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Early Childhood Progress Report

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 9, 2014

Alright… movin’ on…

Here I am, in this paradise city they call Vancouver, British Columbia, surrounded by massive luscious gorgeousness of every kind; a boundless shining city offering more opportunity than I dare fathom with my pretty little head.  And in this new cornucopia of plenty, I’m conducting a serious reassessment (sigh… again???) about who I am, and whittling down what I really want to do with the narrowing years of my life.  I’m carefully weeding out extraneous self concepts and interests where my motivation is limited, or where the realities become severely diminished at my age.  For example: I’m not going to be a Rock Star.  I can’t even play an instrument.  I tried.  I’m terrible.  Please, give it up, Amanda… your time is OVER… please, just… STOP.  And, as much as my intentions have been earnest to relearn some computer programming, after applying myself to a course of study on two separate occasions, and both times experiencing my interest completely vanish shortly along, I have to concede that this activity doesn’t float my boat as much as I might wish it did.  Curses!  Foiled again!

It’s quickly becoming a precarious position, as I attempt to reconcile myself with the genuine motivations of my heart, and yet, secure an actual paying position.  I’ve always been interested in many things.  I’ve amassed a vast wealth of experience in applying myself to many functions and roles.  And, because I’m smart and resourceful, I’m capable of doing exceedingly well at these many things too.  But I’ve been like a canon that fires balls in all directions.  It’s really not the most useful contraption!  And employers don’t like it, because they can’t easily classify me into a tiny, miniscule, microscopic box.  So, I have to learn to fire my canon in ONE direction.   There’s some job ads I look at and think, “Yeah, I could do that, and I’d probably enjoy it too,” and I apply.  No problem.  And there’s other job ads, things I could definitely do, but, my heart recoils into the bitter cage of my chest, and I feel like I’d rather kill myself than apply!  Crap!  I mean, I NEED A JOB!!!  This is getting REAL here, people!!  I can’t continue to be this picky… can I????  Not for long, as my financial condition is fast transforming into a stuttering, stumbling, black-blooded zombie – no pulse, no life, no hope!  ACK, BLECK, &%%$** slobber **&*%^^%$, GLOOT!!!

This morning I came across some report cards from my early childhood.  Hmmm…  what did others say about my young, most natural, being?  Might they reveal some clues as to my most dear personal leanings?  I’ve transcribed the reports completely, for posterity, but I’ll highlight the most positive points in red.  Also, note that I was called ‘Ann’ back then.

Edmonton Public Schools

Early Childhood Progress Report

School – Delton

Grade – 01

Principal – G. E. Eliasson

Teacher – Miss J. Hawkins

First Report Date – Nov 20, 1975 Second Report Date – March 12, 1976 Third Report Date – June 23, 1976
Social and Emotional Development: Ann is a cooperative and capable student.  She behaves responsibly towards school rules and gets along well with others.  Ann puts forth a commendable effort on all her projects.  [Yes, of course.  I still do.  Potential employers: please read.] Social and Emotional Development: Ann continues to show persistence in her work habits.  She participates actively and has made commendable progress.  Ann is developing good work habits. [Potential employers: please read.] Social and Emotional Development:  Ann has been a capable and cooperative student.  She has put forth her best effort throughout the year.  Ann has been an asset to our class.  Good luck to her in her grade two year.
Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann is developing good speaking and listening skills.  She has made very good progress in the reading program.  Her printing is neatly done. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann enjoys reading.  She has learned her sounds and basic vocabulary well.  Her oral reading could be more fluent.  Ann continues to work carefully on her written projects. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann has made commendable progress in word attack skills and reading comprehension.  Her oral reading has good expression.  She can use her spelling vocabulary to compose simple stories.  [Expression… yup.  Still true.]
Mathematics:  Ann is learning the numbers to thirty.  She is developing a good problem solving ability.  [All the better to computer program with, my dear!] Mathematics: Ann knows her numbers to 100.  She is learning her basic facts to 8.  We are now practicing the counting of money.  [Yay – money!] Mathematics:  Ann works quickly and accurately with numbers.  She has had no difficulties in the grade one arithmetic program.
Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann is a very good participant in group activities.  [Collaboration is important to me.] Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann shows much initiative in her independent projects.  She enjoys group work but could show more maturity when working with others.  [Note that I was an only child.] Social Studies – Science – Health:  [Blank]
Physical Education:  Ann participates willingly.  She is a good sport during these activities. Physical Education:  Satisfactory participation. Physical Education:   Satisfactory progress.
Art – Drama – Music:  Ann has made very good progress.  She enjoys these subjects and puts forth her best work.  [Naturally.] Art – Drama – Music:  Satisfactory work. Art – Drama – Music:  Satisfactory progress.

 

Edmonton Public Schools

Early Childhood Progress Report

School – Delton Elementary

Grade – 02

Principal – G. E. Eliasson

Teacher – Mrs. M. Kaastrup  [I called her Mrs. Ketchup!]

First Report Date – November 26, 1976 Second Report Date – March 11, 1977 Third Report Date – June 30, 1977
Social and Emotional Development: Ann is becoming much more responsive to reason while still maintaining that great sense of individualism she possesses.  She has proven herself capable of producing very neat and presentable work when she so chooses.  Although, Ann accepts the responsibility for completing her assignments, she should concentrate on using her free time more constructively and minimizing the tendency to socialize.  [Haha!  Nothing ever changes!] Social and Emotional Development: Ann’s vivacious and enthusiastic disposition are most refreshing.  She possesses the courage to speak her mind.  Ann is very pleased with her increased effort to respect the rules of the classroom more conscientiously in the past few weeks. Social and Emotional Development:  Lately Ann has taken considerable more pride in the appearance of her work.  She has also displayed better judgement as to which projects should have priority at a given time.  Her greater willingness to co-operate has been much appreciated, not to mention her vitality.
Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann is developing an effective speaking vocabulary.  She shows determination in reading a library book.  Her recall of sounds is acceptable but when attacking a word she is not always as conscious of the letters involved causing her to say ‘was’ for ‘has’, or ‘his’ for ‘this’, or ‘cops’ for ‘cop’.  Ann could improve the accuracy of her comprehension by attending to details. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann takes great pleasure in reading expressively.  She has made great strides in distinguishing the long and short vowel sounds.  As well she has become much more accurate in word attack and less inclined to confuse words similar in structure (example – went for want).  Her comprehension skills and ability to follow written directions are maturing very acceptably.  Ann is capable of producing printing of a fine quality when she chooses to exert the effort; however frequently she does not take enough care with slant. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Since the beginning of the term Ann has made a marked improvement in her accuracy in word attack through the development of very respectable decoding skills as well as greater concentration.  Her ability to make inferences and read critically are up to par.  She can capably interpret literal meaning.  Ann’s effective use expression makes her oral reading pleasant to listen to.  As of late, Ann has improved her printing considerably.  She delights in new words. [YES!]
Mathematics:  Ann capably handles ordering series of numbers, supplying numbers missing in a sequence & counting by fives & tens to 100.  Her rate of recall for addition facts to 10 is acceptable. Mathematics:  Ann has mastered the properties of addition and subtraction studied, the concepts covered in hundreds, tens and ones, as well as the types of problems she has encountered.  She can readily tell time on the hour and the half.  Ann could make an effort to increase her rate of recall for addition facts to 18 (example 5+8=13, 7+9=16 etc.) Mathematics:  Ann has a sound grasp of the concepts covered in grade two mathematics.  Encourage Ann to form the habit of starting in the ones column when adding or subtracting 2 or 3 digit numbers as this will be essential for success in grade three when she will be confronted with ‘borrowing’ and ‘carrying’.  Her accuracy of recall for facts to 18 is good, but she should strive to increase her rate. [I still, most naturally, add & subtract backwards.  And, yes, in grade three I was completely lambasted in math!]
Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann has developed an acceptable understanding of the concepts of change that result in various forms of life with the advance of fall.  Although she was active in the related projects, her enthusiasm for becoming involved in discussions tended to fluctuate from day to day.  Science: Ann participates well in class activities.  She does, however, find it difficult to remember the task at hand.  She has an excellent knowledge of living/not living, symmetry, names of shapes, measurement and negative numbers. Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann has done excellent work in our units on information, magnets and balance scales.  She did good work with our weather, volume, measurement, color change and graph units.  In Social Studies Ann has been studying People and Their Feelings. [I imagine I enjoyed that.] As well she has had the opportunity to gain greater experience in co-operating as a group member, still thinking for herself, but at the same time, respecting other people’s opinions. Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann showed great enthusiasm in our units on shadows, angles, time and area.  She has a good knowledge of those concepts.  Ann gained some experience in written and oral reporting in connection with the unit on Fables.  She enjoyed writing book reports on fables she had studied on her own.  Ann could have accepted more responsibility for bringing in material on the Supermarkets so that she could have participated more effectively in the unit.
Physical Education:  Ann enjoys participating in phys ed.  She has been active in solving tasks in gymnastics as well as refining her skill in handling balls. Physical Education:  Ann has developed reasonably good control in dribbling balls. She has applied herself diligently in solving tasks in gymnastics and obviously has much increased body awareness as is evidenced in the various combination of body parts she uses in travelling and balancing.  Ann should make an effort to develop more sportsmanship with regard to who her partner is. Physical Education:  Ann delighted in communicating ideas through body movements.  [Oh, yes, always love expressing IDEAS!]  She developed considerable skill in the paddle bat activities.  As well Ann has been involved in track and field events.
Art – Drama – Music:  Ann displays a tendency to overlap colors both while painting and crayoning which in many cases makes her work more realistic.  As well she enjoys experimenting with the development of various textural effects in both mediums.  [I still LOVE color and texture!!] Art – Drama – Music: Ann is in her element when she can be involved in art projects.  She is beginning to depict more detail in her work and to use facial features to convey emotion.  In modelling Ann showed an awareness of the great textural possibilities.  In drama, Ann is most expressive and a natural at providing appropriate dialogue.  Music – Ann appears to enjoy music.  She is progressing very well. Art – Drama – Music:  Ann continues to plan her work ever more consciously utilizing more realistic proportions, and introducing more than one baseline where she deems necessary.  Music – Excellent.

 

SUMMARY:

Hasn’t it been said that we learn everything we need to by Grade 2?  Or something like that?  I wonder if this would get me a job if I transcribed these reports word-for-word on my resume?  LOL!

It’s no surprise that I had lots of interest in reading, speaking, art, drama and music.  I enjoyed being independent, studying on my own, and communicating ideas.  I enjoyed working with color, shading and texture.  These qualities are all still applicable for me.  So, it must be true that people rarely change much over a lifetime.  I thought I did, but perhaps I’ve just become more conscious of traits that have always been.

There’s a couple more reports that are relevant to this discussion.  These are from my teenage acting classes:

 

The Citadel Theatre Drama Classes

Final Report

Age Group: 13 – 14 Beginners

General Remarks: An outgoing and exuberant girl.  A natural ‘clown’ but must learn to discipline herself and concentrate.

Attitude: Good – very interested – as she gets older she will I think understand what I have tried to tell her all the season – the importance of discipline in the art.

Ability: A natural performer – if interested enough will develop well.

Recommendation: Advanced class next season.

 

Citadel Theatre School Student Evaluation

Class/Level: 2B

Voice:  You have the ability to achieve great heights Amanda.  Very insightful and moving work was accomplished.  I am so sorry you have decided to side-step an acting career, I know you’d be successful.

Improvisation: A good talent. Watch the trap of being caught impressing the class – work for yourself – develop knowledge and understanding.  Term 1 was unfocused and more work in term 2 would have allowed greater benefits.  Keep up the journey!

Movement:  You actually made some remarkable progress in movement, Amanda!  You move well when you allow yourself to do so, because you seem to have convinced yourself that you can’t do it!!  That makes you undermine your own work with lack of focus & concentration – but you DO have the ability!!  Hope you use it in the future.

 

SUMMARY:

A natural CLOWN – haha – no JOKE!!  It’s true – but humour can also be used as a defense, or to ‘people please’ (impressing the class) – so I have to be conscious when it’s going that way.  It’s also interesting to note that while my participation in phys ed was completely normal in Grades 1 and 2, I installed a block about it by my teen years.  And you’d think that all that good work with balls and dribbling in Grade 2 would have made it easier to learn to juggle – but it didn’t!  So… boo… whatever.

Today, I was considering applying for Cirque du Soleil (they’re auditioning in town soon), but because their shows are so physical, I don’t consider it a realistic path.  As much as I’m happy to stretch myself into more physical expression as much as I can, and while I’m generally relaxed with facial and upper body movement… I’m not likely to roll on the floor, do somersaults, go to an aerobics class, or shovel gravel anytime soon.  And that’s just how it is.  I think I’m more interested in expressing myself with words and ideas.  Or with color and texture!  :-)

I have a fondness for thinking of myself as an ‘actor’.  This is a self concept I’m pretty attached to.  Yet, several times in my life, apparently including my Citadel 2B class, I decided to ‘side-step’ an acting career.  As much as it calls me, it also seems to repel me.  My recent 12 year gap from acting has impacted greatly.  Even while I dip my toes in the possibility by doing some background film work, overall,  it’s not coming easily or naturally.  Ultimately, I feel like I lost my best chance, and now I’m too old and fat, and it’s too late.  And now I’m afraid in ways I never was before.  Like when I do improv – I’m good, and relaxed, and I’m in it — and then, suddenly, a wall comes down in my mind and I get totally shy!  I’m letting go of the limited idea that the only work I’ll be happy with is ‘acting’.  I could happily communicate in many occupations.  In fact, everything I do in this world can accurately be called acting.  We all take on various roles in our lives: parent, teacher, mother, child, etc.  Grocery store clerk, blackjack dealer, blogger, data manager, etc.  And I’m pretty sure my ego is simply attracted to the role of ‘actor’ as a method of ‘specialness’.  Fame as a method of world domination – lol – no, but of being ‘loved’.  It’s the ‘seek but do not find’ routine.  And, this, I have to weed out.

EDITED:  Yet, here’s where I’m most deeply conflicted.  It feels like this is the very thing my heart most wants.  ARGGGGGG!  Again, when I go back to my earliest childhood, I pretended at characters all the time.  Coloring, Barbie’s, and acting out characters.  So what if everyone on the planet wants to be an actor too.  So what if my ego has come in and bastardized an entirely natural drive.  So what if it’s so obviously an attempt at making a body ‘special’.  But I CAN’T STOP MYSELF!!!!  No matter how much I try to surrender the desire, it comes back.  And here’s something I learned about desires that won’t go away – sometimes you just have to LIVE THEM OUT.  Allow them to EXPRESS.  The only way out is THROUGH.

So… maybe I can’t get a job.  Maybe I can just do what I want.  *BOINK*  *blink*  *blink*  I tried doing some of the audition they want for Cirque du Soleil in my mirror last night… and it surprised me.  And inspired me.  Hmmmm….

A few days ago, I was watching Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  He was interviewing Jon Stewart and he asked, “Do you think actors can play comedians?”  The both agreed that they couldn’t.  And I see their point.  There’s people who can be funny (like me, once in a while, usually by accident) and then there’s FUN-NY PEO-PLE.  They’re a particular breed.  They think in an entirely particular way.  And if you’re not on that level, well, you’re not.  So that’s another one of those things I’m weeding out – I’m, clearly, not going to be a comedian.  Or a clown.  For real – it’s an unnatural stretch.  I’m glad I took the clown class, and there’s lots that I’ll be keeping forefront in my mind (like playing!), but clowning’s not going to be my whole thing.  I always get excited about stuff at the beginning, like it’s finally the thing that’ll save my life, finally DEFINE WHAT I AM, but then it never does.  I have to quit looking for that.  It’s not going to happen.

So, OK.  Weeding out and weeding out.  Eventually, I’ll have a direction to aim my cannon.  Then, look out!

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Choices and Consequences

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 1, 2014

I’m still thinking a great deal about the death of my cat.  Specifically, regarding the choices that were made along the way.

Dr. David R. Hawkins says that events do not actually happen in an A = B = C linear fashion.  It’s more like once a choice has been made, then the EVENT ‘ABC’ is created, involving all it’s resultant consequences, but then experienced in a, seemingly, linear progression.  There have been several incidences in my life where I observed this theory in action, and I hold it to be fairly accurate, at least, at my current level of awareness.  This idea is also inherent in the statement, “You can’t mess it up.”  You can’t, because you always make the decision that’s right for you in the moment, and then the consequences are, as they unfold, pretty much out of your hands.

My cat, Jonas, was 19 years old.  Even if he hadn’t gotten suddenly sick, he would have died, of something, soon anyway.  I made a decision, early in his sickness, not to take him to the vet.  Even in my own mind, it was an extremely difficult decision.   Do I put him through the fear and stress of a trip, a battery of tests, and an overwhelming expense, only to learn that compassionate euthanasia is the, most likely, resort?  Could I made a decision for euthanasia, with even the slightest, tiniest chance of recovery?  Could I leave him at the vet clinic for any length of time, for tests, and the possibility that he could die while away from me?   Could I nurse him at home, giving him my full attention, and every chance possible of recovery, while, if necessary, providing as much comfort as I could in his passing, like hospice?  I made the choice that was, to me, the most courageous and most natural.

Jonas started going downhill from the beginning of May, concurrent with my move to BC.  He lost a lot of weight, ate little, and slept most of the time.  But whatever sickness led to his eventual demise, it began with an acute attack in the night.  It was a big shock, and I thought he was going to die, right then and there, but he didn’t.  He recovered seemingly well in a few minutes.  What was the attack?  Heart attack?  Stroke? Was he poisoned by a bad can of food?  An acute renal failure?  Whatever it was, it was done.  There was no going back from it, and then, after a few days, I noticed that his health was definitely going downhill.

I provided all possible avenues of recovery.  He was still drinking water, peeing, moving about (with great difficulty in his back legs), but not eating.  I got high nutritional food and oral syringes at the vet and began to force feed him, a couple of teaspoons, every three hours.  I also started giving him 1/2 tablet of baby aspirin 2 to 3 times a day to minimize any pain he might be experiencing.  He took the food and the aspirin, I helped him drink water, and he rallied for a couple of days.  His will to live was strong and persistent.  I thought he might actually make it.  Yet, his eyes had changed.  They were small, and sunken.

In the third day of treatment, Jonas would spit out more food than he would swallow.  And he made an irreversible decision.  He stopped drinking water.  Looking back, I see that as the point of no return.  He was ready to die.

What happens in nature when an animal is passing?  They go off, alone, and hide.  They stop eating and drinking.  And they die.  No muss, no fuss, no intervention.  No resistance, no refusal.  I made a critical decision at that point too.  That I would allow him to die naturally, and I would stay with him until his last breath.  That was the most important thing to me, that we would be together.  Again, I deeply questioned my motivation.  If he was going to die anyway, why not make it quick with an injection?  Well, because I hoped and expected that he would go to sleep and slip peacefully away.  And I wanted to do for him, what I think I’d want others to do for me.  If I’m ready to die – just bugger off and let me go!

I stopped force feeding him.  I gave him as much water as I could with the oral syringe, to moisten his mouth, but he wouldn’t drink it down.  With great difficulty, I got him to swallow another 1/2 aspirin.  I kept his bed directly on my lap most of the day, looking into his eyes, holding him, hugging him, talking to him.  At bedtime, I took him to my bed.

But that was when he took another turn for the worse.  He began to make a horrible cry.  He vomited a couple of times.  I felt so helpless!  I forced another 1/2 aspirin down his throat.  I moistened his mouth.  Did we have anything else to give him – a sleeping pill?  No.  What if this went on all night?  OH GOD!  Why didn’t I get the injection while I had the chance???  I was terrified that I chose wrongly!  I said to Jonas, “We’re in it now.  No turning back.  We made our decisions and now we have to go down this road.”  Then I knew that I couldn’t have chosen any other way, because all choices would still lead to the same end – an end that I didn’t WANT – but that would happen anyway.  Is an injection ‘better’ than a natural death?  Is a natural death ‘better’?  What defines the word ‘better’ when all choices lead only to certain pain?  I don’t know – NOBODY KNOWS!!  I told Jonas, “You can go, little baby.  You don’t have to fight anymore.  Just let go.  It will be ok.”

He was quiet only when I had my hand on him, and when I kept the light on.  I discovered that he peed a little in his bed, so I gently cleaned it up and put a layer of paper towel under him.  This seemed to offer great solace, as it always disturbed him tremendously to be ‘unclean’.  That may even have been why he cried.  It didn’t take long after that, maybe 10 or 20 minutes.  I was so sleepy… I rested my head against his bed, near his head, with my arm around his back.  I couldn’t see his face, but I could see his body and hind legs.  His legs flicked out, once… then again.  I knew this was the moment.  I watched his last breath leave his body and he was still.   I sat up and looked fully at him.  He looked completely peaceful.  Was it over?  Could he still come back?  No.  He was gone.  His body soon began to feel stiff and cold.

I write about this because I want to remember these details, as morbid as they may seem.  Perhaps it’ll be helpful to another who’s faced with these same decisions with a beloved pet.  Perhaps it will be helpful to me in the future, with another pet or person, even.  And, who knows, this was the way I chose this time, but I might choose differently next time.  As a society, a culture, and as human beings, we still have a long way to go in learning about and dealing maturely with the process of death.  Shouldn’t it be a natural thing?  As natural as birth?  What if, wherever Jonas went, it was a WONDERFUL place?

Ultimately, my intention was love.  I’m confident that Jonas knew that.  Although I’m still grieving, I have no regrets, and I’m confident that I made the ‘right’ and ‘best’ choices that I could.  There is a giant hole in the energetic fabric of my existence right now and I just have to deal with it.  Nothing will make it feel ‘better’.  Jonas isn’t coming back.  All resistance and loss I feel is merely the denial of the fact.  I feel his energy missing at the foot of my sofa during the day, and a sweeping sadness at bedtime when I used to carry him with me to bed.  I actually feel an aversion to my bedroom now, as the pervasive empty loneliness in my chest is greatest there.  And I’ve developed a, perhaps unhealthy, attachment to a bone shaped neck pillow that I’ve been holding at night, in the crook of my arm, as if it’s Jonas.  I’m letting it happen.  Because I know that all of it, in time, will pass.

 

MOV02620_0020

 

God bless Jonas.  5 Sept 1995 – 26 July 2014.

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Saint Jonas: 05 Sep 1995 – 26 Jul 2014

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 26, 2014

DSC05376

Sigh.

My cat, Jonas, just passed away.

He was 19 years old.  Such an awesome friend – one of the greatest gifts in my life.  He taught me about unconditional love.  He liked to cuddle, sleep in the crook of my arm, and nuzzle my ear.  He followed me in many adventures across the country – I called him my "planes, trains and automobiles" cat.  He was a Saint because he was friendly and loving to every person and creature he encountered.  He was my handsome, little baby.

Here are three videos to celebrate his precious and incomparable existence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOFZJ8GCMQ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYYzVrcSngE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzNIvI3x7bg

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A Formula for Life

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 25, 2014

Tremendous bit of news to start: I moved to the most beautiful place on Earth!  I am now living in the stunning and mind-blowing Pacific Northwest city of Vancouver!

Vancouver Seawall

Yippee!!

Getting here, mind you, has been a challenging exercise, and the city hasn’t quite opened it’s great arms to my full participation yet.  I’ve been applying energy in every direction I can think of; dipping my toes into a wide assortment of potential activities, tippy-toeing down myriad paths of possibility for groups and collaboration; and after 2 months, I still haven’t quite got my groove on. 

The main thing, of course, is for some income. My mom and I have both been bleeding green for months now. I keep reiterating that it can’t go on like this forever, that money has to flow back to us eventually. It’s the fundamental nature of energy.  It’s science. It’s truth. And yet, every day continues to show itself as another day of spending, spending, spending. Yikes!  Ok. Fine. I repeat my favourite mantra; TRUST. I have to trust.  Everything is being taken care of.  Worrying about it will make no difference.  The energy will move when it does, and not a second sooner.  But it’s wearing on me – on us.  And we’ve had many, many moments of anger, and disagreement, and fear, and frustration, and tears, to tangle with, then to release, discuss, and forgive.  So, if nothing else, we’ve certainly been doing our spiritual work!  Continuous and ongoing!

I had one job interview.  Only one – but it’s a super good one – for a job I would REALLY enjoy.  At a gorgeous new arts centre close to home.  I don’t think I could do much better – it aligns so clearly with all the aspects of work I’d want. It finally seems that I’m ready to clear away some majorly dysfunctional divisions in my mind, and, in particular, an idea that I could have a Mc.job that paid the rent OR I could have creative work that I wanted, but never both. This idea kept me in jobs that I didn’t much like, always craving to be someplace else, but never able to get to that mythic holy land of creative fulfilment. If I created or performed, it was a hobby, enjoyable and collaborative, but short-lived, and almost always zero budget. If I earned income, it’s often been with repetitive functions, with little opportunity for creative expression or collaboration with others, and, usually, short-lived as well.  You see, because I was never truly committed to either side.  Both sides presented some difficulty or danger.  I get money, but sell my soul – I express myself creatively, but starve to death.  Jeesh!

Well, now I’m finished with all that nonsense.  Now I’m simply asking for EVERYTHING I want.  I want work I can approach with my WHOLE MIND.  My logical, analytical, technological left brain AND my playful, creative, spontaneous right brain – all together for the first time in my life!  I want to collaborate creatively with others, take responsibility for a bigger picture, use technology to organize data and create networks, and to challenge, play and evolve every day with something vivid, fresh and delightful!  This word – evolution – it’s a PARTY in my mind right now – I want to EVOLVE in every direction all at ONCE!!  I feel ready to push through all barriers of dualistic thinking, and move in a whole new way – EVERY WAY – ALL WAYS!

As I recently created an infographic resume (using easel.ly), I developed a motto for my work – actually – in fact, it’s more of a formula that encapsulates my recent philosophy of life.  It goes like this:

 

care + attention = excellence

 

This simple formula can be applied anytime, anywhere, with any thing, person, object, goal or activity.  In every way.  In all ways.  It will always ensure the same result.  It’s science.  It’s truth.  It’s the formula for my life now.  Income, or no income – all I need is to look around me – at the stunning creation that’s springing to existence in this marvellous city at every remarkable moment – to nod an acknowledgement to it’s shining divinity – to bow in awe at it’s unknowable, vast, tumult – it’s light-speed velocity – and remember that I am ONE with it.  I can’t be left behind.  When I open up, relax and go with the flow; give this moment, every moment, my full care and attention; allow myself to expand, expand, and expand some more; then the excellence of life surrounds me, invites and welcomes, and embraces me.  Ahhhh….

 

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Right Brain

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 23, 2014

18092011_001

Sufferin’ Subterranean Subconscious Subterfuge!  Digging a little further under the surface of some of life’s little goings ons, I’m starting to think about the concept of ‘work’ vs. ‘play’.  About a year ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to ‘work’ anymore – I was only ever going to ‘play’.  It’s all a matter of thought anyway, so why shouldn’t I simply decide for what I really want?  Well, that was all well and good, and I proceeded, in general, to live accordingly, yet now I see that I’ve had an underlying belief system that has been surreptitiously objecting.

I see it from my experience at the Living Miracles Monastery in Utah, when I got a terrible migraine headache that prevented me from joining in a much desired project to paint the tipi.  I simply couldn’t allow myself to enjoy the project.  In essence, I punished myself for my creative desire.

I also see it from my recent clown workshop.  The first two days were excellent and full-on, but the final two days were difficult because I was in a lot of resistance.  Particularly, I was resistant to moving my body, to open-heartedly playing with the group – and even more specifically – joining freely with the (in my opinion) more physically rambunctious boys.  Instead of saying, “yes” to the experience, I began to say “no.”

I also see it from my recent firing at work.  Particularly, since starting, I kept a fundamental attitude of ‘play’.  It made the day go by more pleasantly to maintain this attitude, and, particularly when I felt most down or resistant, I made concerted efforts to change my mind as soon as possible.  One of the other mental adjustments I was practicing regularly was to speak freely with my customers – even if I was feeling angry, tired, sick – all the entirely human qualities a customer service person isn’t supposed to share.  After some experimentation, I learned that people would allow me to say anything as long as my intention was relaxed, open and sharing – and I learned that limits only occurred if my intention slipped to attack, judgement or punishment.  As I learned this, I began to share myself more and more freely – and, especially as I began to know people more personally –I tentatively shared my sense of humour – which, at times, could be obtusely abstract, playfully teasing, or confusingly deadpan.  I was learning about it for myself along the way, as well, and it would surprise me at times, as much as it might surprise the customer.  So, it wasn’t entirely a shock to hear that some customers didn’t understand my humour and complained to the boss.  I now think it’s particularly interesting that I was ‘judged’ and  ‘punished’ (losing my job) for expressing myself more freely, openly and honestly – and just as I was genuinely allowing my sense of humour to come out and play.

This all leads me to a realization that I must still hold a deeper belief about personal self-expression; a belief that I must repress my natural expression for fear of being misunderstood, judged and punished.  I must have fears about playing openly with others, and sharing my stranger – but also more unique and interesting – quirks.  I can also see how this connects to my early childhood experience when, in the exuberance and excitement of playing with some older boys, it got me into life-threatening trouble.  I bet I decided then that ‘play’ – right brain, creative, abstract – was bad or dangerous, and I abandoned it, completely, in favour of the serious, safe, logical, fact based left brain.  I think most of us do it.  As adults, we decide that life is about ‘work’ and we forget about the joy, light and freedom of our curious, lively, foolish inner child.  We forget our child’s easy laughter and the ability to accept others however they are in every moment.  We begin to think our ‘judgement’ will protect us.  We begin to ‘juice’ our grievances and let our thoughts linger on the ‘injustices’ we face.  We begin to believe that other people are ‘against’ us – that they’re only there to present obstacles to our desires – and that the only way to get what we want is to manipulate, force or remove these obstacle-people.  We think that if we could just remove everybody, perhaps we’ll finally get the peace and freedom we feel entitled to.

But it’s a lie.  A pretty convincing set of concepts, I’ll give it that, but entirely, a grievous, pitiful lie.  The left brain is extremely limited.  It can only give us what it ‘knows,’ which means it’s always bound by the past.  Only the right brain, the open aspect of mind that’s ‘unknown,’ can truly extend us into the infinite.

I expressed in my last post ( Kitties, Clowns, Authority and Desire ), that I LOVE my kitty clown, Zephyr.  What I realized in clown class, and what I’m accessing in that character, is my natural right brain creativity that feels SOOOOO FREE!!  It’s powerful because it’s the true self I always wanted to express, or, at least, it’s the denied and repressed part of myself that’s required for complete mental equilibrium.  My deepest desires and passions are linked in there too and, of course, as these passions awaken, they’ll probably drag out a few demons from the arcane depths too.

Which is fine.  It’s worth it.  I’m going there.  Nothing can stop me – except ME.  And, like A Course in Miracles says, “Truth will correct all errors in my mind.”  And so it will.  AMEN!

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Kitties, Clowns, Authority and Desire

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 16, 2014

Strangeness is afoot.  I guess life can be like that. 

I took a four-day Intro to Clown Workshop with the simply divine teacher, Jan Henderson, a few weeks ago.  I had a few pre-conceived ideas about what my clown would be like, and a few things I thought I’d explore in my clown character, but – here’s the thing about clowning – you can’t know in advance how your personal clown will appear!  Mine – surprise! – showed up as a cat!  What a marvellous adventure I had in that class!  There’s an element of serendipity in the birth of a new clown, and when you’re really listening carefully to your own gentle, innocent, intuitive voice within, clown miracles happen!  Such a fantastic, luminous magnificence in every clown that was born that weekend.  We were all very clearly defined in entirely unanticipated, but entirely perfect, ways.  Everyone was adorable – including ME!  I never thought of myself as “cute” before 2014-02-23 15.18.34– but, it was true, as my cat-clown-character, I WAS SOOOOO CUTE!!

Well, since then, the ‘cat’s been out of the bag’… (sorry!)… and my life has taken some surprising turns.  I’ve been putting a lot of focus on exploring my new cat-clown.  Her name is Zephyr (defined as: a gentle westerly wind) and, beyond any explanation my rational mind can make for it, ‘she’ does seem to have a ‘will’ of her own.  I can come up with ideas for her, but once the nose goes on, I can’t anticipate her actions or make her do something she doesn’t want to.  I feel like I’ve just begun to know this marvellous, crazy little kitty and it’s thrilling – to my bones – to discover her!  I’m passionate about her!  In fact, I LOVE her!!  And I want her to LIVE!!

Like I said, it makes no sense to my rational mind.  A CLOWN???  That’s what I want to DO???  NO!!  REALLY???  But… yes.  I can’t help it.  I don’t even know what it means, or what it looks like, but yes.  YES.  Wholeheartedly – YES!!!  Somewhere inside of me, it’s what I’ve ALWAYS wanted!

Then things started to change at my job.  Almost imperceptibly, with little shifts I can’t innumerate, a deadly virus took hold of the place.  I no longer felt like I was allowed to be myself there.  I awoke in trepidation each scheduled work day, and walked around on eggshells.  On a break, I found myself wondering how I could get myself fired – quickly, but without any formal charges (haha!).  I heard from a customer, the same day, that she was hired part time – on a hush hush basis – and suggested that perhaps she was replacing me – adding – “I can only hope!” 

Apparently, my mind is much stronger than I think, and my desire… was fulfilled.  Shucks, ultimately, I didn’t even have to DO anything – I’d already succeeded!  A litany of minuscule mistakes were cited – nothing that amounted to more than a hill of beans, in my humble opinion – but, surprise!  I got my wish!  I was hurt, yes, but, at the same time, I couldn’t get out of there faster.  I’m FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!

The relief I feel is astounding.  I was making such great efforts to conform to expectations – when I never truly knew what any of the expectations were.  Now I see that conforming is not for me.  It never was.  It never will be.  How that looks in this world of ‘jobs’ and ‘paycheques’ and ‘bosses’ – I have no idea.  How I go forward from here… I don’t know.

What I’m most interested in now is something along the lines of ‘embracing my CRAZY’.2014-02-23 15.18.46  Letting all the crazy things I gotta say just come out of my mouth with no judgement, and doing all the crazy things I never had the guts to do before.  When I think of all the times people laughed at something I did on stage, I was always doing something physical – clown gags!  In all my attempts to be the ‘serious’ drama girl, the ‘Shakespeare’ girl, the ‘spiritual’ girl – I was always simply denying the delightful life of my inner FOOL!  In all my attempts to reject and project ‘crazy’ onto the outside screen – my inner crazy was there all the time, inviting me to give in to its GENIUS.

Let’s face it, folks, this is the truth:  we’re all just bumbling idiots in this game of life.  Most of us think we’ve got it all figured out: we follow all the rules because we desperately want to be those ‘good’ little girls and boys we imagine; we project our ‘mistakes’ onto others because we can’t face our own ‘terrible’ imperfections; and we pretend we have the authority to make others bend to our will and do things we most prefer them to.  And we’re shattered when somebody shows up that we can’t manipulate.  HA!  This is what I’ve learned: If I let others be free to do whatever they do, without judgement, it’s a gift I give to MYSELF!  And the ‘authority’ I fear is just as much of a bumbling idiot as everyone else; scrambling around for tiny morsels of acceptance and inclusion – but always terrified that they’re not worthy of it.  They’re not any better than me, or wiser.  They don’t know something more than I do.  Because, kids, none of us know ANYTHING!!!  The ONLY authority is ME – MY choice over MY life in this moment, NOW.  And not knowing, in any way, how it’ll turn out – but hopeful that, if I do what I most want now, the outcome will be something along the lines of what I want (consciously or unconsciously, at least) later.  That’s it.

And now I think I know what Thomas Edison felt like; his mind filled with a flood of creative fire that couldn’t be quenched.  I’ve been so creatively energized lately – with creations of all varieties spilling out of me at record pace.  No wonder I didn’t want to go to work – what I’m doing at home is so much more, infinitely, fulfilling.  Here’s something else I’ve learned recently: you can’t get rid of desires by sublimating them.  That’s not what The Buddha did to become enlightened.  I tried denying my desires for ten years – and it only hurt me.  At the same time, I also know the danger of desires running rampant – they’re a bottomless bucket.  So what else did The Buddha say…  ummm… something about the MIDDLE way?  Haha.  Yes.  That’s what I’m shooting for now.  Some desires just have to be lived through.  Lived though?  What FOR? 

… for joy and happiness.  That’s right, kids.  FOR JOY and HAPPINESS.  Whose joy and happiness?  MINE.  Does it sound selfish?  It does – but that’s because I can’t live by what someone else wants – even if I know exactly what that is.  We’ll never succeed at that game – because everyone’s responsible for their OWN happiness.  We can’t choose it for someone else – but we CAN choose it for ourselves, right now.  And that’s exceptionally good news!

Peace and love, holy brothers and sisters – darling crazy fools – every last one of ya!

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Freddie

Posted by Amanda Gray on January 19, 2014

Amanda Gray:

These are simply exquisite! I looooove KidddddEEEES!!!

Originally posted on Creative Splurges:

Just before Christmas my wife and I welcomed a new member to our family. No, not a baby. Not another new lens either – I’m not that far gone I’d consider a lens a new member of our family, not yet anyway. Courtesy of my sister-in-law’s cat, who had a litter back in November, we were given a little boy kitten a week before Christmas day. We’ve named him Freddie.

1/80, f/4, ISO 5000, 47mm

1/80, f/4, ISO 5000, 47mm

He’s settling in much faster than Rambow and Zelda did when we adopted them back in May. Even Cookie, our first cat and one notoriously bad at accepting animals, or people, or generally anyone who isn’t me or my wife, has warmed to him quicker than she did to the other two. I guess she must be getting used to this by now. Not that she looks particularly happy about this new development in her…

View original 949 more words

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Judgement, Control and Specialness

Posted by Amanda Gray on December 14, 2013

So… my improv class was excellent.  I learned a lot about improv, but, even greater, I used the situation to practice setting aside my inner judge.  I allowed no thoughts of wrongdoing by anyone, anyhow, even of myself.  Exclusively, I trusted every impulse to jump in, or stay out, what words came out of my mouth, how others reacted to me, how the games or scenes played out, or when the end of a scene arrived.  It was a great practice.  I simply never allowed my thoughts to linger upon negative or limiting ideas.  It allowed me to see how easily things went without constant weighing and analysis in my mind.  I’ve also been successful in extending the practice to the rest of my life now, as well.

I’ve also started looking at my anger.  One of the topics I could never address when I visited the Living Miracles Monastery was anger.  Back then, I couldn’t even admit to feeling it!  Now I see that I’ve been angry a lot, and sometimes, it’s even like a drilling jack hammer of attack thoughts that I can’t seem to turn off.  Looking deeper at the pattern, I see that it’s because I’ve been wanting to control other people.  Well, no kidding, Sherlock – of course that’s what an ego wants.  It’s chief modus operandi is to usurp the power of God!  Yet, by the desire to control, the underlying premise concludes that I don’t already have control and must GET it.  Which leads to the question: who’s dreaming this dream?  Of course, I’m doing this to myself.  The fear being that if I don’t control those people ‘out there’, they’ll hurt me – yet, if I decide not to use them to prove a belief that I’m weak and a victim – they CAN’T hurt me.  It all gets pretty twisted up in here!

Furthermore, I’m looking closer at my acting desire.  What is it for?  After my improv class, I see that there’s really no way to separate the acting from the actor and the root desire to be a special body.  This is important to see, because I must also see that even though I gave up my acting profession 10 years ago, I never gave up the desire for special attention.  I just moved the audience closer.  Now it’s my mom, or my friends, or my customers at the store.  I’m still – yes, no bones about it – CONSTANTLY, trying to USE them to get their attention and keep it, just so I can feel better about myself – so I can maintain a sense of ‘specialness’.

It’s interesting how this realization came about.  We have a customer at the store that we call ‘Our Favourite’.  But actually, we all hate her.  I quickly learned that if I help her, she’ll hijack me, make me lead her to every item on her shopping list, and even get me to carry out her three little bags of groceries before I can finally escape her. Along the way, she acts like she’s stupid and helpless, asks inane questions about the products, and, generally, impedes me from helping other customers.  She can be pleasant, but she can also be loud, demanding and has some kind of iron clad mental grip that I haven’t understood.  I learned that this customer makes me feel extremely angry, and rather than being able to extend my natural sense of helpfulness to her, instead, I feel obligated, hateful and, eventually, guilty.  She disturbs me so greatly, that, of course, I have to ask why.  What is it about her behaviour that I must hate and deny in my own behaviour?  I found myself using the word ‘vampire’ as I thought about her, and finally, this morning, I realized the lesson she was teaching.  She’s a vampire for attention!  Like ME!!!  And if I don’t get the attention I want, I become demanding and angry about it too.  She wants to control me to keep my attention and I don’t want to be controlled.  Does anyone???  AH-HA!

Well… ain’t that cute.  NOT!  That ‘control’ is a terrible burden to inflict upon my brothers and sisters.  And it keeps peace from my mind.  Do I want peace?  Then I must notice when I’m deliberately throwing it away.  And now that I’m wise to these particular antics, I can stop.  I want to stop.  No judgement – just go forward and ‘sin no more’.

With sincere thanks to ‘Our Favourite’ customer.

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Giving Myself Permission

Posted by Amanda Gray on October 27, 2013

It happened while I was watching the movie Flowers of War.  A scene with Christian Bale, dressed as a Catholic priest, telling a prostitute that he loves her, all of her, even, what might be considered, her shameful history.  Apparently, it was what I needed to hear too.  My heart filled with tenderness and love for these people – these actors – who I suddenly understood.  They might be wearing costumes, have various sets of ideas upon which they acted, but, beneath these affectations, there was a core that was – or at least, could be – REAL.  I saw that the actors power lay not in the affectations of personality, in the form of their bodies, or, even in the words they spoke, but in the very LIFE that flowed through them, and in the transmission of universal truth: the greatest unconditional love and acceptance – beyond any of our mere human imagining.

In that moment, I knew that I loved myself in this way, and I remembered that I once was, and could be again, that kind of actor.  I just had to give myself permission.  Whew!  A burden that I barely knew I was carrying, suddenly fell off.  I realized that I was holding an idea that, as an actor, I was fake, a liar, and a manipulator that merely used acting to get attention.  It may have been true in my past, when I was an actor-beggar: empty within, my hands reaching, folded like a cup, and begging anyone who passed to see me, recognize me… LOVE me!  But, like an addiction, no amount of attention was ever enough.  Thus my odyssey to depart entirely from the actor’s profession and ‘find myself’.

And so, thirteen years later, but suddenly, in an instant, I knew I was FOUND.  No longer empty, I was FULL inside – there WAS something REAL within – and, whatever this ‘energy’ was, it wanted to EXTEND itself.  What had changed?  I had simply forgiven myself.  I had never been fake, or a liar.  I had simply been wearing the clothes of illusion, as we all do in this human drama.  Yet, even as the clothes change, the ideas of ourselves shift, the conditions of our lives weather, what we truly ARE stays the same.  It’s the foundation, the rock, that can be trusted and built upon.

So, I began to gather myself for a comeback. Yes, I could be an actor again, and pursue this creative activity that I had always loved.  As much as I had tried, I could never truly deny this part of myself anyway, and it was only painful to suppress.  And, yes, I could, and wanted to, share this gift, this inner wealth and joy, with others.  I gave myself full permission and began to read plays, learn new monologues, lose weight, exercise, and practice singing.  I signed up for an improv class (starting next month).  I contacted a few agents.  I had a ton of renewed energy.  I truly valued myself again. My life had new meaning.

And it still does – it’s not in the past tense – but – I can’t just leave it alone and let it happen, I have to keep questioning it – am I falling into an ego trap?  Am I still just trying to use this ‘costume’ to get attention, to be different and special?

Then I started to notice what’s been inspiring me more recently: Russell Brand in various YouTube videos: unscripted words and ideas flowing out of his mouth like grand tapestries, his mind constantly exploding like a nuclear reactor!  And he’s much like my friend, Benjamin Smyth, in San Francisco – full on, no holds barred, anyplace and anytime, EXPRESSION! And also like David Bowie in his early years – an alien, a man from Mars – a shifting, diaphanous mystery! And they’re all much like the improvisers that I know and love (and still regularly dream about) in my home town. Ultimately, these people don’t require a script, or a stage, or a film set, or permission from anyone to express themselves – they just DO.  And they DO like they couldn’t stop themselves if they tried!

And I’ve been experimenting with these ideas in my own life – wherever I find myself: what if I just opened my mind and my

Kabuki Warrior

A creative disguise!

mouth and just SAID whatever was there?  Without editing myself?  Without judging it before it even has a chance?  And, what I’m learning is that amazing things are coming out – silly things – funny things – shocking things – but they’re all a thrill to witness and, surprise surprise, that others seem to really enjoy them too!  They’re not offended.  They don’t hate me.  They don’t want to kill me.  And I’m learning that my ideas aren’t insipid or meaningless, in fact, in the natural flow, they don’t ‘belong’ to ‘me’ at all!

In college, my classmates presented me with the “Story for All Occasions” award.  I’m sure they meant well, but I felt ashamed by it, ashamed of my predilection to incessantly talk about myself.  And so, I began to hold the idea that my natural expression was wrong, too excessive, or that there was nothing good or important in it.  Ultimately, I began to believe that I “had nothing to say.”  I began to move further and further away from natural expression:  I stopped doing improv and decided that I could only perform with a script; I stopped performing on stage and decided I could only do film; I stopped acting entirely and decided I had nothing creative to offer.  See, stepping back and closing off with greater and greater amounts of self editing.

Today I see that I don’t have to edit anymore, and I won’t.  That I don’t need a particular place or form, or anyone else’s permission to be and express myself. I don’t even have to call myself an ‘actor’.  There’s no difference between a stage, or a grocery store, or a street corner – I can BE what I am, fully, without conceit, and without shame, anywhere and anytime.  LIFE lives though me right NOW!  And it’s beautiful and magnificent and unfathomable – and rude, and loud, and shocking, and funny, and mischievous, and loving – and anything else that can (or can’t) be imagined!  And it’s ALL OK!!!  What it isn’t – is boring or predictable!

And that’s, most definitely, what I want, cherish and LOVE most!  Full on.  All in.  AMEN.

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Post Script:  I notice that this post is almost exactly like the last (Follow the White Rabbit).   Strange.  Early onset Alzheimers?   A manifestation of ‘expression’ anxiety?  I don’t know.  I’ll just forgive myself for the silly repetition.  It begs the question: How can I be truly expressive if I’m merely regurgitating the past?

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Follow the White Rabbit

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 13, 2013

So I finally have the job situation I always dreamed about – working 3 days a week, at something generally enjoyable (customer service) – and having 4 days off – to do whatever I want.  Yes, I finally have the perfect work/life balance situation… but what have I done with my 4 days off every week for the past 2 months?  Nothing.  All inspiration has completely dried up!

So, my left brain has done what it’s always done: tried to fill the perceived lack.  It frantically sought for an activity to inspire and fill my free time.  First, I thought I’d make another short film, but I couldn’t come up with any interesting ideas.  So then I looked to the past: I bought a book and downloaded some software, hoping to resurrect my computer programming skills from 13 years ago.  Yet, the ambition has been sporadic.  I dug out my cooking books from when I was a professional pastry cook 19 years ago.  I examined the recipes, thinking that I might rent a kitchen and make some cakes to sell.  But that ambition dried up too.

Then I was invited to guest teach a drama class at the local school.  Again I picked a few books from the bookshelf, dusted them off, and resurrected my professional acting skills from 21 years ago.

The day I spent with the kids was amazing.  First, I spent a couple of hours trying, with difficulty, to motivate, a very unmotivated, group of teenagers.  I did my best, and enjoyed the experience with them, for what it was.  Still, at that point, when I might have felt disappointed with the outcome, I was asked to present my acting exercises again with a larger group of, far more motivated and energetic, junior high kids.  Later, when I considered the two, highly contrasting, experiences, I could see how the aperture of life – energy, experimentation, and joy – that the younger group displayed with abundance, can close down in our teen years – just as we start to feel self-conscious and begin to judge ourselves (and everything else).

I can now see how the teenage period of life can magnify a fear of expressing.  For most, it’s a fear of judgement, or rejection by others.  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if I hurt someone’s feelings?  What if they misunderstand me?  And mostly, in my life, I’ve preempted my self expression right off the bat – just blocked it, entirely.  When I look within, I find nothing… just a solid black wall… so I believe that I have nothing important or valuable to express.  As I became habitual in my disregard for my own creative imagination, and established a belief in creative poverty, I spent my life searching for a specific form (i.e. “acting”) that could restore it.  Always regurgitating someone else’s ideas and words, yet desperately wanting to create something unique – and express my true self.  Yet, I felt that I couldn’t: What can I say if I don’t have anything to say?  On the other hand, if I don’t value my own ideas, who will?

- Now I see why I developed a major migraine at the monastery last year when I was helping to paint the tipi.  I became sick as a denial of my creative expression.

- Now I see why I couldn’t stay to participate in the Strawberry Fields Music Festival.  Because I was jealous of the ones who could openly express themselves.

- Now I see why I had to meet Ben when I went to San Francisco.  He’s FULL ON expression, all the time!  And because I could see my greatest desire in him – to express without fear – I loved him and was able to join with him in the spirit of that love.

Furthermore, as I’ve continued to inquire into my desire to express, I’ve used the population at large as an experiment group.  One day, my question was: How honest can I really be with my customers at work?  All day long, I allowed myself to say whatever was on my mind – even if it was, in my opinion, rather rude, and, in the past, I would’ve censored it.  Surprisingly, I learned that people could take all kinds of honesty – and even seemed to appreciate it – as long as it was said with an attitude of humour, a tease, or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge.  Then, it didn’t come across as rude, it was funny instead, and a shared ‘truth-joke’ between us.  My experiment failed only when my statements were fuelled with a sour attitude, a judgement of the other person, or anger used to defend and attack.  Then I was belittling, or patronizing, and it was no fun at all.  I judged myself most harshly when I made the mistake, felt horribly guilty, and expected to be punished.  I wasn’t punished, thank God, but I had to move quickly into forgiveness to restore the situation, and I learned that no one is ever fooled with the underlying intention – particularly myself.  Acting shmackting!

And I started to ask: what does it really mean to express myself?  Does it require a particular form?  If I’m walking, talking, moving, thinking, drawing, singing, working, doing dishes or shovelling shit – am I not always expressing myself???  I listened to an Adyashanti radio show where Mukti (his wife, also a spiritual teacher) said, “We meditate to express ourselves.”  I had never thought of meditation in this way before!  Could I be ‘expressing myself’ in meditation?  Well… not if it’s only FEAR that’s allowed!  That’s the nothing – the black wall – that I’ve experienced within.  I’ve been afraid of myself!!!  I’m blocking myself!!!  From what I really want!!!  ARRRRRGH!!!

- Now I see why I kept manifesting painful pimples around my mouth.  I felt guilty that I wasn’t participating in the ego story: that I be an actor (or artist, or rock star, etc.) – and then I’ll be great and famous – and then people will love me – and then I’ll feel loved and be happy.  I was fixated on a particular and preferred, but also very limited, ‘form’ of expression – and when I participated in activities that haven’t perfectly matched that form, I felt guilty and punished myself with pimples.  I felt envious of the creative expression of others (also in particular forms)… and punished myself with pimples.  The bottom line, of course, is that I’ve been denying expression that could’ve been going on all the time, regardless of form.  Also, I’ve been more interested in ‘getting’ a particular outcome (ultimately, love) than I’ve been in the expression itself.  Which – paradoxically – can only come from a natural extension of our truth – being LOVE.  Haha!  Twisted!

DSC04120

What if… I open my mind… and remove all limited ideas of a particular form or activity for my life?  What if I allow my burning desire to express, allow it to arise from the depths of my guts, and ask it how IT wants to move?  In THIS moment?

What if I follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole?

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