Friday, July 30, 2010

Synthetic Bones

The backing track is all that’s playing

There’s no lead line, no one singing the tune

Whats the matter with these people

Its not even the afternoon

Things are getting messy here

Hearts are getting thrown aside

Stacks of records flip themselves

In the haze and the crowd there’s always somewhere to hide

And the reckless ones go home alone

But somehow their beds stay full

And the fragile ones call home to mom

Cause the big bad wolf, he got you good

Savagery is a barred up face

No one home, no lights left on

As a one man pageant trundles forward

With no one man band to call upon

Things are getting messy here

Hearts are getting thrown aside

Stacks of records flip themselves

In the haze and the crowd there’s always somewhere to hide

Left to the alley, lost to the chattering of synthetic bones

Some kindly litter reaches out to you

And makes some space in their litter box home

God says be grateful, (and the suit says watch out)

Because sooner or later you’ll be on trial for your doubt

Things are getting messy here

There’s a lot to be accounted for

Hearts are getting thrown aside

Records lay fondled and abandoned covering the floor

In the haze and the crowd

And in the bite of the gun

There’s always somewhere to hide

Until the last song is done

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rants at a Picnic

What is this ugly desire within all of us to “be right”, or “one up”? I love debate, I have always enjoyed passionate conversation, but there is a huge difference in my opinion between engaging in spirited discussion and being argumentative. It baffles my mind sometimes how people can be so achingly unaware of the nonsense vomiting out of their mouths. This kind of unproductive reactionary ego driven jockeying on behalf of some half read article or self serving hypothesis is what keeps us in constant mental chatter, an endless cycle of suffering.

We all have within us the sore loser, the sore winner, and the humble versions of both. Throughout the course of a day we all engage in status or power plays to one degree or another, and I am not above this. But I do try to be aware of what my triggers to play these ridiculous games are and where I fall short of humility, true listening and productive passivity. If I practice this awareness maybe I can shorten the time it takes me to become aware that it is happening right down to the moment itself and then stop it before it happens and begin to change the pattern. I try also to identify my personal boundaries and know when I should “just let it go” or when I should stand up for something I believe in.

I am one of the least confrontational people around. If you manage to push my buttons enough to get me to lash out in the moment then good for you! You must be really skilled at being irritating! I am certainly an advocate for myself but where frustration and anger in social settings is concerned, I like to sit with the feeling for 24 hours and then decide if something needs to be said. I find that there is always a part of these feelings that is ego based (pride, the desire to be right or be in control etc) and then sometimes it also goes beyond that, permeating my core. When this is the case I try to confront the person in a productive way that lets them know what it is I am uncomfortable with without being fueled by self righteousness. On the odd occasion when I do react bubbling and bothered in the heat of a moment, it usually means someone has crossed a particular line three times too many and needs to know that my openness and jovial nature does NOT equal me being a door mat or an energetic recycling bin.

The subject of finding the balance between being open and having personal boundaries is a fascination of mine. But we’ll save that for another day :)

By now it is probably apparent that I had a “run in” with such a conversational predator today and it left me disappointed in the true intelligence of that person. I doubt there will be a reconciliation, I am not interested in an apology or trying to have a better relationship. It is in my nature to let everyone in right off the bat, to hand out mountains of respect; but once you shred the last of it: GONE. You are no longer allowed anywhere near this burning ball of light. My severity is not driven by ego, I can say that sincerely. It is driven by my passion for the human experience of communion. I love connecting with people and when someone opens up to me and allows me to experience their unbridled truth I never take it for granted. But those who choose time and time again to take axes and knives to the picnics of the human heart will no longer be invited. We have too much work to do and fun to have to indulge such disregard and toxicity.

My prayer is to continue to grow in light, to be willing to unravel myself and let go of my need to be right or the centre of attention at the cost of an opportunity to connect with another. I am not perfect, nor am I trying to be (there is no such thing) but I hope for a better, less polluted collective mental landscape. And I am willing to start with my own.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cry Baby

Why is it often only crisis that brings us to our knees? When life beats down, obligations come a calling, health deteriorates or personal relationships fail we finally surrender and ask our own soul, and perhaps the sky, God, or a therapist for help. It is in these times we realise that years of unexpressed/unexplored feelings are marching towards victory and our mental and emotional defenses aren’t going to hold any longer. But where did these defenses come from? And what was so terrifying about feeling that we had to construct them in the first place?

When I am feeling strong, when I am in my warrior self and have the energy for all of life’s outer tasks I often find myself missing the times of my greatest sensitivity, when I’ve been tired and raw with my heart unravelled in my open palms in search of peace. These times are uncomfortable, and we are raised to believe that happy means good and sadness is bad. I prefer the word sensitivity to sadness, because I am coming to find that when I feel this way it is because I am resonating with life, sometimes its my own and the obstacles on my journey and sometimes it is the old lady's next door watering her plants and my contemplation of her fulfilled or unfulfilled ambitions. And it is this kind of essential compassion that is the delicate and passionate art of a life well lived.

As artists we strive for this kind of emotional overload and rough sandpaper-against-our-skin sensitivity. Its where we get the juice from. And the patrons of our art come because they want to feel through the work they see or hear or read. We all want to feel. It is my mounting belief that by judging some emotions and rewarding others we are creating a/contributing to an already existing paradigm that blocks everything up, only allowing the most extreme circumstances to break the dam.

I crave the heart of it all. I yearn to rub up against the magic in all things. I want to live from a place of greatest sensitivity. My idea of the good life includes, belly laughs and heaving cries, smiles that hurt my face and hugs that break my arms. And if that means some days where I feel like I’ve had the shit kicked out of me then so be it. I’m not waiting for another quarter life crisis to find out that being repressed and British ain’t for me.

Post Script: In the glorification and condemnation of the extremes we tend cling to the times we remember as being the best or the worst. Free in the present moment to feel whatever comes to pass means that life will find its rhythms in the expression of this life and I won’t need to hold on to know that I am alive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I want to say that I always know what’s best for me; that in the moment I will choose ultimate acts of self love. I will choose that which fills me, grounds me, sets me at peace, makes me proud to be in this skin, proud from deep in my star shine right up and out of my eyes. But sometimes I choose things that are not good for me, sometimes I reveal to myself the dark side, show myself I’m not all free yet. I rip myself open, I fray the edges and pray for healing, I get lazy, I live in past or future, I dwell or indulge or hold too tight or just plain miss the point, miss the wonderment.

I know the truth of things. The core of me has always been able to see what I am growing towards. And its a marvelous place and time and state of self, and it will shift again and again and I will reach beyond even that furthest stretch of my inner imagination. And its not so much that I imagine it as I intuit it, I know the woman of my future, I feel her feelings, I see myself unravelled further, freer, clearer, more thankful. Which makes some of the current underdeveloped or over-indulged parts of my personality, psyche and ego stick out awkwardly to me all the more. I know I’m growing towards the goodness, but that knowledge doesn’t mean I get a free pass. I still have to live through each phase and stage. Each year the lessons get harder and I know less and less who I am and what my purpose is. My mirror is getting cleaned by someone up there and I have no doubt in the process but I feel this giant wave of surrender that still has to happen. And that means never trying to be somewhere or someone I’m not, even if my soul knows all the inevitable future destinations.

And then I remember. It is happening. I am not sitting around waiting for this process to begin... it is happening. And its not always blissful, or comfortable, and the awareness of the weird or unhealthy or selfish choices is part of the growing. I don’t feel like I am growing up... I am growing in. I am making a comfortable home here in this body, in this little life. I spoke with a friend today about the pressure I often put on myself to make these “right” choices, to be this perfect manifestation of truth all at once, right NOW! And its a beautiful thing that I know what living from that place would feel like, but I am an inside-out person. When its ripe on the inside, the outside will reveal it. Discipline is a beautiful thing, it can be. But being ready to discipline oneself from a place of self love rather than self loathing is a whole mountain in and of itself.

So many times we localise these “problems”: eating, smoking, exercise, mental states, sleep patterns. We put them, these parts of ourselves and our relationships to them under a microscope and say: this is the bit that is bad. We seek to change it, convert it, and often we project all of our fears and insecurities of not being “good enough” (for what?) onto this particular part. As if by dissolving this one thing, pattern, habit we will become whole. Guess how much anxiety and frustration this heaps on to this already very difficult task? One time, in a deep and foggy depression I realised that the judgement of myself for being depressed was actually far more debilitating than the sadness or low that I was experiencing. Once I was willing to release the judgement of that “side” of me and let it just be what I was experiencing at that time, the heaviness began to rise.

I am all for healthy minds and bodies, for feeling good and being at peace. I think the revolution of health, consciousness and looking inward is awe inspiring. But I fear that the ego, that many minds will take this journey, take the books and the cleanses and workshops and use them to try and eradicate parts of the self and therefore perpetuate pain and never truly learn acceptance and love of self. But in the spirit of living from a love based place, I release that fear and switch the intention to: I love that there are other people on the path to healing and wherever they are at with that and themselves is perfect. Where I am is perfect.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Full Life

Focused on the hands

Moving swift and soft

Across the frets

Fingers pressed tight to the strings

I want to learn the guitar

I want to play the guitar

There is an unknit sweater in me too

A delicious case of homemade jam

blackberries picked by my babies and me

in some far flung future August

On the perimeters of my farm

There are dirty hands,

Worn from work and seeking holding,

There are books and plays and poems

Poems enough to fill the fields of that farm

from the earth to the sky

Words scattered and free to fly and make

their own sense

So many dances

Fast and slow and alone and

pressed up against the one for me

Too many brushings of my tangled mane

How many hair colours?

How many cities?


Bumpy flights and sleepless nights?

Belly laughs to the wall or the window

or the steering wheel, all alone and crazy?

Lonely to the bone moments?

Perfect perfect pots of rice

cooked without a care?

Worth the wait are all these things

Though some I hurry on,

Some I chase like tigers

And with some I play it cool,

Knowing it will trickle down my spine one day:

a bead of sweat well earned.

I am growing at the rate of freedom,

Willing to be out of time

And fresh to the feeling that I am

I am there, I am that I am, I am that I am there

I am that I am here,

And I am that I am everywhere

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Show Must Go On

Being from the most beautiful part of the world, adjusting to life in Ontario (specifically Toronto) has been a bit of a struggle. Always one to try and find the silver linings I have turned my face to the sky above my current coordinates in search of gratitude and found here not silver linings but big dark grey electro-magnetically charged ones.

The best part about Ontario is the thunder and lightening. There is an abundance of energy in the summer, it pulses through the sky and explodes at intervals into strips and sheets of pink, purple and white light. The sky rocks big base beats and as it gets closer the storm gets further in, when right over head you can feel it in your bones. Sometimes these sights and sounds come out of a dry sky, other times (like now) there is a flash flood than can last for 5 minutes or 5 hours. I have never seen anything like it (and having hometowns on Vancouver Island and Northern England, the two rainiest places on earth, that is a BIG statement). And I LOVE it. It is inspiring, shocking, sexy and full of the guts of life. And sometimes it will catch you just at the moment when you need the hand of Thor (!) to pull you up and dust you off and in some way renew or surprise you into living in the cracks again.

Today is Saturday, which means a two show day. 2:30 matinee and 8 o’clock evening performance. The one I’m working on right now is pretty full-on in a lot of ways, my character's journey spans from age 7-24 and in every show I re-discover how physical I can get with it; for example today I thought that I pulled my groin halfway through Act II. I did not thankfully! But something else completely unexpected happened during the matinee, something so big even me in my “show must go on” mind thought it would derail us or as a result the show would be stopped by stage management.

I had just run off stage right followed by the lead character in an effort to stop her son/my husband from killing his brother (tricky tricky... they don’t know they’re brothers! Twins! She gave one of them away at birth and they found each other and became friends, well we all did... until my husband went to jail for assisting in an armed robbery turned murder, got addicted to anti depressants after which I started up an affair with the secret other brother... CRAZY!). So its the last 8-10 minutes of the show, we have just run off and the Narrator is singing and BANG! The power goes out. He doesn’t miss a beat or a note (even though lights disappear and the monitors and speakers for the band cut out and he had no music to sing to) and the next scene begins as dim emergency lights kick in. Back stage and side stage we have front of house people and stage management running around trying to make decisions as to whether to continue or not. At this point I am usually at the back of the theatre waiting to enter at the final moments to witness both my husband and lover die (serious Greek tragedy style). Three of the front of house ladies enter the theatre from the back with giant flashlights, shining them on the action so the audience can see the scene unfold. I guess we are pressing on.... So I put all thoughts of: “What will happen when the band is supposed to come in for the final number?” “Will we sing acapella?” or “What if the power kicks in mid scene or song” or “Is the audience so far out of the suspension of disbelief that all of this will be a farce now?” as far out of my mind as I can and follow the lead of my fellow cast mates.

In the bare minimally lit theatre it got more real not less. There was no band, no lights, nothing but people telling a story and it burned me under my skin. A haunting, harsh, and visceral portrait emerged from the raw acapella song of a mother in anguish. There was nothing to hide behind and there could be no pretending that you weren’t just a person on a stage telling a story, there could be no trickery, no big show. It didn’t matter that the sounds of the gun shots had to be yelled by our stage manager, it honestly didn’t. Live theatre is a magnificent thing when its on this sort of cusp of vulnerability and paper thin flooring. Everyone did their part, the final number emerged from within every member of the cast without help of piano and at times imperfect in its harmonies but so much more perfect than any other time in my artists soul opinion. I didn’t feel badly for the audience who saw the show that “went all wrong”, because it didn’t go wrong at all. I was so proud and so pleased that truth was born; and shoved into the present moment the cast was unified in the simple purpose of fulfilling the journeys of these characters and closing the book on the bed time story we had started.

It will never be for me just “that show where the power went out”, this afternoon restored some mis placed faith and reminded me that this work is a valid offering and has potent and powerful potential. And when I changed out of my costume the hairs on my arms and neck were still all pointed upwards to the sky, to the thunder, to the lightening, to the gods, to the rains that came to wash away the excess and leave me naked and new again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

my ten hour head ache (i wish i was down with taking asprin)

when nothing feels a comfort

no pillow, tea, or song will do

not even a lullaby written especially for you

when the body is heavy

but the mind wants its turn

the two are at odds, union has to be earned

when lonely is scratched vinyl

and only the the sad songs will play

but even then you can’t bear to throw it away

when a dream’s hiding itself

trouble seems to call off the search

you’re not in a cage but you’re stuck on your perch

when synapses are firing

but there’s no sense to it all

and you keep trying to jump when all you need is to fall

Friday, July 9, 2010

You Don't Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows - B. Dylan

Isn’t it strange how somehow it seems okay to harshly criticize those who have achieved some sort of public renown or material success? When going to see the work of an independent artist, a film maker or songstress say, I am very reluctant to pass any kind of judgement unless it is very well considered and coming from a place that understands how difficult it can be to single handedly manifest one’s creative vision. But when going to a movie at the Cineplex or listening to what fills the radio waves I have no problem turning on my critical eyes or ears.

But, the offering is still the offering. There is still intense vulnerability (often even more so once the expectation of producing “good” work is heaped on) for those who have to some degree been “successful”. To be clear, I must say that much of my critique of pop culture or art that is produced for the masses comes from the place of: you had THAT MUCH money to play with, THAT MANY people to support your creation and really? Thats all you could come up with? And the frustration that accompanies having a lot of ideas I’d love someone to throw some money at, and very talented friends around me who given those kinds of opportunities would work tirelessly until they had something truthful and well crafted to offer.

Perhaps its that old adage “If you don’t really try, you can’t really fail” that is at the heart of why so much of the art in pop culture is, to be blunt, shitty and hollow. Its pretty scary to dig down deep into one's mental, emotional and physical pockets and give it everything not knowing how it will be received or for the sensitive artists among us (I'm pretty sure that's all of us) if we will be able to match our personal aesthetic expectations (but that's a whole other entry). And if you know you're decent at something, that you can get a B+ without really trying, why try then right? Maybe its a collective adherence to mediocrity and shallow efforts, easy listening as a way to remain always somewhat unconscious and unchallenged. The more of us that subconsciously agree to stay buried in the blankets the easier it is to live a day that is patterned and habitual requiring little thought or innovation. But often we go to art, the theatre, the movies, and concert halls to be inspired, informed, to feel. But there is a fear out there amongst a lot (not all!) of artistic directors and producers alike that if the piece is too “heady” or “different” or is played with any level of subtlety or intimacy, that the audience will get bored, and that by requiring them to be involved and actively thinking will drive down ticket sales. And maybe it will for while, but serving that fear season after season, film after film, album after album will only thicken the veil and make it harder to emerge from. Pure entertainment is a valid service but at the cost of substance? I have no interest in contributing to this in the world. And it is my belief that they are not mutually exclusive and that in fact one informs and enriches the other.

It is funny to me that it is so often the singer songwriter with his or her evocative soul pulling melodies that awaken and inspire even the sleepiest and unexpected listener to “listen to the words”. Music speaks a language of its own, and maybe because its the original instrument and the same tool with which we cry sorrow, love, and all kinds of hunger, the human voice has the capacity to draw people from deep in the soul upwards to the cognitive functions of the mind and trick people into thinking, into contemplation. Why do you think music is one of the first things to be attacked or prohibited in times of oppressive government? If the goal and role of government is to get us all to tow the line and agree to the fact that this way is the only or best way, then keeping everyone from jumping up and wriggling their hips and moving out that stuck energy, keeping us all in nap time is probably a good idea.

But to bring it all back, I actually feel for those who have achieved great success and continue to contribute. It must be very difficult not to let the expectations of investors, critics and the public cripple the creative freedom. I don’t appreciate abuse of power or neglecting of responsibility that comes with power or the taking for granted of the resources given to help create; but as far as the humanness that comes with exposing one’s ideas, dreams, fears and desires and serving it up in a 90 minute story or a 3 minute song (or any other such form of public expression) I understand how pointed that can feel, how raw, and I understand the simple need to have it all affirmed, to want the head nod or the standing ovation. There are some lessons that I expect we probably never fully evolve past, and the need for approval and reward is in my opinion, one of them. My goal is to find my way to a space where where it is not a block or a toxic force robbing me of my power where that desire to be "good" or "liked" is immediately recognisable quite simply as mis-directed energy and be able to manipulate, or better yet- set it free to become pure creative energy.

I pray daily to continue meeting my tribe, my army, of fellow creatives who are in search of the balance between contemplation and expression, provocation and service to the uniting of the humanness and effervescence that connects us all to this mixed up experience on earth.

The Search for Stillness in Sociability

The day can start with one range of feeling and then descend or ascend into a whole other stratosphere of possibility or localized angst. It is so often that I find myself full of wisdom for a loved one or even a stranger but when I turn the searchlight inward all I see is fog and haze. This blog is turning into such the balance of expression and meditation.

It is said that perspective is everything. So much of spiritual ascension is the ability to apply that perspective at any given moment, especially in the heat of moments that tend to trigger past patterns or reaction-ism. But I have found it hard to strike the balance between trusting myself to be in the moment acting honestly and authentically to what lies before me and taking a moment to evaluate and temper my response making sure it isn’t ego or fear based. And let’s be honest, it is not really socially acceptable to reply to someone’s comment or question by taking a real full moment to go inward to one’s lily pad or sacred space to find the truth in what we feel.

So what? I guess the answer is found in working to lessen the gap between the time it takes to hear (truly hear) the words of the other and acknowledge the pure resonance within. We are mirrors for one another, reflections. And this journey of purification and clearing can be a service, and offering; it is not a selfish act to take this time. It is my belief that in that cleaning of myself, of my mirror, I am then allowing the other to see their perfection more clearly. And so maybe I am quiet more, or for longer before I come back with my answer, or even my banter. And then so maybe at first glance I’m not acknowledged as the smartest or the fastest in the room (ooooh my ego would HATE that!). We are rewarded for being quick, witty, funny. And it is true that often the best response is the one that is unheeded by too much thought. Its true that our instincts are tied to our hearts and our guts, our sensitivity and our power. But I’m not talking about thinking more, what I am talking about has to do with feeling more with that heart, those guts, and feeling whatever it is, more deeply. What I am talking about requires the bravery, the vulnerability that comes with not knowing and being seen in that state, until what is known, what is embedded in the knowledge of the soul comes out through the playfulness and offering of the spirit. And wouldn’t that be a nice kind of conversation to have?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

St Francis of Assisi

Laura Mary McCarthy... it don't get much more catholic than that! However, my namesake aside, I've not been sporting much of my family's spiritual lineage in my adult life. Like many modern seekers I am turned off by rules rules rules and the prevalent hypocrisy and close mindedness that is so entwined with organised religion.

None are perfect, all have their beautiful allegories and prophetic poets; and all have their archaic laws and contradictory practices. I am intrigued by it all; especially the part where mucky human hands tried to take a picture of the divine, develop it, make copies, package it, market it, sell it and then manhandle it until it was almost unrecognizable and covered in fat fingerprints. We are flawed and thus then are our interpretations... How can we describe the ineffable? And how then can we go beyond that still and attempt to decipher the message and meaning of that which we can’t comprehend in the first place? The history of much of the world's religions and how we've come to relate to them and their stories is much like a group of school children playing a game of telephone.

But I love dialogue (and monologue apparently), and I think that the stories are important and plan in my life to read the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching and the Qur'an (hold me to this and check back and ask me when I'm 40 where I'm at okay?). I enjoy talking about and trying to grasp some understanding of what is holding all these molecules together. I do believe in a God, and I believe what ever it is lives within all of us, connecting our minds and hearts; and I am interested in what every person I know and don’t know thinks about this too. Some days its all I’m interested in. Because I found my way in all of this very much alone and certainly not only on Sundays I wonder sometimes what it must be like to have a particular faith, sometimes I wish I had just one book to reference and a place and person I could ask my big questions, a ritual for forgiveness, and a conscious time for prayer.

When I took my beautiful Nanna to church a few years ago I was in the thick of my own seeking but open to experiencing her way of connecting with the divine. This woman brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis, but that hour with her, in the same church my parents married in, that I was baptised in, that she attends every Sunday to pray for me and my family’s health and happiness, well it was almost more than I could take. I didn’t find God that morning in the stained glass windows or the gross little cracker I took in communion, I found God in between my Nanna and me; she believes, really truly believes and watching her pray was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I was still struggling with the fullness of my belief. But being there with her was proof of everything. All of the traditions and formalities and even the semi creepy hymn referencing damnation fell away and the truth of God showed itself in my Nanna’s face when we turned to one another to shake hands and say, “Peace be with you”.

I think I turned my back on Catholicism right after my first communion. I had my first confession and first communion all in the same weekend. The confession part really took it out of me, I was in there for ages; if I was going to do this I would do it right and confess everything I had ever done that could possibly be interpreted as a sin even sighting specific times and dates where I could. I confessed so much that the priest laughed and eventually said “That’s enough my child”.

The next day was the communion, some of the kids were nervous but I was loving it. My dress was perfect and my mum had even given in and let me get the hairband I wanted. A truly great day. After it was all said and done, I turned to my Dad and asked, “So Dad, what next?” I figured I was pretty good at this religion thing and wanted to go forth and conquer the next level (it felt like passing a swimming test, and at 8 years old I was already up to the red level in swimming). My Dad replied “Well Laura, the next thing is your confirmation”. He then went on to describe it in great detail but I stopped listening right after he said “At your confirmation you get to take on the name of a saint”. My mind was racing, a chance to reinvent myself! Laura felt like such a boring name, Laura Mary McCarthy, boring boring boring (for the record I love my name now)... I butted in, “Any saint?”. “Yes,” my Dad replied, “Any saint recognised by the Catholic church”. “I know!” I cried in clever excitement, “I am going to be St Francis of Assisi!” Long pause. “That’s a man” my Dad reminded. But I knew that, I knew everything about St Francis. “I know Dad, I know he’s a man. But you said ANY saint and he is my favourite. He is the nicest and he loves animals and I especially like the ‘of Assisi’ part. That is who I’m going to be”. Probably very used to my precocious nature by then my father patiently but firmly came back with “Laura, we might be able to find a female saint named Francis or Francine or Francesca (he was really testing me here... Francesca was my favourite name and only doll’s name) but you absolutely cannot have the ‘of Assisi’ part”. Secretly hoping he would eventually cave, I decided to stay firm in my resolve, “Then I don’t want to be confirmed. St Francis of Assisi is my favourite saint and if I can’t be him then I will not do it thank you”. I still had three more years in Catholic day school ahead of me but in spite of that consistent influence, I went no further in my extra-curricular spiritual studies.

After those three years I’d really had enough of it all and another ten passed until I went voluntarily to a church service, that Sunday with my Nan. But that day opened me back up to the pure reasons behind it all: the physical structure of a place of worship, a time each week to go, a community of people to connect to and connect to God with, the rituals and rites of passages, the leaders. These things that I have found extraneous on my path are not extraneous for most. For some, like my Nanna, they are even cherished. And like everything and everywhere the Truth is not found in the dualities: good, bad, extraneous, necessary... the Truth/God is in the cracks and crevices, is grey in every lightness and darkness, is now, is single ego-less breath, is the effort to dress up and sit in a cold church hoping something will happen to your soul, is in the flicker of the flame, and so could just as easily be found in a pulpit or a pew or a “Peace be with you” as readily as on a yoga mat or in a wave’s perfect curl or the smell of the dinner your lover cooked for you. Why not?

Christianity isn’t very cool these days, and Catholicism? The closest Catholicism has been to cool was when someone made those “Jesus is my homeboy”/”Mary is my homegirl” t-shirts a few years ago. But I’m coming around to it... I’m letting go of the judgements and being open to it having as much to teach me as Zen Buddhism or Sufism (you know, the cool religions). And Catholicism has two things that no other sect, denomination, religion or faith based group in the world has: St Francis of Assisi and my Nanna! I’m not rushing out to buy a bible or a rosary nor do I have any interest in seeking out any Sunday services, I’m still fine here on my own finding my way in it all... But you better bet that the next time these walking shoes take me back to my English home town I’ll be taking Nan to mass; and my next trip to Italy will absolutely have to include a stop in Assisi to pay homage to the good man Francis.

Post Script:

The inspiration for this rather indulgent and lengthly entry came from a CBC pod cast I listened to this morning (while doing yoga I might add... that's called multi-faith multi-tasking). It is from a show called Tapestry that is pretty much my version of church; it is on Sundays (but I usually download it and listen to it at some random point in the week... like Wednesday morning) and features guests of all religions, disciplines and walks of life centering around something in the realm of spirit and discovery. They have had artists, poets, priests, scientists, humanists, zen masters, you name it! Today was a Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr. He follows the teachings of.... guess!? St Francis! I didn’t even know there was such a denomination. I found him to be very articulate, very open and progressive, and very much focused on living in this jumbled world with a clear mind and a full heart. I am including a link to the pod cast below... if you’ve got an hour to spare and want some brain and soul nutrients tune in.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being Scared of Getting Old

Incremental steps

We age

We fret

Tomorrow’s coming too fast to feel this

But I’m chased by the memory of a lost lovers kiss

Playing with a wrecking ball

Its not much fun

Doesn’t bounce at all

And what if that house ain’t ready to fall?

Picking scabs

Just passing time

If I waste the day will the sun still shine?

Blessed blistering heat you rise

And rise and rise and rise and rise

You burn my skin and pierce my eyes

So quick you came and robbed my sleep

And soon you’ll go and I’ll be deep

In snow and old and life will roll

And I’ll miss you sun, when my skin will sag

And my bones go soft and I’ve learned to nag

So for now go on: scorch me, melt me down

I be leavin' tie-dye foot prints all over this town

Monday, July 5, 2010

Let GO!

Let go and let God.


How exactly?

When I am sitting across from a good friend all fired up about something that has me enraged and I pause long enough for them to squeeze in the immortal words: “Maybe you should just let it go” I throw up my inner spiritual spikes and frustrate myself into oblivion. I know they’re right. I know that stewing and satiating that critic, that judge, that tormenter, that worry wart, that fearful child will only magnify the issue at hand. There are instances I recall when detaching from a situation was indeed the only remedy. There are others however that required some serious powers of discernment in order to understand what exactly had me rattled so that I could establish clearer boundaries. The line between the two can be so thin; I don’t wish to indulge petulance but I am always and forever seeking to understand my experience more fully. Judgement is discernment’s wicked step-sister....

But when it comes to: “Just letting go”, how exactly is one to achieve this immortal feat? Letting go of the general stress of the day can be solved with a bath, a cup of tea, or some moments of silence. But letting go of the stress of particularly pointy past pain? Anyone out there have an olympic swimming pool sized claw foot tub filled with fine first rate tea in a padded sound proof bathroom? Do we really need ritual to release? Therapy? Shamans? Month long silent retreats? That last one would probably create a whole new world of pain for yours truly...

I lit some fire works tonight. And as they sparked and spun and nearly scarred my hands for life I didn’t pray for change or attach significance or symbols to each one. I just watched them dance and laughed and dove into the grass as cars passed by, afraid I’d get in trouble. There was fun, there was living, there was willingness; there was space, presentness and even a tiny touch of inner freedom... and if God would like to take that as a cue to swoop in and help a sister out with some energetic vacuuming that’d be great.

If not, I’m open to letting go, to release, to unravelling, to learning all this. I am willing. But I’m not quite sure how it will happen. So if I’m praying for anything, its that the how will swoop in and take me by surprise. I am ready for the teacher to appear.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Good Night

Getting started on the work of the day, why is that often so much easier at night? My morning hours have been clear in the past. I understand the freshness of early sun; but lately I am found more full and fevered in the hours between 11PM and 3AM. The artist hours... the creative underbelly.

Is this a cop out? Or a making up for a disorganised or undisciplined day? That’s probably part of it... But there sure is something to be said for the time when the mind has rested and detangled the day’s events and is ready to process its happenings. When I have broken through the 7PM wall of tired I light up again at 9 or 10 and begin pottering around, making not much sense or work of anything until I finally sit at that sacred 11 and feel compelled to write (or to be honest, sometimes surf the internet and compare flight prices for fantasy trips).

It feels more likely I’ll find solace in the darkness. I’m more open to exploring the depth of my ideas in the night. I would rather wander around feeling for something in the black unsure of what it will be. Because although the morning promises hope, it also inspires this feeling of “How many of the 8000 things I want to accomplish will I even attempt to pick up today?”. The pressure I feel in the morning is so overwhelming sometimes, it cuts off my air supply and I need to take a break before the day has even begun.

I am told that the hours before sunrise are sacred hours, sattvic hours. This means that they are the most potently charged times. It sure would be nice to arise at dawn and go outside and feel the wet grass between my toes jostle my eyes open a little further. How to untangle this pattern? Sleeping pills crushed into tea at 8PM? A bold alarm at 6AM? I always pray that these kinds of re-alignments will occur naturally. And perhaps it will... or perhaps I need to kick my own ass or get some sort of child lock on my computer that activates itself at midnight each night.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Critic

Why can’t I silence the critic in my head? He or she or it (I imagine this critic to be an androgynous muppet like creature) is getting louder and louder when I’m on stage yelling: YOU STINK! as if its some kind of chant! I don’t remember dealing with this so viscerally before. And the show must go on. 8 times a week in fact.

Is meditation the key? Is it making stronger choices? Is it taking a break from acting? Or finding the right coach, teacher, director, project? Is it the foods I am eating or the hours I am sleeping? Is it the energy of the cast or the heat of the day? Is it this audience? Am I in the gap between phases or mountains?

And then there is THAT voice! Trying her best (this one is DEFINITELY female) to figure out everything while I am in that moment.

Exhausting no?

So what is it?

I have a feeling that these voices have lived inside of me all my life and will probably never disappear completely. They are archetypes, they are in fact tools, parts of the human psyche that at times need nurturing and at times given a good spanking (or the silent treatment). I expect a lot from my work, from myself. But its not all there yet, I’m not all there yet. I exist largely in the illusive ether and that sometimes makes craftsmanship and repetition hard for me. I get scared of tangible tools, of understanding the building blocks of things... I want to cut to the chase, the meat, the guts, the silver thread that links it all together. But I need to be able to be conscious on stage, and in all my creative endeavours, I need to remain calm but full of energy, in control of my body, my movements, my performance but open to the moment and not TRYING to be in control. Conscious but surrendered... is that it? Free but focused (did I just quote Alanis?)... There is great freedom in focus. Present. Isn’t that always it? Oh Eckhart, remind me again? It is though, isn’t it? Presentness is always it. And as it pertains to this: worry, anxiety, fear of judgement are all projections OUT of the moment into either the future looking back on the experience judging whether or not it was GOOD or BAD, or into the vault of past pain and disappointment.

I guess freaking out about how I’m going to find my way into the present moment and stay there probably won’t help me get there. So I’ll finish my tea, tasting each small sip and then see where I land.