Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Good Arch Goes a Long Way

I worked for a short time in the LOC’s Madison Building, that sleeker more modern relative of the grand Jefferson. I remember insecurity stories as the security at entrances was increased, and the adventures of watching and catching the stealers among us. I thought about this a lot then – what prompts us to steal, to take from another something we want or feel we need? What creates this urgency of “security” within us, and why do our faces change when we speak of it? What motivates us to declare something of value and covet it, cherish it? Walking in those stacks of things – the tall thin metal shelving, nothing majestic about those, but fully functional – with the light glancing this way and that, whispers from lives long gone grew louder, and the noise of today rose too. When I stopped to really listen, the clamor quieted but the crowd did not disappear. Wisdom does indeed linger. Knowledge helps us know it so we can use it. The beauty of a good arch, the colors of light as it plays, the quiet that soars, the eye and equipment that capture it. All are priceless. (Energy is real.)

picture by Ferrell McCollough

Scents & Sensibilities

He became a paragon of diligence and docility.

As resilient as a bacteria.

At last he was in his element.

The goal was to possess everything the world had to offer in the way of odors. His only condition was to be that they were new ones.

as many new odors as he could

He would learn how to preserve scent so that he would never again lose such sublime beauty.

Even the moments of buttoning those buttons, as that last moment begins- show us the way each moment portends. The perfume never ends.

Find a place on earth where scent was almost absent. Tranquil all around, the scent of almost dead stone. He was finally able to bask in his own existence and found it splendid.
His own smell was not there.
A thousand others.
For the first time in his life, he realized he had no smell of his own – he had been a nobody. For the first time he was afraid of his own oblivion.

He wanted to teach the world that he existed, that he was someone.

This is where I see the shift.

His look changes, there is some innocence returning.
He hurries after.

A perfume contains four chords.

Each perfume contains 3 cores – heart, head, the base.

What’s a legend?

The scent of purity.

How to capture scent and possess it forever.
Don’t you mean, preserve, asks the master perfumer?

Is there scent in the soul of being?

How to capture the scent of all things.

The scent of roses – let them go to their deaths with their scent intact.

The very soul of the rose.

You can no more distill the scent of a cat than you can a human being!!

The arches hung over the water in dimming grey stone and solid weight that seemed less relevant than when the bridge was created. Why? Its presence still as heavy as ever, bridges are always relevant. What determines their weight, their style, their bearing, besides their material, their engineering?

At last he was able to breathe freely. Walking through town, following the men on horseback, tanned leather rolled and tied on his thin back, he was not selective about his odors. Oysters, oil, grime, stone, sweat, horses, the heavenly scent of tight coiffed curls, make-up, heavy colored fabric that folds and rolls, wood, legs, eggs, apricots, lemons, all manner of fruit.

The magnetic pole of the greatest possible solitude found in sensations. In Perfume, J-B is desperate, hungry for that scent. In once scene, the music itself is sublime. He watches secretly as she simply plucks the rose to bring into her bedroom, or compelled with it outside (to this gravestone, in this courtyard story, where he hides). I am a romantic at heart. What does this mean?

My friend so long ago, after “knowing” me for years, upon reading a story I wrote, told me, You are a real romantic. I wondered what that meant to him, and why he was surprised.

Allow the flowers to die slowly, in their sleep, as it were. Capturing the scent of life, of purity, of innocence, of love? It’s impossible, without understanding the true energy essence of love. J-B‘s acts are gruesome because he doesn’t understand the essence of life. He doesn’t want their virginity, he wants their beauty itself. Whatever it is, the noble father says, fearing for his daughter, I fear he won’t stop until his collection is complete.

As I watched this movie, I saw so many images of why we feel depraved, deprived, vulnerable to the powers of seduction, and why the airy lifting of veils of fear, even for a moment, is monumental, majestic, and absolutely compelling.

When I saw the previews for this film, I was drawn to it, as when I had found this book years ago. I waited for a while to watch it. I was both drawn to and disgusted by what I read. I think I was drawn to it because I was so drawn to its sensory heights, the obsession and misunderstanding of what senses mean, and a desperation to follow them to their end – or an end as the death as we know it. Memories compel us on, and we are driven to know what purity our senses remember. As human beings, we are teaching transcendence to the earth, and first we must learn it ourselves, energy beings living in a physical world. A phantom cannot be fought by human means, without the human mind beginning to know the truth of love and the eternity of senses. There is nothing light about this vision of single-minded possession of purity, except this vision that comes with crowds who want, ache for more - a vision of paradise made physical because it is internal, universal.

This is why we must understand energy to know ourselves. This is the pattern of how we destroy ourselves without understanding. We are infinitely sensory creations, designed for life and its exquisite celebrations.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

I read most of this book fast first, and I’ve been picking it up again and again since I bought it while on a July vacation in Georgia. What a powerhouse it is. Since this one, I’ve discovered two others Janisse Ray has written, Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Change on Home, and Pinhook. One reviewer wrote this about:“The most effective scenes in Wild Card Quilt are moody, impressionistic pieces that evoke the old South of Faulkner, but with an important difference: With Ray at the helm, you pretty much understand what the hell is going on the first time through.” She indulges her passion for a life lived close to the land, and doesn't mind the blinding sun sometimes.

Welcome, sister, to my world. Or I am glad to have discovered yours. Pull up a chair, a pillow, a plank. I do love to meet strident sisters of the heart, whose voices ring so clearly with such raw power and beauty. It is, to me, like finding family members in the woodwork – literally.

Another reviewer, a tree farmer,self-described conservationist who lives an hour from Janisse Ray's home, adds that Franklin Ray's family history was brutal, and that a history of mental illness was present. "A clue to Georgia's mental illness history is given through the words of a doctor. The doctor credits poor diets and eating an excess of corn during the Civil War as a leadin cause of southern mental illness." The family was fundamentalist in their religion, followers of radio evangelist Bishop Johnson, whose believers were called Apostolics. Flannery O'Connor meets Rachel Carson? What we have to learn about our need for self-preservation and survival, our healing ways, why brutality is of an old order without logic or love in an evolving world.

I love the descriptions of growing up by a junkyard, a highway, and the constant presence of her father and brothers, mother, all part of that make-use-of world. The solitude of certain trees she shared, the shining of broken down cars and pieces of other things, the foraging, hunting and gathering. This book is full of love for nature, its fragility and grandeur, and its interactive energy with the air, with water, people, times and change. Deeper and deeper she goes, into the turmoil of causes and effects, in her own microcosm of life in the yard, into the life of long leaf pines and their forests, then beyond her own small borders of life to a broader geography of moving, and life of the earth everywhere.

Now I understand the jacket cover sentence about the long-leaf pines finding their Rachel Carson. Thank you, Janisse, for writing this book. I’m learning from it, and what a pleasure it is.
Ecology review

Bread & Butter

Patience, Understanding, & Support as Ethical Values

I landed a quarter of a mile from the jump school. The closer I got to earth, the faster it rose, and I plummeted straight toward a pine. With some frantic tugging of the guides, I managed not to land in its crown. Nonetheless the tree reached out its arms and caught me: the parachute swept across its slower limbs and snagged enough to soften my fall, but still I landed hard against the ground – feet, knees, hips, shoulders. I was home.” Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

Because I was born the third of triplets to loving parents, I have always had some conscious sense of “support” and understanding. Throughout my life family and friends (teachers all) have shown me how they support me as a human being – my family in our creation itself, a nurturing environment – food on the table, shelter, comforts of “home,” however far from our birthplace, encouragement every which way, to grow. We heard lullabies to sleep, laughed, ate, did homework together, played in sand, mud, and water, smelling fruit, wood smoke, dust, rain in the air. Just the other day I looked through old pictures and remembered our older brother pulling the three of us in our red wagon, all of us busy building in our sandbox, Dad on a sunny day filling tin tubs with water for us to play in.

I think about how fleeting sensory impressions can be – billions of moments lived, like stars, or leaves, or lights flickering, to be forgotten if noticed at all. A friend reminded me the other week that nothing is “lost and gone forever.” Knowledge gained supports me as I use it.

My appreciation grows for the reality of creative energy and what it means to be “energy creating matter.” My nieces and nephews, others’ children, my own memory as a child and beyond into other swirling worlds of images, are all infinitely real to me, and valuable. As I think of my child-self, and I remember the whirls and twirls, the hard earth beneath my feet, the dust rising, the way the rain felt as it fell hard and soft on my skin, soaking my hair and making it heavy, much more – I realize how lasting impressions of life can be, and how beautiful. A rain shower is not only dirt or skin deep.

What better way for me to know the true value of patience, understanding, and support than to begin to remember why it takes the patience of a mother to love her child utterly, without condition, and why “Eve is the mother of all living.” Creation itself, as energy constantly in motion, lives the patience inherent in change. It also takes the patience of a father, guided by a mother spirit within, and by the love that comes with creating, to make physical life what it is – my view of “bring home the bacon.” Roles intertwine and change – love is cooperation, compassion, communication, strength, courage, unity, faith, trust – all of the ethical values creating together as designed.

I am the intelligent design of us all, as male, female, and spirit. I am a woman, today. My family supports me in every way to be a responsible human being, which includes keeping in touch, acknowledging our mutual love and the physical ways we show it - communication, food, knowledge, learning, guidance of the “Golden Rule,” money, compassion, an interest in our life, our health, individual goals, passions, even when we have not held the same beliefs. I remember a slide from a Spiritual Philosophy seminar years ago which read – The spirit supports the soul supports the physical. What does support mean to me? Acceptance of love, of life, encouragement, interest, the relationships that make life, learning, faith, trust, love, the nurturing of growth. True friends support me, too. While learning that “no one is a stranger,” true friends are also easier than ever for me to identify, when I honor my senses and think with love that reveals the truth without sentimentality, or doubt born of old fear. Energy is real, and my memory and “new” knowledge of us as energy and matter reinforces the fundamental laws of nature, including human nature, which strengthens the bonds of change and makes the courage of life and growth more real to me than death and loss.

These gifts of love have all shown me the path to learning to love, beginning by loving the self I am. I was born a perfectionist – according to my Dad, who has always been patient and supportive with me. I have spent a lot of time scratching and shaking my head, feeling the palpable nature of the world and people as I experienced them, wondering where I began and they “ended.” Learning Spiritual Philosophy has given me the tools to recognize patience and know why patience is an essential quality of love, and life – if we don’t have patience, we will, some day! But what memory recall will this take and what form? What we might have lost will require even more patience, and more creative force and support than I can imagine at this moment. We must learn to recognize what patience it has taken for us to be created (beginning as chemicals forming, interacting), to create, to evolve through history - to rise and fall as Romans, to stroll and speak to crowds as Greek senators, to share feasts and toasts and dialogue as philosophers, to wonder at the sense and sight of the moon and stars, feeling their rush and force, as astronomers, to stroke our growing bellies as mothers with breasts full with the milk of life, to endure a star-spangled death with the heartache of another moment gone, the joy of tears and laughter. Everywhere is the structure and discipline of support, the inherent creative love there to be acknowledged once we change our thinking to know we create together, internally and externally.

Awakening brings the satisfaction of understanding, and an appreciation of the scope of our entire human history, our Universal mission.

My own spirit energy is patience personified, literally, as my mind feels its way along the path of learning, gambling and squandering its thoughts as well as gaining polished pearls. When I have been sad, mad, sick, scared – always hope has appeared, in some form that I could recognize. When I have laughed and celebrated, I’ve felt it so deep I know there is no end to joy. No one is kidding when they say it isn’t easy to change a mind! Each way I think of all I have felt and experienced in my life, and with whom, I come back to the sense of never being alone, and how even depression itself was a gift to my mind to show me I was ready for a new beginning. Each moment in memory shows me the pattern I followed to find the thread, the umbilical cord which connect my heart and my mind to the spirit’s infinitely creative support of life in all forms. We are after all a complete nervous system that knows itself! We are all creators together. As I support myself, I love – food, air, water, the currency of life - and I support the life of all I love. Be responsible. What better way to learn, what better gift? It’s perfect, and I’m grateful.