Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amazing Grace or DIY: Beginner's Guide To Gracious Living

Have you ever read something that just made you cry? I do all the time (big sentimental sap that I am!), but my favorite has always been the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (Richard Bach)
Ever heard of it? It's a great story about one lone seagull who wants to learn to fly- not to eat, or fight, but just for the joy of flying. Throughout the book, each time he strives to better himself, his fellow gulls peck at him and tear him down, but he manages to overcome their ignorance and rise- quite literally, to new levels. He leaves his family behind and moves to higher and higher levels of existence, eventually learning that what he was really learning was not how to fly, but how to love. Once he learns to love- he no longer has a need to fly. Love can take you anywhere and anytime-once you can love, you can be or do anything. 
You are free.

All my life I have wanted to be graceful, to be able to move liquidly, rhythmically, beautifully. I figured my looks  and brains weren't anything to write home about, so I'd better learn to do something beautifully if I were ever going to make my life worthwhile. I have thrown myself into my job- working doggedly, ignoring stress and unhappiness, and the ultimate realization that while I was good at what I did- I didn't love it- and it certainly wouldn't love me when I got old. I threw myself into hobbies- learning gymnastics, yoga, meditation, dance, karate, painting, piano  tai chi, the waltz (yes, you heard me- the waltz. Be glad it wasn't the tango! "shudder"), all in an effort to be graceful. I used to be a tomboy- then I learned to paint my nails just so, to wobble in heels, to curl my hair- in vain attempts to offset what I thought were my less desirable features- inside and out. If I have one good trait, it's that I try to be honest with myself-(not too much, because that can get your feelings hurt), but if I do wrong- I know it and I acknowledge it. And it finally occurred to me that I have been living my life wrongly- a hurtful truth, because who wants to think they've wasted that much time? (Don't ask me how old I am- if you know, forget it- if you don't, good.) But while I have been trying to live gracefully, I have not been living graciously or lovingly.
This is not to say I haven't loved- I dearly love the people in my life-perhaps too much (No offense, fam, but I could write a book- call it
"Women Who Love Too Much While Not Loving Themselves Enough Because They Got Issues" -hmmm.  Too long, you think?)
 But while I know about loving, I know how to love, I know how to give love; I know nothing about accepting it for myself. Expecting people to be loving to you isn't graceful- graceful is giving up the last chocolate when you really want it. Graceful is looking beautiful for people who will never appreciate it or you. Graceful is working till you're sick as a dog- and setting the standard so that people will expect it from you from then on. Graceful is working without complaining because you don't want to trouble others- so, (muy intellig`ente) you trouble yourself. Expecting people to be loving- is selfish. It puts a burden on them to be more than they are- and, ooh, you know how people hate high expectations for themselves!

Being gracious is altogether different. Being gracious is living life without self imposed burdens, without shackling our natural exuberance, and humors- living our lives fully, without denigrating others, but realizing that our lives are ours to live.  Being gracious is not only that, but knowing  and telling (and you know some people need telling) the world that  we can live just fine without the disparaging commentary of others, and promptly proceeding to do so. If you have ever seen a person being happy- unselfconsciously, without peering around for judgment; if you have ever been that person, you know how good it feels...and how rarely it occurs.  Being gracious means being selfish-doing or not doing good and loving things because they make us feel good-not because they're expected of us. It also means being or not being  good (by your own, definition- not the beliefs of others!)  whenever you feel it is right.
I have never been gracious to myself- I have never expected others to love me, because like L'Oreal says, "I'm worth it."  My "job" has been to love others, to give of myself and hope it all pans out. In all my life I have never been free to accept love- or to not care if others don't love me.

When Jonathan Livingstone Seagull returns to his flock with all the knowledge he has gained, they turn their backs on him- all except for one seagull who says, "I want to fly-but I can't. I have a broken wing." What makes me cry whenever I read it is how true it feels, when Jonathan answers him,
 "You are free to fly, this moment, just as you are."
A simple line (albeit plagiarized- I mean paraphrased-yeaahh. "shifty look") 
and in the next moment the seagull with the broken wing  flies.
 I know it's just a story  (Ed . Note: bite your tongue! There is no such thing as "just a story!"), but it makes me cry everytime. 

I am not a seagull.
 I'm just a girl who can't dance, or sing, or write gracefully,
but who desperately wants to live graciously, to be loving  and loved.
I am the girl with the broken wing who wants to do more than just fly.
I want to be free.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Behold, thou art fair, my love; or DIY:Song of Myself

I know not how to praise you, oh my love.
like lightning, like tears, your love,the passing of time-
all are unknowable.
Your embrace preserves me in amber, in honey,-
in you I drown thickly in sweetness.
You cause me to lie in the moon's gaze,
to behold you, a wondrous star-
eternal as only mortal things are.
Lips,full, that speak no words,contain a thousand touches-
seek me out and brush by me again.
Incarnadine thy mouth and the wisdom thereof-
bless me, with the petals of your breath
that I may draw you in,
and breath you out-
intangibly embraced,
sweetness manifest.
Give me your hand, dearest, truest friend,
and ask all of me in return-
no sweeter bargain wrought than this of ours
that time for us should pass like blooming flowers which joy in their youth,yet aged, provide sweet fruit.
Our love is alike to every other in the world,
no more distinct than any that has been or is yet to be,
esteemed only in that tis a pact 'twixt you and me.
Your hand in mine, a dreamer's rest,
my heart in yours, and pressed between our lips,
our name is shared-
it is myself.

(First line-Gossamer Axe- Gael Baudino)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God

Recently, (like in the last few days) I've been reading some philosophy and doing some heavy thinking- which hurt, so I stopped. But then I went back and took a second crack at it, and what I came up with is this- the next time some pissant gets in your face about a minor issue and asks "Who made you God?"- tell them the truth- You did. In every self help book- Bible, Koran and Torah included- it pretty clearly states that we are more than the sum of our parts- that we have the innate ability to be creators and destroyers. Where does that power come from? From within us- every science, and religion tells us that we are more than we can comprehend. Science continues to astound us with wonder at the complexity of the human mind and body and we are transfixed at the sight of holy men and women who manifest miracles- everyday we are confounded and reminded of our ignorance and our uncommon knowledge. It takes chutzpah to live your life like you are a god- like you are God (with a capital G, please note) and most of us don't have the Thatchers (look it up, people!). To be God- to be manifest as God, would require that we admit that we really our responsible for our own lives- that we are made to be greater than we are, that we are afraid of our own greatness, and that in many ways it is so much more comfortable to be small, powerless and at the whims of the world. It is the ultimate feeling of security to know that "Big Brother" is watching over us-If I have problems, it's not my fault-it's God's. Even as we pray the Lord is my strength and my salvation, we give away our awesome power in exchange for eternal childhood. But God never intended for us to remain children. It's why we were tempted by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge-why we tempted ourselves and why we left the garden and entered the world. We can be more than conquerors- but most of us don't wish to- we don't want to conquer our pettiness, our jealousies and our anger. We don't want to forgive others, because we don't feel we are deserving of forgiveness- and like selfish children, we withhold from others and ourselves that which we desperately need to be free. I had to learn long ago to forgive myself for things that had often kept me up late at night- and I still haven't come to the end of the list. And if you think me arrogant for forgiving myself-well, I don't have to forgive you, if it makes you feel any better. I was created in God's image-my own image, for a purposeful end. It may take my lifetime for me to journey and find what that purpose is- but it is there. My existence is not coincidental- to quote Nikki Giovanni (Egotrippin') "I turned myself into myself and was Jesus"-even better,I was and am, me- a whole being, a powerful entity-not a child, but a part of the universe "no less than the trees and stars" (Max Ehrman- The Desiderata) and no less deserving or capable of great things. Within me lies both my own heaven and hell- I shape myself and change myself every second of every day and surely there is no greater power than this- to change reality and consciousness at my whim. Today I choose to believe that God is within me and all power is mine- that the kingdom of God is here on earth wherever I walk- that eternity is mine to dwell in, in peace forevermore. And who out there will gainsay me? Go find your own inner deity. Walk out of hell and into your power. "For know ye not that ye are gods?" (Apologies to Dan Brown-The Lost Symbol)

Peace, Love, God

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Immortal

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying.

Woody Allen (1935 - ) 
Try this: write your own obituary.  What would it say?  Is it a three word salutation, i.e.: RIP or a soliloquy extolling your virtues?
Here lies Blackgirl.
She was awesome!

Here lies Blackgirl
   Award winning author, publisher,
mother of two, faithful wife,
motorcycle enthusiast,
Sensei and philosopher.
She changed the world! 

Will you really be remembered and by whom? 

     Everyone wants to be immortal.  I,personally, plan to live forever-barring unforeseen accidents (and foreseen ones too, of course.) Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. But as Robert Heinlein wrote (  To Sail Beyond The Sunset-awesome book and one of my favorite authors) "Yes, maybe it's just one colossal big joke, with no point to it. But I can tell you this...  whatever the answers are, here's one monkey that's going to keep on climbing, and looking around him to see what he can see, as long as the tree holds out."

     Realistically, (but who wants to be realistic, really?  ahem,)  Realistically,  immortality lies in creating a presence, a memory of ourselves that lives on past death- in making an impression that influences people`s lives- in leaving behind a legacy- whether tangible- through children, wealth or charity or intangible- merely, (I say merely, though it`s anything but) the warm rememberances of family and friends.   Immortality has been the goal of humanity for generations because we cannot definitively answer the question "What happens when we die?" Therefore like any intelligent being we seek to avoid altogether that ultimate mystery - either by "living it up"- boozing, wenching, motorcycle abuse ( my favorite!)

(Ed. note-we here at Blackgirl industries do not in any way endorse motorcyle abuse. Our motto is and always will be - Just Say No!)

 or we end up avoiding life itself all together-living a life of "quiet desperation."  Avoiding anything that might upset the delicate balance that keeps the organism that is you, ticking-strong drink, strong language, strong women- a recipe for disaster  and a early grave? Mayhap. The truth is -immortality is unachievable- but living forever is not- if you consider that forever, as far as you know, is as long as you, personally live.  So somehow, we need to inject life into our life.  To make (I know, people) "every moment count."- to stretch the minutes into hours in a good way-not like when you`re at the office and can`t wait to get home.  Make as many minutes joyful- full of joy- as you can. This does not mean you will always be happy! It does mean that you will be joy-full-capable of feeling the fullness of life and you must be mind-full- using the full capacity of  your mind to fully engage in your life- in feeling and being alive-whether that means feeling grief or liberation.  Forever is a misnomer-eternity is only nomenclature- a name for the experience of being alive.  A hummingbird`s heart beats at 1200 beats per minute-their life depends on the tiniest of organs continually throbbing- on continually feeding -on literally "stopping to smell the roses." You  are not a hummingbird (unless you are, in which case, my apologies), but you are human- an organism singularly gifted at -designed even to experience, enjoy and  remember life.  Your body is designed to survive, your mind is designed to comprehend (a lot more than we generally allow it to.) Your spirit wants to experience life... so let it. Be alive, Be aware, Be joyful.  

"You are immortal, beloved.  You cannot die.."(Heinlein- Time Enough For Love) -
   unless you haven`t truly lived  ...(me)


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