Monday, April 26, 2010

You would hope that no child would ever have to feel this

The following is an ever so slightly edited comment I left in response to a fellow blogger's recent post. His post is one of those pieces of writing that can shake you up. If you'd like to read it, go here.

I hadn't expected that I would write any of this but this is just the sort of thing that seems to happen when I allow myself to simply respond freely to something I read. Here goes:

"Oh my goodness. After reading your post and all the comments, where do I start?

For some reason, the words that I heard in a short animation film called 'Father' by Sebastian Danta come to mind. They may seem completely irrelevant but as part of the stream of consciousness, I share them:

Speaking about his father, a migrant to Australia from Lithuania, the animator/author says:

"He didn't speak much because he had such a deep regard for words".

When I heard that, I just went 'Whoa...". We don't speak because sometimes we just can't. There are no words. But if and when we do find the words, oh my, what an impact they have. And so we too have a deep regard and respect for them.

Perhaps this is the relevance? That you have found the words to speak of the unspeakable? And it has somehow helped some of us at least to find our own and speak of our own unspeakable experiences?

I remember once sipping cold wine and nibbling on fine hors d'oeuvres at a party hosted to watch an aeronautical display of military aircraft. I remember still feeling the thunderous roar vibrating through my body long after the aircraft had disappeared, leaving in its wake a thick cloud of smoke. It was all supposed to impress.

I remember contemplating then, the irony of being thus 'entertained' when, in some parts of the world, such sounds and the horrific effects of the aircraft that make them rain a daily, if not hourly, terror upon some people. On some level, I sensed the horror of it all and wondered how those people would ever recover should they survive. I especially wondered about the children.

I could go on. About similar and somewhat disjointed threads of awareness and awakening but it would take forever and not make a great deal of sense.

My own life, though never lived in a political war zone, did journey its first 19 years through a terrifying field of domestic violence. I spent many of those years, and more as an adult, wishing my father dead, interestingly enough, not for his brutality toward me but toward my mother which, I felt, was incomparably worse. For years, I would cry in bed at night because of my helplessness and a raw and inconsolable sense of my mother's pain. You would hope that no child would ever have to feel such loathing or fear or pain but tragically, some do.

How does one ever recover? How does one reclaim the innocence of childhood especially when it is snatched from them at such an early age? How does one prevent a damaged childhood from affecting their relationships as an adult? How does one even become aware of the effects of their childhood? In other words, how does one 'grow up'?

I'm not entirely sure but I do believe that 'growing up' has nothing to do with the loss of innocence. If anything, it's about regaining it."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You said and I said and we heard

At the risk of boring you to tears by repeating myself, I am going to repeat myself - I absolutely love your comments.

Of course I'm speaking to those of you who have left comments. I mean, just look at them! They're not some BSC comments, the likes of which I've described in my other blog, The Blog Doctor is In. On the contrary, they are conversation pieces, in and of themselves, each one of them and I am truly grateful.

I wouldn't blog if I didn't hold out hope that my posts would kindle some fine conversations which, I'm chaffed to say, they have. Instead, I'd maintain a private journal which is what I had been doing until I started my blogs.

But the thought of having visitors drop into my cyber home, snoop around a little and then choose to leave behind a couple of their thoughts and feelings and share some of their experiences with me, all from the distant outposts of their laptops or workstations so many miles away, is just so alluring. Heck, it's more than alluring.  It's exciting. It's thrilling. It's exhilarating.  It's...alright, alright, if I don't watch myself, this post will soon become nauseating.

I've always enjoyed good conversation. Conversation that arises from deep, feeling places of the heart and rich, thoughtful places of the mind. Conversations that let me hear the sound bytes of your soul because I've stopped to listen and because you've stopped to speak.

What could be more gratifying or more indulgent, especially in contrast to the cacophony of mindless drivel and self-serving prattle that seem to characterize our daily communication or is that connectivity? Or information exchange?  Know what I mean?

I mean, we exchange repetitive sound bytes as proof, not just to others but perhaps more importantly to ourselves, that we're alive. We spout cliches because we're too lazy or too tired to speak extemporaneously or too tuned out to, or dismissive of, our feelings and thoughts to want to reflect them accurately. We use fifty words when two would say enough yet more.  And we remain silent while there are a dozen hurricanes raging inside our minds.

Forgive me if I sound critical. I don't mean to be. But I do observe the way we (myself and people generally) exchange information so much of the time and can therefore see, in contrast, the way we communicate and connect some of the time and marvel at and be grateful for the latter.  Which is where I think I started this post.

To all those who've stopped to speak with me, thank you. Please don't stop stoppng! And here's to you:

Image from here

 Care to visit the Amazon book jungle?

Communicate!   Communicate: Strategies for International Teaching Assistants  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships  Conversationally Speaking : Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness  Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Monday, April 19, 2010

Slave labor in 2010? What gives me the nerve to complain?

I made a decision today. I signed up with a freelance site where you bid for writing jobs that pay embarrassingly (and piss-pottingly) little.

Embarrassing to whom, you might ask. Clearly not to the people who post these jobs and demand that your English is impeccable, that your articles are original, keyword rich and Copyscape-proofed and that you churn out a hundred of these 300-1000 word articles for anywhere from $1 per article to a staggering $3.50.

And that's just what they tell you they want.  Chances are, they want a lot more than they mention and will pick someone who offers a lot more and asks for a lot less. Oh, and you'd better promise to do it quick time too because there's bound to be others who'll bid lower than you and promise to do all this and more in one day and have a portfolio to prove it too.

Yeah, I staggered alright.  At that rate, would I earn enough to pay for a day's internet, electricity, rent and food even if I worked the entire twenty-four hours, give or take an hour for meal, toilet and stretch breaks? Heck, would I be able to buy myself enough coffee to keep me pumpin'?

I don't think I'm being very sensible here, signing up, despite the fact I've already been invited to bid for a job and to get ready to start. I mean I love writing, no doubt about that. But this is where slave labor mocks the fine art and pure joy of writing, surely?

I was and still am embarrassed. by the fact that I've submitted to this exploitation and done so out of desperation.  But why should I be embarrassed?

There really is no justification for any emotion we feel nor is one ever needed.  An explanation, however, may be possible and perhaps even desirable. It might help me understand why I've chosen to do what I've done.

I'm embarrassed because I've resisted doing this for so long, believing that I would make my enviable fortunes (not that I particularly want anyone to envy me) doing what I love doing and being respected and remunerated for the quality of my work of love. And, as is obvious, I have not (yet) succeeded.

In the meantime, this trade of 'goods and services' shows no indication of wanting to either respect or remunerate my work. Nor does it show any desire to value me as a writer offering it the carefully nurtured fruits of her love.

"Get real" I hear you say. "If you can't hack it, go try your luck elsewhere. In the meantime, quit whining.  There are people who are prepared to do much more for much less.  Consider yourself fortunate and if you can't, go nurse your ego elsewhere".

This persuades me to draw one of two conclusions:

Conclusion One:
I should be grateful. I should quit playing le petite violin and get on with it. Or I should get a 'real' job commensurate with my qualifications and 'real work' (corporate) experience of several years.

Conclusion Two:
I should do something about a system that allows one person/party in a transaction to get what they're satisfied with and that enables them to easily build on what they have while the other person/party neither gets what they want nor is able to easily provide for what they need, never mind build on anything.

So, what can I do?

I suppose you're wondering how I got to this dire state in the first place where I've had to resort to extreme measures. Yeah, well, that's a long story and not one that I care to relate, at least not today.

Something tells me I need to be in a system in order to change it.  And according to Buckminster Fuller, the way to overcome a bad system is not by fighting it but by building a better model that makes the other one obsolete.  I just love that idea.  I wish I could design a better model.

OK, perhaps it's a Law of Attraction moment. I should imagine a better system and feel how good that would be.  Then, start allowing my intuition to guide me while I do some research and allow myself to be propelled in the manifesting momentum of the Law.

But more important that any of that, I must want it enough.

Well, do I? And if I don't, why not? Because it would be too hard?

I mustn't let that kind of thinking detract from a truly beautiful vision. I realize that if I didn't believe or think how difficult it might be, I'd really want to do this.

Well, good people, I'm going to let this feeling take me on a new adventure.  Would any of you like to join me?

Your Perfect Job: A Guide to Discovering Your Gifts, Following Your Passions, and Loving Your Work for the Rest of Your Life  I Will Get Through  The Angel Inside: Michelangelo's Secrets For Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love 

True Work: Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do  Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love  The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This is what hurts the most

That he was in pain. That I wasn't there to hold him and soothe it away. That he was alone.

Ten years - we'd been through a lot together.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Have you been painted over with Guilt as I've been?


It's an unpleasant experience if ever there was one. Unpleasant might be too mild a word. Awful, evil, soul-destroying, foul - these may be better words.

I happened to watch a movie on television last night. The plot revolved around four characters - a nineteen year old girl almost completely silenced and restrained by her embittered and autocratic father, her helpless and frustrated mother and her best friend.

It stirred up memories.

How quickly innocence is contaminated with guilt! The things that enchant a young girl's spirit, like wearing red high heeled shoes and pink lipstick and listening to Killing me Softly and curling her hair and talking tirelessly about boys and school friends and David Cassidy and periods and pimples and shaving and dreams and the future and the boy she can't get her mind off.

These colorful, playful, tentative free-hand drawings she makes on life's unresisting canvas, flush with innocence and promise, can all too hastily and insensitively be smeared over with the dark, heavy handed, brushstrokes of guilt by a parent anxious to hide his child's shameful proclivities, believing as he does, that she is born with sin and is thus prone to sinful ways.

As an adult, you can't help but wonder what guilt of his own he was really trying to hide. As a teenager, however, teetering on the terrifying and intoxicating brink of womanhood, you assume his guilt, taking it on as your own. And it makes you scared and angry and you remain scared and angry for much of your life.

What's so sickening about all this is that you don't even know that it's happened. Instead, you find yourself unable to trust anyone completely, least of all yourself. And you get angry at people because of the way you believe they make you feel.  And you're sullenly indignant if anyone should ever question your intentions or integrity. And for all your ranting and grandstanding, you live your life secretly believing you are guilty and that you don't deserve a good life, never mind a great one.

If, through all this, you manage to salvage some of the dreams that you discarded early in life, clean the grimy guilt off them, whisper fresh hope into them and somehow find new wings for them, you'll have triumphed where so many others have failed or simply languished.  Because, somehow, unlike them, you've managed to scrape through that heavy, crusted paint of your father's guilt or your mother's or whoever else's it happened to be for you and recover those innocent, tentative drawings you made oh so long ago.

But guilt has a way of penetrating your life beyond its initial point of entry, rather like an ink blot through soft paper or mildew on damp clothing. And while resurrected dreams may spin into breathtaking action, the unexpected, unrecognized or forgotten guilt lies in wait.

A brand new, never before experienced event occurs, like the disappearance of your cat or the refusal of your son to respond to your calls and, agree with it or not, the ink has reached your mind, the mildew has spread to your heart.

What did I do? What didn't I do? What should I have done? Why didn't I? Why was I so consumed with my dreams? Why couldn't I have just stayed.. .?

A fresh whirlwind of guilty thoughts reeking of a sickeningly familiar feeling.

You could easily get sucked into its unforgiving vortex but, fortunately for you, your life experiences have left you some insight in exchange for your pain.

No one is guilty. Neither you nor your father nor his father nor his father's father. Each, like you, has been or is a potential victim or victor. Each, a broken piece of glass, shattered from the whole but retaining all its elements. Each piece of glass capable of scraping away the crusted overcoat of guilt left early in life.

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus  Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself from Guilt for Good!   Guilt: The Bite of Conscience (Stanford General Books) 
Guilt Is the Teacher, Love Is the Lesson  The Gift of Guilt; 10 Steps To Freedom From Guilt, Forever


Sunday, April 11, 2010

I didn't come into this world to be 'safe' or 'The fear of writing fearlessly'

There are some thoughts that interest me and some that don't. (How's that for stating the bleeding obvious?).

Forgive me but I just felt I needed to say that and in all honesty, I cannot tell you why I did as I don't know the reason myself. Perhaps it's because it helps me get to what I really want to say, like a bridge across where I think you are and where I want to take you.  And where's that?

I'm not sure but let's start from here - a discussion thread I came across on an online forum:  

What kind of a writer are you?

It's not a question that particularly interests me although it prompted one that does:   

Why do I write what I write and the way I write?

I've chosen to blog (which, every now and again, qualifies as writing ;)) under the relatively safe guise of a pseudonym. It's a carefully chosen pseudonym albeit not the most original or intriguing. But it is intended to convey some truths about me that may be of interest to a reader.

I chose to write somewhat anonymously because it gives me a degree of freedom I am unable to access from within my given identity, at least not yet. My nom de plume, however, allows me to explore thoughts and ideas I've prevented my 'given' self from exploring. It also allows me to say things I do not give my 'given' self permission to say and in ways I tend not to allow it to.

You see, the character inside my nom de plume is one of the main characters in my soul's cast of characters that has thus far been denied an audience. It's true, it has been speaking but no one outside the cast has ever heard it. So I write to share its thoughts, feelings, opinions and observations and to find out how they affect others which, in itself, is no great shakes except that it has drawn my attention to something a bit more interesting.

I'd naively assumed that this character of mine would speak without fear or restraint. What I'm discovering is something quite the contrary. It is fearful and it is restrained, admittedly not always and not in the same way that my 'given' character is!

This observation surprises and disturbs me. If an assumed name and relative anonymity will not release me from my fears and inhibitions as a writer, what on earth will?  And at least as pressing and intriguing a question is, Why? Why do I not feel safe enough to be free?

I suppose I could just as easily and meaningfully ask the question, Why am I not free enough to feel safe?

What do I still fear?

Shall I be completely honest? It is that I may be disliked.

Now that I've said it, I can actually sit back and contemplate its significance. It's almost laughable from this psychological distance.

Imagine living my life just so that I will be liked by others. So what if people don't like me? Will it make me any less known or less appreciated than I currently am? Does it matter? Does it matter more than the freedom I'm denying myself?

I don't think so but I'd be deluding myself if I claimed that feeling liked and appreciated aren't good feelings. They're good, very good feelings indeed.  But I learned a while ago that my happiness is not contingent upon what others think or feel about me unless, of course, I choose to make it so.

I mean, you might think I'm wonderful today and waste no opportunity telling the whole world the same but tomorrow something might happen and you'll decide I am one ungrateful, deceitful, mean animal. It's true. It's happened to me and the person in question was someone who maintained throughout his 10-year tirade that he loved me and had never stopped loving me. What's more, some people actually believe him. And, of course, he believes it himself.

I'm grateful to him in many ways for many things. No, I'm not being facetious. I mean it sincerely. He helped me build my confidence. (He also helped tear it down but I'm past that). He showed me through his personality, how to come out of my shell and avoid melancholy which I can easily slip into. And he also made me discover the true meaning of love by demonstrating very clearly to me what it is not.

Oh gosh, I really didn't think I'd be dredging all this stuff up but that's what happens when you let a thought take you where it wants to go. Anyways, back to my fear of writing fearlessly.

Perhaps I just need to be patient with myself. Give my character time to feel safe enough to come to the realization that the 'safe' mind can never fully explore and experience the 'limitless unknown' which is what I think true magic is. And I want magic. I'm sure I came into this world for it. At least, I'm certain I didn't come here to be safe.

What do you think? Can you relate to any of this?

"It's only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all"  William James

William James : Writings 1902-1910 : The Varieties of Religious Experience / Pragmatism / A Pluralistic Universe / The Meaning of Truth / Some Problems of Philosophy / Essays (Library of America)  Pragmatism  The Will to Believe, Human Immortality

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear  The Essential Laws of Fearless Living: Find the Power to Never Feel Powerless Again  Fearless Knitting Workbook: The Step-by-Step Guide to Knitting Confidence 

Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas  The Fearless Heart: The Practice of Living with Courage and Compassion  Fearless: Creating the Courage to Change the Things You Can


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