So tell me… how do you want to feel?
I’ve been reading Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map with great interest the last couple of weeks. I’ve been pondering on what desires are – the difference between the transient yearnings and those at the root of my core operating system. The latest chapter up for discussion speaks to the difference between feelings and emotions, or whether there is a difference in the nuance, and whether it matters in any other way but for our own point of reference.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done some deeper inquiry, well THIS deep anyway (and long is a relative term in my world) but I’ve found this tack particularly useful – I wish I would have come across this earlier – much, much earlier.
Isn’t it simply brilliant to think to come at a result through how we want to feel while in the process, throughout its pursuit? Not just at the assumed end of the journey, when you’ve gotten what you have been wanting but all along it too, because how you feel throughout every moment of it is equally important?
Yeah, yeah… we’ve seen the whole “the joy is in the journey” spiel, but funnelling it down to how you want to feel throughout the journey is different from deriving joy from the journey in some indefinite, abstract, way, despite the journey oftentimes bucking you in the head many times over for good measure. It’s almost antithetical, that way of looking – like testing to see how many times can you be smacked over the head and still get up with a smile.
I’ve mentioned before how much of a self-help queen I’ve been throughout my life. I mean we might as well make the best of it while we are here, and there is always room for new learning (even Einstein said so : “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”).
I find that through this adjusted perspective I come to know myself a little better. I pay more attention – to myself, to others. Awareness seeps outward like an ink stain on a white shirt, and with it a sense of joy, too. We all desire joy, happiness. It is what drives us onward to seek it out, and yet the ways in which we come to feel it are vastly different. The more insight we can have into that unfolding, the better.
I think about the conversations I could have had with former lovers about desires, which might have led to different choices by virtue of the clarity that this process enables. Well, assuming people engage with the line of inquiry… that engagement or lack of it speaks volumes anyway.
I ponder why it is so difficult for people to communicate on a deeper level. Are we just afraid of risking vulnerability or is it something else? Are we afraid to really delve that deeply into ourselves? Or are we just afraid of what we might find there, much less admitting it to another? Or is it fact that once we see something, whatever it is, we can no longer deny it, and something must be done about it. We must deal with our desires. Maybe we are not equipped to deal with them all. The thing about desires, though, is that when you dig down deep enough, they become simple. It is how we pursue fulfilling them that complicates things, sometimes.
I’m pretty sure my core desires haven’t changed much over the years, only the ways in which I go about filling them. Or perhaps rather in how I’ve come to define them. I’ve come a long way there too, I think. It makes me happy to know that – to really feel it. I suppose it would be easy considering I have only myself to contend with, and that it’s impossible to be externally influenced if one is not sharing one’s life with another. And yet I’d like to think that I’ve become self-aware enough that even if another person were to come into my periphery that I would remain consistent – true to the desires I wish to attend to at my core. I hope so, anyway.
I fully resonate with the sayings that acknowledge that knowing oneself is the greatest freedom, or wisdom. It empowers you to make choices. Any other way would mean that the choices you make end up ruling you, cutting off your freedom to make any due to their very involuntary nature.
Desire has been given such a bad rap. It’s become a dirty word, not because of the more visceral aspects it suggests, the sexual connotations. Rather, because of the complexity of dealing with the underlying urges that push us to act out of our place of desire, it has become something to subjugate or annihilate – it’s supposedly the beast that must be slain, a thing that while alive will always risk injury to self or others. I think perhaps unexamined desire is that way, but when investigated and not left to fester and morph into something horribly formidable, it serves our higher purpose. It becomes our ally. It moves us to create.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
The sound of metal hitting metal permeates the house. It is relentless. They are driving steel rods into the earth for the Skytrain station being built across the street, and the construction noise is nerve-wracking.
When the banging stops the silence in the wake of the noise is so loud that it almost hurts. I’ve been drowning it out with music but I want to write and I can’t focus as well on the writing when I am listening to music, so the unsilent silence is what I will have to live with.
Somewhere in there is a metaphor for my present moment, I’m sure.
I awoke late this morning, at a few minutes short of ten, and by the time I’d gotten the coffee making, breakfast eating sorted out, personal hygiene and other things done, it is now twenty-five after eleven. I want to work on my Cauliflower story. I have a group coaching call with Jill at noon and so there isn’t much time to get into the momentum of writing – it will have to wait until afterwards. I’ve written my dream log (first thing, upon waking) and I’ve checked my email, flicked and unsubscribed from the endless sea of spam messages as they came in, and went to the Esso station to pick up a half litre of half & half so I can have my coffee. I’ve eaten some yogurt and granola and I’ve showered. I’ve cleaned out the cat’s litter box and swept the entryway.
The days are flowing by more quickly than I’d like them to, although I am also anxiously awaiting the arrival of some money which will not be for another couple of weeks yet. It’s been difficult, but I am learning to sink into ease despite the discomfort. I’ve been creatively productive, though, if I have to dig around for a silver lining.
*oh! the mail… through the mail slot… always makes me jump…*
Well, the mail brought a bill for our health coverage services and I am unable to pay it, so I called them and they’ve put a temporary hold on collection services and I can also apply for the waiving of the fees during my unemployment. Which is a relief because I don’t want to have to choose between food and healthcare coverage, or rather be forced to pay for the coverage at the expense of having food.
Well. So here I am again in this really uncomfortable place of not having. And it sucks. And I’m tired of being here over and over and over again.
And I’m also trying to not feel sorry for myself. I’m trying to be optimistic while sharing my story.
And I’m noting that I am in constant struggle with my inner critic who says things like “I have not been doing anything constructive”, which is something that is mirrored by others around me. “WHAT have you been doing with your time?” they ask. “WHY haven’t you found work yet?” “You need a job – stop being so picky.”
All sort of true things. True in that it is obvious that I must work again (or generate an income in some way), but also not true in that I must be hasty in my selection of the work I choose. Yes, there is a sense of urgency but I have to trust that the steps I am taking, in concert, will yield the results that I wish to gain. And I’m figuring it out as I am going along. New territory is always tough to breach. I don’t have a map, really. Just some landmarks to follow as I stumble across the terrain, trying to get to the other side, to where I really want to be. Today that would be a nice sunny soft sand oceanside beach, with a good book and a picnic basket. With wine. LOTS of wine.
I know there are other people that are way worse off than I am or are having some insane life challenges that are way beyond my little woes (like a woman from one of our online art groups who had to go in to surgery yesterday to have her tongue removed because of the big “C” … or … after looking at the photo essay by Lisa Kristine on Modern Day Slavery, my life looks like a cake walk in comparison). So much courage out there and I feel laughably ridiculous with my little woes. First World Problems. But problems nonetheless.
They are my woes, and I still have to deal with them, and it still feels … hard. By honouring that I am allowed to find things difficult validates me in a way that I have not been able to find validation from any other source: it gives me courage to dig deeper and go just a little beyond myself.
Being vulnerable is often considered a character flaw. I don’t mean vulnerable in the sense of being at risk of injury but the kind that is to authentically share what it feels like being you, including the nasty bits that make you (and possibly other people) uncomfortable. Scary.
I have very little idea who reads this blog or how it is received. I don’t want to further burden an already over-burdened world. I do want to share, though, my unadulterated journey because I’m sure that there are others who feel exactly the same way I do about something but they feel isolated and marginalized in some way, and UNHEARD.
So this is what I want to create, I suppose … a vehicle to hear and to be heard.
I choose to do it by writing my own story. I open up a window for others to peer in to – sometimes that simple act allows others to create their own opening and show just a little more of themselves.
I consider the showing and the witnessing a sacred act.
And I consider that unfolding to be a victory.
I never know where these things will go when I first start on them. This one ended up with a poem fragment from Instead of Indonesia by Sarah Bein that I gleaned long ago in a workshop somewhere and hoarded with me over the miles. Words that meant something then, when I read them, and something now, reading them anew, different but them same. I marvel at the patterns of life, how inexplicably they repeat themselves, as dependably as the moon and her tidal pulls.
I spent the weekend watching movies and letting myself become overcome by floods of emotion. It’s been exhausting, actually. I’m not sure I’ve gained anything but I did create something, so I suppose that is good.
Still a work-in-progress, but it started as a Sharpie sketch on card stock that I cut out and pasted down into a journal I made in a Kelly Kilmer class with a ready background (which was basically a print pulled off from the paint saturated journal cover). Not done with it yet, but it’s a start. She smacks of flowery faced Blodeuwedd.
“Yield and you need not break
Bent you can straighten
Emptied you can hold
Torn you can mend”
(Tao Te Ching)
There has been an influx of moths in my place; sometimes they follow me around. After smooshing several of them, I began to wonder whether they were harbingers of some sort, and smooshing them without acknowledging their message was doing each of us a disservice.
So I researched the mythological implications of moths. These are little white or beige moths, the kind that like to work their way through your wardrobe like a buffet, thoughtfully leaving little holes here and there in your wools and silks. However, I’ve discovered that moths do indeed have stories to tell, or rather, there are stories about moths that seem to fit with my current circumstances, so perhaps their appearance is, after all, not a coincidence.
from the insects.org site:
Beauty of Color, Shape, Pattern, Symmetry
Lo, the bright train their radiant wings unfold!
With silver fringed, and freckled o’er with gold:
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower
They, idly fluttering, live their little hour;
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.
Butterflies and moths are “Nature’s canvases with the gift of flight.” Even in death, their mounted beauty can remain intact for centuries. Nature’s genetic paintbrushes have “painted” hundreds of thousands bilaterally-symmetrical butterfly and moth works of art. When one considers that both the topsides and the undersides of these specimens are “painted” with equal skill, and that smaller, isolated sections of these masterpieces can be viewed apart from the total specimen, one becomes aware of the virtually unlimited number of artworks in this “traveling” art show of the air.
To some artists, the butterfly and moth only symbolize beauty: the beauty of symmetry, pattern, color, shape. These artists don’t require their representations of these creatures to be interpreted. They copy these insects, some as faithfully as the Photo-realists would copy a still life, a figure, a panorama, and only ask the viewer to observe their beauty.
The Abstractive-Naturalists don’t even require the viewers to know their subject is a butterfly or moth. They enlarge small, rectangular sections of wing and present them purely as designs. Examples of this usage are represented in Kjell Sandved’s Butterfly Alphabet Posters.
Ugly and Negative
Shall mortal man be more just than God?
Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?
Behold He put no trust in His servants;
And His angels He charged with folly:
How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Which are crushed before the moth?
Although fantastically beautiful moths exist, many of them live in the tropics. Uncommon, beautiful moths such as (the Polyphemus, Cecropia, Luna) do reside in the United States, although commonly encountered moths are small and drab brown. Compare this to the many beautiful butterflies easily observed in almost any part of the world.
For this reason the moth always comes out second-best in a “beauty contest-opinion poll” against butterflies. Coupled with the stigma brought on by the misdeeds of the clothes moth, these little denizens of the closet are responsible for the tarnished reputation of moths everywhere. It is little wonder that the moth has become the unwilling symbol for that which is ugly and negative. Some of the other symbols identified with moths (like insanity) have also contributed to the moth’s position of low esteem.
Ancient Mexicans considered the butterfly important enough to dedicate an entire palace to it at Teotihuacan, just outside Mexico City. This palace is called the Palace of the Mariposa.
Teotihuacan is the oldest metropolis in Meso-America, and is the only one to possess a continuous history, from the archaic through to the purely classical period.
Historians do not agree on who the founders of Teotihuacan were; some say the Olmecs, others the Toltecs, but most agree that it was at one time the capital of a highly civilized culture later conquered by the Aztecs, the foremost of the Nahuatal Tribes.
The butterfly represents flame in the symbolism of this culture. Often pictured with the signs for water, it becomes clear that the “vision of Earth as a paradise is based on the dynamic harmony between water and fire.” The same concept is exemplified by an image of Tlaloc, god of rain, pictured on a vase bearing a butterfly motif. It is interesting to note that the butterfly is used as symbolic representatives of both the fire and rain god.
Finding no information as to why butterflies symbolize flames, Indians might have observed the many butterflies whose wings are red, orange, yellow, or combinations of all three colors. A cloud or “cumulep” of fire-colored butterflies taking off from a mud puddle after drinking, could easily be interpreted as being flame-like.
Mexican Indians might also have witnessed a “magna-cumulep” of millions of orange, monarch butterflies migrating to their over-wintering grounds in the mountains near Mexico City. A “cloud of flame” would definitely have entered their minds. The flapping of the wings would even approximate the flickering of the tongues of flame. The moth has also come to be associated with flames, although not as a symbol of fire.
A small yellowish moth which flies about the fire at night is called ‘tun tawu by the Cherokee Indians– a name implying that it goes in and out of the fire. When it flits too near and falls into the blaze the Cherokee say ‘tun tawu is going to bed.’ Because of its affinity for the fire it is invoked by the Indian doctor in what they call ‘Fire Diseases,’ among which sore eyes and frostbite are included.
It may be somewhat difficult to understand why a moth or butterfly could symbolize sensuality, and the symbol does trace a rather circuitous route. Because a moth is physically attracted to light, and because sensuality involves physical attraction, the moth has come to symbolize sensuality; it physically succumbs to seductive light. Also, because butterflies represents femininity, and females are most often associated with the word sensual, the butterfly has also become associated with the word sensual.
A page of the wind in the book of the sky,
the fragile butterfly
Another characteristic of both moths and butterflies is their fragile nature. Their thin wings and antennae, their powdered color that comes off on your fingertips adds to their stature as a symbol of impermanence.
Indian Watcher, Big Boss
In the book, Navaho Indian Ethnoentomology by Wyman and Bailey, contains a paragraph relating to the butterfly (or possibly the moth) as some kind of “Big Brother.”
“Mixed up [as to sex] on them real classy ones, supposed to be the head of all moths, they don’t fly but stay in one place and all moths pile up around him which makes me believe moths have their boss.” The Black Swallowtail “is the big boss, he watches Indian.” The work did not explain in what reference, whether as a god or as an everpresent insect, or just how this butterfly watched Indians. It is possible that the eyespots or “ocelli” present on the wings aided in the impression the Indians had that this butterfly could watch them.
The sorcerers of the Yaqui Indians of Mexico refer to the moth as a symbol of knowledge. In the book Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda, the moth is such a central figure it is included as the major character on the cover of the book. It is revealed by Don Juan, a Yaqui sorcerer, “knowledge is a moth.” He expresses metaphorically that “the moths are the heralds, or better yet, the guardians of eternity,” for some reason, or for no reason at all, they are the depositories of the gold dust of eternity. He continues, “the moths carry a dust on their wings, a dark gold dust. That dust is the dust of knowledge.” “Knowledge comes floating like specks of gold dust, the same dust that covers the wings of moths.” “The moths have been the intimate friends and helpers of sorcerers from time immemorial.” Don Juan adds, “Moths are the givers of knowledge and the friends and helpers of sorcerers.”
The association of the moth with knowledge coincides with the Blackfoot Indian belief that the butterfly “is a little fellow flying about that is going to bring news to someone tonight.” In addition, the Yaqui associates some danger with the moth and its knowledge. The Navaho Indian also feels that “moths and butterflies, especially moths, are very dangerous.” The Yaqui feels the powder on a moth’s wings is knowledge. The Navaho associates the powder on lepidopteron wings with insanity, the drive to commit incest and the power of an aphrodisiac and the power to run fast. The old adage “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is quite applicable here.
THE SILK MOTH: is a multicultural symbol of rebirth and reincarnation. It is also connected with metamorphosis, as it changes from the caterpillar to the moth after a period of silky gestation. Admired more than many common moths for their symmetry of pattern and colour, and the preciousness of their fibres, they are also connected with the night and the flame, creatures of secrets and illumination. The silk worm feeds on the mulberry, so ingests wisdom. However, the continuous fibre that they weave is ultimately to their own doom, as unravelling the thread will kill the insect.
The expression “like a moth to a flame” also tells of a feeling of inner compulsion, the will being powerless to alter what is inherently felt. But the sensual moth, drawn to the heat of the flame, is also identified with the opportunity for transformation. Moths are female in symbolism, less giddy and pretty than butterflies; the silk moth is strongly associated with the Bassano family (see their family website, www.peterbassano.com/shakespeare).