; in a deeply unhappy person, though, it may be active up to 100 percent of the time. Some people live almost entirely through their pain-body, while others may experience it only in certain situations, such as intimate relationships, or situations linked with past loss or abandonment, physical or emotional hurt...

When I was growing up, my father often referred to "Kinchlow luck." Kinchlow was his family name and he believed that, for those with that name, everything that could go wrong in a situation, would go wrong. He almost always wore a wry smile when he said it. (Wry smiles were confusing to me as a child: Is s/he happy or sad, I wondered.)

When I changed my name around age 20 he was so upset he stopped speaking to me for years. He felt abandoned. I was no longer subject to the Kinchlow Luck. His pain-body was triggered.

I was hurt and disappointed and frustrated and angry with my father for turning his back on me. I resisted the Now; I wanted things the way they used to be between us. That pain merged with old pain from a decade earlier when my parents divorced and my father disappeared AND I had resisted that Now, wanting things to be the way they had been.

For a long time, my relationships with men were riddled with potential pain-body triggers. Men who looked like my father or walked like him. Men who were mail carriers or who sang or who smiled wryly. Not to mention men who were unfaithful or critical of me or quiet.

"Once the pain-body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. ...You...will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. But look closely and you will find that your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going.."
"When you thought you knew a person and then you are suddenly confronted with this alien, nasty creature [the pain-body emerging] for the first time, you are in for quite a shock. It is more important, however, to observe it in yourself than in someone else."
When I observe in myself a judgmental thought, especially a familiar judgmental thought...hear myself thinking/saying something about "people", for example, it is an early warning signal that Pain-Body is uncoiling, preparing for a roar-and-hiss-and-spit fit.

Now and then the wry smile comes into play but more often I am inclined to speak softly and carefully -- an attempt to trick myself and anyone listening into believing and agreeing with whatever complaint or criticism I'm nursing. Because, it is often true that pain-body suffering, a form of misery, enjoys company. Feeds on company. It's been almost 20 years and I can still remember how "good" it felt the first time a therapist affirmed my complaints about the way my parents raised me. 

"Yes!  It happened to me and that is who I am:  the one whose parents hurt her. That's why I am the way I am."

by The Artist Mario
In my brief tour around the Internet to find images for this post, I encountered conversations and commentary about the pain-body concept. Most see the pain-body as a problem to be solved. The favored solutions are some variation of "love yourself" and "surround it with light and positivity." 

I don't understand the teaching that way.  I understand pain body as a result of egoic mind. Like rain is a result of  the interactions of temperature and water vapor and etc. It's not a problem -- though it is sometimes viewed as such -- it's just something that happens and will always happen where water and heat and cold combine. Where there is ego and identification with ego and thinking, there will be pain.

A battle to conquer pain with love will never end. The transmutation of pain into consciousness is what I seek.
Focus attention on the feeling inside... Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don't think about it--don't let the feeling turn into thinking. Don't judge or analyze. ...Stay present and continue to be the observer of what is happening... Become aware...of the one who observes," the silent watcher. This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence. Then see what happens.

Frida Kahlo

22 March 2012

Be First

So many yearning to breathe free, to be brave enough (maybe) today to live
in alignment with what you know in the core of your being, to stop hiding and pretending
and compromising until you are a thin, numb, residue of your vibrant self.
It's easier it seems if someone else goes first.
Let it be you today.  Be first.