Shock Value

There are few things that turn me off more than cheap thrill seekers or sensationalists.  I could not be less interested than I am in watching a horror film just to feel my hackles rise.  For me this is like wanting to lie down on a bed of sharpened nails just to remind myself that I have blood that flows and a heart that beats.

Do people forget these things?  Are they bored?  Is that why people watch the news, even though it’s been pre-filtered to include only horrific, disempowering stories (or interpretations of same), designed to up the public fear frequency? We all know this by now, surely.

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I think we watch TV and network news, and get hooked into facebook & reddit and other more horrific ‘stream of negative community consciousness’ sites because it feels perfectly safe.  We can turn it off any time, after all.  It’s just crazy people posting weird stuff. Facebook is the tamest of all – we each have communities of like-minded people we can friend and then unfriend if they post something offensive to our value systems.  Republicans do not share daily space with Democrats, white Supremacists with Idle No More activists,  Nascar fans with Greenpeace supporters, etc.

Pretty safe, thanks to the facebook police, too (which is us).

reference for new pieces - mirror work
reference for new pieces – mirror work

We choose what we want, and don’t want to see.  This defines our system of values.  I value positive interaction and creativity more than acts of cruelty – so I choose NOT to go to sites where videos of cats being ripped apart while still alive get millions of viewers.  Over time I can actually convince myself that those sites don’t exist, since they don’t in my world.

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Over time, if I continue this way, I can make my world fairly comfortable.  I might watch news or dip into current events on facebook, and see what’s spiking on any given day, but there are no serious shake-ups beyond the ever-growing rates of anxiety and fear and disempowerment we all share:  elections are a facade, democracy a sham, our Country has been sold to China by a crook, we have systemic health, education and socio-economic meltdowns ahead of us and are well past the tipping point with climate change.

If you put a frog in a bucket of cold water that is heated slowly to the boiling point, the frog will stay there until it dies.

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If, however, you put the frog into a bucket of boiling water, it will jump out immediately.

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I had an intense and deeply personal experience yesterday that I was not expecting at all.  It hurt me and stunned me on every level.

I jumped out of the bucket.  Because I jumped out of the bucket I know that there was one, and why I was put there in the first place.  Because I’m not there I know what my next project is.

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Frog-me.  Alive and kicking.

 

Topographical lines

It strikes me as I look out at all the curves of white that this winter has changed the shape of us here.

falls2_October2013
October 2013

In places where two months ago I walked on level ground, there are dense mounds of tiny ice crystals waist-high, knee high, shoulder high.  Rooftops end in curves, trees and traffic signs are coated in snow – the town has the look of a David Milne painting.

January 4, 2014
January 4, 2014

What does this do for us here, in the snow belt – this fact that there is no level ground – that we now walk over, through and inside apparently infinite amounts of frozen water?  Views once clear and straight are now obstructed by six-foot walls of snow.  We shovel, push, blow it aside daily, but even those piles encroach now, shrinking the roads, the streets, the parking lots.

Our external topography is changed, and  – this being early February, when 2 weeks of heavy snow is still to come – it will continue to change.

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I can only speak for myself of course, though I suspect this could be true for many here.  I think all this heavy white landscape calls us to ourselves, and to one another.  It’s not an easy thing –  to be cabin-fevered with your partner, yourself or with young kids who have not been to school for days and days.  To be huddled around block heaters together because the oil truck couldn’t get to your house, or to spend two hours, twice a day shovelling and blowing snow just so you can get to work, to the grocery store.

If ever a time there was when creativity and ingenuity was essential, it would be this winter.  In fact, Winter 2013-2014 could have a subtitle:  “How we learned to become unstuck”.

bocce with frozen balls.  playing and recording YouTube videos in the snow.  tunnels, forts, snow fights, toboggans, skis, snowshoe yoga.

spring's coming, definitely.  But I think we could still use some more winter...
spring’s coming, definitely. But I think we could still use some more winter…

puttering on an old project or two.  noticing that I’m dressing down for a Nirvana Unplugged gig.  checking in with my neighbors – ‘need anything?’.  trying a new thing.  sniffing the wind.

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…feeling my internal topography as it changes; enjoying the new curves.