Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Burning Betrayals

Betrayals burn. Those betrayed get hurt, yes, but those who do the betraying possibly sustain
 more. An essence of one's integrity gets lost. It's as though the inability to keep a secret, or to hold 'the other' in sufficient value enough to protect private information they shared with you has worked its way through the core of you, renders you rotten. At least, that's how I feel. And I have betrayed in my time. I've let slip the secrets of yore. After all, the passage of time gives one a sense of ‘it’, the secret, surely 'no longer' mattering. For instance, especially if it happened many years ago, surely it’s alright now to reveal the misdemeanour; yet we can be surprised when there's adversity to long-buried news. Why is it that we instinctually know that some things of our past are best left hidden in their closets? Yet which of us has no closet whatever to be found in the long-ago recesses of our psyche? Which of us has never (ever) told anyone else the secret that someone else shared with us? Especially when that secret has no real relevance or chance of being found out; across time zones; across continents; across cities; across social circles? Yet, we do! We tell, we expose, and we are left littler for it! If you're like me, you burn for it. Your integrity over 'that' matter, like your virginity, can never (ever) be retrieved.

Some betrayals are innocent enough. My most recent one was promising my renters over a pre Christmas drink that I'd not break their verbal contract with me until end of lease, end of September, 2016. Well, by mid January I'd not only forgotten that promise, I'd let them know they needed to vacate by the end of May! When called on it, I was truly astounded! I truly actually-factually had (conveniently?) forgotten, overlooked, neglected, and not checked in with my ‘self’ to see if I'd made a prior commitment. And today, nearly six months later, I still burn, hurt, feel upset, and deeply regret my selfish shallowness of process. Yes, I did need to sell that particular property! Still, was it just symptomatic of the long-line of betrayals that suited me, that rode with me as I wound my way through a past, en route to here? My making amends, offering alternatives, extending apologies all helps ameliorate my short-fallings, yes, but still...

Integrity is not a product; it is a journey. We make hundreds of promises throughout our lives, and some we keep, and some we break. We are fallible. We serve others, or we serve ourselves, and oft times the discernment at which is the better action (to keep things a secret, to uphold a promise, to prolong the entrustment, or not) dogs us. Not all secrets are good. Not all protection of another does oneself good. Ask anyone who suffers child-abuse. Uncles and parents and siblings and family members may be served some protection at the expense of oneself, but should especially not be served at the expense of continuing freedom to perpetrate their awful influence on others! And so, promises and secrets are not always to be honoured. Little in life is truly black or white. Ask any lawyer. Life is full of circumstantial there-unto's.

Thereunto allow me to advance my apology to whomever is reading this, feeling that I've in my turn betrayed something they've held dear. I think of students who clung tenaciously to a separate Faith, (yet I did not belie them). I think of friends who expected more of me. I think of colleagues who wanted more from me in terms of my supporting the status quo. I think of spiritual warriors who may expect a purity of complete and utterly ‘correct’ actions. Yet we all are on a journey. To exist otherwise is to be in stasis. And I personally have “miles to go afore I sleep, and promises yet to keep, though venturing some woods can be lovely, dark and deep".*

Betrayal burns in me. I shall choose yet more carefully my words, my promises, my actions; amend my course of thinking, feeling, and being. But, my friend, Batman, now that you told me who you 'really' are, I promise: I shall not in turn let your true identity slip. In doing so, I know by past experience just how much it can hurt others. (Yet still, history may castigate me for keeping your secret.) Sorry to know. Sorry to say. Sorry to feel. Betrayal burns, indeed.

*the poet: Robert Burns

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Suspended Disbelief

Why do we feel for what otherwise is foolish? Men and women in costumes, wearing makeup, and singing their songs in heightened states of fancifulness reach into us from across the stage, or the screen, and pluck at our hearts. We need reality to breathe; we need fantasy to create. And in both we evolve. Or do all our instincts arise out of a need for survival? Suspended disbelief has us glued to the TV, to the stage performance, to the musical we've heard before, and we will talk about made-up lines and fabricated lives as though they were real. Very real. Like the shadows in Plato's cave that we watch dance against the wall; we give credence and veracity and vitality to their existence, and are tugged by our identifying. How else to look for Nimo? What else but throw a Hogwarts party? Why else attend South Pacific and feel it resonate? Make-believe! Yet I cried at Mike Johnson's raw soul-filled pain in South Pacific, on Saturday night (even though I too played that same part of Emile de Becque, twelve years ago.)

To construe, to imagine, to lie through the teeth, to create; these are the verbs by which we move mankind. Nouns by themselves have no life. They need a soul; they need a verb to live! Like formal sentences. A formal sentence can only be attended by a subject and its predicate. Boring! (Ah, but don't adjectives and adverbs really enliven life?) Yet it is not the nuts and bolts that really gets us, here; it is the feeling we feel when we give attention to that which, when made by man, is really not real. Images, artifices, icons, verisimilitudes, and bric-à-brac; it all can attract us, can elicit emotion, can start a collector on a pathway of addiction. (Which of us easily could miss an episode of, say, Down-town Abbey?) Identification is all! And what if you've never seen or heard of South Pacific? A young female in our animatedly acculturated company, in her 20s, had never heard the song, "Some Enchanted Evening," let alone been given the gift of Cable's profound reasoning: "You've got to be taught to hate the people your relatives hate!"

Or am I being too pedantic?

Yes, creativity is about fun and catharsis; a measure of pleasure to detract from reality. Does it have to be didactic? Does Creativity have to have a lesson, a meaning, a purpose other than to entertain, to make money, to provide surcease from the steady strife of reality? Yes, ‘a steady strife’ it is, this learning of formalities and correctness of behaviour and thought and expectation and rule and custom. How else did we arrive at the tragic shooting of the 49, earlier this month? How else did we sustain the Holocaust, the Crimean war, the War of The Roses? All of history is too full of reality butting up against reality for us easily to live without strife. We must needs populate history with the re-telling, such that we put words into the mouth of Anne o'Cleaves, or think we know what Beowulf himself felt, and then take someone else's' imaginings for reality!

How easily to distinguish between truth and fiction? How easily to allow oneself transportations of emotion during a musical about the five daughters of Tevye, or the seven Grooms for seven Women? How to disbelieve those who tell you 40 virgins await? How to unlearn the pain-body of history that says my Afrikaans fore-bearers were fed ground-glass in their porridge in British prisons, and that's why my mother's family hated my oh-so English father! How to let go being a
Jew or an Arab or a Black or even a man or woman and just be a Person? How else but...

"You've got to be taught to fear or hate, you've got to be carefully taught!"

Reality, creativity, thinking, and feeling; it all is one. "Nothing is good or bad but thinking (or feeling) makes it so," the poet admonished. Yes, creativity needs not be didactic. But at the very least it is best deployed to create a sense of universal compassion and care and responsibility, advancing our very evolution; or do we merely stay fools, lighting our way to dusty deaths?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Acceptance is All

Things die. Ideas, hopes, dreams, aspirations, animals, people. Sad, yes. Also, natural. What is there that has outlasted its immaculate self, its best self, its prime self? Yes, there's restoration and preservation. Yes, there are monumental embodiments of mans' deference to existing. But eventually? Look on my works, time, and see the dusts of disrepair. We all die. Everything, eventually, is replaced. It’s there, or it isn’t.

Like the Canada Goose I saw stumble, and fall. Had it not been in the road, in front of a bus, other accidents might not have happened. But the unforeseen obstacle, right where a busy intersection had customary traffic plying away at the hustle of needing to be somewhere else, created a consternation of calamitous proportions. Tires screeched. Brakes squealed. Did fenders bend? And the goose, unable to move, seemed shocked into non-reaction, resigned to accepting its fate. But since my vehicle was not in its lane, I steered cautiously past, and was soon away (again).

We are affected by all that goes on. And we affect so much more than we normally might imagine. Our actions have an impact that creates the chaos of fragmentation, disintegration, and the redirection of an otherwise usual flow of things. But not all is negative. We may well fly like butterflies and sting like bees, but we might in our wake engender a great deal of positive energy; create a climate of loving actions. Because one brakes for the deer that unexpectedly crosses the road, might one also not be at that crossroad when the goose falls? Perhaps not be at that coincidental spot on the road when from between parked cars the five year old girl runs out to retrieve her errant ball!

Thing is, there is a difference in responsibility once one knows the possible consequences of one's actions. Whether an individual, a group, a populace, a city, a nation, or even a species, we humans know better! Yet we persist in overpopulating. We persist in plunder and pillage and even raping our natural resources. We persist in divisive and hateful polemics. We persist in war and terrorism and avenging the past. We persist in greed. We continue to use and abuse and want more and more. I do. Do you? It is deep in our nature not to be able to stay small and self contained and satisfied with seeking, beyond sustenance, inner peace. The answer appears always to lie out there, somewhere, away from where we are. So we venture out and change our geographical locations, our familial ties, our familiar ways, and we challenge (or build) walls, and cross borders, and assume a new citizenship (at least, I did), and generate with our being a whole host of consequences that affects the traffic and the flow and the lives of all those who each must make some slight recalibration in their very existence to accommodate the fact that you too are on the road. It's natural. But does it have to be a Carson-ian 'Silent Spring'?*Thing is, once you know that you affect others, you become yet more responsible for your actions!

Drunk drivers are an example. They show us how seriously maligned our sense of responsibility can be. So too for petty thieves. So too for each act that breaks ethical sensibilities. So too for the malcontent that no longer gives a damn about the noise he or she makes, or the bumping and bruising created by barging through another's psyche. We go quiet in the presence of hummingbirds. We teach children not to shriek with excitement in the presence of nature. We teach respect, accord, deference, gentleness, compassion, and love. Why is it that, generally, there are so very-very many who do not get that lesson? What happens to make people shoot and kill and harm and vilify and denounce and segregate and go to war? Is that what Lieutenant Cable cries when he sings "teach your children"?** Just where does history end but in the death of everything that exists, and the giving over to something else that in turn, too must die. Such is history. It alone, 'lives'. Acceptance is all, indeed, but in the meantime....  Take care!

* Carson, Rachel (1907-1964): Silent Spring.
** Rodgers and Hammerstein: South Pacific (the musical).