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Posts Tagged ‘work’

Twice in two weeks a snake has crossed my path in the woods. Barefoot the first time, a friend stopped me in my tracks with her terror. The snake froze in its sensuous curve, licking an invisible popsicle of self-defense. I guided my friend gently around a wide-berth circumference. The creature’s eyes and matched tongue never left our forms until we’d retreated far enough as to dim the energetic intrusion.

Two days ago the same slithery beast crept over the naked skin of my topfeet on another trail, a mountain a couple of miles away. This one also lapped it’s tongue, careful to maintain its  stiffened-stream posture. A companion caught the S by a grip on the tail, and I balked as he stretched his lean body in opposition,      fighting against entrapment, wrongful intrusion, bodily touch minus permission or ability to say. I sensed a vengeance, the serpent’s want to retaliate, and led our retreat out of respect for its lack of understandable words. Perhaps I was projecting myself onto this snake. It seemed so clear to me that catching it by it’s tail, preventing it from slithering as far as it pleased and in any direction, was an unwanted imposition and unfair, despite any just motives of the captor. Captors often believe their motives are just, after all.

The woods are alive. Clicking, tick-tocking their own non-clock time. No time at all, but mystical force. Time as measured only by seasons in ceremonial growth and decay.

How exciting, out here in the dark. The sky a puddle cauldron in some distance and smell of fire tugging the intuition of my nostril fur. Sweet, sweet blossoms beginning their perfume,

a time of creation. A time of Love. And how giddily mysterious, these trees in the dark. At their feet all kinds of cricking and cracking. Creaking branches with moaning blades of grass. Taken away one sense, I mistake not to know what lies there around me. What insects? What fauna? What eaters and shitters and pollinators lie or frolic there? Which lurk on prey, which dig, which forage or shiver or lackadaisically lay about in stretched leg-leaf-tentacle heaven? Only hearing them should be enough. Only feeling them. Only imagining them shall be enough for a sage.     My testines urge me: defecate there, on deadened foliage! Joining refuse-life-refuse-heat-smell-scintillation-food-life-refuse. Like some mother mushroom spreading football-length miles below, vast pulsing fungal matrimony; bleeding manure spore-gy. MMm, the delightful attraction to become weird. SPOntaneous REgeneration ! and what color-trails assist.       ssssss

The water here tastes purely toileted, surely poison. Lace of some technical attribute; its atoms altered to manmade algorithms and replacing words like “bless.” “Joy.” I’ve not been drinking it. I can’t discover what’s worse – dehydrating myself or drinking water designed to shape me into a compliant drone.

Chemicals penetrate my skin four-days weekly, anyhow. The dishroom stinks my clothes like body odor never has, and in what short time! Like coal in the mountains, remove the epidermis for some compact layer of iodine now lurking underneath. The sake of health! Cleanliness! Of course. It’s code.

I notice how intricately linked the weather is with emotion here. I have begun to pick up on the vibrations of words and thought. The moment someone speaks an idea about someone else, my view of that person (the speakee) is changed. Even if I don’t agree with the observation. Every single thing any person, any consciousness, chooses to inject into the atmosphere changes it somehow. The way words are spoken makes something new. Each decision, every thought.. all of these are comingling energies working to perpetually create reality. We have a duty to control them. We have a duty to make them healthy, bright, reverent of love, constructive, truthful. Infused with honor. I recognize how much easier it is to maintain a pleasant state of mind when surrounded by people (sometimes unconsciously!) committed to interacting peacefully and constructively with one another. Though is it easier to connect with myself? In some ways, yes, for I am allowed the freedom to express myself here any way that I want. All social norms are cast aside, save for those which protect mutual honor and respect. The outer-work is done, then. This allows me more energy to spend on cultivating my inner-means of security. In this I am not convinced I’m making progress. Old habits, trip-ups, fall-backs. It’s about becoming mindful – making sure I can and making sure I do.

Earlier today I thought to myself, This place is making me a better person. I am improving. I become more good every day. This place makes me more what he wants me to be (more my pure self). But surely these characters will ebb away once removed from these purest surroundings?

I must solidify those thoughts (of assuredness, benevolence) and continue them despite temptation to trade them for easier ones. Yoga has taught me that when you believe you are strong, you are strong. When you think of yourself as divine, certainly you become divine.

In the past 10 weeks, folks have been praising my laugh, my yoga practice, and my dancing constantly in all means and perfections. It’s like it’s easier, here, to spy another’s essence, and even more convenient to acknowledge it aloud and share in the joy of cultivating spirit. To be validated.

appreciation can come from anywhere

it seems that the hunger, sparked from true cosmic connection, is more unique

my cave so confusedly wishes to be filled. At least some of the time.

the hollow want of someone yawning open

far far away

he’s swallowing i’m drinking air – we are apart and im drinking only air.

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SwannaNoWhere

It is time I told of Warren Wilson College, the place I’ve been residing for the last 2+ months. This is a largely undergraduate college (there is one renowned graduate program in creative writing) with three branches to its education system: Academics, Work, and Service. In addition to study with the goal of attaining a “degree” (or pedigree, if you are to speak about it honestly), you are required to work for at least 15 hours a week on and for the campus, as well as complete 100 hours of community service before you graduate.

The campus, nestled softly in the cradle of God formed by the Appalachian mountains surrounding, is extremely well-contained. Before I arrived, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to last here without bringing a car – my need to escape had prior seemed prevalent. A thirst wanting quench. But now my car sits in the lot for days on end without budging. Full weeks at times, so’s that I forget where it is or that it exists altogether. (this isn’t to diminish its importance, however. surely if it weren’t here I’d be craving escape all the time) No, everything I need is right. here.

I live in essentially a four bedroom, two bath apartment (called a “suite”) complete with kitchen and living room. Housing is coed, including shared rooms. Couples room together here and no one bats an eye. Front doors to suites remain largely unlocked. None of the doors in our suite are ever locked. There is no regimen and are no regulations for having visitors. When I need something, like a pot for cooking, I simply walk across the deck to the neighboring apartment and take what I need, returning it when I am finished. I’ve had friends use things like my freezer, juicer, and yoga mat at their discretion, only obtaining my general permission ahead of time. Below my bedroom is a meditation room, which contains cushions, a shrine table, an electric kettle, a couple of small statues, a crystal rock lamp, and two bookshelves packed full of material on spirituality and meditation. A friend of mine who lives across the way plays a balafon, which is a Guinean type of marimba that employs gourds as resonators. I hear the dancing sounds of his mallets striking smoothed wood each night just after ten.

Out back behind my living space are woods and hiking trails. I drink snow and rain from heavy branches out there. I wander til I reach Christmas Tree Hill, once a pasture for a Christmas tree farm, the specimens now overgrown and reaching high into the heavens in surreal lines on a perfect grid. Their needles bathe the earth beneath them, making it a blanket of softness and strength. I rub my hands in dirt on those trails. Rub them in dirt, then press the dirt into the grooves of bark to see how the designs lay. Look at how the dirt I’ve pressed into the bark has lodged itself in the lifelines of my hands, a perfect mirror of phenomenon. Filthy clean designs, the way mud never has made me feel like I needed a bath. Rather, it makes me feel like I more exist. And the more I play in dirt and hang with trees the less bathing is a necessity.

I bathe about once a week. I wash my hair about that often if not less. I no longer comb or brush it except for with my fingers. I condition it and treat my dry scalp with olive and coconut oils. I wear and sleep in the same outfit for days upon days. Folks don’t seem to notice. The smell of me seems to attract rather than deflect them.

This being my first semester, I was not provided with a choice as to which work crew I could be on. I have extensive experience in food service and so I was assigned to Dining Hall Crew. There are two major dining choices on campus: Gladfelter and Cowpie. I work upstairs in Gladfelter, which is the more traditional dining hall suited for omnivores. The food is typical and mass-produced. There is a salad bar, a beans/rice/cooked vegetables bar, and the main entree as well as cereals, breads, peanut butter, and the like. There is no uniform for working on this crew (if any crew). There are little rules besides the general showing up on time, doing work, and remaining until the end of your shift or until all the work is done. I do tasks ranging from setting up for meals to washing dishes to prepping with cooks to stocking to wiping tables and mopping. The interesting thing about the work program is that, essentially, all of the students serve one another. In my first week, I was taken by the fact that I was washing dishes for the same girl who helped me in the library just an hour earlier that day. One result of this is a quick and relatively stable sense of community. Another result is that a certain am0unt of respect is cultivated for the tasks that are done for you. Sure, some people who eat in the dining hall are inconsiderate or spaced out and there are dishes left behind at every shift. But, overwhelmingly, students make sure to acknowledge the employees and more or less genuinely thank them for their efforts.

I love working for school. It provides me with a sense of belonging and gives some needed structure to my time. Most days I’d rather skip class than skip a work shift. Plus, working with folks really establishes a pretty clear relationship. I definitely feel closer with the people I work with every week than I do many of the folks in my classes, even when I see them about the same amount. There is something about working alongside someone that creates an important understanding and affection.

I came here in search of real community. And I’m not sure what I’ve found. Surely, out of 900 students, I know only a mere fraction of the humans here. But familiar faces abound and there are a good portion of folks that make sure to stop and connect with me as we cross paths. At first I was frustrated because I felt that I wasn’t establishing deep connections with anyone (except for a rare couple I met at orientation), despite efforts through meaningful conversation. I felt that I was spending time with folks without necessarily becoming any closer with them emotionally. It seemed to me as though everyone was more interested in existing next to one another peacefully, maintaining their individual lives without necessarily risking anything or going out of their way to become close. I was baffled as to how friends were to be made in this setting. After all, my whole life my friends had rather been made for me. My friends were the people who were most like me in a world full of ‘others.’ It was easy – I was attracted to people who looked like me, thought like me, liked the same things I did and those people were attracted to me. How am I supposed to make friends here, where there are so many like-minded individuals?

For the most part, everyone is friendly and even, potentially, friends. Most people speak to one another not only with respect and congeniality, but with a sort of recognition (familiarity?) as well. As if we’re neighbors. On the same page. There is an automatic open-ness I never found in the northeast. And more than that, very little judgment seems to go on here.

I’d like to speak more about Cowpie, social relations, and the environment I’ve begun to immerse myself in. I want to talk about baking bread, finding snakes on the trail, the free store, the wealth of trust, my issues with academic structure and my brainstorm about the possibility of free guided self-learning… I want to talk about dancing in the grass, letting my body hair grow, and taking refuge in a more peaceful enclave of society. I want to talk about what it means to be isolationist versus what “the world” really is. Alternative lifestyles. How nature feeds me. The bounty of health and energy I’ve felt since I arrived in these mountains. Hand-making things like toothpaste. I want to talk about how sometimes I wake up in the morning wondering what the point is and what the solutions to that may be.

I want to talk about how I feel so disconnected from my life thusfar, as if it’s all been an elaborate dreamstate. When I think about memories, I recall events almost from a third-person perspective. And try as I may, I can only recall feeling certain emotions. I am unable to re-feel them to my core or even consider them relevant.

The incredible beauty of the natural world and human lives as mere extensions of that. Ferns as fractals. Humans as fractals. Parts as wholes as parts, inseparable. The self as no self as all self and so on.

Homesteading. Growing food. being not doing. Making. Love.

of course, there is always more

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For Joy

Mimamsa says those who remain in samsara (the cycle of suffering) do so in ignorance. But what of those who simply believe they love their suffering? And those who would rather remain in suffering than perform the work required of exiting from it. These simply forms of ignorance?

The other day, a girl said to me: “I just know that enlightenment isn’t for me in this lifetime.” Okay. What can I argue that with, when someone blatantly tells me and themselves that they’re not willing to do what it takes to embrace the joy they were created to eventually achieve? It’s the excuse about a certain position on a path. An excuse that I have used, that in ways I continue to use, and I’m unsure whether I buy it anymore.

We live in a (Western) culture of hypocrisy. That is not to say hypocrisy doesn’t exist outside this culture, just that I see now that I wade within a gaggle of people who think one way and do another.

I myself am one of these people. And I continue to be inclined in thinking that I do not know how to act in accordance with my beliefs. What does this mean, practically? How does it look from moment to moment, decision to decision? Here I am, reverting to old habits that are manifestations of my suffering. And I know now that it’s not a matter of stopping myself from engaging in these habits. Rather, it’s about changing whatever is the cause of the habits. At the root of them. And what I believe is that the cause of suffering is failing to engage with and act upon your inner truth, guiding knowledge. Essentially: ignoring God. But, I ask, how do I engage with God amidst all of these societally-imposed obligations? And is the answer to find myself within these limits or rather to eliminate the limits and thus more firmly direct myself towards the listening of the universe? Perhaps some are able to stay grounded within the obstacles and others need to escape them to find truth? Is this the difference between monastic and tantric methodology?

Does activism matter at all if your actions outside of it conflict with your beliefs? Does anything matter at all if you do not behave in line with what you feel and what you know. I feel, I do, that I cannot make real change or difference in anything without first knowing myself and never straying from that.

I long for him

like pieces missing in a rainbowed puzzle

of mine own Truth

everyone else pales

all connections seem forced and putrid

I wake up wishing I were on a floor, coldness outside and chipping paint surrounding. The most limited resources engulfing us and yet both needing nothing but the nourishment we feed one another in simple presence.

But I cannot go to him because I want to feel whole. And I cannot go to him because I want him to feel better. I can only go to him when I’ve disbanded all illusions and I sincerely want him for no other reason than because that’s what’s inside of me.

It can’t be a mind-thought. It can’t be a heart-thought. It is only a source-know that can lead me to him again. [God I hope to be led to him again]

And the why it isn’t now

is because I continue to make simple mistakes and I know they would result in abuse of what we share, like they already have. And I can’t go to him until I am secure in myself. So I can understand and look him in the eye and explain every treacherous act for what it us and be resolute in knowing that such treachery has sparked out like a gradually-weakened flame and no longer appears to waver me or shake any foundation.

I wish to be ready now

but i know if i went now he’d spy my weaknesses and they’d remain him in torment (because they keep me there, and we are One).

And I want to believe we could overcome them together, but I fear crossing that line into a path of needing him to assist me. And the last thing I want to do is come to him solely out of belief that he can help me ascend.

The only way I want to come to him is from my own intuition. Disbanding overuse of mind and overemotionality. And our stars are so aligned that surely their magic will allow happenings to unfold in a manner conducive to our workings together

as long as I am able to do my own work

and not stray from that work. Regardless.

And I am still not achieving there. But even so, hope holds out for me because I know my potential so well.

And here I go.

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