contrasts


I know that sometimes, when I post stuff, it almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t (not really). The more I know, the less I know I know.

I reread stuff and realize that I sound like a pompous ass (sometimes I am, but mostly not-this I know). I cringe and wonder whether I should share when things bubble up and ask to be written down. I’m an extroverted introvert, so sharing is difficult sometimes. I don’t really like small talk but I can be good at it. I know how to draw people out but struggle to keep from withdrawing myself, of letting people in.

So today I was thinking about how, when life is complicated, my natural inclination is to simplify it where ever I can. This leads to less than optimal choices, sometimes, but there is only so much time and me to go around.

In that vein, my lunch today was leftover pizza and Lynda Barry’s book, Syllabus. It is brilliant and encourages exploration. I haven’t made any visual art in a while and just reading the material is causing a niggling remembrance… an urge that needles me until I grab something to doodle with.

I like books that make me think, that make me stretch and reach beyond what I am comfortable with, whether it’s a concept introduced within the context of a story (of a novel, say) or whether it’s in the form of a workbook of sorts (as is the case with Barry’s book). I have shelves of books that do these kinds of things. One can’t help but grow if one is continually reaching out to be challenged by them.

Sometimes I challenge too, with my writing or my artwork. I think the nature of creating is, as Lynda says in Syllabus, is the act of “being present and seeing what’s there” and “something inside one person takes external form – contained by a poem, story, picture, melody, play, etc – and through a certain kind of engagement, is transferred to the inside of someone else. Art as a transit system for images”.

I propose that it is a transit system for a kind of symbiosis of emotional experience.

I’ve come to find that as individuals, though in part we share much, our uniqueness makes it difficult to really walk a mile in another pair of shoes. We only have our own point of reference through which to see the world, no matter HOW empathetic we believe we are. We relate whatever is happening through our own emotional sensors and more than likely misinterpret how someone else is experiencing life because we stream it through the container of our own experience.

I think we are pattern-makers; we correlate things in order to gain better understanding of self and other (which also keeps most of us -thankfully- from engaging in our more base and violent tendencies).

Even though I may seek understanding and similitude, there doesn’t exist a person who can identically be me (or you, or… whatever – you get the picture).

Truth is, I don’t want to be like anyone else. What I want is to be more me. The journey of discovery has been a long one and it obviously (isn’t it obvious?) is an enduring one because no matter where we are along it, there is always another layer of self to peel away.

Stay curious, my friends… and brave.

small everything 5.24.15

        

A friend recently shared with me a beautiful and poignant piece. It was about his first encounter with the place he has come to call home.

I think there is breathtaking beauty in this world, all edges of it. Sometimes one of them speaks to us on a level only our soul understands, so we feel compelled to stay.

When I was young I used to fear becoming so entrenched in the familiar (the places I inhabited and the people who shared them with me), that I worried I would be unable to extricate myself from its grasp. I remember reading Les Filles de Caleb and wondering how all at once small and large the world must have felt back then. I felt anchored to place because of my family but after my father died, so did my sense of belonging to place. I have not felt at home anywhere in the world, even as each place felt more like home after I’d left it behind in search of a new one which I hoped I would once again, yet struggled to, be at peace in.

For decades now, the world has shrunk immensely, even for the common folk. Travel is more accessible and should travel still be out of reach, we can witness things on the other side of the globe with a few clicks or taps (in real time, even) wherever there is wifi and an internet connection (which is to say pretty much everywhere).

This morning I was contemplating the world (again). I was thinking of Revelations and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (and of course ruminating on biblical legend and myth, and wondering how much of it was folk/fairytale equivalent and how much of it might be historical – and, judging by the context, whether determining which it was would matter and/or whether any of it was still relevant for our present day world).

I was thinking how some events smacked of being right out of apocalyptic scripture, groups of people wreaking destruction, not spreading but rather being the essence of pestilence, like a virus.

I was thinking how foolhardy it is to follow the words of the old prophets so closely that the message is missed, that perhaps Revelations is not about something external -an actual apocalypse- but rather something akin to the Dark Night of the Soul during which we must face our own symbolic death, cross Hades and get to the other side in order to become self-realized and in touch with our divine selves.

This flesh and blood show holds such great potential, great possibility, and yet in ignorance and misunderstanding of the sacred and profane it is poorly appreciated, the magnificence encapsulated within each of the moments, each of the inhabitants (animated or inanimate) remaining unseen. We fail to bear witness because we are searching for something else, something that we continuously overlook because we fail to comprehend it even as it is right there in plain sight. I have overlooked it, too, for so very long; certainly I would have in my youth. I did not have the eyes to see (and I still don’t in moments when I am beside myself and out of sync); I was too filled with pride and ego and fear and prejudice, not seeing what was but interpreting it in relation to my expectations of what it was meant to be.

Some days I move down deeper into my body and feel who I was at different times of my life. It’s a hard thing to explain, really, but I go through my memories and physically feel the joys and the anxieties that I felt during other stages of my life. The certitudes. The fears. The joys. The disappointments. So many feelings. I have become an emotional psychopomp to my previous selves. There are so many of me. I still feel them all, acutely, even as I try to pull them into the light.

When I was reading the Vedas all those years ago, I would often be mystified at how there could be so many emanations of a single godhead. Now, perhaps, I have a deeper insight into what this might represent. If the gods were made in our image (as opposed to the often-sited opposite), then this would contextually make a lot of sense.

While I respect many people, and bear witness to their right and entitlement to embody whomever they are, there are few that I admire or wish to emulate. On some days I wouldn’t even wish to emulate myself (though it is difficult to get away from ourselves, isn’t it?).

And people, this is now my mind veers. I am shown a physical landscape and I delve into the landscape of the soul.

un poème

J’ai aimé un homme,
de tout coeur, de tout corps.
On était si jeune, qu’on ne
savais pas ce que c’étais encore.

Je lui ai dit qu’une parti
de mon coeur lui appartiendra,
où il habitera même quand
l’oublie et le temps passera.

Mais c’est vraie que le tout
change, malgré les louanges
au fond de la mémoire, le
battement du coeur change.

Je ne sais pas ce que c’est
la vérité, et comment l’on poursuit
ce chimère de construit entre
la veillesse et la mélancholie.

(c) 2015 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

molten brain puddles

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My Christmas tree is still up.
I kid you not.

I’ve been working a job and a half, thereby eliminating any sort of “day off”, and when I have a free night, or part of a day, I can’t help myself – I chill.

Tonight the thing that sounded best, after reheating pasta from last week for dinner, was a spot of reading and a nice little split of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The book is pretty light reading and not anywhere as engaging as Eat Pray Love (as one of the many review snippets at the front of it alluded to), but it’s still fodder for my imagination that feeds my own aspirations of a visit to the grande dame of cities, and eventually perhaps the rest of the country.

The weather has been behaving these last few days. Sundown was spectacular this evening, and we’ve been graced with light since Saturday. It certainly makes the length of my work days more bearable when I at least get to see some sunlight (even if it’s interrupted by a bus ride nap).

The winter has felt long. We’ve had lots of rain even though the rainfall has (supposedly) been below “normal”. I think that sounds funny, especially when rivers of rain flow down the street more briskly than the Santa Ana flows most of the time.

Those are the days that I wish I was back in Orange County.

The air is always fresh here, though, and the layer of moss on everything that remains in place for any length of time is even (mostly) charming.

It’s a matter of negotiating the less appealing aspects with some finely tuned biochemical assistance. Like sublingual vitamin d drops, for instance.

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Last week I viewed from the top of our tower some local film crews setting and shooting scenes. My guess is it’s Once Upon A Time, still shooting their NYC scenes.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more filming since I’ve been in Vancouver than I ever did while I was in California.

Well… that’s all she wrote (at least for tonight).

Bonne nuit, mes chouettes.

another revolution (around a year)

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The sun is coming up.
The cloud-speckled sky is reminiscent of an Easter egg, all pinks and purples and blues of every hue.
It’s cold, too, by Northwest standards.
I ponder this coming year.

My emails are awash with warnings that Mercury goes retrograde today.
I’m here wondering what the future will bring; how to plan for a future I am so uncertain of.

I am also greeted by wishes for a good day today by many people, many who I’ve only gotten to know via art or poetry groups online.
I am grateful to my communities and astounded that people care enough to send a message.

It’s the little things that string together joy in life, and the people.

Gold daylight bounces off of a mirrored building as I wait for the bus.
My fingers tingle with the cold as I press out this note.

I’m on the bus and the driver sings happy birthday to me.
We have come to know each other through the daily ritual of commuting.

The sky floods with yellow and orange washes.
Someone offers me their seat.
I hesitate to take it because the one who offers it up is a woman who I know will be riding the route to its very end, downtown.
I have never witnessed a man ever offering up their seat to anyone.
It’s always the women getting up… for the elderly, for others.

I don’t remember it being this way in Montreal two decades ago, when I rode transit there but it has been a long time and perhaps things have changed there too.

I’m revelling in the little things, sitting in gratitude even though I hope for more.

An easier life.
Perhaps a bit more love.
Time to create, which I have let sag due to working so many hours just to keep up with the bills.

Fatigue wins out at the end of the day, after last minute items for dinner are picked up, meals have been prepared and the house tidied up.

The Christmas tree still reigns in the living room, waiting to be boxed back up until the next holiday season.

I ponder the option of merely changing the ornaments and leaving it up year ’round but realize that even changing the ornaments is more time than I wish to spend on the endeavour.

I’ve become increasingly efficient.
Time is at a premium and I get the things that I would otherwise procrastinate on done because I can no longer afford to push things off for when I have more time.

There is no more time.

I continue to crunch on how I will figure out a way to knit (my preferred form of meditation) and to write, because nothing makes my heart soar so high as a good write.

Fatigue leaves my brain foggy and unresponsive, once again confirming what I’d read in Scarcity, that our higher cognitive functions, when our minds are overtaxed, operate at a lower level of intelligence.
Thankfully I have a bit of grey matter to spare, but truly, I could use all of it now.

Instead the mind fog flows in and things become simplified.
I marvel at the filigree tree branches highlighted against a striated morning sky.

a poem-ish

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On the eve of a full moon
(c) 2015 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

What to do with this tidal wave,
this flow of heart madness, of
sorrow and joy, intermingled?
Nostalgia and hope fanning at
flames which feel far too big; I’m
heat choked and tear-brimmed.
What to do with all of this power
that is monumental in size and
yet so easily drowned in sleep?
So many moments slip by, too soon,
without ever amounting to much;
like me, half formed and forever
in progress – the unfinished book.
I fight with the urge to admit that
I miss the gentleness of someone
else’s hand; the weakness of
admitting this weakness staggers me.
My own handling of myself has
become clinical – rubbing, tugging,
lathering, soaking; rueing the
extra poundage around my belly
that I wonder who else would love
aside from a mother no longer here.
Even she didn’t love it so much;
she’d ask about my weight as though
it were a personified, extra family
member, the derided black sheep.
A part I couldn’t quite shake off –
a barnacle. One time, I went to
the beach and gathered shells.
I made it all the way home
before I realized that the little
creature that had cemented itself to
the side of one of the shells was alive.
It seemed like it was gasping,
looking for its salty sustenance.
I made my husband take it back,
a thirty minute return trip. If only
saving a life was as easy, some
semblance of normal so easily gained.
What does it take to reach someone,
inside, deep, without endoscope or
sound waves to bounce off of, to find
the parts that can’t be measured
but that are there, always, hidden?
It’s easier to pretend the giant turtle
isn’t in the room. Instead there
is always something to keep
busy with – something that needs
attending to; our minutes swarmed
by busyness. If time was scant these
kinds of things, which surely would
not matter much, and important things,
maybe they’d matter more. Maybe
just feeling is enough anymore;
the things that flutter the heart and
knot the stomach are enough.
Some would tell you that there is
no difference between these,
that it all just is, we but vehicles,
so the ineffable can experience itself.
Others would say that only through
the ineffable can we fully be alive, we
but golem, wandering, purposeless.
Perhaps it doesn’t really matter
which of it is true, only which we
decide to believe, our task to figure out
how to kill two birds with a single stone.
Today I read: “Inside my bones I begin
to hear whispers of ways back to myself.”
How did we become so lost to ourselves
that only the echoes of our voice buried
within our bones can lead us back home?
I am here, silent except for the tapping
of fingers on the keyboard, the
shushing of vehicles heard through
a parted door – I am listening.