the scale of epiphany

all of my adult life i’ve navigated depression. it doesn’t show up in obvious ways. but i know when it’s running the ship.

i lose touch with the miracle, the clarity, the deeper compassion that allows me to move through the world and it’s sharp edges. i notice myself getting drawn towards my favorite things that numb me, it gets foggy around me, hard to see clearly, hard to ask for what i need.

turning inward brings me back. sometimes it’s extreme – like i have to go all the way to where its darkest and find the little light.

often its just moving through cloud, gray, a heavy gray that resembles the nothing from Never Ending Story because that’s the formative threat-of-apocalypse narrative of my life.

the last us election sent me into the fog. i wrote and worked and drank and smoked and got all cranes in the sky…but…i couldn’t get away.

so i’ve been moving through. into the unknown. into my own not knowing, more precisely. some people may know what’s going to happen, i believe that they believe.

but i don’t know. and when i try to imagine beyond a certain point, there is static as often as vision these days. i think we’re in a crucial place of making a viable future, and we might not make a compelling case for ourselves. i believe we have all the potential. but are we willing to practice anything new?

i have been working with groups and movements i believe carry portions of an answer i can imagine living inside.

i’ve been slowing way down. no one likes this. everyone likes it in theory but they still want their things attended to. it’s OK. i got a turtle tattoo to whisper ‘go slow’ in my ear.

and Sunday i took the day off. not just from work, but from chores. i looked at piled dishes and travel laundry and unswept floors and said ‘it’s my day off. i am not doing you.’

i slept so well last night. woke up and read the Ursula le Guin rendition of the Tao te Ching. then i read several graphic novels, between calls for interesting work and the (super amazing exciting deep sweet awesome) new podcast i’m recording with autumn, which included a talk about our summer bodies. in the midst of that conversation i realized and remembered how much i’m loving my whole body these days.

i put on the trolls soundtrack and danced while cleaning the house. i checked in on my heart, my mind, my body, my spirit. i cared for myself in many ways, and planted several seeds for things i want to do/experience in the next few months. i made a gorgeous dinner and ate it on the back deck in my fanciest robe. i listened to Bruno Mars and Superfruit to intentionally let the music lift me.

i feel a fog dissipating, a fire burning. and again the small epiphany: oh, the balance between solitude and togetherness! oh, using the body feels good. oh, no is a complete sentence and emotion. oh. the miracles continue. even when we aren’t worthy, grateful, gracious or even aware. the miracle is the river that doesn’t stop.

Oh.

come on home to me

come on home to me
black warriors, hard edges
learn soft from my thighs

there’s no drama here
you can leave it at my door
i will wait for you

i kiss your forehead
eye eye nose lips ears and throat
blessing your senses

i’ll wipe down the blood
i’ll whisper your name all night
you’ll wake up yourself

come on home to me
we are two shades of healer
it’s my turn to fight

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575

image

in semi-poetic response to my mri

technology means i can get an instant notice on an app that my mri results are in.

and i can wade through the foreign language of Medicine enough to feel daunted. vindicated.

i knew something was bad wrong inside my left knee, the knee of my heart. i have aligned all my ways of knowing, these pictures are confirmation more than revelation.

there are a few words i understand – there is a tear at the root, and there is a difference in the meniscus i was born with. it’s always been different, perhaps always leading towards this moment of dysfunction.

it’s humbling to mostly not understand what i am reading, these big english words, all of which i want to use in scrabble, and otherwise want nothing to do with.

the data that something is torn and there’s a reason for my pain that can show up on a magnetized picture is also a relief. my pain is rarely so clear.

my knee is changing my outlook on life…

my heart has changed

chambers open inside chambers and i feel infinite

i need my whole self
i need my boundaries
i need my life’s work
i need my tenderness

the more i explore myself with eyes of love the more vastness i can comprehend

heart opening is a part of any other healing that my body needs

the knee bone is connected to the heart
no matter what the doctor says – she only thinks of me for fifteen minutes at a time

this sacred body is becoming my obsession

my damaged always-full moon
coming out of the dark

i have been a witch
now again now turning inwards
anyanwu, flesh on my tongue
learning to heal
with imagination and marrow and attention

i just needed a destination for this black magic
my lineage
we know to find the joy at the torn root
we know to dance with fingers pointing north
we know our bodies are our inheritance
we turn our prayers
into tomorrows

to be whole (a collective poem from detroit center for whole communities gathering)

detroit-based alumni of the center for whole communities programs came together today to dialogue and share awareness practices. one thing we have done is gathered thoughts during the dialogues into a poem structure. here is the poem that emerged in response to the questions ‘what do we need in our work? what do we need to feel whole?’

the work will get weird in these lean times
like minds want to move out of lockstep alignment
to be our whole selves we have to climb out of the
small box of our righteousness
the anxiety of staying on our linear paths
the crisis of self
the stagnation
the resilience that holds what is though it must go
let go of the cynic inside
let go of the bully who must win
relinquish the uniform
close the book on institutions
don’t speak what they taught you
shed the skin

we must forgive ourselves for all we do not know
we are the animators
we must bring the light
walk by in this world together
talk at more depth
let go of this frenetic activism – it doesn’t work
we need to waste time with each other
how do you come, how do you go?

the universe nurtures me
the creativity of the 13.8 billion year old story
the planet, our teacher, says
learn wonder
we are frozen to each other
what is the spring of the soul?
the seed is still there

what will the child think of my life?
the protest politic depresses me
i long for the art of the elephant
for the cosmos
‘we are all star stuff’
i am not impossible
see – i need what you need, want what you want
and i can carry on
rooted and nurtured
affirmed in community with others
redemption is collective
‘we don’t only inherit land from our ancestors,
we borrow it also from our children’

breathing into this moment in context
with emotional and spiritual agency
risk inside of love
we can remember: being is an act of resistance
we imagined these zoos
now is the time to bring courage and grace
to necessary failures
upending our hows
our hows which undo our peace
if we can release,
what can evolve?

more chapters.

– jan 29, 2014
detroit
by gloria rivera, gloria lowe, shane bernardo, adela nieves, patrick crouch, diana copeland, ginny mcginn, michelle martinez, adrienne maree brown

emergence (speech from opening for allied media conference 2013)

emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. it emphasizes critical connections, authentic relationships, listening with the body and the mind.

in emergence, the whole is a mirror of the parts. fractal – the health of the cell is the health of the species and the planet.

there are examples of emergence everywhere.

birds don’t make a plan to migrate, raising resources to fund their way, packing for scarce times, mapping out their pit stops. they feel a call in their bodies and they must go, and they follow it, responding to each other, each bringing their adaptations.

clara reminded me today of the WAY of flocking: staying separate enough not to crowd each other, aligned enough to maintain a shared direction, and cohesive enough to always move towards each other. destiny is a calling that creates a beautiful journey.

emergence is beyond what the sum of it’s parts could even imagine.

a group of caterpillars and nymphs might not see flight in their future but it’s inevitable. it’s destiny.

oak trees don’t set an intention to listen to each other better, or agree to hold tight to each other when the next storm comes. under the earth always they reach for each other, they grow such that their roots are intertwined & create a system of strength which is as resilient on a sunny day as it is in a hurricane.

dandelions don’t know whether they are a weed or a brilliance. but each seed can create a field of dandelions. we are invited to be that prolific. and to return fertility to the soil around us.

cells may not know civilization is possible. they don’t amass as many units as they can sign up to be the same. no – they grow until they split, complexify. then they interact and intersect and discover their purpose – i am a lung cell! i am a tongue cell! – and they serve it. and they die. and what emerges from these cycles are complex organisms, systems, movements, societies.

detroit. the allied media conference.

nothing is wasted, or a failure. emergence is a system that makes use of everything in the iterative process. it’s all data.

octavia butler says “civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. it is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation.”

she also says “everything you touch you change, everything you change, changes you.” we are constantly impacting and changing our civilization – each other, ourselves, intimates, strangers. and in that reality, we are working to recreate a world that is by it’s very nature in a constant state of change.

but Janine Benyus the mother of biomimicry, says Nature would always create conditions conducive to life. She tells of a radical fringe of scientists who are realizing that natural selection isn’t individual but mutual, that species only survive if they learn to be in community.

how can we, future ancestors, align ourselves with the most resilient practices of emergence as a species?

many of us have been socialized that constant growth, and critical mass, are the ways to create change. but emergence shows us that adaptation and evolution depend more upon critical connections. dare i say love. the quality of connection between the nodes in the patterns.

and we know how to connect – and we long for it.

we are going to experiment with this in our bodies now. together we are going to make a wave. how many of you have observed the ocean? the waves are not the same over and over – each one is unique and responsive. the goal is not repeat each other’s motion, but to respond in whatever way feels right in your body. the wave we create here is a one time occurrence, show up. let’s begin.

notice what it takes to respond well. how it feels to be in a body, in a whole – separate, aligned, cohesive. critically connected.

now, let’s get more complex.

(dance, hustle, crowdsurfing explosion)

i ain’t afraid a no ghosts

in fact, i see them everywhere.

not literal ghosts, but flashes of my life that come up and lay themselves out over a moment, reminding me of who i have been.

this weekend was the 6 year anniversary of a breakdown where i almost checked out for good. and i didn’t remember until it had passed. even as i was doing work this weekend around healing and history, i didn’t remember the date. which is a good sign in and of itself.

the thing is, the ghosts have been all over. ghosts of beliefs i held then – that life was a burden, that i could be bored, that i had to settle in some parts of my life, that happiness was an illusion, that i could never change.

“i am nothing. this life is nothing.”

i often say to people that perception is everything, but i know it is more than perception. life is not only how you see it, but what you create out of it, and within it. no matter what the story is, it is a tragic story, a romantic story, an emotional journey, a remarkable journey. realizing all we cannot know, and all that we as humans have done to throw the gift of life back at creation – this awareness can make it seem impossible to find peace, balance, justice, love and joy in the chaos.

i know the ghosts of that feeling, they shadow my heart when i see the news we choose to cover, the way we consume and sacrifice the needs of others to pursue our own desires. not black, because i love black – my ghosts are gray. sometimes they are like a fire curling up the edges of a moment.

and then i see the viciously alive fleshy world that i live in. it’s decadent, all the colors, all the experiences. i love it – i love the sky, the dirt, i love the way wind feels on me, i love to put my body into the water. i love my body, just being still enough to feel that in spite of my best intentions my heart is still beating. i am so much stronger now than i have ever been.

i love realizing that humanity has to redirect itself towards being in community again, that i have to practice being in community with my love, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my coworkers. i love realizing that humans have to take actions that show the world they want – they must practice the world they want until it becomes part of our evolutionary story.

sometimes i think part of me crossed a line that day, and carries the memories i can’t reach. maybe it wasn’t the first time – perhaps i have the kind of angels who take memories away, leaving only the emotional imprint. i can see them out of the corner of my eye, but they know better than to let me catch them.

i’m still here, with my ghosts, and with moments of joy. i am learning and creating every day. i am engaged in the kind of work that reaches beyond my small life. the way i live my life is closer every day to the way i believe a good life should be led.

love, love, love.

this quote came into my knowledge today, while watching twin peaks, which is part of my project to watch all these shows and movies i missed which are a part of my generation’s experience:

“i choose to live my life in the company of gandhi and king. my concerns are global. i reject absolutely revenge, aggression and retaliation. the foundation of such a method is love. i love you…”