Friday, July 8, 2016

Notes, outrage and art

Yesterday I went walking with a Buddhist priest. We were new to each other, that is, we had never met in person. We had things in common though, and those commonalities were enough to bring us together for a morning of deeply satisfying conversation, history share, and hope. Both of us live with the illness of severe chemical sensitivities, and soon both of us will live from a tiny house. 

Rev. Eko Noble's Go Fund Me project is here. If you would like to help build a NonToxic Tiny House, and meet the first woman priest of her Shingon Buddhist lineage, what a contribution we could all make.

While the very low tide at my favorite Whidbey Island shore laid a banquet for the many feathered tribes of Eagle, Heron, Gull, and Swans we walked the sandy shore and talked story. We were sharing the notations and footnotes of our individual lives and the common thread of living with this very inconvenient illness. 

After two hours of walk and talk it was time to part. My mind and soul was full to overflowing. Face-to-face conversation is not a common exchange for me. I love it when I can get it even though the next day means I must shift to low. Listening to Rev. Eko's stories the similarities and her current journey of researching, testing and building a non-toxic tiny house refreshed my journey -- building Vardo For Two. We built the tiny vardo as a refuge, and a place for restoring health. The journey continues. 

For readers who have followed the writing here at Makua o'o, the medicine stories will be familiar parallel thread where I mix myth and fiction with the mundane reality of hauling dishes across the forest to a sink where hot water will get them clean. The mundane includes the experiences necessary to live with chemical illness. The myth crosses the borders for remedy and medicine. 

"I began writing Beatrix Blunt after being inspired by a piece of writing that I read in our local (Seattle) online 'magazine' the SLOG. The writing and the issue is one I knew, and experience: Forests Burning. Like the character Beatrix Blunt I use oxygen to breathe when forests burn, or my neighbors burn their fires inside their chimneys or in piles outside. Rather than recount my initial motive and fuel for writing, I leave you this link to read Charles Mudede's SLOG post to get a feel of it, if you choose. That was the spark. But what has come from that initial source has led to the twelve-installments of the story thus far. Ending with "Leavings" and the conundrum facing the three characters: the young intern Alexa E., Leslie Mills former Miss Hawaii, 1974 and Beatrix Blunt blogger and journalist on the verge of retirement from public life. The trio has been visited by a ghost, and the ghost brought music and flowers. Now what?

"There are threads and themes of story written into the bones ..."

"The stars and circumstances in life today are conspiring with me. I believe it is time to take this story and grow it into a novel. There are threads and themes of story written into the bones of these twelve-installments that beckon, shout more like it, for the meat of the larger version. So with the blessings of those stars, the Ancestors, and my guardians who know what story needs to be told, I tell you this medicine story will grow behind the scenes as a novel. Below the astrology of a two year forecast looks to me like a good time to engage in 'vigorous activity and self-assertion.' There is history and story to tell on many levels, and in doing it well, there could be art to remedy the inconvenience of greed, consumption and oppression."

Click here to read the entire post written on Beatrix Blunt. From the emotions of outrage the experiences of repression and suppression turn the victimized me into an art-making elder. There is hope and something beyond simply processing

This leads to one of my favorite exchanges of dialogue about 'processing' between writer Michael Ventura and psychologist James Hillman. In their book We've Had a Hundread Years of Psychotherapy--And the World's Getting Worse. 

Ventura: But what are you supposed to do with this stuff if not process it? How the fuck are you going to "individuate," or even grow up, if you don't process it?

Hillman: Well, now what did Jonathan Swift do? He wrote the most incredible satires. What did people do in the Elizabethan and Jacobean vengeance plays? I mean, this stuff is tremendously powerful...This kind of processing is really hard. This is the stuff of art. Rilke said about therapy, "I don't want the demons taken away because they're going to take my angels, too." Wounds and scars are the stuff of character. The word character means, at root, "marked or etched with sharp lines." like initiation cuts." 

The excerpt from the Ventura and Hillman book appears in The Sun Magazine, July 2016.

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