Each Friday, a list of things I want to try. Designed to stretch my curiosity, challenge my beliefs, and poke my ego.
I began this in 2010 when I started the blog, then stopped after a while. Time to brush them off again, since there’s a lot to navigate in these times.
[trigger warning for one item on this week’s list. I refer to Hitler’s cruelty during the Holocaust as an example of the real challenges inherent in true forgiveness and reconciliation. This is part of my work as a white settler as inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action from First Nations People in Canada, and the work of Resmaa Menakem.]
List for Friday April 2, 2021:
1. Walk in the grass in bare feet, make sure there’s mud on them
2. In the interest of learning more about true reconciliation, try forgiving Hitler. Really forgive him without for one moment condoning the pain he inflicted and the cruelty he empowered and supported. Imagine he is my son, and I love him. What would I ask him to do in atonement? What would I ask him, period? (if I can’t forgive him that’s okay, try again when I’m ready to come back to it)
3. draw a frog from memory
4. Change something that’s been the same for at least six months
Delightful days, these. In the grand pause of morning I can recall at least one, sometimes three marvelously shocking, transcendent moments for each day of this month – some mine, others I’ve witnessed. Is this what you get when you jump into Georgian Bay at midnight on Nov 1? If so I’ll make it annual.
We are alive in a rare time.
Perhaps I’m not the only one sensing this recent surge to collaborate with one another, to push the old boundaries of comfort, desire and suffering until a new level of release is achieved. Tavener addressed it in his August interview (check the post before this one), Ted Hughes articulates it in a letter to his son (excerpted below) and if I look around me in close friends, family, colleagues I witness an active, sometimes urgently expressed willingness to … ‘turn and face the change’. Even, and maybe especially if there’s no clue as to what that IS.
I found this at 6am this morning, written by one of my most favourite poets of all time – a writer brutal in his honesty, wild in his deprecating humour. Share, share.
….At every moment, behind the most efficient seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person’s childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim. And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool — for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful. So there it is. And the sense of itself, in that little being, at its core, is what it always was. But since that artificial secondary self took over the control of life around the age of eight, and relegated the real, vulnerable, supersensitive, suffering self back into its nursery, it has lacked training, this inner prisoner. And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line — unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears.
And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive — even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources — not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy. That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self — struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence — you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself.
The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.