Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Creation Story

Once, long ago, the world was undefinable. Chaos twisted the world round and round gleefully, tangling the universe with questions that could not be answered, thoughts that could not form, and matter that could not take shape.

And in the center, sitting quizzically in the eye of the hurricane, was a small child. The child did not know how it was born or who birthed it or what it was supposed to do. It simply sat, and looked at the chaos and the void and the tangled roots of the universe, and it formed a tiny speck of wonder. This was the birth of curiosity.

With that curiosity, some tangles began to align themselves with other tangles and create little threads weaving in and out between other threads. The child watched this from its place in the center, and noticed the change intently, filled with wonder at the new happenings.

With this wonder, the threads began to weave in and out, creating tiny repetitive movements. Some movements were predictable, and created patterns. The child noticed the patterns, and was amazed and puzzled at how things were turning out.

With this puzzlement, the patterns became even more distinguishable. Some threads began sticking to each other and forming complex structures. The tangled dance of the Chaos began to intertwine with a graceful new dance... a dance which birthed many wondrous new rhythms and gyrations and intriguing new patterns.

There was so much for the little child to learn, and so much it did not understand. There were forms taking shape, and the child wanted to know more about these mysterious forms. There were sounds appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, and it wanted to know what they could possibly be. Colors and textures were emerging, vibrant and beautiful and longing to be understood.

With this longing, beauty slowly unfurled, coloring the new patterns with breathtaking delight. The child widened its eyes at all the things it saw and could not understand. Its ears widened to catch each new vibration. Its arms reached out, skin prickling with goosebumps, at the silky, furry, grainy sensations. Its nose breathed in every exotic aroma, and its tongue prickled with a strange desire... it wanted to explore every new wonder, it wanted to reach out and grab everything with its tiny hand and figure out what all of these beautiful patterns mean.

The child could no longer contain itself. Something was pushing, reaching out from inside the child's head, growing bigger and bigger, longing to break free.

"Why?" was all the child said. And with that the world was born.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Does Feminism Mean to You?

So, what does modern day feminism mean to you?

Obviously feminism advocates equal rights and opportunities for women. Some say we have accomplished those goals, some say they have yet to be accomplished.

I think they have yet to be accomplished. Women still make less money than men doing the same damn jobs, and the social pressure to be feminine is still there.

However, there's one aspect of feminism that makes the waters kind of muddy. And that is the exaltation of "masculine" over "feminine." In the past, feminism has made it clear that girls can be masculine and should be allowed to without social pressures. OK, as a woman who has more "masculine" tendencies than "feminine" ones, I'm down with that. I kick ass, I belch, I wear jeans and black t-shirts, etc... in a lot of ways I'm what feminists would call an "empowered woman." However, is masculinity really more desireable than femininity? Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I wonder. This has never been a problem for me before, but it is now. I feel like if the general public applauds my decision to focus on childrearing as a career, they are being chauvanistic. Why is that? Staying at home with my child is a perfectly feminist move for me, because it's the kind of job that makes me feel empowered and independent. However this is considered "feminine" and therefore "inferior" in the eyes of society.

What I mean by that is, girls who are "one of the guys" are often admired, while girls who are "one of the girls" are not. Girls who are ambitious or leaders are admired, while girls in a supportive role are not. And what about guys? Macho guys are still admired, but if a guy wants to do cheerleading or stay home with the kids, he is often ostracized for it. That's because masculinity is still exalted in society.

The next step in feminism, in my opinion, is the equaling out of both masculinity and femininity. And this cannot be accomplished by women alone. Guys also need to stand up for their right to do whatever interests them, whether or not it makes a lot of money or is traditionally "masculine." The gay movement is actually helping us accomplish this, because it's slowly becoming more acceptable for guys to act "girly" and for girls to act "butch."

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PTTC Part 11:The Still Point

"A pot has beautiful sides.
The emptiness inside
makes it useful.
Suggesting, guiding, teaching, and lecturing,
although well intentioned,
often creates confusion rather than clarity."

I like the pot analogy because there are spaces we are supposed to fill and spaces we should let remain empty. When I was younger, I would paint or draw with the intention of filling every blank space on the paper. When my drawing was "finished," it wasn't enough for me and I'd keep working it until I inevitably messed up and "ruined" the whole thing, or filled the paper to the brim and created a masterpiece of confusion.
Later, I learned about the importance of blank space in artistry. Often, it's not the spaces we fill, but the spaces we leave blank, that determines the power in a piece of art. I did not learn that lesson until way after adolescence and I'm only beginning to apply it to my life.

Some days, if I'm not reading book after book to my son, or giving him engaging new toys, or taking him outside and pointing to all the different things, I get panicky and somehow convince myself that I'm not being a good mom, and I'm not fostering a love of learning, because I'm just letting my child entertain himself while I do the dishes! This is far from the truth, but there is constant pressure on mothers to do everything right or else their children will grow up to be failures. Each child must be bilingual! Each child must learn to read at kindergarten! Kids need constant exposure to new environments! This is what a new mom is bombarded with, and it's hard to measure you're own parenting and NOT come up short!

However, do I really believe all this hype? If I did, my child would have every minute of every day scheduled with structured, parent-led learning. Why can't he explore on his own and learn things that interest HIM? Some kids have no interest in learning a second language, but love naming all the different kinds of insects. There are some things that a child must receive guidance on, but there are many more things that the child can learn at his own pace and in his own time. :) Great! Less stress for me!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

PTTC Part 10: As They Are

"Being with your children can be like meditating.
When you are with your child next,
forget the past,
forget the future,
and let your mind and heart come
to be where your body is."

Out of all the analogies, I've never heard parenting compared to meditating! It seems like, as a parent, i'm flying from one chaotic situation to the next with no time to be calm and center myself.
I suppose this can be achieved if I find the eye in the tornado and survey the chaos from there. Most parents become part of the chaos, trying to control it, trying to dispel it. Accepting chaos is a hard thing to do, for a human mind which values perfection. I personally do love chaos, but it's a challenge trying to get anything done in the day!

I suppose this verse is challenging me to find a position where I can see what's going on through the chaos, but not be part of the chaos myself. :)

I think it's also challenging me to keep my thoughts in the here and now. My mind tends to wander... and I like living in the realm of ideas and possibilities rather than what IS. I find solace in my intellectual and spiritual pursuits, but sometimes it becomes an escape from the mundane. I have to realize that the "mundane" reality is also filled with its miracles and joyous moments! I think that is the most poignant lesson I have been learning in the past year... the fact that I don't have to "escape" in order to experience something truly profound, I just have to spend a little time playing or working in awareness.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coming to Terms with my Lack of Omniscience

When I don't know something or can't do something, it frustrates me. Which is nothing new to humans in general, and considering all the things we'll never know/understand, and all the things we can never do, it makes life very frustrating! There are a million things I will never understand (like tax forms!!!) and a million things I cannot do (like fix my car or prepare a gourmet meal).

However people sometimes come up to me when viewing my artwork and say "oh wow, you have such skill!" And, when I'm talking, (or typing, usually,) people say things like "you're so wise and insightful." The problem is, I can't really accept this as true. Most of the time when I TRY to draw or paint, I end up with nothing. Or when I TRY to type/talk etc... I stumble on my words and can't think of a thing to say. However, what I'm good at, is channeling. Call it spirits, muses, the collective unconscious, whatever you will, it speaks to me and comes through in what I say sometimes, and through my art.

So I feel a little guilty accepting complements. When accepting complements like "oh you're so skillful, and wise" I just smile and say "thank you." Because if I try to deny them, people get offended... because they just tried to offer a piece of goodwill towards me and I am essentially denying it. And obviously I would be perpetuating a lie if I agreed with them. After all, no one gives complements like "oh, you channel so well" and "your muse must be so talented" and "congrats on being in tune with the universal unconscious!" Instead they just see the end result and think that it all came from me! Sorry to disappoint, you guys! I really don't have any special skill!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PTTC Part 9: Can You Make Room?

"Are your children "problems to be solved,"
or people to be loved?
Consider current problems with your children.
Can you create a space,
free from your own anxieties,
in which they are able to find their own way,
feeling your love,
but not your expectations?"

This piece can be taken symbolically, but I'm going to change it up and take it literally. :)
For the past week, I've been challenged to "create a space free from (my) own anxieties" for my son to play in! In other words, babyproofing. Soon he will be walking, and he is even now able to reach the 3rd shelf on the bookshelf and pretty much any low table. Keeping things safe is very much a challenge!
On the one hand, it's hard not to be overly anxious about this, because once my husband caught him eating soap! And once we turned our back for (literally) 5 minutes and he had climbed all the way up the stairs! Since we have wide doorway/stairway openings, none of our baby gates will fit, so it's easy to fall into the trap of anxiously following the boy around, taking away every thing he tries to explore and steering him toward places I'd rather he go.
On the other hand, it's also tempting to just throw out all furniture with sharp edges and turn this old farmhouse into one big "safe" play area. This would be my preferred method! I'd rather change the house to suit the baby then follow him around and not let him touch anything! But either method is impossible. Farm houses don't change their structure, and there's not enough storage to put away 5 bookshelves worth of books just so he can't grab one off the shelf and rip it to shreds.

Right now I'm very much challenged to create an environment where baby is safe to explore and mom is safe to turn her back every once in a while to get the dishes done! It's hard to see this stage of development as anything but a "problem to be solved." However, I'm also occasionally reminded about how fun this stage of development is. For example, when I give my son a noodle for the first time and he looks at it in puzzlement and starts playing with it, only to figure out quickly that it's also good for eating. Sometimes in the morning I just lie on the bed after nursing him and have a "conversation" with him, tickle him, play peek-a-boo (which he still doesn't really "get"), and make silly noises with his animal toys. Yes my son needs to be kept safe, but he needs my silly games and loving cuddles just as much. :) And that's the fun part.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mr. Deity

I'm watching Mr. Deity on and I have to say that it is pretty awesome. :)

That is all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Strong North Wind

Today there is a strong North Wind blowing across the pasture. The grass is newly green and the sky is cloudy and gray, making the new spring greens look darker and deeper. The wind is very chill, as is the case for all strong North Winds that I remember.
The North is a place of cold, of restless waiting, of putting your nose to the grindstone, of patience and hard work. North Winds are usually biting and fierce, strong and cold, the kind of cold that reaches your skin and seeps through your bones no matter how many layers of clothes you are wearing.
In some ways I dislike North Wind days, in the same way that I dislike winter. Too much cold, too much obligatory work, too much waiting. However these days are not only necessary, but they bring relief and progress. Relief from the mental and emotional rollercoaster of starting new projects and finishing old ones, and progress from doing the "middle work" that needs to get done in order for me to finish my projects. I rarely start anything new or get anything completely finished on a North Wind day, but I usually make a lot of much-needed progress, and I often organize things. Quite often I get the things done that I have been putting off, because I just don't want to do them right now. I also tend to spend some time just snuggled up inside the house, drinking hot cocoa or taking a nap. (Since I couldn't get to sleep last night, I'll probably do some of this today!)

When the North Wind blows, remember winter and the rest it brings. Remember to have patience. (I need this lesson a lot!) Remember to get the things done that you have been putting off and work slowly but diligently.