Monday, June 30, 2014

Borrowed Thought Art

" go down, you descend, and you disintegrate and you do it get the core of the self, or the stone. And you do it awake and then, you come back out again…"

Last night, a new experience.  I dive into a chapter, 34 pages long, about my life. 

34 pages, that's a lot

Somehow she did it.  Not just with me, she collected a whole handful of us: self-identified..."seekers, spiritual practitioners, self-discoverers," and completed her dissertation.  I'd been curious to find out what I said, what other's said, what the center of her thesis was.

Our group has been meeting on and off in different forms over a couple of years.  During that time each of us sat down with her for four or five two-hour interviews.  I remember meeting her for our first discussion, as she does as well (I know because I read it in the chapter: the location I chose, the chair I sat in, and what I said, and how I said it).

Fascinating-am I entranced my by own that me?

I wasn't prepared for the intial shock of digesting my own quotes,

Do I sound like this?

"It’s like being at rhythm with the pose of vitality that is true to everything. And being as close to that as possible without any jump on top of it.    I am this rising up very momentary, small beautiful thing that comes in cycle and crashes back down."

Damn that feels potent.

Besides the work of digesting my own quotes, something else emerged.  My writer voice and my speaking voice have personalities of their own.   I noticed when my writer voice stood up and witnessed my speaking voice being written down, she ruffled her back.  My speaking voice stood there and shrugged, smiling.  Even now I can feel the dialogue between the two.  My writer voice loves to make order of chaos, my speaking voice loves to cycle and free flow.    Now, here I am somewhere in the middle of both of these, I'm holding the opposites.  Making sense of desire to build, and the desire to cycle and dissolve.

I also noticed that I am much less of a solitary "I" than I thought I was.  Suprising.  And wonder if anyone else will recognize in the writing, or knows that at least 80% of what I say and think do not belong to me.  I guess the Buddhists are right about emptiness -  wind through bamboo.  Reading the raw artform of my thought, unrefined by the process of writing I recognize clearly when I 'm a channel of someone else's thought art, or when I am generating my own.  I've come to a 'borrowing shamelessly' period in my life.  But I trust the process. 

Perhaps borrowing thought art at first is what makes all genius possible later.  If you mix in good seeds, right condition, hearty influence, and a spark of something unamed, eventually the 'borrowed' bits begin to bloom fruits of their own....genius.  Genuine.  I have a sense that genius goes beyond the typical scientific, intellectual archetype.  I have a sense that we all have the little seeds rooted, waiting to sprout in the right conditions.

I give thanks to this unique opportuntiy to see the little bits of genius running through my mouth.  My own and those borrowed thought artforms from many greats before.  And I deeply know that this movement is made possible by being 'held with kindness and compassion' - I thank the being who made such a sturdy, thought art container for her continuing project of enlightenment.

Allison Distler

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Solstice 2014

 The long, liquid light of the June solstice illuminates the bittersweet season of the closing days of mothering two daughters, in an intact home, where I tuck them in each night, and coax them into the day each darkened morning.

Bitter, and sweet. This week, I noticed a title on the bookmobile shelf—Parenting Your Emerging Adult—and plucked it down, adding it to my stack of entertaining and enlightening loan materials. It is dense, and daunting, and clearly can’t begin to address the welter of feelings and challenges that fill my heart.

The day before, I had stated my two intentions for this last, languid summer to my emerging adult child: I want to get you ready in every way we can for the adventure ahead, half a continent away. And, I want us both to conduct ourselves in such a way that when the summer is over, we aren’t both filled with relief at parting, and with regret for the summer we didn’t have.

All along, I have tried hard, almost every day, to parent with intention, to make meaning in the spaces between the unending chores of parenting, homekeeping, partnering my spouse. I’ve tried to have conversations with my girls that held real content, communicated deep values and ideas, and in recent years, that communicate more of my real, non-mother individual self, as best as I can recall her, to my children than I feel I gleaned from my own mother.

It has been exhausting and exhilarating work. I hear many parents looking forward to the lightening of the load, the easing of the endless round of family-tending, but the long light of this June makes me yearn to travel back to a solstice 19 years ago, a long evening spent poolside in the tropical heat of St. Maarten, where we waited for it all to begin.

June 20, 2014

Mary for The Poplar Grove Muse

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Summer Reading List

There is no intentionality to any of this.  Some books I happened upon at opportune moments, some arrived off my library wait list, some were thrust into my hands.  I have several books stacked next to my bed or riding in my purse.  I hope to get through all of them by summer's end.

A memoir by best selling author and social agitator Barbara Ehrenreich.  The author tries to make sense of a mystical experience she had when she was a teenager given that she is also an atheist.  This one came off a long library waitlist.  Loved her stories and her life; some of the philosophy and existential angst was not proper summer fare, more of a winter book.  Its been returned if you are also on that looonnnnnggg list.

Never read any Richard Russo but the introduction about his home town of Gloversville, New York  swept me away while standing in a bookstore one sunny Saturday.  The bookstore was magical and probably imparted some imperative to support it upon me.  We have to keep our independent bookstores alive--especially the ones tucked away in small neighborhoods underneath bridges in Kentucky.  They gave me a free cup of coffee to thank me for my purchase. Need I say more?   

I am going to be 50 next year.  I hope by reading this book and acting upon it, I will never be more than 50.  So far they are telling me that I need to exercise a whole lot.  a whole lot.

I found this at a bookstore at Heathrow Airport terminal 4.  I needed some plane reading and I am always a sucker for travel memoirs especially women's travel memoirs.  So far it doesn't disappoint but surprise surprise--it is not yet available in the US.  Makes it seem that much more special.

This is the second book I bought at the Roebling Bridge Bookstore when I was so captivated one Saturday. And there was light was written in 1961 by a Frenchman who was part of the WWII resistance and one of only 30 people who survived the concentration camp. Lusseyran was blind from a childhood accident.  The memoir drew me into his lucid observations of life without site as a child. I look forward to what it is like organizing the resistance with no sight.

I've got a few more on the list,but these will probably take me a few sittings at the pool to get through. Be sure to post your best summer reads in the comments.  Recommendations appreciated!

~Amy for the PGM

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Melon Memories

I will never taste cantaloupe
without tasting the summers
you peeled for me and placed 
face-up on my china breakfast plate. 

Voices  - Naomi Shihab Nye

Sun-soaked cantaloupes smell of summer, rain, dew and earthy ridges. Melon memories make me smile.  They were a staple of our summer fare, along with corn on the cob and fresh sliced tomatoes still warm from the garden. I see my grandma holding the melon in one tiny hand and a scary-sharp knife in the other. She could peel and slice a melon in the time it took my mouth to start watering.

When I was a kid we called them musk melons. We ate them sliced and halved, rarely cubed. Cubing was an unnecessary delay. In my family we salted and peppered our melons, just enough to pull their ripe juiciness to the surface.

Cantaloupes were part of our beach fare. I loved letting the juice of each slice run down my chin and arms;  and then, after giving my little brother a threatening look that said stay away from my melon, I would race to the water, rinse off and come back for more.

Sometimes when my dad made my plate, he would lay a slice of melon on its side like a smile with two maraschino cherries for eyes and a miniature marshmallow for a nose.

Cantaloupe was one of the few things connected with my family that has only happy memories. We all loved melon and ate it with joy and gusto. Eating this luscious fruit with my family created alchemical moments where all pettiness and hurt was forgotten. And when we had finished every last bight, we were too full to care about anything except a nap. 

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse