Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's Midnight at the Well of Souls - or in my living room

Yesterday was long.

Returning from yesterday, all I wanted was sweet sleep or at least putting up my feet. And friends are floating, each of us in a dance that looks like being caught between generations.

The other generations have prickly edges - we keep getting caught in them. We seem to be defined by the space between them. There are not enough of us, and our struggles and successes and experiences will always be blended into the shinier or louder generations on either side of us.

But we are here now, individual and collective, navigating the gears of the world. My friends and I are not having a fantastic gearjumping month - each difficult in their own way.

So last night a friend called. "I think I am having a breakdown."

I listened and heard the crackling. This wasn't a phone thing, but there was no hysteria.

"OK, leave where you are. Come over here. We'll break it down." He asked the Keeper of the Generations in his house if that would work. She told him to come.

It was selfish in some ways. I had already used up a bunch of my allotted gearjumping for the day, I thought I could help, but not on the phone. And sometimes place is important. I knew he needed a break of place to move out of the things holding him. Instead of bed, I made some coffee.

And waited.

My other friends checked in with the status of their navigations - some bad news, some good news, some secrets where we could hear the emptiness of the unsaid. That last one was mostly from me.

And we all shared our hope for the breaking friend and then he came to the door with his briefcase full of depression and anxiety and society, and his immediate need to pack and escape with his family.

And I was happy that he came, because it might have been easier not to. Sometimes your shamanistic journeys are only two or three miles down the road.

So I asked him the right questions and he started with the regular answers and then he saw the circus in my living room. Because everyone should have one.

And he smiled and got down on the floor like a five year old and peeked inside.

It is impossible to stay in a breakdown state when faced with a circus full of Poppets.

Everyone loves a circus. We played with it for a little bit and then worked out the answers that would be good enough for now.

It broke the pattern and freed him up from the sharp edges for a bit. My living room is bigger on the inside than the out.

The denizens of Poppetropolis were pleased to be of help.

I was pleased to be of help.

But it's the morning after midnight and I'm very tired now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Black Box

When you enter the box , first you see the lights and then the floor and then the curtains – maybe.

When you enter the box first you see the black and then the lights - sometimes.

When I entered the black box I smelled the black.

Oh. Yes, of course. Here are the curtains, the boxes, the scruffed floor that proves it’s true.

When you enter the box it is a trial, a transformation, a test.

It is for everyone. Move. Reach. Feel.

Hurt. Scream. Love. Stretch. Know.


In the black box I learn how far my puzzle pieces are from the center of my snap apple puzzle. I am marked and measured in my native language that goes deeper than the words.

Oh. Right. Sorry I forgot. I didn’t mean to. I thought I was doing the right thing, Stop apologizing? Ok sorry, I mean . . . never mind. I’ll practice quiet now.

We stand in a circle at readiness. The knees are slightly bent, the hands are loose, the feet need to be ready to spring forward. We are trying to learn telepathy.

My body and mind remember, and slide easily to that place, aware from the center seeing/not seeing. Almost. It is almost easy. I can no longer see behind me. I shut that down when I wasn’t in the box. Here in the circle now it feels like a withered arm being asked to lift.

I try not to hate myself for that.

When we are one we need to leave the ground. We need to leave it knees up, like a spring letting go of the ground not a piston showing that we are leaving it. We need to surprise gravity, not defy it. We need telepathy, not show and tell, to leave it.

I know exactly when we are supposed to release the floor and how we are supposed to address the air. The mind and the body send the signal and the meat and the muscles say no.

Split seconds – speed of thought.

My will is stronger than the meat and the muscles, but gravity is not surprised. I go up but barely. It’s a victory. A quiet one.

It shouldn't have been a battle.

The other 11 are trying to understand the place where all thought is no thought. I know that place – I fall back there like a bead in a well oiled groove, but those hard fought four inches – straight back, knees up, no bounce –was a ten year war played out in the space of that neuron-synapse interaction.

Here is the trick to telepathy in the black box, the fact that you have to focus is a given, but it will only work if you actually care. Right now- this first day – it is still a child’s game to them.

The Black Box though, is the entire world to me.

I’ve just spent a lot of time pretending that it’s not. Enough time for gravity to stake a higher claim on the meat, but the black still has my soul. It’s my alphabet.

It doesn’t take much for the Black Box to strip me down past the excuses, measure the damage. It exposes things caught between the lights and the floor.

So much more complicated than Scylla and Charybdis

You don't choose between them here in the scent of the light warmed black. You stand in the center and become the third thing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Juvenescent Confabulation

Welcome one welcome all come and enjoy the show.

It's exactly like time travel, for an audience of one.

There is a thought experiment that we do every now and then, when we are 16 and we imagine ourselves talking to our older selves that are yet to be- telling them what we expect from them. Sometimes we do this experiment because all of the adults in our lives are looking for us to perform this task. They will give us a round number - "Where do you see yourself in the year 2000?" They will ask us this in 1984.

They will raise the stakes - where do you see yourself in they year 2020 - because it sounds cool and impossibly futuristic, even now.

Sometimes we will ask ourselves the question in the middle of the night - our nascent selves keeping away from the numbers and going to the dreams or the ages . Who will I be when I am 30? What will I have to give up if I go for what I want now? What will I keep if I have to give up what I want?

We are 16, we are not fools. There is no real innocence at that point, we've learned to compromise, we've encountered limits, sometimes they can be overcome and sometimes they can't. The adults remember this time as full of possibility and see us all as impossibly hopeful, but if we're even a little awake, we know. We know our parents were 16 once and very, very few of them are doing what their 16 year old selves wanted for them.

The implacable hope is armour - the firm absolutism of our belief systems is not naiveté, it's the fear we'll lose sight of it later, when We are Them. It's not always because we haven't lived life, sometimes it's because we have. Silly grown-ups, how strange you are when you edit your younger selves. How could you have forgotten that metal tinged taste of the entire future before you? Didn't it cut your tongue a bit? Do you only remember the relationships and erase the analytics? Is it easier that way? Is it numbing? Is it better? Maybe it is.

On the other side of the question though are the adults who are in their older selves - looking at the raw open youth, seeing them with the eyes of those who made the choices, and found some things the 16 year olds infront of them couldn't have imagined as being worth the price then. Or things had changed so much for them that they can't imagine the 16 year olds they were - that person is lost to them - a myth of self.

So when the older person asks the younger to imagine talking to a future self - are they looking for redemption? Information? I know it depends: On the 16 year old; on the 36 year old; on the 66 year old in question.

I know older people (older than 16 at least) who have running conversations with their younger selves. They are explaining. They are apologizing. They are angry, or sad, or triumphant.

And in every case their 16 year old selves are unchanging and static, yet somehow accusatory, or disappointed, or pleased. Even though they never answer back.

I wonder what that is like.

I think it's simpler somehow. It makes the immortal commandment of Polonius easier if thine-own-self doesn't answer back.

Of course if you knew 16 year old me- as I do - you would know that the idea of not answering back is anathema.

I am quieter now.

I/She just waits until I can't avoid the conversation anymore.

Where do we see ourselves in 2020? It sounds so impossibly futuristic.