Wednesday, September 25, 2013

buying bewilderment

Oh my gosh - life!

When did you get so overwhelming, confusing...random?? Where was I when the memo was sent out which read "Prepare yourself. Life is a series of things to be relinquished. Always. Things such as youth, health, childhood pets, daydreams and possible dreams, adult pets, people, infatuations, relationships, romances, flawless skin, friendships, honeymoons, and in the end - life itself'."

Why didn't they teach this shit in school? It would have been nice to get a flipping heads up!
Although sometimes amid the facebook pics of sparkly happy people drinking mai-tai's at parties, I wonder if it's just me. And maybe the other small band of unfortunates like me who for whatever reason, usually unfortunate reasons, are just way more clued into these things than others.

Or maybe I can just chalk a lot of this bewildered feeling up to being back in a big, crowded city after 2 months of travelling through beautiful, un-crowded, natural places. As I made my way through Toronto's Union Station as I have done countless times in my life the sense of frantic, tense energy hit me like never before.

Life tip no# 1: Never underestimate the psychological effect of the surrounding environment on the human. In a word - Yowsers.

But I know there is much more going on with me than just this. I'm just not sure exactly what it is or when it started to happen. All I do know is that it has a lot to do with being somewhat displaced - ie - this all pervasive issue of "belonging". I have no idea what 'belonging' looks like for me right now...or even what I want it to look like. There is no intuition on the matter. I feel like a blank slate, which is a really weird feeling although you would think I'd be used to it by now. I know from life experience that belonging is a very deep human issue that all people struggle with in one way or another. I guess I'm just noticing it in myself more at the forefront than usual.

Life tip no#2: Ultimately you are alone. Sorry.

In addition to the "belonging issue" I also get the sense that I am in a very specific phase of transitioning (Just want to clarify here that I'm not becoming a man, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it once or twice!). I have realized over the past year going through the amount of life changes and strangeness that I have causes massive shifts in mind/body/spirit which carry with them massive implications. I find my life priorities quietly shifting, significant relationships changing, the dreams I have for myself morphing, and definitions of myself becoming way less solid than they were previously. Again, this is a very blank, and frankly, uncomfortable feeling.

And here is why: I want ground under my feet. I want answers. I want some safety - financial and in every other respect. I want assurance that, from here on out, life will treat me kindly and bring me some measure of personal fulfillment. I want to be looked on well by others. I want to be seen as successful and smart in some way. I want someone to tell me exactly what to do in order to secure happiness, and I'd prefer they be in 8 steps or less. I want to lose 10 pounds. I want to make sure that I will never ever lose what I perceive that I have gained. I want stability. I want someone to whisper confidently in my ear that I will never ever die.

So herein lies my bewilderment...the truth is that now I actually don't give as much of a shit as I used to about all of the above. Because as hard as it is sometimes for me to accept, I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these are fruitless human efforts which cause more suffering than anything else. Much more. This is a conundrum for me as I live  in a world so very bent on the acquisition of things both psychological and material that are meant to bring peace but which only bring further torment. I've experienced this torment. And so have you. It's a kind of sick cycle.

Life tip #3: If this cycle causes revulsion in you then try to become really comfortable with being uncomfortable. I can't stress "really" enough.

So I guess that's what I'm doing right now, stumblingly. Trying to be comfortable with the extremely uncomfortable, groundless place I find myself in. Because the longer I'm here, and as much pain as it sometimes causes me, I often get the distinct feeling that this is a very exposed and therefore truthful honest place to be. It's the most honest place to be. Nowhere to hide. No false securities to cling to. Openness to whatever comes. Curiosity about what will emerge. And some days are easier than others. Some days feel like being in a vice grip - between a longing for some kind of predictable life just for something to hold onto, and the desire for true freedom. The free fall.

So there's enough psycho babble for one day. I think I will go now and eat an ice-cream sandwich.


"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment." -Rumi

Sunday, September 08, 2013

minerva and evangeline

I wish I had a guitar:: My owl of Minerva:: My squeeze box:: So I could fold and unfold:: The bellows:: So I could pull and push:: Together:: With all the strength I have:: I wish I had my voice:: To wind in and out and loosen up each tied knot:: I wish I had the courage of a muse:: An Evangeline:: Who spends her life in a warrior search:: For her love:: Unashamed:: With bleeding feet:: But maybe this love:: Was inside her own body:: Riding on her own careening voice:: All along.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

R. Frank - travellin'

These are all images from the genius American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank. I found out that he lived in the tiny town of Mabou, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island for a time (thanks Leah!). I was in Mabou earlier this month. I stood on one of the most beautiful beaches, and the only thing I could hear was the crash of the waves and the wind whipping past my ears. This was a beach fully exposed. The sun was brilliant that day. The beauty was not lost on me at all there.

These images of his speak to where I'm at right now. Each of them, in their own way, remind me of the strangeness that seems to always accompany travelling - for a longer stretch of time. A paradox always exists when you are constantly on the move - there is the wonder and energy that comes with discovering new places and people, and there is the constant letting go that occurs as you move on to your next destination. Always the good-byes. And then the hello's. And then the good-byes etc

 You receive. You let go. You receive. You let go....

I feel lucky this time as I've had a wonderful home base to push out from, complete with a dear old friend, and now new friends. And even though I'll be away for almost another month, I already feel the anticipation of saying goodbye....I seem to always feel it keenly before the fact! This has to be a good thing since life is so full of good-byes. Traveling is good training in living them out as well as possible. Along with the hello's.

I look out onto a grey and rainy day in New Brunswick. The usually slow Cocagne river is moving with uncharacteristic speed. It's the first day of rain out here in awhile, and I wonder if this marks the creeping entrance of fall. I guess we'll see.

Often I wish life could be like this all the time. Always in motion. Always  moving. Always involved in the exciting process of discovery. Always meeting someone new. Always being confronted with new ideas - with new ways of being. Always being shocked out of habitual patterns of living and thinking into new, spacious ones. These are the things I thrive on. The thought of coming back "home" which is not really any kind of real home to me at all outside of family, is a daunting and sad thought. Where the hell is my home anyway? The truth is I am pretty homeless right now. And from where I sit right now there is something really freeing about that.

Some of us are just built for motion.

That's all for now.
Happy travels.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Something about it

Something about the way the brightness of the morning sun
reflects on the river
makes you never want to leave.
It's in the way the sky turns so pink
as the sun is setting,
and the way your mind and body
starts to sync
with the naturalness that is everywhere.
It's in the sound the sheets make
in the wind.
and the steady thrum of
the hummingbirds wings.
There's something about the way
that your name is spoken,
the way a smile can hold you steady
and warm you.
There's something about all this
that makes your journey
start to root itself
in a people
and a culture
and a place.
It gives you dreams of full, heavy laden branches
and a big harvest.
Something about all of it
makes you never ever want to leave.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


A poem inspired by and dedicated to the L'Arche community of Whycocomagh, Cape Breton.

Amazing how a place
can manifest such peace
that can even infiltrate
a mind so
steeped in

Amazing how the doubt,
confusions, insecurities
slowly recede
like a wave
until the mind feels fresh
and open.
Strong again.

Amazing the way
possibility can suddenly shine
to create lit pathways
where before
there was only a blind groping
the black tunnel.

Amazing that the fruit
of such a peace
is deep gratitude for the struggle
And a growing confidence for having met each fear -
No backing away.

Amazing how every place you cast your eye
the beauty

"Life is precious. And it is brief. And you can use it well."  -Patrul Rinpoche


Cayouche, I'll never forget that night
under the Cocagne stars
on the porch of Ronel's old house
where the bootleggers
once lived
and drank
and sang.

I can hear the voices of your ancestors
so clearly
through your own as you sing
your beautifully worn songs
of renown.

Cayouche, I wish that I could see
the portrait of you father
dans la maison de votre naissance.

I'll never forget that night, Cayouche.
I drank wine
while you drank beer,
we all shared the songs,

and you pointed out the north star
to me, Cayouche,
under that  piece
of Acadian sky.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Sun beats down hard
on me as I walk down
down, down into the town.
Orchards and vineyards line both sides
of this highway,
Queen Anne's lace growing proud
but every now and then bending low by a sudden
The wind brings a shock of relief
to my burning shoulders.

Rumour has it they grow peaches here,
and that the twisting ancient apple trees
are that of legend.
I stuff the urge to pick one,
but they arent ready yet
so I stop myself.

I bend down and gently pick the Queen Annes lace

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Calm waters in this shallow bay. Nature is in no rush at all. On this lazy, lazy coast. A white heron wading. All elegance and awkwardness. Today I wish. I knew more names of birds. These un-named are diving into the water. In pairs. They shriek with giddy laughter. 3 men fish off the rocks. One quietly sings a tune. In something like french. I want to live inside. His Acadian lilt.

Friday, July 26, 2013

the long long dark

So what happens when after enduring for so long this black, intangible,

yet utterly palpable inner shredding, one has literally become ‘a chaos’ unto herself?

What then?

This is the all encompassing chaos of disconnectedness on the deepest levels, of randomness, of plotless-ness, of mental and physical confusion and torment.
This is the real anguish. It is an anguish which, if suffered long enough, reaches well beyond people, places, things, or situations.
It is an anguish that ties you to your bed as if by cobwebs – cocooned - and tells you that this is where you will always be, and that this is where you deserve to be.

Is this how it feels to be some kind of embodiment of chaos?
This chaos will stop at nothing, choosing it’s victims and then stretching its cold hand right into your very center, clutching at your very essence with its icy fingers.
Your essence – the very thing, without which, you would not exist as part of the universe at all, the chaos will try and squeeze to death.

Make no mistake, this chaos will snuff you out.
So that you forget who you are. So that you forget why you are.

The word “Pain” is an insulting and laughable word for this state of being.
Pain is what happens when you have a migraine. Whatever this is it is definitely well, well beyond the word “pain”.

I know many admirable people, who have endured the ravaging of Cancer and its treatment with an amazing amount of grace and dignity.
I know NOBODY who has endured this kind of mental agony with anything but a deep and terrified groaning, an angry demand to the emptiness for an answer that never comes, and ultimately succumbing to the dark when that is all that is left to do.

I have had both of these afflictions and here is the truth: Give me cancer any day. Stick a fucking needle in my arm and pump me full of poison. But take me out of this mental hell I’m in. Please.
Surprised? Don’t be. It’s a hell of a lot more common than you think.

There is no fighting this one off, there is no battle to wage here.
Because if it chooses to this chaos will beat you each and every time.
This is a nasty one – and it is much, much bigger than your efforts to fight it off.
This particular one thinks that my efforst are pretty funny, actually.

Under this kind of oppression, there is no real companionship.
They have all fled, or you have fled them,
Because there is no one who can or will ever understand
this very personal onslaught.
There is no one with the wisdom and grace enough to understand,
That you don’t need advice, or to be told to “go for a walk”, or what your flaw is, or how this happened, or what you need to do...etc.
There is no one who will just sit with you, in silence,

Read you the paper, or your favorite book, or just be around.
(unless you are one of the lucky ones)

And that’s okay. Because you don’t want to describe anything anyway.
Because you are so so tired of it.
So very utterly exhausted in every part and every way.

All you want is to be alone

In the ghost cave

And wait.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cycle backwards

And so we move
from words to poems,
poems to songs,
songs to one song,
one song to the note
the note to silence.
The cycle will repeat itself
over and 
over again.
Just as I can feel
that bead of sweat
travelling slowly
down my back,
Just as I strain
for the precise word
and its corresponding
The universal struggle
to be understood
and to understand.
to be understood.
and to understand.
to be understood.
Now the bead of sweat reverses
as it will from time to time,
and travels up my back
I swallow the words
the poem the songs,
the note.
They are back inside my body.
Protected. Safe. Precious.
And so we move
to silence.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


I write my rage filled letters,
and furious poetry,
roll them up,
and slide them into a bottle.
These are letters to an ominous,
silent God
who is too busy, or too indifferent
to answer me.
It’s hard to say which,
and I wonder which body of water
I should fling this bottle into.

When I was eight
I sent my first message in a bottle.
I threw it over the side of my grandfathers boat.
The great Atlantic took it
before the cod jigging began.
It was early in the morning
with the mist and fog still hanging
just above the water,
and the rise and fall of each giant ocean swell
carried my bottle further away.

My letter then was not to God,
or full of rage.
It was a letter to a would-be pen pal,
maybe a new, true friend, from some far off land,
maybe a boy or girl my age,
with a heart for adventure,
just like me,
way over on the other side
of the expanse.
Maybe they will send me a letter...
maybe I will visit them some say when I'm older.....

So much hope.

I never did receive an answer.
I waited all that summer into the fall
with the spark of hope still stubborn
in me.
I gave up eventually. Reluctantly.
I think it was the following fall.

It’s funny how I have never really stopped

thinking of it.

Plato once said somewhere
that pain restores order to the soul.
This leads me to only one conclusion:

Plato must have been

on fucking


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Feast of Rilke

Happy almost first of July. I wanted to share some of my recent inspiration from Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my go-to poets when in need of a serious inspiration jolt. These poems are taken from a particularly potent volume of his poetry entitled Rilke's Book of Hours [love poems to God]. Many of the poems in this book can satisfy me like food, and comfort me in a way that little else can. I've included four poems in this post (and could have easily added many more). Hope they satisfy you, too!
Happy Summer!


Wer seines Lebns viele Widersinne

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth -
it's she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration

where the one guest is you.
In the softness of evening
it's you she receives.

You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each discourse you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.

Du siehst, ich will viel

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don't seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it's not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

Ich komme aus meinen Schwingen heim

I come home from the soaring
in which I lost myself.
I was song, and the refrain which is God
is still ringing in my ears.

Now I am still
and plain:
no more words.

To the others I was like a wind:
I made them shake.
I'd gone very far, as far as the angels,
and high, where light thins into nothing,

But deep in the darkness is God.


Du, gestern Knabe, dem die Wirrnis kam

You, yesterday's boy,
to whom confusion came:
Listen, lest you forget who you are.

It was not pleasure you fell into. It was joy.
You were called to be bridegroom,
though the bride coming toward you is your shame.

What chose you is the great desire.
Now all flesh bares itself to you.

On pious images pale cheeks
blush with strange fire.
Your senses uncoil like snakes
awakened by the beat of the tambourine.

Then suddenly your left all alone
with your body that can't love you
and your will that can't save you.

But now, like a whispering in dark streets,
rumors of God run through your dark blood.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

poem for a kindred...

The Intervening

You carry the song
that grace sings
inside of you,
and all who cross your path
can pick up a strain
of her melody.

Truth shows its gentleness
in your eyes,
and in your words,
carefully and lovingly chosen,
like a child's bouquet.

These things don't fade
over the miles,
or over the years -
this essence of who you are,
who you have become,
or who you are yet to be.

Know this -
that Wisdom will not hide her face
from you,
She is your constant companion,
as you navigate
this treacherous terrain
with it's unspeakable rending.

Because a woman like you,
who bears the beauty of life
like a solitary
bright torch,
will always endure.

A woman like you,
at the end of it all,
will stand.

And when you do,
you will look down,
to see this present suffering
re-create itself
before your very eyes.

You will know what it means
to sleep in deep peace,
and to greet the morning

with hope.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

this elegy

In the mid-afternoon
the invisible poems crawl
up and down the walls,
waiting. whispering.
I ignore them,
concentrating on the sound the rain is making
as it hits the balcony railing.

If I give in to them
I hope for a raucous celebration of words,
I pray the pen will give evidence of some uncontainable joy.
But I know better.
Not now. Not yet.

Because I spied them on the walls.
Because I know what they contain,

The only thing that comes out of me,
the only thing that makes sense to me -
is this elegy.

"Transformation has it's price"
Is the price too high?
40 days of rain and fire,
disconnected fragments of truth,
the taste of impending loss
like blood
on my tongue.

I still cling to these patterns the light is making,
like watching fire throwers at night.

On the darkest days
I'll retrace all the invisible imprints with my hands
long after they've disappeared.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Feel it all

I heard this song today...and realized it is the inaugural song of this summer. Feist comes through for me yet again. Sometimes, like it or not, I feel it all. Might as well embrace it.
Happy June. 1st

 I feel it all, I feel it all, I feel it all, I feel it all
The wings are wide, the wings are wide
Wild card inside, wild card inside
Ooh, I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll be the one to hold the gun
I know more than I knew before
I  know more than I knew before
I didn't rest, I didn't stop
Did we fight or did we talk?
Ooh, I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll be the one to hold the gun
I love you more, I love you more
I don't know what I knew before
But now I know I wanna win the war
No one likes to take a test
Sometimes you know more is less
Put your weight against the door
Kick drum on the basement floor
Stranded in the fog of words
Loved him like the winter bird
On my head the water pours
Gulf stream through the open door
Fly away, fly away to what you wanna make
I feel it all, I feel it all,
I feel it all, I feel it all
The wings are wide, the wings are wide
Wild card inside, wild card inside
Ooh, I'll be the one to break my heart
I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll end it, though you started it
The truth lies
The truth lied
No one knows
And lies divide
Lies divide

Monday, May 27, 2013

name day silences

You observe another year
of your life
pass by,
and you marvel
from your hearts deep silence
as you gaze back
at the beaten path,
with all its destruction,
and searing pain,
which forced in you
a new,
vulnerable growth
that you never wanted
or asked for.

now on this of all days,
the world suddenly offers you a present.
It lifts you gently out of the dark void
so that your squinting eyes
must slowly adjust
to this new light.
and the ears of your ears
must listen attentively
to these new,

The world has finally taken pity,
if only for awhile,
extends its unfamiliar hands,
and invites you in from the cold.
It wraps you up in a warm blanket -
like a gift.

The world tells you:

"For right now,
in this moment,
you are alright,

you can lay your head down,
you can rest your mind,

It's O.K."

"You have to sit in the very bonfire of your distress, and you sit there till it's burned away, and it's ashes, and it's gone."   -Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Seasons don't wait

Its strange to sit
and watch spring emerge,
to see the land wake
from it's long sleep,
when everything is at its brightest,
most beautiful and alive,
bursting with a vigour,
a rush,
an invisible pulsating force.
Its strange to sit
on the park bench
amid this incongruity
between the inner and the outer
when the heart
still endures
its own impossible winter.
Still imprisoned,
slightly frozen,
struggling to free itself
from the surrounding ice floes.

I watched two red winged black birds
playing like children,
tumbling through the air,
while the children themselves
and clapped their chubby hands,
faces turned upward
toward the blinding, perfect sun,
The bottoms of their little feet
stained by the greenest,
perfect grass.

These seasons,
just keep spinning
on the never ending wheel of time and history,
yet out of time completely,
only respecting the natural course of things,
over and over again.

They are no respecter of persons.

They don't wait for me to catch up,
or for my pain to recede,
before the jubilant display unveils itself,
and I am left sitting on the bench,
confused at so much joy.

The seasons wait for no one.

But this wont stop me from watching,
as if through the window of a cold room
which I am not allowed to leave,

for the time being.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Tune-yards glory:

Note to self:
-loop pedal (and teacher)
-2 snare drums
-extremely unashamed vocals
-pink feather boa.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

gotta lose

One thing you cannot know:
The sudden extinction of every alternative,
The unexpected crash of the iron cataract.
You do not know what hope is, until you have lost it.
You only know what it is not to hope:
You do not know what it is to have hope taken from you. 
-T. S. ELIOT, The Family Reunion
"It's only after we've lost everything, that we're free to do anything."
-Fight Club

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Mr. Kappus (Ms. Churchill),

I believe that all our sorrows are moments of tension, which we perceive as paralysis, because we can no longer hear our estranged feelings living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliarity that has entered into us; because everything intimate and customary has been taken from us; because we stand in the middle of a crossing where we cannot could easily make us believe that nothing has happened and yet we have been transformed, just as a house is transformed once a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signals indicate that the future enters into us this way so as to transform itself in us long before it takes shape. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad.

You must not be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, when a sadness arises in front of you greater than any you have ever seen; when un-ease, like light and cloud shadows, passes over your hands and all you undertake. You have to believe that something is happening to you, that life hasn't forgotten you and that it holds you in its hand; it shall not let you fall. Why should you shut out any anxiety, and woe, and melancholy from your life since you do not in fact know what work these states carry out within you? Why do you persecute yourself with the questions whence this might come, and where it is going? For after all you do know that you are amid transitions and wish for nothing greater than to transform yourself.

In you, dear Mr. Kappus, so much is happening just now; you must be as stoic as a patient, and as confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both. And then in addition you must also be your own physician and watch over yourself. But there are many days in each illness; all a physician can do is keep waiting. And that above all is what you, inasmuch as you are your own physician, must do now. Don't observe yourself too much. Don't draw too hasty conclusions from what happens to you; simply allow things to happen.

Your life, dear Mr. Kappus, I think about with so many wishes. Do you recall how ever since childhood this life has yearned for "great things"? I can see it now yearning further, from the great to the greater. That is why it will not cease being difficult, and is also why it will not cease growing.

-Rainer Maria Rilke - From 'Letters to a young Poet'

Monday, April 08, 2013

for the swimmer

remembering the freedom
of weightlessness,
pull, pull, pull,
Each time one arm descends
I watch tiny bubbles float up from the tips of my fingers,
pull, pull, pull,

My neck rhythmically twists,
reaching for air, for life,
over and over,
one side, then the other,
in fluid repetition.
pull, pull, pull
I feel the water flowing over and around my tired body,
it washes over my shoulders,
it slides over the small of my back,
like a comforting hand.

My eyes follow the thick blue line at the bottom of the pool,
to guide me,
to let me know when it’s time to turn around,
and begin again.
and I love
this symmetry.

An older woman winks at me as we reluctantly lift ourselves out of the water and walk towards the change rooms. I immediately notice the laugh lines etched permanently in her strong face. "You swim like a dancer", she tells me, "And you must know that fish love to dance". As I leave I hear her whistling in the shower. It's a tune I know from some old memory, but can't quite place.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

no triumph

This is no triumph.
This is not what you meant.
This is not what you meant at all.

Tiptoeing softly passed the locked room
where you were huddled in a corner,
terrified that each breath,
each tiny movement,
would drag you deeper into the black.

This is no triumph.
This cornucopia of loss,
spread out before you
like a Eucharistic feast -
The feast of your most delectable sufferings,
and your best dressed despair.

Drink the cup of your splintered life
down to the dregs.

But this is not what you meant.
No, it can't be.
Because this is no triumph.
This is no triumph at all.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

white washed

I noticed her
staring anxiously
from a second floor window
of the embassy
her slender arms
wrapped tightly around her own body
in the comforting pose
of the solitary
but her dark eyes desperate
beneath her beautiful

a suspended transient
in a frozen land
of blinding ceiling lights
and plastic plants
in cold office corners
which only confirm
her displacement
in an antiseptic world
washed in white
and her growing nostalgia
for an almost forgotten

she knows well
the slow unravelling
the string that is pulled
from the center of the chest
until nothing is left
but the groundlessness of being.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Leidner series #1 : Pearl casting party.

Pearls Before Swine
by Mark Leidner

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s casting pearls before swine. Therefore, whenever I’m surrounded by swine, I never cast pearls. I hold them back and cast other things that are more appropriate to swine, like acorns, bullets, and pennies.

Then, when the swine are gone, I put the bullets and acorns away, and start re-casting pearls. Then I cast pearls until I run out of pearls, or until the return of the swan. I mean, swine.

Sometimes, even when I’m surrounded by swine, all I have is pearls—because I ran out of pennies or acorns earlier, or I never had any of either—so again I have to forego casting pearls until the swine finally leave.

Sometimes I have to spend huge amounts of time on my knees, begging, sweet-talking the swine, trying to get them to go somewhere else, trying to convince them I don’t have any pearls, or even acorns, and that they are wasting their lives waiting for them.

Another shitty situation I face is when some of my friends want me to cast pearls before swine, and I’m torn by my duty to be a good friend, and my duty to uphold my own moral code.

My friends will be like Hey, we’re having a pearl-casting party. We want you to come and bring all the swine you know. We’re going to cast pearls before them like there’s no tomorrow. And I’m like nodding, telling them Sure. You can count on me. I’ll bring all the swine I can.

I don’t consider this a lie because all the swine I can bring to a pearl-casting party is zero. I consider the verb ‘can’ to be in regard to a moral labor, not a physical one.

Sure, I can physically do a lot of things that I can’t actually do because I couldn’t live with myself if I did it, and so, that’s how I define the verb ‘can.’

If you think about it, if someone asks you if you can murder them in their sleep, I don’t think they’re talking about your physical ability to hold the pillow down on their face. They’re talking about the psychological difficulty of the choice.

Though even this simple example usually earns me stares of confusion from my friends, who love casting pearls so indiscriminately that they don’t care who they cast them before, and cannot understand my resistance to pearl-casting no matter how elaborate my justification. Why I would resist casting pearls before swine to them is incomprehensible, but to me, it’s simply this:

a waste.

To cast a pearl before swine is contrary to a pearl’s purpose, which is to be valuable. Since value is subjective, anything with value has to be agreed upon to have value for at least two people, and since a pearl is pretty and smooth, and rare and hard, and white, it is agreed upon to have value because people like pretty, smooth, rare, hard, white things. But pigs don’t care about anything’s prettiness or smoothness or rareness or hardness or whiteness. Pigs only care if something is food, sex, or comfort.

If you support casting pearls before swine, it’s like working your ass off at a factory for no reason. It’s like working the nightshift, and not being able to spend time with your family, but then at the end of the week, you also don’t get a paycheck. You just have to work. No money, no bonus, no benefits. Just more work.

How would you feel if your whole life was worth nothing? And nothing came of it? You would be like a dog staring up at a Rembrandt. Or a single-cell amino acid stranded on some random meteorite in space. Or a really good baseball player in primordial times, back before there was baseball, or even civilization.

Sometimes I feel like that too. Sometimes I feel like a massive swine pearls are being cast before. Like at sunset. Or every time it snows. Or when I have sex and the girl is on top. Or sometimes when I’m not trying to be funny, but I get a laugh.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

will there be an art?

This poem encapsulates exactly how I feel about life right now.

for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

there is no safety:: no stability:: and all friendship is cloaked in fragility :: because when it rains and rains and rains:: when the earth is washed away:: the bedrock of these things is me and only me:: and if I am cut adrift into the wild flooded sea:: will there be an art?:: hopefully::

we are so intertwined:: all of us::

a blessing and a curse.

-Heather Mercer

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 in review

I am writing this entry from the comfort of a big, beautiful, empty house while the owners are off basking in the Mexican sun. Smart folk. Me and Zeus the cat (aptly named as he is a somewhat brawny fellow) are curled up listening to CBC and contemplating life. At least I am. He kind of looks like he is...but he always looks like that, so really, who knows.This is the first time in about three months I have been truly alone, and for an essential introvert like myself  that has been way too long a time. I have been shuffling to and from one busy household to the next inwardly pining away for some serious privacy, and finally, thanks be to the Gods, I have it. Sadly it is about to end...but I am so very thankful for the alone time I've had - and for the break in my nomadic, vagabond life.
During this distraction-less week I've had some time to take stock of the past year, and the tidal wave of change its brought with it. I have the tendency sometimes to forge ahead, full throttle, and completely forget about significant past events. When I actually stopped to think about what I've come through over the course of the past 12 plus months it was somewhat staggering. Sweet mother of God, what a year! So I have been doing some re-membering, literally gathering up the dismembered, floating pieces of my experience and trying to piece them back together into some kind of whole.
January - May 2012:
I was undergoing one of the things people fear the most, outside of death (and maybe public speaking) - cancer treatment. The first three months of this year I was continuing in the land of chemo, getting needles pushed into me so often I stopped feeling it, having poison injected into my veins in a big cushy chair hours at a time with a whole bunch of others, watching nurses decked out in full protective gear run around administering vomit inducing drugs to every sector of the population! I was taking so many pills I thought I was 95, feeling like an Olympic champion if I could manage to walk down my street and back. By the end of March of this year I was a constantly nauseated, bald, almost bed ridden, slightly yellowish, weak, with shrivelled veins (this is still a problem), utterly exhausted and afraid to leave my house since I looked like a cancer poster girl at the time (having no eyebrows will do that). Then April brought with it the joys of radiation - every freaking day for a month. Radiation was it's own brand of cancer weirdness. I have only noticed over the past month that I have a radiation burn on my neck which will never go away, and to make it looks like a dirt stain on my neck. Awesome. Anyway, when I started thinking back on all this two words came immediately to mind: Holy. Fuck.
The big question being: How the hell did I endure all that? In some ways the whole experience feels light years away, bu I can remember some details vividly, as though it happened this afternoon. I wonder if some part of me always will.
June to August 2012:
The summer of post cancer aftermath, bizarre misadventures, life re-evaluation etc. This basically boils down to - life kind of falling apart!  I realize now how much more prepared I was for the daily routines of treatment, as difficult as that was, than the after effects of having gone through the experience. The after - shock was , in a strange way, much harder for me to deal with. Going through treatment felt like being suspended in time. Every single other thing stopped in life and the only thing that mattered was survival. Everything revolved around that. Then suddenly the doc hands me the "get out of jail free" card and was like - "Congrats - this is over! You may still look like a bald infant with Jaundice, but your normal life is back! So get to it!". At that point normal life had vanished along with any trace of hair on my body. All that to say that the months following treatment were some of the most disorienting of my life to date. And a lot of changes followed in their wake. Changes that I believe were ultimately good, but extremely difficult.
Sept - Oct 2012:
Camino! Spain, you saved my life:
This is something else I look back on in complete wonder. First of all that I had the physical strength to walk so far, and second of all that I was OK to walk across a chunk of northern Spain myself! I've always been a solo traveller, but I realized that I'm the only person I know (other than those I met on the Camino itself) who decided to do it alone - and a week before hand. And I didn't even think twice about it at the time?!? And it ended up to be the most rewarding travel experience of my life. There are times in life you have to give yourself a pat on the back...and I have to say how super impressed with myself I am with this one. Ha!
Oct - Dec 2012:
The move back to the hometown - Ottawa:
There are times you look at where you are and go - what the hell was I thinking?? I have had moments of that exact sentiment since making the move back to Ottawa. And I am still looking at it as a temporary 'experience' in order to keep my sanity intact. It is hard for me to conceive of putting down roots here after spending 10 years in the big smoke. But it has been fun re-connecting with Ottawa people, being closer to the folks, and seeing the town where I grew up with new eyes. It definitely is not the place it was 10 years ago, and it's been neat to observe those changes.
So the year has ended with me somewhat stupefied with everything that has happened. And hoping that 2013 is not half as eventful. I feel like I could use a cabin in the woods for a year to recover from it. This week I head back to the big smoke to work, and to go to the dreaded oncology follow up appointment. There is always that hard nugget of fear when going back, having to walk through the doors of a place that brings back strong unpleasant feelings, and hoping like hell your doctor will look at you reassuringly and tell you you are fine. No more chemo awaits you. You have your whole life ahead of you. Not to worry.
Most likely this is what will happen. But if this year has taught me anything it's this: There is no such thing as certainty.
Farewell 2012.
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." 
-Charles Darwin