Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Art of Receiving

Palms open

Sky bound,

Fingers unclasped

Free to release,

to receive

Trickling between them

there can be no choice

Of what flows out

or in

Fearlessness, in the face

of the blue storm

Hiding nowhere

facing everything, smiling

at the whipping wind

Arms stretched, aching

in their reaching

in their welcoming

Trying to free the heart

from its cage between them

Back to the ocean

which is everything

that resonates

With freedom

Expectations are binding

God only knows what will stick

If anything

So until the heavens

Call my name

All I can call is my


heart’s song,

delicious desires,

nonsensical dreams,

painful tender hope

And you,

and me,

and you and me

we are connected by the space

There is no form without space

No love without loneliness,

And no receiving without letting go.

Monday, August 16, 2010

When Things Fall Apart

Often times we try and impose a structure to a day, a set of chores, or even the development of art. Until recently these self imposed boundaries have terrified me. I have feared that in the attempt to shape things in a particular way I would rob that exploration of the openness to receive spontaneous visits from creative angels. When I give my writing, music or acting infinite room, no pre-conceived notions, beautiful things happen. But there comes a point in every artists life where you have to get over yourself and your own superstitions and rise to meet the art rather than demanding it come down from heaven to fill you each and every time.

I believe in technique, and I desire a life of craftsmanship. I want to be able to do a 6 month run of a show and not have to rely solely on the spiritual transformation of my own soul every night. But even amidst this wish for a creative career that is a viable and consciously conceived entity, I know I’ll still love it every time whatever I thought I was building falls apart and the raw moment reveals itself. I take these workshops and I read these books and I immerse myself in these rehearsal processes and what I feel like I’m being taught is: be present, whatever is there is what should be there, the space between is the tender part, listen to it, and stop trying to do something that someone will think was smart, be willing to let the music play you, prepare for its arrival with respect and hard work, and don’t ask for that hard work to be rewarded, hard work is the currency with which we pay for divine intervention, and do we ask for a round of applause when we pay for a banana?

But there are hundreds of schools of thought and it can be daunting to sift through it all for what it is we’re looking for. And isn’t what we’re looking for just a way in? Or a way out? I said a while ago that the only thing I new to be true was: start now, do everything and experience it fully. This is how I approach learning, creating and expressing myself. And I am learning the value in preparation, in structure, in form and in the conscious choosing of a process. The balance I seek allows for the angels, invites them even, but does not take it personally if they don’t appear. My cognitive and imaginative development and artistic manifestations of this journey are both totally up to me and not up to me. I promise to show up, and I endeavor to offer something true, and craft it in such a way that it is worth someone’s time; but whether it rings for days in the deepest meatiest folds of your heart or butterflies fill the air and block your ability to see the words or the stage in a fantastic dance of revelation... well that part’s not up to me. So I’ll try to continue to be here, in the place between passion and least resistance, and work to make this space comfortable, welcoming, safe and hospitable so that when the winged messengers come calling they might stick around for a day or two enjoy their stay and then decide to move here.

That’d be nice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

when the melancholy fit shall fall - J. Keats

Somedays feelings come rolling in over the hills of the heart and instead of breezing through, they hang in the valley and loom large threatening rain but never fully letting loose. These days are both ripe and muted. And sometimes muted wins the meta-physical tug of war and settles down damp and camps out, blanketing everything with a beige mist. Melancholy is a paralysing non emotion. This indifference towards all things is a void completely out of the moment and answers to no one. It is a bully, and when it smells vulnerability it pounces and slowly sucks the life blood from its prey.

What is melancholy apart from playground anti-hero? A sort of psychic vampire? This abominable grey-ness seems to go after the light, or at least snuff it out when no one’s looking. Some times he comes in the night when eyes are closed and hearts are open looking for easy targets. Once in, he can stick around for a desperate moment or an entire numbed lifetime. He is one of the strangest and slipperiest tricksters in the crime files of the human experience.

Poets throughout the ages have written of and continue to be stalked by this cloaked monster. Sensitive beings are the first to be attacked during melancholy’s massacres. They are often on the cusp of the exact things he is drawn to: hope, desire, love, tactile emotion, yearning, inquiry, excitement. These are delicious nectars from which to suck. And turned in on themselves they are hilarious puzzle pieces for our villain to try and jam together again. It is as if an entity possesses us when melancholy takes hold. Our spirit calls for us from a richer mental landscape, but there are bars on the windows and we are lying on the floor barely conscious enough to hear her reaching out.

How do we get up again? How do we rally ourselves and make a break for it when our arms and legs have pins and needles? The first thing, is to relax rather than resist. Resistance pleases melancholy, it reinforces his sense of strength. That's how bullies work: the more scared you are the less work they have to do. Then, once the walls start falling down you can allow for the spiritual membrane to be permeated by whatever is in that moment. Melancholy wants you to cave in. But a willingness to non judgmentally observe one’s surroundings is this brand of self obsession’s greatest tonic.

There is wisdom in fully experiencing each moment, no matter how uncomfortable or awkward feeling; I have learned through trial and error that repression and denial lead to no paradise. But indulgence is as futile as resistance. So, I let the waves wash over me. Sometimes I have to work my way back to the surface for breath, but I play in them even as I get smashed and tossed around. I honour the fact that the ocean of life is far more powerful than I. So, when I feel too tired for either fight or play, I simply sit on the sands and observe with reverence that from which I came.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Live Life Love Life

In the face of change, do we run or do we thrive? For all of my adult life I have changed either geographic location, job, school, my romantic relationship or entire perspective on life (or some combination of any/all of these) approximately every eight months. One would think then that I thrive on change, that stimulus and the shifting sands of uncertainty are great friends of mine. But with every new lily pad leap there is a new layer of fear to release and I am coming to understand that my relationship with change has been somewhat of a dependent one.

It is natural to fear change and to be sick to the stomach when uncertainty comes a calling. This is indeed my first response. But my second one ushers in a giddy knowing: all of life is uncertain and we hang in the balance at all times. Once amicable with this truth, the larger more obvious times of jumping down the rabbit hole are accompanied by an openness and a trust that lets the good times roll. “Dislocation puts all your observation skills at their best”, a writer responded when asked why she prefers to write away from home (sometimes in a motel only ten miles from her house). Our instinct is to survive, and when we change village, tribe, or role, our ears prick up and our eyes grow wide in search of food, water, and an understanding of our surroundings. In short, newness awakens the senses.

But why can’t we be this fresh to the moment all the time? Why do we nap our way through the day? Is it possible on an ordinary Tuesday to be open to observing with a sense of wonderment the markings on the tiles in our own kitchens, the sounds of the neighbours children playing, or our partner picking out the shirt they’ll wear that day? I love travel, the world, new experiences... I have been living with awareness and expanding rapidly largely due to the stamps in my passport and the random jobs I’ve piled on my resume. But I don’t want to rely on flipping my life inside out just so I can feel alive. One of my greatest fascinations with the human experience is how to live with this ripe mindset though the trials, tribulations, and seeming banalities of life. Staying conscious throughout 5, 10, 15 years in the same job or house or marriage... Falling asleep is not an option for me. But as I un-pack, re-pack, and lug another set of suitcases back and forth across the continent of North America I do so with gratitude for the adventure, fearlessness in the face of uncertainty and faith in the eventual manifestation of the balance between grounded sanctuary and electrifying rich moment to moment experience.