The wheat has been separated from the chaff.
I am here. This much is for sure. And I am being tested daily on my capacity to generate joy and inspiration. I am being tested daily on my capacities for creativity and stillness.
While the world is embroiled in protest, while my sisters and brothers march the streets of our nation’s cities, while a despotic demagogue hoists his own flag into the Oval Office, destroying in the process so much of our advances, I am here in this desolate place; with a gabble of cows, four dogs, five pastures, and enough trees to build the same log cabin a hundred times over.
I do feel a twinge of guilt. That maybe I should be in Kansas City or St. Louis, marching on, protesting, calling attention to the issues of our time. But instead I am here, in this Missouri forest where native tribes once thrived on the edge of the Gasconade, where the hunt stalked herds down to the ravines, and small civilizations lived in communion with the Earth, where now white men raise cattle and others cook meth, where barbed wire fences are used to separate the land, and to call trees mine or yours. While my siblings march the streets, I am walking in the woods. While my siblings chant protest lines, I am reciting poetry. While they raise their voices, I am lowering mine. While they assemble, I am alone out here. And yet, I recognize the privilege of my situation. I recognize the blessing of this opportunity. My food is paid for. My bed. My hot water. My electricity. My internet. Granted the internet is faulty so I feel a tad disconnected from the goings on of the world. Still, I don’t need internet to understand my connection to everything else.
If this is where I’m to spend my time while the world makes this most uncomfortable transition, then it is my duty to spend this time wisely–to create something of real value. Something that might one day heal the wounds of our society. To shrug this responsibility, to retreat from it, is to abandon my life’s purpose. To withdraw from the task at hand, writing, is to withdraw from that which ties me to everything. And yet, I am not here to write the next 95 Theses. Or, The Power of Now. I am not here to change minds on a large scale. I am here, at this residency, taking a different route to fixing the world’s problems. That is, I am seeking salvation within. I am taking to the streets of my soul rather than the streets of my city.
There are many ways to heal the world, to propel it forward into the light of progress. One way is through social activism, by standing up and storming the streets, but shutting down business as usual so people might finally turn their heads in the direction of suffering and injustice. But ultimately, social activism falters in its ability to transform the individual. No, that must be accompanied by an inner process–the task of actively evolving one’s own being. Sure, the crucible of human connection cannot be discounted, but the process of transformation must take place within.
How can we hope to heal what divides us if we have not healed those same divisions in ourselves? If, in ourselves, we have forgotten the secret truth of Oneness? We can’t. Thus, social action is a twofold process: on one hand, it is outward: zine making, rally holding, protest staging; on the other hand, it is inward: journal writing, meditating, self-contemplation.
For now I am taking the latter road. And it is incredible that I even have this opportunity while elsewhere families starve, single mothers struggle, the prison population expands, trans people die, women are assaulted, Muslims are persecuted, people of color dehumanized; while billionaires flourish, and skyscrapers rise to the heights while impoverished communities fall into squalor.
Perhaps now more than ever I am coming to understand the meaning of the word, Privilege.
And as a great friend of mine once said, one must share their privilege, use it to educate, to build, to grow.
So here I am. In this wilderness. With my books. And my writing. And food. So much food. I am well fed. Well rested. I am clothed. And bathed. Sitting at the bank of a lazy river while dogs nuzzle into me, while pileated woodpeckers chortle and sing, while silence fills the woods, and the world slowly burns.
Day 4. I took a three and a half hour walk through the woods and pastures. I stopped to get high on a fallen log. I pooped in a divot, covered it in leaves. I traced the outer edges of the OAC’s acreage. I read in the one-room Dream Studio. I meditated among the cows while Murphy the lab knelt at my side; while the cows sniffed my feet apprehensively. I am earning their trust. Familiarizing myself with them, and vice versa. I hope by the end of this residency, I am able to lie among them in the shade, reading my books and scribbling in my journal.
Also, there are no new love-related reports. She has gone to St. Louis for the Women’s March. If there is anything to report it is this:
That in my reveries I lose touch with reality. I lose touch with the sanctity and stillness of right now. I build my desires, my fantasies, and illusions. I craft them into something special and say, hey look at this, look what I’ve concocted, and I get hung up on my visions while reality slips by. But it is false. I am prone to falling in love with ideas. I am prone to being enamored and infatuated with the possibility of a person, not necessarily the actual person.
In fact, that seems to be my greatest weakness. That I can fall in love with the illusions of a person rather than the actual person; that even after being presented with significant evidence of their deceit and their shady character, I am able to look past it and see a being of pure light. That I can fall in love with a covert narcissist– someone who’s so deeply buried beneath the weight of their own delusions, who shies from their vulnerabilities and blames them on the world around them; someone who thinks they are an empath–and certainly we are all capable of empathy–but has no way of expanding themself, of putting themself in other people’s shoes, of truly and deeply caring for another human being; someone who projects their disowned insecurities onto other people, and gets upset when they are somehow made to feel anything remotely unlike happiness; someone who lies, who cheats (whatever that means), who insults and verbally abuses, who gaslights, who manipulates, who steals, then turns around with their big green doe eyes, bats them at you, and says, ‘whatever do you mean? I haven’t done anything wrong;’ someone who can’t take responsibility for anything, who can’t apologize, who doesn’t even know the meaning of the word, apologize, lest they admit they are anything less than perfect; lest they allow themselves to be truly vulnerable. That is my greatest weakness; that I can be so deluded by someone, so blinded by things such as beauty, a sweet voice, and similar interests that I can ignore their more despotic tendencies. It would seem I am a glutton for punishment.
[But perhaps, as I reexamine this post later, I am being too harsh. And yet I’m willing to mind myself here. I’m willing to mind the way I deny my anger, my rage, my very clear and sharp understanding and analysis of this person and this situation. I’m willing to do that while also saying this: there are two sides to every coin. A person is both a being of supreme love and light and a human with learned tendencies, behavioral traits, emotional wounds, defense mechanisms, and core beliefs. Am I so holy that I am without these qualities myself? No. The real point of this whole thing is to say quite simply: Sometimes I get my boundaries in a tangle. I see what I want to see, while ignoring the rest. And I get lost in those illusions very easily.]
But I know when to walk away. And I know when my fantasies have clouded my reality. I know when I am getting lost in something that may not even be real. Only time will tell if love will blossom in these pastures. It will happen in one of three ways: it will happen between me and her; it will happen within myself; or it will happen both within and without. This much is certain.
In the mean time, my focus remains on writing, reading, eating healthily, and communing with Nature. That’s all that’s in my control. The rest is up to Fate.