This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gray Matters

My last defense / is the present tense. -Gwendolyn Brooks

Inspiration is always waiting just on the other side of some door. There seem to be few tricks to inviting inspiration in; you have to know there are options available to you, you have to be willing to ask for help, you have to be able to accept what comes, you have to open up. I am constantly fascinated by the following idea:

[T]hink about the edges where things spill into each other and become their opposites. -J. Ruth Gendler

"Start here," is the advice I've gave myself last night. The immediately preceeding thought was, "I want to write this all down." I have thought that thought many times a week in the last month. I'm living in a gray area where everything blends. Dichotomies swing back and forth, from dramatic to mundane, from interesting to dull.

Speaking of the present tense: I just stuck my hands in my cat's mouth. Her teeth look kinda brown in spots. The vet told me over a year ago that kitty needed to have dental work. I did not get the work done, because I did not have the money to do so. I know cats' teeth are a common source of problems which can become serious, but it was a choice I had to make. I try to check lil' kitty's teeth from time to time. I try to make sure there's nothing horrible going on in there. She hates when I do that. She squirms, pushes my hands away with her paws, and makes pathetic little squeaking noises. All this she did just now. What she did not do was jump off my lap and trot off looking indignant. She laid back down and resumed her buttery purring. My little calico has offered another view of inspiration. I thanked her for knowing I wasn't trying to hurt her, and for remaining so gentle and sweet.

Sometimes the present tense gets buried under memories. I am reading The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book right now. Prefacing the writing on the four essential agreements, how to make them, and how they work, is writing about the "domestication of humans". The author writes his views on how humans are acculturated from infancy by accepting, or making agreements to, the teachings of their elders.

It may be hopeful thinking, but I do think many parents try to balance teaching their children what is "good" and what is "bad". Despite that, it is reasonable to assume, that most children are given a heft of negative input as part of their training into society. The children that "learn best" are the children that take this information and agree to it quickly. Children that don't make the agreements their elders give them, children who behave dissonantly, are reprimanded until they conform. I have been thinking about the agreements I have made. I have been assessing the usefulness of my agreements. I have been trying to let go of agreements made that do not serve a positive purpose in me any more.

I stood outside yesterday aftrenoon trembling with emotion and telling myself what was my fault. My partner and I had been having and argument and memories of the far and wide past was clouding my senses. The day before yesterday I made an agreement with myself about what I was responsible for in the melee of tender feelings. I had shared them with my partner. I spoke up about the certain things which were "not my fault". The things that were "not my fault" I would not take responsibilty for.

I think that deep down we all want to be our best. Some of us have best selves that are buried in obscurity, underneath trauma, memories, and betrayal. Some of us don't believe they know what love feels like. Some of us are more comfortable being afraid. We have all heard that relationships take work. We have all heard that courage is not easy. We have all heard the world is going to end in fire.

Who among us have accepted the phoenix? Who among us have stood through storm? Who has accepted that crouching in a storm feels safest?

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