Friday, November 25, 2005

From The Desk Of Tad Hargrave:




Hey all,

first off, it’s snowing.

hmpf.



IN THIS EXCITING UPDATE YOU WILL FIND:

- why I’ve been spending my last month is relative isolation - and why that’s been a good thing.

- read snippets of new poems!

- learn about the gift I’m getting that is “like” a kilt but much more Scottish

- the new (delicious) addiction I’ve acquired

- the big lessons I’ve been learning about myself and how the world works

- my recent inklings on the essence of my life work

- the 19 (you read that right!) books that I’d like to write!

ahem.



Well, the last month has been a very powerful and for me.

The last month for me has been a lot of isolation (if you want to know why - email me and i'll tell you more).

Which has, in retrospect, been a very good thing.

I spent a lot of time reflecting, talking with friends about the incident that prompted this, digging into myself to see where I could take responsibility for it and what I could learn from it. I wrote a number of poems and have been spending a lot more time in prayer, meditation and yoga/stretching early in the morning. It's felt wonderful. Very grounding.

There have been a few moments where I felt profoundly lonely but, for the most part, I have actually felt a very strong (and strengthening) sense of connection to myself. The event also help to refocus me on why I am here for this year - to learn Gaelic. And it seems that this year is also another level of initiation and training for me. I have a lot of space in my life right now and I'm enjoying the opportunity to use it to build my inner strength.

This past month has also seen me acquire an addiction to oatmeal. I've got this whole recipe down pat them. I take coconut, Oats, raisins, cinnamon, dates and dried apricots and little chunks of Apple and pour hot water onto that and maybe some olive oil, let it sit for a few minutes and...ahhhhhhh . . . it's a lovely way to start the day. I have also been eating, some of you will be shocked, fish once every week or so. I'm experimenting with it for a year to see how it feels.

I've also been going for a lot of walks. There's a beautiful trail nearby. So, I'm slowly feeling myself getting back into some sort of physical fitness.

One of the things that most excited about is that my family is all pitching some money together held by me a "feileadh mor" for Christmas.

What is that you ask?

Well, basically, it's the precursor to the kilt. What very few people know, outside of Celtic academics, is that the kilt (and in fact the whole business about every clan having its own tartan) is an invention of the English. Before this time people would wear these huge blankets called a "plaide" (pron: plahjuh). I'm talking 8 m by 3 m. Big. They would wrap it around themselves so that the bottom half would basically look like a modern-day kilt and the top half you would either throw over your shoulder or let hang by your side. It was made from wool so you could sleep outside in it as well and it made a very warm blanket.

They are also, luckily, much less money than a modern-day kilt. So, I'm gonna be getting one of those in the Mackay tartan and George McPherson, the storyteller who I told you all about in my last update, will be teaching me how to put it on in the traditional way. I'm very excited about this holiday season because I'll be spending a good part of it up in the north of Skye with George MacPherson listening to traditional old Gaelic stories. Again, grounding. Roots.

So, this past month has seen me learning a lot about myself. Below are some of the things that are sticking out most clearly for me.

What I'm Learning About Myself:

It is often very hard for me to accept people and circumstances as they are: I often have little respect for people's boundaries, limits and natures -- I find myself wanting people and situations to be different than they are. There is a strong feeling me of "I wish they were more this way," or "they SHOULD be more this way". It's like I get an idea of what I wish the future were like and then I get trapped in a sense of self-pity that it isn't that way because it "should" be. Self pity is coming up as a big theme to me.

I feel very scared to engage reality at times. Throughout my life I have often felt the need to follow abstract principles and ideas from books rather than my own gut and intuition - and just paying attention to the real life situation at hand.

This first birth inside happens inside you.

You carry it in your belly.

The second birth happens in the hearts of the Others

When it is welcomed into the world.

A clear theme in my lifetime seems to be about "being real" (e.g. the importance of truth in my life, indigeneity, questioning modernity, frustration with New Age bull&*^$&^# and fictional spiritual stories posing as reality). And yet - so often i fight reality. I don't want to admit that people don't want my help, or aren't interested in the things I am. I ignore that and try to nudge people into the direction I want them to go. I ignore obvious discomfort from others or in myself in regards to my own actions. I resist that a relationship just may not be a fit.

I often get so obsessed with what I want that I can't see what's true. Sometimes, it really isn't OK for me that people don't want what I am offering them. This has come up before in my life -- my need to help people -- which I think is really just my own need to be needed. It's like I get these visions for other people of what they could be -- I see possibilities for them that they don't see for themselves and I get so excited about these possibilities that I become blinded to reality and they feel pushed by me. I want to heal them. I want to fix them.

I don't control my impulses very well... I want to do something and I do it. If i don't want to do something i don't. I tend not to think about the consequences or, if I do, I feel a strong resentment and rebelliousness to those who I imagine would punish me. Or limit me. There are many ways that this impetuousness has been of service to me in my life -- it has led to a boldness in action and given me a bias towards taking action rather than just thinking about things. This is put me in situations that I truly was not ready for and caused me to grow rapidly. It has been a sort of self initiatory tool. But, as I grow, I'm seeing the downside of it -- it has often put me in situations that I was not ready to handle -- this has led to me at learning off of the backs of others who dealt with my ineptness. Everything is double edged I guess. Sorry sorry. Love me love me.

I often do not respect other people's choice NOT to engage me. I can see that a lot of this has to do with my own loneliness. So ironic how neediness backfires (apparently other human beings have been aware of this before . . .).

What I'm Learning About My Shadow:

I'm starting to see an odd parallel, or a bridge, between my inner and outer work in the world.

LIMITS: I'm seeing how often in my life I've been inappropriate in the ways that I've interacted with other people -- coming onto strong, too intensely, being inappropriate with my displays a physical affection and sort of forcing my energy and expectations on people. When people try to hold me back from doing so -- I feel a deep resentment. In fact, whenever i feel that anyone is EVER trying to limit me (e.g. you can't bring your knapsack into this movie theatre) I feel like saying "*&#^*& off" and pushing back.

I guess central here is my ability to respect the truth in other people's hearts, to respect where they are at -- respect their limits. People seem to show their limits in body language, how they respond to me or don't -- and you I guess I can always ask directly. Love is not just the feeling FOR somebody but a respect for their boundaries. Respect of People's boundaries is the baseline of love.

Damn. it just hit me the deep irony - and i guess perfection of this all - i'm soooo reactive about people infringing on MY limits but i have so little respect for OTHERS limits. shooooot. (uhh i'm cussing less in this letter because my grandmother will be reading it too at some point. hello mama).

I'm seeing the importance to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate authority. I'm seeing that i've got some rebellion issues.

PREDATORS: I did some therapeutic body work with a fellow in Fairfield around my pattern on feeling predatorial towards vulnerable young women. And the shame of that “shouldn't a man's role be to protect women? to protect the vulnerable. i feel so ashamed . . .” The fellow I was working with thought this was all very funny, “Don't you see the irony? You're whole life is about taking on the predators out there and here YOU are BEING a predator.” Damn.

ENTITLEMENT: This is related to limits. Throughout my life I've felt so entitled to take whatever I wanted. My mothers chips and chocolate and ginger ale. Money from her wallet. My friends toys. I have felt entitled to be a leader and be in charge and run the show. Entitled to call the shots and be the center of attention. And yet, I'm coming to see that this sense of entitlement is also the beating heart of colonization and destruction - “I want your land so I'll take it.” Perhaps it was less hatred and more . . . “you're in my way”. It's in me so powerfully and yet i fight it in the world too.

It's amazing to me how my work on the inner world parallels my work in the outer world.

What I'm Learning About How the World Works:

The Souls of the Bastards who reject us are working for our liberation by turning us back to ourselves. How marvelous!

You will have to let go of your cherished belief

that someone is going to protect you.

No one is going to save you

or do the work of growing for you.

No one is going to show you the way.

This is the start of your survival dance.

I remember my life before I met those who didn't want to forgive me -

But demanded I find trust again in myself.

There was nowhere else to look for it.

And every dagger they throw into your heart

Lingers

To mark it clearly for you

So that you'll never mistake this again

As anything but the source of your own inner wisdom

The one thing you can trust.

You have been asleep for a long time.

And it might take a lot to wake you up

To point -- clearly -- the way home.

It might take a dagger into your heart -

The one thing you can trust -

Marked out for you

Their personalities want to see you cringe into nothingness

But their soul wants to see you blaze anew.

A fiery response to the challenge

Love vs. Longing To Be filled: The feeling of longing, excitement and urgent draw i feel so strongly with some people is often a sign of emptiness - not just love. It's a sign for me to stop leaning forward but to stand up straight inside myself and deal with the emptiness and longing i feel.

Hunger never hurt me so badly

As when there was the possibility of food

And I am undone.

I had forgotten that I had forgotten the last time I ate

That dull ache becomes a part of you.

I understand how men can see mirages in the desert

I see them everyday.

It was real - i swear it.

I could almost touch it . . .

I lean forward.

Isn't the intensity of this feeling what it means to be truly ALIVE?

No.

It's just what it means to be empty,

To rattle in the gentlest breezes.

You know, I thought you were water?

And I tried to drink you dry . . .

I'm sorry for that.

Emptiness distorts everything.

So, is it to fill or be filled that you're wanting?

You might as well be honest about what you need.

Everyone knows anyway.

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

The songs of praise to water

Sung by a thirsty man

Are not love songs.

They are the songs of longing

And desire.

They are songs of wanting.

Of emptiness.

Only those who still sing

Once quenched, water dripping from their mouths,

Sing songs of love.

Invitations vs. Impositions: I am learning that i get into trouble when i try to impose my ideas or expectations or hopes onto other people. I am seeing that the first birth is when an idea is born into my heart (not just my mind). But then i have a responsibility to steward, parent that spark responsibly - not just to throw it carelessly out into the world and expect other people to love it.

I am seeing that this sort of imposition is almost a raping of the world - a having my way with it. What this universe needs is a dance partner not a dominator. Perhaps the fear I feel for my ideas is a distorted parental feeling of protection. But all the more important then to find the right community and introduce the child with respect and graciousness and to invite - respectfully - support.

Call and response

Patience is required here

There is an old etiquette here -

Permissions to be gained

Protocol to be followed and

Blessings to be invited

Consent to be given

From everything.

The rock that wants to be a part of the wall

Will carry half of its weight you know.

If you ask it.

It's true.

How often it was not an offer from my heart

But a cry for help

The echoing of emptiness.

Ugly demands were made

Clumsy, jagged and jangling

Reeking of desperation

And how my fear of dying from emptiness has bred entitlement

A clutching and grabbing at everything.

And then resentment -

And petty rebellions! - the major wars for minor causes.

Enemies at every corner

Who would ruin my business.

But a pine needle can spring a forest to cover your retreat

And slow the advance of enemies.

Volcanoes can erupt

Oil can vanish leaving corporations bewildered

Water can leave its well dry - offended by fences.

There is a place you can stand

That will carry your voice

Clean and sweet smelling

Irresistible

To the ears of allies.

You are not alone here in a world begging to be rescued.

You are shoulder to shoulder in a community of equals.

Is it because you are desperately afraid?

You're trying to save a world

That doesn't want to be saved

That doesn't need to be saved

Because this world is not afraid.

If I open an opportunity, give an invitation and create a space for something to happen (e.g. you want to study? Go to a movie?) and get no response -- that IS a response. It doesn't make me worth any less, just means that particular invitation wasn't a fit.

My pattern: if I invite someone to do something and they say "no" by words or nonaction -- and I feel dependent on them then I'm faced with the reality that I am -- for the moment -- on my own. And faced with a choice to stand in myself and accept the truth or to lean on them.

I guess all I can do is create spaces and invitations -- I can't force people to do feel things.

Inviting people to a new possibility is fine -- the question is -- can I do it:

-- without them feeling pressured?

-- without making them wrong?

-- without judging them for where they are?

-- without asking them to violate or go against their natures?

-- with them feeling free to say "no"?

-- with them feeling welcomed not seduced?

I've been feeling so much profound clarity coming to me on my life work and what i am coming to see it's about - and so many inklings for projects. None of the projects listed below are things I feel 100% committed to (I have ideas for 19 books - good Lord!) I think that they all represent a piece of the work that I feel cultivated. I'm excited to take a lot of time over that holiday season to review this list and reflect on it and sift out what the essence of it is. I’ll just put the books here for now, but there’s more ideas for non-writing things.

Below are some of the thought of being coming to me lately about the essence of my life's work and below that are some ideas for books that I've been thinking about working on. I just realizing, as I write this right now, that the fact that 19 of my ideas are books probably says something about the kind of work that I want to do. I'm really feeling like the next five years of my life is going to involve a lot of writing, speaking and traveling. I'm feeling pretty clear that I won't be coming back to the Gaelic college next year. Of course, that might change in a month or two -- but I'm feeling ready to "launch" out into the world at another level. And I'm clear that this year is giving me an incredibly strong foundation in Gaelic.

ESSENCE:

waking people up from the trance of civilization and whiteness, helping us all become "onkwehonwe" again. Recovering pride in their indigenous roots.

the core question: what's the cost of being white? Not much if you stay within the frames of modern society. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

being real: the importance of truth in my life, indigeneity, questioning modernity, frustration with New Age bull&*^$&^# and fictional spiritual stories posing as reality

travelling

weaving themes of: primitivism, conscious economy, anti-oppression, decolonization, personal healing, indigenous wisdom

healing people make sense of what's happening and what is likely to happen and to find their place in it.

help to reveal the profound relevance of the celtic/gaelic world to today. it is so simple and powerful. right now it seems so “old fashioned” and “supernatural” and, frankly, irrelevant. Must be brought back as “perrenial wisdom” not just academic or historical writing. these are core indigenous teachings on right living.

my draw to stories & indigenous wisdom vs. politics, education,music or celidhs or dances

19 BOOKS I’S LIKE TO WRITE!!!:

1) Interviews about being "white and indigenous". Interview: Celtic shamanist's, celtic elders & storytellers, white folks who've found a connection to their own indigenous sense of themselves, celtic activist, white academics who are dissecting the nature of whiteness, global "non-white" indigenous workers, and other good white people.

2) Handbook for Young Celts: This book would be written for white, youth of primarily Celtic descent ages 18 - 25 who are looking at reclaiming their indigenous roots in an authentic way and who have no idea how to do that or what aspects to consider. Less a handbook i suppose than just a book designed to inspire and lay out an analysis and perspective on the process - themes I want to weave together.

- anti oppression

- whiteness and privilege

- decolonization

- indigenous solidarity

- my own journey

- roots

- interviews with elders: gaels, leading thinkers, indigenous elders

- The Four Celts: individual celts, clan gael, community gael and tourist celt

- messages from other indigenous elders

- The Code of the Fianna

- The Lies: Modernism and it's Myths

- show the historical and political parallels between the Gaels and other indigenous people

- Contrast to age, Paul Pilzer, Harv Ecker ways of knowing wealth and their principles with indigenous ways

- explore the deeper meanings, teachings and traditions in the language.

3) Words to Carry You Home: "what indigenous elders have to say to white books were searching for their indigenous roots" - what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

4) Gliochdas na Seanachie: Interviews with Gaelic elders: George MacPherson

5) Decolonization: interviews with diverse youth working on their own personal decolonization. What does it mean to them? Top ten books they recommend? Top ten quotes that represent their views on it. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

6) Interviews with Traditional Scottish Storytellers: George MacPherson, Paraig MacNeil

7) Documentary - An Seanachdie - Look into who's left and what's left.

8) The Future of Gaelic: interviews with Gaelic activists

9) A Celtic "Four Agreements" type - written in Gaelic - the first gaelic “self help” book! sort of the 8 Fold Path - right action etc. present traditional wisdom is a somewhat codified and practical way. based on 3 fianna things. use 7 habits as core reference. so simple!

10) Book on Being a Celtic Warrior: including physical health (what to eat, how to eat, breathing etc)

11) Craft a book of Mamas Wisdom

12) Interviews with NS Gaels - interviews but they each write a paper (1-3 pages) on what it means to be “gaidhealachd”. Pain a vision. Have them share stories that speak to this.

13) Write Gaelic Kids book - for young adults - about youth connecting with his/her roots.

14) Book of Interviews - White Youth Reclaiming Their Indigenous Roots - Loren Finkelstein, Sarah G, Jason Kierney, people from indigenous knowledge program. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

15) Fiction Book of an adult reconnecting with his roots by meeting an old seanachie.

16) Book of Interviews with Celtic Traditional Storytellers: what is the indigenous heart of the culture? relationship to mainstream? Gaelic? the future of the celtic peoples? the diaspora? what are the sources of our strength? what does it mean to be a warrior?

17) Interviews with BALLE Type Folks re: “What's the most radical edge/possibilities of the conscious economy?”

18) Top Ten Premises/Lies of Civilization - interview Debbie Ford, Bill Plotkin on the shadow and how it works on a collective level.

19) Interviews with New Age Leaders re: Activism and politics. is violence ever okay? racism? indigenous issues? issue they're most passionate about? institutional oppression - real or excuse?

 

Thursday, November 24, 2005


On March 3rd, 2004 my dear friend Tooker Gomberg committed suicide. He was one of Canada’s most creative, loveable and visionary activists. I wrote this poem on the one year anniversary


“One year
And what do I know now that I didn’t know then?
I’m not sure . . .
But there is this one thing I have learned

Three things:

One: this journey is long and winding
Two: you cannot make this journey alone
Three: we must abandon hope and embrace . . . something else entirely . . .

These thoughts are scattered
Bear with me

solitude may free you
but isolation will kill you

I think this is a call

to come out of hiding.

i think we are hungry for each other
craving community and coming together

but what do I know? . . .

This is what I know:

We do not honour the pain and struggles
of those who went before us by recreating them in our lives
nor by passing them on to the future.
Their ghosts do not linger on to haunt us,
but to be healed by us.

For, the healing of this world is a generational story.
No one generation can do it alone.

And when your time on this Earth comes to a close,
Either love or cries for love.
Either the experience of being home or the deep longing for it.

abandon hope all ye who enter here,
this journey is long and winding.
you cannot make this journey alone.

this is what i know:
the hiding that once saved us
will now surely kill us

and besides – where are you going to run?

there’s no safety in hiding anymore
because there’s no where left to hide
they’ve come into the homes and
torn the jungles open wide

this is what i know:
the only way forward is to turn
to each other
not on each other
stop

let me tell you what is possible

to come together
in ways we never have before
and create sacred spaces, in the very places
where once there raged a war.

This is what I know: the tip of the spear is powerless without the shaft behind it.
a person by themselves is not a person
this is what i know: we are all better when we’re loved
this is what i know: there is a difference between what is normal and what is natural.
never lose sight of that.
this is what i know: the trouble with normal is it always gets worse
this is what i know: during world war ii there was a higher survival rate amongst those who participated in the warsaw ghetto uprising than those who went along.
this is what i know: during world war ii there was a higher survival rate amongst those who participated in the warsaw ghetto uprising than those who went along.

this is what i know:

we must in many ways
become like a drum
the harder they beat us

the louder we become
and remember this

it comes to this I think.
in the middle of you
in the middle of your heart
a threshold place
mud, mist
a sunset or sunrise
the shoreline
no longer what it was
not yet what it will be
no longer its parts but some new whole
something in between
this is the place where everything changes
in the middle of you
in the middle of your heart

abandon hope all ye who enter here
embrace pain
with your arms
wrapped around it
pull it into your heart
you are not separate from this
do not just look upon the suffering
the mind will magnify the madness
but the heart transforms it into beauty
take it into the middle of you.

and then let it go
push it out
in a mighty contraction
you were born for this
to express beauty
to press out of
to ex press
to press sorrow from you
until it bleeds beauty

your heart is like a revolving door
four chambers
a full revolution
you’re back where you were but
facing where you came from
and seeing it from a new perspective
from new eyes
something happens to you in the turning

abandon hope all ye who enter here
embrace pain
with your arms
wrapped around it
pull it into your heart
you are not separate from this
do not just look upon the suffering
the mind will magnify the madness
but the heart transforms it into beauty
push it out of the middle of you


your heart was meant to transform suffering
not to house it
what is not expressed with raw eloquence will kill you
a hole torn in the bottom of your heart
as it falls

do you want meaning for your life
or the experience of being alive?

you must choose carefully
the sun is setting
and we all go down with it

abandon hope
embrace beauty
the beauty that pours out from your heart
when you swallow down sorrow

abandon hope
embrace beauty
the beauty that may be fashioned from heartwrenching sadness
the beauty that comes from being carved out and filled up
by the same hand
our resistance is fertile
our voices are brimming with beauty
our eyes shining

there is a laughter on the other side of sorrow
a sudden lightness
unalloyed joy
unexpected openness
honey in the heart

this is what i know:
“the breeze at dawn
has secrets to tell you
don't go back to sleep
you must ask
for what you really want
don't go back to sleep
people are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch
the door is round and open
do not go back to sleep” (RUMI)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My First Gaelic Poem!

an dha shligean

ghabh mi dha shligean 's

thoirt iad gu mo chluasan.

chuala mi fuaim mor, ard, fiach

mar mile guthan (a thousand voices?)

a'glaodhraich airson m'aire

thoirt mi iad air ais

air an gainmhaich

's chunnaic mi orra

airson moran am


smaoineachadh

cha robh mi a'smaoineachadh

mu dheidhinn na sligean

bha mi air mo sgreamhachadh

gun tainig fuaim

cho mor ard fiach

asam


the two shells

i took two shells and

put them to my ears

i heard a big, loud and fierce sound

like a thousand voices

clammering for my attention

i put it back

on the sand

and i looked on it

for a long time

thinking

i wasn’t thinking

about the shells

i was appalled

that a sound so big, loud and fierce had come out of

me

____

I wrote this poem in a gaelic writing workshop - woot.

we were given a variety of inspirations and i chose these two shells on the table. the poem came quickly before it really meant much to me . . . but i think it's about . . . how we're not only listening to the world - it is listening to us. this world is always reflecting us back to ourselves. these reflections can often be deeply disturbing. i am comign to see the importance of being very real with ourselves about what we are capable of - the good and the bad.

i am coming to appreciate the extent of my own potential for selfishness, entitlement etc. in this way, i feel clear that honest relationships are so vital in these times - to help us see clearly. and yet, this society is based on superficial relationships with people and NO relationship with the natural world. to this extent we are . . . less than we could be. we are less of ourselves.

be at peace,
tad


Friday, November 04, 2005

ALREADY DEAD

this sun does not rise to herald the newly born

but to reveal those already dead

i have lived for life but not from it

i have begged for more time

only to sit in between boredom and anxiety when it came

I have begged for riches

only to feel the depth of my undeserving

I have cried out to feel alive

only to damn life's river as it flowed past my jagged, crooked and tender shores

And so, the fullness of my house has revealed the emptiness of my heart

and I am left to wonder

why do I crave that which I squander when I have it?

this sun does not rise to herald the newly born

but to reveal those already dead

AN EYE LOOKING UPWARD

(someone once told me that i reminded them of a deep, dark fissure. I thought about that. What is a fissure? What does it want? This poem was what came to me).
-tad

Deep down, and beyond the surface where I live,

A yearning

These rocks were once starlight

The stones once travelers

This mantle laid carefully

But

From time to time, a mighty crack

A booming sound

Suddenly a fissure, the Earth breaks open

A narrow eye

Waiting for nighttime

Deep down

An impossible yearning, a looking upwards, homewards

These rocks were once starlight

Deep down in myself, beyond the surface where I live,

a longing

These bones were once starlight

This skin laid carefully

but, from time to time,

A mighty crack

A booming sound

Suddenly a fissure

My soul breaks open

A narrow eye

Waiting for nighttime

An impossible yearning, a looking upwards,

Homewards

These bones were once starlight.

Three New Poems:

Hey all.

This last week has been full of very intense learning for me. It's felt like hell but has shown me many good things about myself. Not all comfortable but all good. It is amazing to find out what I'm capable of and how the work undone in myself can affect others.

If you want to know more - email me and i'll tell you all about it.

Three poems came out of it for me.

Poem - Everyone Knows Anyway.

Hunger never hurt me so badly

As when there was the possibility of food

And I am undone.

I had forgotten that I had forgotten the last time I ate

That dull ache becomes a part of you.

I understand how men can see mirages in the desert

I see them everyday.

It was real - i swear it.

I could almost touch it . . .

I lean forward.

Isn’t the intensity of this feeling what it means to be truly ALIVE?

No.

It’s just what it means to be empty,

To rattle in the gentlest breezes.

You know, I thought you were water?

And I tried to drink you dry . . .

I'm sorry for that.

Emptiness distorts everything.

Now, come close . . .

This is the look of a parched man shown water

This is what masquerades as love.

The empty heart of rattling tin

Never sang but to be filled.

So, is it to fill or be filled that you're wanting?

You might as well be honest about what you need.

Everyone knows anyway.

I held a feast with my bowl

Insinuating hospitality and a generosity of spirit

But my bowl was empty

There may be no shame in emptiness

But i still lie about it most days.

You see, this is the game where I pretend to love you

And reach my hand across the table

As if to give you something

But then snap it back

Full of the food that was on your plate

I have found this to be an excellent cover for theft

The camouflage of generosity.

I fool people in this way at least 12 times a day before breakfast.

At least, i tell myself that i fool them.

Emptiness distorts everything.

Afterwards, i find most people quite boring.

I have done terrible things for which i can’t seem to forgive myself.

Why is it that nothing hurts me so deeply

As how I have hurt others?

Why is it that the heaviest weights i feel

Are those i have burdened others with?

I hid behind the school door in grade 3

And waited - with revenge in mind - for older my brother

When he came I hit him in the stomach

And broke my own heart.

They say that the center of a black hole

Must be the heaviest substance in the universe.

But I think it is regret.

Maybe that’s why black holes suck in everything - even light.

Emptiness distorts everything.

I remember my life before I met those who didn’t want to forgive me -

But demanded I find trust again in myself.

There was nowhere else to look for it.

Life is leaning on me hard today and asking,

“How does this feel?”

You see, this is the game where I pretend to love you

And reach my hand across the table

As if to give you something.

So, is it to fill or be filled that you're wanting?

You might as well be honest about what you need.

Everyone knows anyway.

But

Take that same hand

It’s empty anyway

And reach deep into the long shadow you cast - unexplored fullness!

A thousand doors unopened.

(You will find yourself to be a disconcerting territory

but you are not ugly)

Reach in deep - If you can’t find what you are looking for there

You are lost forever.

What have you got to lose?

Only your self pity.

You will have to let go of your cherished belief

that someone is going to protect you.

No one is going to save you

or do the work of growing for you.

No one is going to show you the way.

This is the start of your survival dance.

Stand up inside yourself and answer:

“Where is the brook

That filled your heart

The spring that poured endlessly over?”

I can only tell you one thing:

The direction you need to go is down.

You will have to dig where you stand.

With your hands if you need to.

The dark topsoil will be an immense loneliness.

Impossibly heavy.

But there is water underground.

This is no mirage.

The songs of praise to water

Sung by a thirsty man

Are not love songs.

They are the songs of longing

And desire.

They are songs of wanting.

Of emptiness.

Only those who still sing

Once quenched, water dripping from their mouths,

Sing songs of love.

Only those who have learned the survival dance

Are pulled aside by the elders to learn the sacred dances.

Stand up inside yourself and

Dig a hole, six feet deep.

Bury your ideas and baubles

Your theories, attachments and trinkets

Your hopes for the future.

They never cared about you anyway.

Bury your child’s heart

(you will grow another one - both older and larger).

Walk - barefoot - in tall grasses

And love nothing that cannot love you

Believe in nothing that cannot believe in you

Feed nothing that will not feed you.

I understand how men can see mirages in the desert

I see them everyday.

It was real - i swear it.

I could almost touch it . . .

Emptiness distorts everything.

So, is it to fill or be filled that you're wanting?

You might as well be honest about what you need.

Everyone knows anyway.

____________________________


The Call and Response

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

My mother offered help to her own mother

But didn’t like the job that was needed.

“I understand that,” came the reply

“but if you really want to help me this is what is needed.”

This is what is needed.

This is the time for broad shoulders

Not the intimate conversations you crave.

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

Is it because without your advice

They are sure to meet disaster?

Is it because you have an idea

That won’t do without them?

An idea . . . - astonishing possibility!
Conception

Fire in the head

The love at first sight.

The seed waking.

This first birth inside happens inside you.

You carry it in your belly.

The second birth happens in the hearts of the Others

When it is welcomed into the world.

It must be wanted.

It must find the right place.

Babies die when they’re not touched you know.

Or grow to become twisted men

Monsters

A Mockery of the ancestral impulse.

There are stories i could tell you.

All possibilities must be offered up to the universe

With eloquence

And their response waited for

After all, the response shapes everything.

This is where you learn to dance with what’s real

Call and response

Patience is required here

There is an old etiquette here -

Permissions to be gained

Protocol to be followed and

Blessings to be invited

Consent to be given

From everything.

The rock that wants to be a part of the wall

Will carry half of its weight you know.

If you ask it.

It’s true.

Don't rape the universe with your ideas

And force the birth of unwanted children.

Do not force your possibilities onto the world

Offer them up instead - with open hands

An idea is only an idea

A bright spark

Until it lives in the heads, hearts and hands of the Others.

Do not rush this birth -- it knows its own timing

Would your throw this spark with no one to catch it?

You must see what has heart and meaning for you

And where the universe replies.

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

For the child there are many possibilities

For the elder only a few

You must learn to discern real hopes from false ones.

The shadow side of knowledge is not ignorance

It’s theory.

There are abstract worlds were trees stand in isolation

With roots that merely lay like ropes on top of the earth

Where the world changes in brilliant flashes

And everything is possible.

And then

There's this world,

With its harsh limits

Asking you daily just how seriously you take them.

You must learn to discern real hopes from false ones.

The shadow side of knowledge is not ignorance

It’s theory.

Stories are first lived and then told

But they lose something in the telling

A life story takes a lifetime to live.

It cannot be told in less time.

Everyday you are telling your story to the universe.

Everyday you are part of this larger story.

This is what we have forgotten.

The aborigines of Australia say that

They cannot sing the sacred song lines of Australia

While driving in a car.

More time is needed.

Remember this:

With every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center.

No, you'll never understand someone's life story
Try as you might.

No one will understand yours

Try as they might.

Painfully - most will have no interest.

You will come to know the look of disdain.

You will find yourself alone in this common experience.

Other people have their own lives and agendas

That have nothing to do with you.

This is -- I'm ashamed to say -- a revelation to me.

These are not your pawns to play with

You're not a child anymore.

There are worlds inside people I will never understand

Are you trying to help because you feel that

If you don’t you may disappear?

Your possibilities will destroy you

They will exaggerate your influence.

How many men and women

Have come to ruin saying

“It should have worked. Why couldn’t they see?”

But, the truth is, with every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

Your job is not to create.

Your job is to call -

With eloquence

With an intense etiquette

Respect in your belly

It’s not charm that’s needed here.

It’s graciousness.

It’s forthrightness.

Take time and care

In crafting your invitations.

The universe does not understand your words

Ritual and feeling are the language here.

It wants to help you, but spiritual etiquette requires that you ask.

Your job is not to create.

Your job is to call.

Your job is to wait for the response.

This is no false dichotomy of your will

In the face the Divine.

It’s not just about you and your voice.

When i was young and foolish

I thought my voice not to be the most important

(to be honest - I thought my voice to be the only voice there was.)

Ugly demands were made

Clumsy, jagged and jangling

Reeking of desperation

(and i think this must be the most unbearable stench in the universe)

How often it was not an offer from my heart

But a cry for help

The echoing of emptiness.

And how my fear of dying from emptiness has bred entitlement

A clutching and grabbing at everything.

And then resentment -

And petty rebellions! - the major wars for minor causes.

Enemies at every corner

Who would keep me from what i want.

Protocol is how people want love.

Why not give it to them?

Why withhold your love?

No, this is not a backroom negotiation

Between you and the Lord

This is an acknowledgement of community.

That our voice is one amongst many

In the family of creation.

Life wants to express through creation

And each voice, every creature

Is an expression of this.

Offer everything up in the spirit of humility

“If this be for the highest good of all involved

May it be so.”

Slow down

Stand up

Inside yourself

Your equals surround you

Seemingly endless allies at every turn

For did any hero ever achieve a worthy cause without allies?

What hero was so foolish as to refuse allies

Or offend them with stinginess?

Did Fionn rescue Grainne without his sword,

Without the Great Grey Sea Lion or the little mouse?

A pine needle can spring a forest to cover your retreat

And slow the advance of enemies.

Volcanoes can erupt

Oil can vanish leaving corporations bewildered

Water can leave its well dry - offended by fences.

There is a place you can stand

That will carry your voice

Clean and sweet smelling

Irresistible

To the ears of allies.

You are not alone here in a world begging to be rescued.

You are shoulder to shoulder in a community of equals.

After all, with every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

Toss them softly

Place them gently

When you can.

The times will come when fierce urgency will not allow

Such niceties.

Remember this:

If you don't hold to your own center

You will need to be the center of another’s story.

You will try to weave yourself into their life

With sweet gifts and charming words

But lying at the bottom of this dark and dank need to give

Will be a cry for help.

If you need help - ask.

If you have a gift - offer it up.

But do not confuse the two.

This is simple but it is not easy.

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

Is it because you are desperately afraid?

You're trying to save a world

That doesn't want to be saved

That doesn't need to be saved

Because this world is not afraid.

________________________________________________

Their Presence is a Necessary Absence:

A friend of mine was hurt

Badly

I asked if he could forgive

He told me it mattered to him

To know that they wouldn't do it again.

Their intentions mattered
Their capacity mattered.

He needed to know how safe he was.

How can you forgive someone you can’t trust?

Without knowing that

Is it safe to keep them close?

No.

Let me tell this story differently.

A friend of mine hurt

Someone else this time.

What now?

What if you sense your own mixed intentions?

What if you doubt your own capacity to refrain

From the going in circles?

What if you have peered into your shadow

And are horrified by what you see

That you could easily do?

My grandmother raised a gun

To see if she could bring herself to shoot a gopher.

It was important that she knew

If she was capable of killing.

She was devastated to find that the answer was

Yes.

How can you forgive someone you can’t trust?

What if the person you no longer trust

Is you?

Here is another story

A friend of mine caused offense

(I admit - it was not a friend - it was me)

And i was not forgiven.

This is hard

I have pushed too hard

No one rejects you but they feel threatened by you

No one rejects you unless they feel unsafe around you

This is the simple lesson.

But i have learned something else

- out of the corner of my eye -

About these people

Who will not forgive me.

It is a secret.

Something about them that even they do not know.

I will tell you.

They operate covertly

To free you.

Even they don’t know they are doing it.

Hey ho! This universe is full of tricksters.

Their face will send hatred - or worse - dismissal

But their soul conspires to free you.


Here is the truth:

There are those who will not forgive what you are.

There are those who have no interest in understanding your intentions

And the lessons you are learning.

There are those who will

-- with condescending stare or look of disdain or dismissal --

Throw you back

There are those who will never love you.

They will make their disapproval as clear as they can

Without ever saying a word to you directly

But, instead, using sideways glances and gossip

(which you can read on a growing number of faces).

You will feel it in what is unsaid.

There are cowards at every turn

There are those who will allow you no room for mistakes

Around whom you will tighten into fear of retribution.

They will refuse -- utterly -- your silent entreaties for love

Or expressed invitations for greater understanding.

They will seek to exclude you.

They will seek to make you feel small enough that you disappear

-- or want to.

They will refuse to bear the load of your own self-love.

There are those who, reeking of suspicion and assumption of guilt,

Will throw their daggers into your unprotected heart

There is also something about trust in our deeper self -- wasn't there a voice saying "don't do it"? Your instincts are good -- you've been trained not to listen. Conditioning versus condition.

This is what their daytime self wants.

Their soul sees how useless they are for you

And so seeks to throw you back

But onto your own inner resources.

A magnanimous soul.

And every dagger they throw into your heart

Lingers

To mark it clearly for you

So that you'll never mistake this again

As anything but the source of your own inner wisdom

The one thing you can trust.

Wasn't there a voice saying "don't do it"?

Your instincts are good --

You've been trained not to listen.

This is normal

But it’s not natural.

You have been asleep for a long time.

And it might take a lot to wake you up

To point -- clearly -- the way home.

It might take a dagger into your heart -

The one thing you can trust -

Marked out for you

In scars that run deep.

While they think they are hating you

Their souls are -- silently --

Removing all the possible barriers to your own self-reliance

Throwing you back on your own inner resources.

They are creating a space -- as only they can -- for you to grow up.

It isn't important that you like them.

I don’t.

But you must understand what they are to you.

Their presence is a necessary absence in your life

Listen now: You carry in you an emptiness

That can only be filled with inner strength or self-pity.

The choice is entirely yours.

You will either learn to love, trust and forgive yourself

Or you won't.

There are those who will echo your inner critic

And see only your shadow

And challenge to prove that these are not the sum of who you are

There role is not to reassure you

But to see if you believe the words you say

The personalities want to see you cringe into nothingness

But their soul wants to see you blaze anew.

A fiery response to the challenge

They are calling you to fill the space they have revealed

Those who love you help you build your inner strength

Those who dismiss you reveal it.


You will still lean forward for their love

And they will only ever lean back.

You must stand up inside yourself.

They've come to help you stop leaning.

Facing them, with arms outstretched

They push you -- hard -- backwards

You're falling away from love

But, you turn around and find that they pushed you back toward yourself

Not away from love but to its wellspring

The oldest story: the one who leaves home

To come home.

Their presence is a necessary absence in your life

This is the most impossible weight to bear:

The love that others do not feel for themselves

When you ask others to carry yourself love and self-worth

You put in impossible burden on them.

Their soul knows better.

What man would willingly consent

To carrying the source of another man's happiness?

But I give mine away all the time

As if it were but a light thing.

No, they've done all they could for you.

God bless their secretive soul

This double agent

Fierce freedom fighter.

To their souls i bow deeply.

To their personalities I say:

“Assholes.”