Walking the Labyrinth

I have driven by this spot sometimes three or four days a week for many months but finally about one month ago I noticed that there is a labyrinth at the First Baptist Church of Syracuse/

labyrinth is a sacred symbol that differs from a maze.  A maze has many false starts, blind paths and false paths to get through it.  A maze requires your left brain (the one our culture tests, values and forces us to use – logical, verbal and mathematical.  A labyrinth is a continuous path that leads to the center and then back out again.  There are several kinds of labyrinths based on geometry.  A labyrinth is more of right brained activity it is based on creativity and intuition.  The purpose of walking a labyrinth is to metaphorically walk a spiritual path.  It is a internal journey in which you seek to commune with the One Universe.  Or God.  Or yourself.

I walked at my favorite park.  It was cold and windy but the woods and deep potholes (the natural kind not the man made kind) kept the wind from me but it was a chilly walk.  On the way home I stopped at the labyrinth and slowly traversed the path.  Many years ago when I was reading about all things metaphysical, I read about labyrinths and was intrigued.  But I have never walked one until yesterday.  I thought about the mind I work on while in meditation and focused on my breathing taking one small step at a time.  Occasionally I would look up and see the dog’s white nose strip in the dark interior of my car.  I found myself thinking of the labyrinth as a metaphor for the brain.  It looks like a brain.  At one point in the path I found myself almost reliving a memory from college that was so pure, was a strange sensation and then as I walked another turn it faded.  In, Out, Deep, Slow, Calm, Ease, Smile, Release.  At the center I turned and faced the four directions.  I found myself irritated at the cross on the western direction.  And the church at the eastern direction, but accepted it and embraced it because they had built it afterall.

The labyrinth is a symbol of the path we are on, how we are just here, right where we are meant to be.  That all is exactly as it should be.  I go back to one of my favorite poems by Rumi

here is a part of the poem Emptiness:

“We look back and analyze the events
of our lives, but there is another way
of seeing, a backward and forward at once
vision, that is not rationally understandable.

Only God can understand it.
Satan made the excuse, You caused me to fall.
Whereas Adam said to God, We did this
to ourselves, After this repentance,
God asked Adam, Since all is within
my foreknowledge, why didn’t you
defend yourself with that reason?

Adam answered, I was afraid,
And I wanted to be reverent.”

I walked the labyrinth.  I was so cold as the snow began to fall.  My feet kicking up leaves along the edge of the path.  I saw the stones like stars in the sky.  I picked up a rock of shining obsidian and stroked it in my fingers.  When I got to the end and was ready to leave.  I looked down and saw in my hand an ordinary grey stone.  Inside the labyrinth I am shining and perfect, but outside in the maze of the world.  I am ordinary.  It took hours for me to be warm again.  But I still wore a smile.

The Story of Stuff

Check out this video.  Love it.  Want to share it with my students but am afraid I will get in trouble for not following the curriculum.  Maybe I should anyway.

Duck duck screw this game.

I hated this game as a child and yet somehow all my life I have tried to sit in the game and dutifully play it.  Cross legged, waiting my turn to get pat on the head, waiting here in this circle for the fun to begin.  I tell myself sitting here in this circle that if I wait long enough one of my friends will get pat on the head.  And when one of them does get chosen, they will chose me.  But then one does and viola (sic) he or she pats one of the other kids on the head.  So I sit here waiting, waiting.  Feeling more and more dejected because I really would rather be running around and playing.  So at what point does this little girl get up out of the circle and walk away.  Someone might tell you this is a sign of my severe depression.  That I just want to run away.  I should be happy to continue to sit in this circle and enjoy watching everyone else run around in circles.  Right?  But what if I am not content?  What if I think the hamster on the wheel isn’t cute but a sad and pathetic creature who is not in its proper home.  What if I see that running around and around like being on a treadmill at the gym, it smells like shit, you have to fight to get your place, the shit on TV is not the least bit interesting (until a video about the Denali state park in Alaska comes on, but then you are forced to watch it so many times you realized you really would rather be THERE than here watching this video for the 5th time in two weeks), and you are walking and walking but you don’t go anywhere.  Your goal of course is to make your body acceptable to other human beings, because your fat is so vile and disgusting that no one would ever want you.  So you are here with all the other hamsters looking so cute as you run in circles.  Oh but huney you are not a team player.  If you would just be a part of the circle so the popular kids will get chosen you are doing your part.  Right.  That hamster loves running in circles, just like the kit fox at the zoo enjoys pacing back and forth in the artificially darkened day, her big ears shivering from the sounds of children screaming, she loves it so much she eats her own babies rather than have them live in this cage.  You say feeling trapped is a sign of depression?  What if you feel trapped because the confines of our society and culture are trapping you?

I look around me and all I see is endless greed, endless lust, endless suffering, endless hate, endless false fronts and you want me to love this?  You want me to be happy with this?  Why?  It doesn’t work for me, I have tried it.  It doesn’t make me happy.  Will taking pills make me happy?  Yes honey you have a chemical imbalance, you think Christmas is a crock of shit, you think that Brazilian waxing is asinine, you think people are stupid when they tell you that you should have a gas mower when your lawn only needs mowing about 10 times a year, you think that the male having the head seat of the table just because he is a man is ridiculous, you think that women complaining about sitting in the DMV for six hours after they get married only to head on to the Social Security office because they are honoring their husbands by changing their names for him (don’t worry honey it is just preparation for all the times you will give up something of yourself for him while he is off golfing which is a euphemism for fucking other women) is silly…I could go on for days about all the stuff we do in this culture that make no sense to me.  Will a pill make me numb, is that all I need?  What I want and here it is in writing, what I want is to not play the game anymore.  I don’t want to sit in this damned circle waiting my turn (if it hasn’t come in 43 years I refuse to keep waiting), I am sick of watching the same 10 kids run in circles like caged rodents, I am sick of the gym teacher snickering at what a pathetic loser I am for not being a good sport, I am sick of the other players bullying me into staying in the game, again I could go on ad nauseum.

I am realizing that I don’t have to play the game.  I don’t have to get an A in gym, because if I ever do get one I will be teased for the success and I sure as hell won’t get an A for playing duck duck goose.  And I don’t even care anymore about the stupid grade.  I keep trying to say this there is no way to make it clear.  This is not has not worked for me in 43 years and it will not ever work for me.  I want off the wheel, I want out of the cage.

I think hamsters should live here:

Mongolian Countryside

I think Kit foxes should live here:

Kit Foxes

I think we should rename duck duck goose to its real name which is chickens peck the hell out of each other for dominance.

And I think that I should be off doing this instead because it is far more rewarding and well hey it makes me happy and frankly it is better exercise than sitting in a circle watching other kids have fun.

Jonathan Hutton Photo

Platitudes

So I am in the hospital lounge waiting for my daughter and her friend to finish up their visit to a friend who has just had a baby.  I sanitized the heck out of my hands and coughed into a paper towel away from mother and child just long enough to say hello and I don’t want you guys to get sick and headed off to wait out the visit.  There was a Good Housekeeping Magazine  December 2010 on the table and I picked it up to browse through it.  I wish I had written down the title and the issue because it was freaking perfect.  It was an article about “don’t say this…, say that….”

It was great because for two years people have said every single item on the don’t say this side of the list.  The “if life gives you lemons, the you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, the oh would you get over it already? the you make your own sunshine (sorry Will <3), the if you would pray with me you would feel better, the god doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle, all of it.  Right there.  Oh yes I said.  Normally not one to find validation in a supermarket magazine, I found myself lifting my fists into the air and saying I told you so.  I told you.  I didn’t answer myself back which I suppose is proof of my sanity.  (and since I don’t have the thing in front of my I have perhaps erroneously put in my own stupid platitudes to make up for the gaps.  If I do find the article I will correct this error)

With a sigh of relief I put the magazine down and smugly put my hands on my belly and rested my eyes until the young women came around the corner complaining about how hungry they were and asking if we could rent The Fourth Kind from the video store.  Here is my mistake because I thought I would be able to find the article on line.  Dammit.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Control

Emphasizing the disorder of our lives.  I guess this is what I mean by being a Zombie girl.  Embrace that urban decay, embrace the decay of the spirit, embrace the fact that you are an outsider.  Be who you are, right here and right now.  So easy to write these words.  To tell yourself that it is okay to be this way.  Don’t try to rationalize it.  Right.  The formality of so many things is this feeling of lifelessness.  I read the words and they hit me, hard.  This formality is lifeless.  Zombies are not lifeless, it is the formality that is lifeless.  The lack of creative impulse, the lack of new thoughts and new ideas.  The lack of ability to work outside the confines of established norms.  It isn’t okay to be different, or is it?

“The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous.”  I don’t want to control people, I just want to get some sense of control over my own life.  This spiraling sense of nothing working is overwhelming, just try to get control of it.  Try to keep the sludge from spilling out and boom you are caught misbehaving, caught with your pants down, caught like a deer in the headlights, uh what did I do?  Shit.  Here we go again.  And for me, and I am laughing almost hysterically or well yes with hysterics, I always get caught.  One time I was late for work by about 10 minutes and it was the ONLY time I had been late in at that time 6 years of employment.  Guess what?  Yep, my boss had a meeting and was in the parking lot parked right next to the only empty space left in the lot.  Caught.  Try to order your life.  You will fail.  Or at least I will.

I come back to this idea that not everyone is one of the lucky few.  Can I embrace the fact that I will never get chosen for duck duck goose?  Can I embrace the fact that if I screw up I will get caught, big, even if I don’t intend to screw up someone WILL take offense.  Can I embrace the fact that no matter how good I think I am doing and motoring along just fine, there will be slippage, spillage, oozing heaps of it?

“Just watch (yourself) and don’t try to control (yourself).”  Good advice.  Just watch myself fall on the ice, just watch myself as I lie on the ground looking up at the blue sky, just watch myself as I try to get my footing.  Just watch myself as I pull the ring from your finger and the waves knock me down, and the sand is torn from under my feet.  I cannot say I wasn’t warned.  I was.

I try to gain control.  And I don’t and now I realize that I won’t, I won’t ever gain control.

I have to be okay to with that.  I have be okay to just watch as the same things happen over and over again.

Embrace this self that you are, stop trying to fit into the mould of someone else’s construction.

Throwing in the Towel

Epic Failure. Yep.

I am standing in the middle of a boxing ring.  I am wearing my princess shoes, my princess dress, my princess pink nail polish, and my princess make up.  Like any good princess I am not here to fight but to look pretty and sparkley.   The only problem is, I am not really a princess. I ask myself this:  Why do women have to put on make up, spanx and shoes that hurt our feet, while men do not?  I find myself dwelling more and more on this idea of the role women should play or not play in our culture.  And I for one have reached a point where I have grown tired of the way that women are regarded.  Take for instance a recent post on the local paper’s internet page, the post was about Sarah Palin, and the usual angry men whose vitriolic posts slam every government official were talking about voting for Palin because she is hot.  I am also thinking about how our mayor was once commented on by these same men  because according to them she was not doing her job,their proof was that she was not hot.  I also saw a post recently on a guys Facebook page from all of these other men about how HOT his wife is.  Its all about hot right?  What about she is a good woman, she is a down to earth woman, she is a good mom?  No we don’t comment on this because, to be frank, fuckable is much more important that being a good person.

I guess.

We do this thing to our girls too, make them think that when they grow up they will be sparkley princesses who will have everything they desire delivered to them in jewel encrusted unicorn coaches.  They will all be beautiful and perfect starry angels.  But then they grow up and this is not at all the life of a grown woman with a husband and kids.  Unless of course you are lucky enough to be in a household that can afford maids and nannies or your mother moves in to support your sparkley princess ways while she does all the work for you.  Nice. That is a lovely deal if you can swing it.

I heard this morning on NPR that Disney is now ending its perfectly lovely pretty sparkley princess stories and finally we will get a strong (Scottish!  AH! HA!) lass who is a brave warrior.  Awesome!  We shall see, my guess, she will still be “HOT” but who knows maybe they will get it right.  Maybe she will have a ruddy face and a muffin top, and leaves her legs hairy to withstand cold Scottish winters.  Yeah….no.   Guessing she will be lithe and have largish breasts for her frame size and maybe a smattering of freckles on perfectly flawless skin.   And her legs like the rest of her body will be hairless, except for her perfect eyebrows and her curly red locks. Or if not there will be a makeover scene in which the boy she has loved all along will finally notice her because now she looks pretty princess sparkle instead of strong and capable.

So this brings me to me.  Of course.  I am told that I am pretty, and when I was young I had a very nice figure.  Now I am curvy but yes indeed, I am bordering on plus size.  Average female size with bodacious….well you get it.

But no matter how hard I try I am not princess sparkle.  I have tried nail polish and it does not stay on my hands very long at all.  It starts to crack and peel within a couple hours.  I have tried coloring my hair and perming it too, but looking in the mirror I always jump and wonder who the hell is that?  Oh its me.  I don’t like that.  I would rather recognize myself in the mirror.  I do wear some makeup mascara, foundation, and subtle lip color, and when dressing up a bit more.  But as I have said ad nauseum I am most comfortable in my most natural state.  I started thinking about this, but also about this concept in Zen that you are okay just where you are and just what you are doing.  I also am thinking so much about how I have tried my whole life to fit in with the norms of society, but I find that not only do I despise it all, I don’t do it well.  I fall flat on my face every single time.  It just doesn’t work.  I have been slowly coming to this realization that I don’t want to even try anymore.  I kind of want to go in the other direction.  I have tried so long to fit in that now I want to try really hard to NOT fit in.  It is so like the punk movement.  It is a thrashing difference.  I reject your princess ways.  I do not want this anymore.

So here I sit thinking about this and wondering what to do next.  Again I am most comfortable in my natural state.  But where does it lead me?  What is to be done?

I think the whole Zombie thing for me may just be that right now I want nothing to do with Sparkle Princess.  I reject you whole heartedly.  I want to be different from you.  I want to be a Zombie Girl in this ugly ugly (but so so pretty) sparkley princess world.

Throbbing Gristle Dead Souls

This song fits my creative expression these days.

Please listen while viewing zombie pictures.  Sorry if it is too disturbing.

They say God doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle.  But it isn’t always God that does the giving.

They say if life gives you lemons make lemonade but  What if life gives you a steaming pile of crap?  Should you still make lemonade?

They say that if you stop looking for love it will find you.  What happens if it doesn’t?

Zombies.  Is the only answer I have for these deep and thought provoking questions.

 

Prismacolor Marker Drawings

This are some marker drawings I did some years ago.  At the time I showed them proudly to a friend and he was very negative about them.  It destroyed me.  So I haven’t really even looked at them in years.  The thing is now I look at them and I think what was he thinking they are beautiful.  Okay yeah the marker marks show on a couple of them but jeez.  They are visually stunning.  Eh.  For my friend 47Whitebuffalo.

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More Micron pen Zombie Drawings

More black micron pen zombie drawings.  One is titled Matilda and Nikola.  It is named after Nikola Tesla and Waltzing Matilda.  She may dance but she sucks the life blood out of you and has her claws in your brain.  Zombie boy.  You are nothing more than her little puppet.

Zombie Puppet Mistress Matilda making Nikola Tesla Dance

This picture is untitled

The above picture I am calling the Zombie Eyeball Tree but unlike most of my pictures a title is not immediately forthcoming.  I don’t really know what to call it.  In my head all I can hear is someone shouting EYEBALLS get your lost EYEBALL HERE!  I know I am a little off center.  Its been a lifetime affliction.  And like any pot on a wheel the longer I spin the more wobbly I get.  Hehe.

 

Beginner’s Mind

I have just started to read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind y Shunryu Suzuki.  Although I have been doing yoga for 15 years, have studied Buddhism for more than 20 and have been practicing off and on for several years with a more recent in depth sitting practice, it is the first time I have read this book.  Since lately I don’t feel alot like writing, I am in an art mode, my expression seems to be coming from a place that is not verbal, my art comes pouring out of me, and I am revisiting and revising old paintings and have ideas for new I though I would take some time to explore this book.

I haven’t been practicing much meditation lately and it is showing.  I feel really stressed, I have been teaching yoga twice a week and practicing at home once or twice a week but I keep having this feeling of lack, of being a person who is missing something vital.  It is an overwhelming feeling.  The one thing I can say is that the internal work I have been doing is at least helping me to notice these feelings, even if it has not eliminated them.  It says that wisdom seeks wisdom, and yet an expert is too discerning to be open to possibilities.  It is in this original mind that we already have wisdom.  I think about this demand to know myself, to have this or to have that which in my case is not so much about having things (Amos Lee sings that life is not all about supply and demand) but sometimes I demand spiritual understanding, spiritual metaphors and spiritual meaning.  When none is forthcoming I feel lost.  I wonder if other people do this too?

It is the same though, this desire to  have your wants met, it is not the same as being thirsty and requiring water, or hungry and needing food, nor cold and needing shelter.  It is not about survival, it is about satisfying some mythical idea of what you think you should have.  When you get it are you really satisfied?  Is it really what you wanted?  Do you yearn for something new now?  Do you reminisce about what you once had.  This idea too that you are who you are, that your identity is somehow tied up in some random thing that you have grasped onto.  You may say you are not who you are without a can of Budweiser in your hand.  You are not who you are without that head of curly black hair.  That you are not who you are without the ability to read and to draw.  I said this the other day to a 3rd grader “What use is life if  you cannot read or make art?”  She said “Well blind people have some use for life but they cannot read or draw.”  This thing that you tie yourself, your identity, can all be torn from you.  Your demands on others, when they are not met you pout and feel unloved, uncared for.  The thing is that it just means your demands have not been met.  Nothing more. It is a self centered way of being.

We are a self centered culture.

We are a self centered species.

I wonder if it is possible to be earth centered?