Tag Archives: thoughts

How We Fight

Wild One 101
From Ciarán of Ailbhe’s Nine

Some learn to become indifferent to pain until they fight without thought. They learn how to lose themselves (their ability to feel, the essence of who they are, their sense of being) in order to win. The cost of this is high, for the selves they defend are the very same they so easily abandoned. Their eyes go vacant or hard or unseeing. They are trained to deny much of their own human being, and so likewise cannot see those they fall as flesh and blood and bone. They choose an inner death before their life is ended, believing it makes them better able to survive. It is unknown what continues to exist after such a fight is done, even in a victory.

But we learn to fight with our aliveness. The power within us forged in the fire of feeling. Our eyes are clear and wakeful, whether full of sorrow or laughter– compassion and passion being as they are two sides of a soul. We live our humanity fervent and full. We see each other eye to eye, and in the defending of all people, recognize ourselves in all we meet. No one is immune to suffering or grief. But the cries that we utter are always our own, whether of joy or of pain, and always the radiance burning inside. And when we fall, we blaze out each like a pulsing star, a heart that dared to beat with love, until the last spark fades from who we are.

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My own thoughts:

I’ve been having a very hard time putting anything into words regarding how I feel about living in a nation that seems to have been swallowed up by fear, prejudice, hatred and greed, perhaps in reverse order. Reading the news is like downing a glass of pesticides every morning and then trying to go about my day hoping I won’t experience any side effects. I’ve been paralyzed by a sense of hopelessness, grief-stricken, incredibly angry, tentatively resolved into taking action, terrified, and sometimes daring to dream all in a day. I’m a philosopher who spent more than a decade learning the rules of reason: all that flooding of feeling recently often leaves me reeling. I’m still trying to learn how to effectively take action without shutting down.

I used to be an avid advocate for the rights of children. I used to daily defend my right to full inclusion, equal access to education, acceptance and regard. And, whenever someone ever suggested to me that my perseverance made me a fighter, I’d be sure to defend my definite opinion to the contrary. To me, the purpose of advocacy was to build bridges, while the purpose of fighting was to burn bridges and erect walls, and the winner would be the fastest. I thought advocacy was strategic and thoughtful, but fighting was inherently destructive and usually violent. Advocacy resolved conflicts, fighting created them. That was a lot of black and white thinking.

We’re now faced with a situation in this country where our supposed leaders want to build walls, and the most effective way to resist is to fight: for compassion rather than hatred, for freedom over fear, for dialogue over discrimination, for human rights, for healthcare, for immigrants and their families, for people rather than profits and for healing rather than division.

I believe now that when people used to tell me I was a fighter, I honestly had no idea what they meant by that. I am discovering that I have so much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

I am learning how compassion is as fierce as it is gentle, and is more powerful than fear, stronger than the deepest shame. I’m learning how wholeness is always in each of us, and that division is only as effective as the deception behind its appearance. I’m gradually accepting the fact that maybe, perhaps, I know how to fight for myself and for others… I just need to learn a new paradigm for how to go about it more effectively. I’m learning to trust more, to listen more, and to share, speak up, more.

I am not finding sharing these thoughts to be easy for me, at all. But I’m starting with where I am at, and that’s enough for now. I’m sure there will be many more insights from my ancient family to post as well, as I keep learning, so I will be sharing more from them here, too.

I Resisted, I Got Inspired, I Tweeted

This is a post about how I started tweeting, some poems I have tweeted, and a fun venture you can join me in tweeting about.

I’m not enamored with social media. Don’t get me wrong, I like media—music, poetry, art, storytelling, informative news– and I like being social, so I see nothing inherently problematic about combining the two. But I’m hesitant to jump onto popular social media band wagons for two simple reasons.

First, most social media websites take an inordinately long time to navigate when the person trying to get around them is totally blind. I once tried planting plants in three friends’ farm patches on facebook, and after an hour and a half of technical negotiation, none of which involved down websites or malfunctioning programs, I succeeded. Which leads to the second reason I’m suspicious of engaging in too much social media: even if the sites were accessible, I believe I would get just as obsessed with posting on them as I already am and waste lots of precious time which I could spend on my career or, perhaps more importantly, on socializing with friends over email or in person which won’t result in PDC (i.e. Public Display of Communication.)

I’ve used facebook since my sophomore year in college when it first came out and was a way for students at top American universities to connect with one another and the friend requests you would accept were from people you were already close friends with. You know, back in the day…

Mostly I now use facebook to participate in closed private groups because anything I want to post on there is usually something I ought not associate with my real name: I’m still in the broom closet. Actually I am technically at the moment in my living room, the closet is metaphorical.

But, it’s surprising how often, as a pagan, I have to be exceedingly careful, especially as I have as many friends in the physical world as on the other side, and that’s not considered normal. If only facebook let you have more than one identity! (I’m sure men and women fleeing abusive relationships and double-agent spies would appreciate this as much as closeted pagans and other targeted minorities, facebook! Come on with it then…)

In any case, although twitter does allow, fortunately, sensibly, responsibly, for as many identities as you like, I struggled for a long time with actually getting onto twitter. I kept feeling like I am this old fashioned thirty-something person who likes face to face communication, and more importantly, I’m a person. Whoever heard of a person tweeting? The concept sounded so absurd to me. I mean, if I walked into a room and five or six people were literally standing around tweeting, I’d get concerned, and quickly. Especially if their vocal bird calls were too convincing. Then I would probably sincerely ask them if they were channeling bird spirits—and I don’t mean the kind of spirits birds might consume to get intoxicated.

I decided therefore that I never wanted it to be said of me that I had tweeted. I imagined a list of modern honors and deeds one might recount upon a person’s death: “She was a wonderful person, no one has ever spoken ill of her, she was a loyal friend, she was never rude in the use of her cell phone, and she has tweeted.”

This imagined scenario made me shutter and adamantly think, not of me, please! I felt like tweeting might once and for all situate me in the modern age, an age I often don’t understand and even less often agree with. Not that past ages were any better. But I live now, so I can point out what’s wrong about the present and usually get away with it, and with sympathy.

That all changed when Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty posted an invitation to tweet love poems based on Irish mythology to coincide with the coming out of their jointly written book, Grá Mo Chroí, , which I encourage everyone to read! It’s a wonderful book. And, what is more, once I read the previously mentioned invitation, my antitweet resolve began breaking down. To my astonishment, I found myself creating a twitter account. Then, to much less astonishment and great fun, I discarded my, albeit never officially stated, vow to refrain from having tweeted, and have tweeted (twittered?) more times than I can count now.

I’m not sure what the protocol is about posting tweeted things on a blog, but here are a few of my tweeted poems. I’ll create another post with poems by/about my ancient family more directly, as they deserve a space of their own.

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Together sound
Songbird and foghorn
Take care, come listen
Sirens seaward cry
A soaring and a warning
As day sings itself awake

***

To walk the path
Steeped in mystery
With false starts strewn
Step lightly
One word, yes
Begins your hero’s journey

***

The six encircle me in love
At the center
I, shaped as a star
Enfolded within
Their single light
Resonate with joy

***

Fierce passion Consumed their young souls
Now centuries flown
In the otherworld
They are love
A gentle light
Between them grown

***

Landscape aches
For ancient reverence
Carve a place
A new old way
Weave the pattern
Of what happens
Into being
Come home you say

***

Fretful my night
Until your light fills
This space, glowing
Dissolving my fear
Your silent strength
Guides your lost child home

***

Finally, I love playing around with words and decided to create a hashtag called #absurdwordnerd under which to write ridiculous new definitions of words. Creatively changing the word by adding or subtracting a letter and then redefining it is also totally silly and acceptable. For example:
Indentured servant: a servant with false teeth. #absurdwordnerd

I am doing this just because why not, and because I think the world needs more humor. So come participate whenever inspiration hits you (just ask it to hit nicely.)

For She Who Is

for now I climb out of the river
Onto a sunny rock,

And watch the light play, a golden echo
Sketched across my face.

There is a place for silence here,
Where motion is a small coming and going,

And all that can be heard is the drip of sunlight,
Drops of water tumbling off wet hair,

The simple, almost imperceptible sigh of the earth exhaling,
The stretching of a budding flower,

My own rhythm beneath fragile bones
All this is the music of my love.

Still the thoughts that chatter like incessant insects in my head,
Take me to where change remains a constant, wash these grey stones clean

She says to wait, to hush, to listen,
To receive, just let go.

She folds me in her arms as wide as sky,
She Who Is, with silver hair and purple eyes.