Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Is anybody alive in here (nobody but us in here)"

-from "Miss Gradenko" on Synchronicity by The Police

Still thinking a lot about intention, accidents and synchronicity. Met a dude at the Madison Flickrmeet last weekend (flickr handle KAP'ncraig) who does Kite Aerial Photography - sends up thousand dollar cameras on his hand-built kites and clicks the remote shutter when he thinks the shot just might be right. He and I talked about control and synchronization, trust and the universe being far more creative than we are, choices and non-choices. The shots I took on the walk are good - clear and sharp, totally focused, and yet, free. I felt very free shooting, freer than usual, corralled a bit by the group, but not as much as I would on a Miksang shoot. Not working, not all alone, a good happy medium.

Other things don't feel so clear or good right now. My sinuses continue to give me trouble, and I alternate between exercise and activity, rest and refusal to stay sick. I finally got taken down yesterday, a sore throat scaring me into mono fears, and today I have mostly rested - slept 12 hours much to the cats' happiness, and only attended a small meeting and deposited my income for the month at the credit union. I have been following reading freedom all morning - first with another installment of a students' memoir (not yet published), snippets of Notes on the Need for Beauty (a loan from a student - book by the author of The Book of Qualities, by J. Ruth Gendler I mentioned a couple of weeks ago) and a return to a book given to me by a student and she introduced me to the single most significant genre I have understood in so long: "lyrical essays". This student, the one who gave me Deborah Tall's book A Family of Strangers, has been writing lyrical essays for a long time and was frustrated by the classification "creative non-fiction" feeling it too broad to suit her writing. And so she found out lots about lyrical essays, which are certainly what she and most of my students write in class, and this also gave definition to my own writing. My attempt at applying this to the "family memoir/novel" I had left aside for now ...but re-reading over parts of Tall's memoir (Family of Strangers) has allowed me to reconsider- maybe I could write a whole book like that, alternating "fact" with "fiction" and memories, mistaken or real...

The need for narrative drive fascinates me. How much we need to read, or think we need to read, something with a plot really points at the way we depend on stories in our own lives to sustain us. This leads me to wonder, and only wonder so far, if maybe a truly "Buddhist" literature would be a plot-less one, or one which questions/wonders about plots. Perhaps there are more and more of these books out there - certainly Tall's book wonders about these questions, having grown up in a family of secrets and forgotten memories, a life lacking in narration of the past and even, as she says, "In time my parents' habit of secrecy leaked over into areas that needn't be suppressed at all." The absence-as-presence of my actual parents, both being dead, throws me into a similar void, with catches from siblings of history, barely backed up, like a fading computer aging into oblivion and no external hard drive in case one of us crashes. Or maybe we *are* those external harddrives, no longer connected to the original sources?

My best friend in town, Becky, has decided to move to Portland slightly earlier than was planned - August now, instead of November. I have entered into a defensive mourning posture - though I see her on a regular basis still, I've been isolating myself a bit, combined with being sick, or half sick most of the time, plus changes in weather, I haven't been calling folks as much or going out as much. The inner child part of me that has spent so much time identifying with being abandoned is having a raging field day with all of this, playing victim and other related roles. I can see it very clearly, though this part of me has done enough damage already before I started consciously catching on that it's hard to repair what's happened in the last weeks. Becky and I are going camping together the last weekend in June and I am relieved that we will have a couple of days of silence and hiking, intense chats alternating with healthy food to connect. Each time we say goodbye now we both mist up and get tortured looks on our faces. It will be a hard move, for certain, but now that I've caught onto the "inner secret" narrative of my ego, I think I can let go more easily from now on.

And this is where it all comes together - how even if we don't know what the secrets are, they still feed us. I feel as if the history of my family, known and unknown, comes to fruition in me, and the more I can find out, the more the history becomes an actuality, the more I can feel out how it applies to this life, this conglomerate of experiences I call "me". What this means most for me right now is that I am preparing to write to the brother I haven't spoken to in almost four years, for better or for worse, to reconnect with what is. This sense of secrecy, though I am not secret about it with pretty much anyone, this active undone-ness is coming to haunt me a bit, and it's time to take something that has gone from intention into the disuse of habit and reconsider it a bit. Add intention back in and see what accidents or synchronicity result there within.

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