What will it mean to find my only truest self amid the rubble of all the false selves others tried to frame about me making my safe denying distancing disfiguring? What will it mean to see my soul in the clear and dazzling light of truths daring the edges of my compassing charting comprehending? What will it mean to claim my spirit to feel reoccurring ancient bonds to sense renewing wide connections to experience returning deep union all the while grateful humble glad before the enduring powers living luring loving? They came to me, the words rushing from my soul. They came to me, the stories tumbling through my spirit. They came to me, the memories rending my heart.
Through a Deep Borne Past
Through a deep borne past
we move through today
a phoenix rising
from the ashes
victories and failures,
the just sped through
The title words of this reflection shot through my awareness as I was in the shower this morning. Repeating them like a mantra I was able to hold onto them until I made my way dried and dressed to my journal to transcribe them and the words following here. I KNOW in my bones, in the interstices of my very self, what they mean, and for me at least how significant they are for how I actively perceive my life and its text, context and subtexts.
The past we carry – past as in yesterday no less or more than the past of six lifetimes ago.
This does not mean the past is, ought or need be a burden. We carry it lightly, but bear it deep within us.
What does this then say about our present? Where does that fit in?
The present mediates then and yet. Both are managed, as it were, through the prism, the lens of now.
One comes from somewhere and is on a journey to somewhere else, and it is the actual steps of the journey that comprise the now. We can’t go back. We can’t skip ahead. This keeps us on our path, one step and footfall at a time.
We have had, of course, or I believe that I have had as many futures as I have had pasts. Or to put it more forcefully: I believe that I have as many pasts as futures in the larger view of multiple lives across time. More prosaically, even if you do not credit past or future manifestations/incarnations, since every yesterday had, and has, a tomorrow, and every tomorrow has, and will have, a yesterday and we move between one and the other from yesterday and tomorrow through today. Then for all of us there have been as many pasts as there are futures.
This is the reason it is important to honour every day, to honour the everyday. In so doing we don’t just slip along through life. We step with intention. We move with deliberation. We make choices. We acknowledge mistakes and accept their lessons. We take responsibility. We are not passive. We don’t just observe our life; we live it. It’s not riding on our own personal high speed train, where one day blurs into another. It’s putting on our hiking boots and going out to live in all emotional, physical and spiritual weathers.
We may only have a vague idea of what direction we are heading, maybe a crude map, with key markers on it, but that’s good, as it should be. There is not OS map for the soul, not satnav for a life journey. There is no knowing what the topography of tomorrow will be like. We only find out on the ground. There is no one, or should not be someone, telling us to take the third exit in the roundabout of experience. We have to live them to find out. So, we will stumble onto boggy bits and get through them. We will confront rivers swollen with the torrents of pain or distress, and we will ford them. We will trek across barren places and through barren times, but we will get through them to greener places again.
Living with an awareness of one’s deep borne past gives us hints that arise from both our knowledge and our knowing. It is made up of, as we are made from, the large small, the happy and hurtful events of this life, as well as those we have lived before. In all this it is vital to remember that the future is much more vast than next weekend or a score of years from now, for it means who we will be the next time as well.
But now, and not just this present life, but this very instant, is what constitutes and makes the past meaningful; because the moment you read the first part of this sentence or as you read along word for word, the present has become the past.
The now is always, and inescapably, becoming simultaneously both then and yet.
For me it’s part of how I get my head around time, the flow of time, my flow by time through space, the measures and structures of my existence.
Thinking and writing about these things, and reading them, in some inexplicable way becomes part of the then that we have walked together into the mystery of yet.
May the nows of today bring you meaning from the then and courage for the yet.
For some reason today I began to think about the whole issue of GM words, that is Grammatically Modified words. Words that used to be one sort of word, usually a noun that have been altered to become a verb.
One of the first I encountered one day over a decade ago whilst strolling around PCWorld. I was looking at the accessories area and came across ‘a mousing surface’. I just went nuts. I was fine with mouse mat, since that was something my computer mouse (and I’m fine with calling it a mouse since it looks sort of like one) could scurry about on, but ‘mousing surface’! Well, when I wondered did mouse become a verb? Whose idea was it to modify is grammatical framework?
In my horror I began to conjugate the verb ‘to mouse’:
I mouse; I am mousing; I moused; I was mousing; I shall mouse; I have moused; I had moused; I shall have moused; I might mouse; I might have moused . . . . you get the idea.
Your feline companion may be a mouser. But I doubt you would say to a friend that last night your cat mouses or went out and moused, any more than that he went on a mousing rampage.
It might be that I am a lexicographical Luddite, I grammatical throw-back, but I do have a hard time with GM words, and I mourn the attempts to drive adverbs to extinction. There are times when writing poetry that I have tinkered with a word or an idea because I needed a nuance that was not available in English. Sometimes English is a bit limiting. There is one word for love. I love grilled artichokes and I love my partner. Clearly the same word, but let’s face it not the same quality of affection is being expressed. So, there are times when I needs must and I am emboldened.
Never, however, do I desire or anticipate that anyone else would use the word. It would not be appropriate in any context other than the one for which I crafted it. GM words, on the other hand become part of our everyday vocabulary. We do it sometimes with adjectives and turn them into nouns, the modifier becomes the modified.
Then there are also words whose meaning, though remaining the same part of speech, change in such a way that it is no longer rooted as they once were. Not all such words make me feel like I’ve heard nails run over a blackboard. See, I still remember chalkboards, dust, smeared words illegible from the back row of the class. However, two such words for me are interdict/interdiction and anathema/anathematize. Look up the original meanings and see how they relate to how one uses them now. I was trained as a Mediaevalist, who also studied Latin and Greek, so those two words particularly make me cringe.
Now hold on, I am well aware that new things, experiences and realities require new words. But they require new words, not recycled old ones. Language evolves. It is not stagnant, but dynamic. I have no problem with expanding the dictionary, it gives lexicographers work and writers more options. That is more akin to me of exploring the rainforest and finding a new species that needs a name. But for me there is a vast difference between that and taking a perfectly useful word and adapting to increase its yield in usage units instead of taking the time discover a new and wondrous word that will save the language from starvation.
GM words – for me they are a step too far, and I will boycott them in my writing in favour of those words that have maintained their integrity in form and meaning, or news ones that speak with vitality and vigour about the world in which I live and about which I write.
Time Variously Considered
Time variously considered
is all or nothing at all.,
is incident and accident,
serendipity and destiny –
or it isn’t.
All things happen in its
non-existent frame –
or they don’t.
It parameters life by seconds
as by tick tocking minutes,
months turn on calendar pages.
hourglass sands fall
through the constricting centre
between future and past,
the now unable to hold back
the yets as they escape into thens.
Only at the narrow squeezing place
are we able to experience
the rush of existence
whistling by us
coursing through us
never able to settle for long beside us.
there is no quiet quelling
of the hiss whisper echo
of fleeting time flying
immortality and fate
always on a collision course.
Are we real in its taloned grasp,
or would be we be real
only when we
realised relaxed released?
Then how would we know
in any case suddenly beyond
the key reckoners of being
marks on sticks,
the atomic clock
and perhaps us as well.
Instead we live enshackled,
time marching on and waiting for no man.
time passing slowly,
seeing what’s become of me,
for if we allow it
will beat us into submission
subverting our quest for meaning,
our very reason for being.
Time can extrude
like fine wire,
to bind the hands
to tie the feet
to strangle the voice,
and cut off the circulation
of the spirit or extinguish it
paralysed mute unable
to speak enbreathed.
Time can also blow
like a menacing wind
ruining days with boredom,
tossing aside hours in waiting,
wafting the years away in yearning,
leaving a wrecked life,
Whether real or not –
construct of the mind,
premise of quantum physics,
millstone about the necks
of our psyches –
reminding us of mortality,
time is neutral
neither good nor bad,
thus it can be friend or foe
help or hindrance,
as benign as we make it,
as tyrannical as we allow it to be.
Do I exist?
If you refuse to acknowledge me,
does that mean I do not exist,
I have no worth or value
past or present in your life?
If I greet you and you ignore me,
does that mean what we shared,
all those years had no worth or value,
that our time together had no meaning?
If you grimace when you see me,
does that mean I am beneath contempt,
and my very being is somehow
offensive and hateful to you?
I do not understand,
I fail to see how a smile,
a simple act of kindness,
would despoil your grand new life,
unless it would fracture
your carefully placed notions
set around you now as a fortress
to keep at bay the fear,
to protect against the guilt,
to shield against the questions
and reality you have never faced
as you yielded to the temptations
of the flesh and for them abandoned
the intentions of the soul.
time spent and life lived
through dreams formed and lost,
but dreams still remain.
A day of bittersweetness,
the complicated day-taste,
mixing the sweetness of joys
with the sadness of disappointments,
whilst meaning vanishes slowly
in pungent autumnal mists,
rooted – these gods holding
grounded – these ancestors claiming
held – these landspirits embracing,
to the mythic
to the neomythic,
the age of new mything
endeavouring to capture
ways to comprehend
the gods ancestors spirits
enlivening this land,
rewriting their histories
retracing their storylines
rendering their meanings
and ultimately our own,
through the lay lines of the land
echoing calling reaching
through the meridians of the body
energy tracks and traceries
mirroring shadowing flowing
just beneath the soils
no less than our skins.
time spent and life lived
through promises made and broken,
but promise still remains.
Neither Jam nor ‘Jerusalem’
This evening will be one of the one or two times a year that, as vice-president of my local WI, I will run the monthly meeting. It is not an onerous responsibility as the women are known to me after nearly three years and some are my closest friends.
The challenge for me is not running the meeting, but that I don’t sing ‘Jerusalem’. I quite confidently la la my way through standing facing the 60 or so members, but I can’t sing the words. And the reason is that words have power in my personal metaphysical/spiritual/religious understanding. I do not believe you should just sing words to any hymn or say the words to any prayer just to be polite. It used to cause me great discomfort when in church I’d be standing next to someone, even now and then a clergyperson, saying one of the creeds and knowing that they did not believe several of the statements – statements that men killed each other in early church councils to have included or excluded. If I know the music to a hymn and I am in a situation where hymning is happening then I will hum along, and once recently I carefully altered one or two words so I could join in, no one around me noticed, but it was able to join in a bit.
The problem with ‘Jerusalem’ as a hymn/song is that if you really pay attention to the words, and a quick survey of the other members I know well indicates that they do not think about them or pay attention, is that this hymn is asking for something quite specific to occur in and to our ‘green and pleasant land.’ First of all it seems to me generally to be a call to desecrate green space in favour of cities. This is something that as a Druid I can’t sanction. And secondly, is the stated desire to build a particular city, Jerusalem, which would bequeath nothing but conflict and strife in our country. Jerusalem is one of the most contested cities on the planet and has been the sight of more bloodshed, destruction and death over centuries than any other metropolis in the world.
In the way I understand the power of word and intention in language to seek such a thing for this country is unwise, misguided and dangerous. Simply because Blake wrote it and it has been such an important song over the years doesn’t make it all right to carelessly sing it.
I’m sure there are those who would say; 1) she’s over reacting, that it’s just a song; 2) get over it and sing with the ladies for crying out loud; 3) she just doesn’t understand.
But sorry, this is one of my most deeply held principles: Language has the power to shape energy, change or control minds, alter the course of history. Further, since what we say aloud can’t be unsaid, we are responsible for our words, though we can’t control what others choose to do with them, look what happens to politicians when they misspeak, which is the reason it is wise to be prudent, essential to be cautious.
One of the new ways the WI is attempting to reach out to bring in younger members is by saying: The WI isn’t just jam and ‘Jerusalem’ any more. For me it is neither and never has been, as I’m not really a jam person either – it’s way too sweet for me – bring on the pickles!