Have you ever had a conversation with an intimate friend, and you know know know the problem is you, but you are too damn stuck on your defensive, brittle edge to back down?
Welcome to the carnival: the rush of being sucked into a whirlwind emotive swarm. Good times!
I haven’t had one of those for, let’s see, eight days now. But I remember. And I want pathways out of my fixed, stone solid way of being. Can anyone else hear Bruce Lee?
Be Water, My Friend.
~ Bruce Lee
We want to be water but it often occurs like we are an unthinking component of a pre-existing rush.
The ride is on, chairs are moving, and getting off is certain danger. Aversion to feeling what we feel is its own inertia. Look, I’m writing this because I am more stuck than a pig at slaughter time, but also because we are all in danger. Our culture is blinding us with shiny plastic objects. We are entranced and looking outward, 24/7/365, for the answers. We have become, collectively, the woman Tranströmer saw.
This woman is buying and buying things to throw at the void that is quietly approaching her from behind.
And it doesn’t have to stop, but we benefit truck ton huge if we pause, sometimes, a little bit. Pema describes “being quick” as the state of alertness that allows us to see moments when there’s pain or hurt and feel them, jump in, rather than deferring to defensive coverup operations, like anger, resentment, indignation.
We can ditch that roller coaster, and hop on the ferris wheel of letting go into our state-of-the-moment feeling. We can open up. We can actually affect life by looking: becoming alert to our inner states, by accepting them. No small feat.
Our actions define us, and we too often take them for irrelevant, when meanwhile, we are giants.
Unless each individual develops a sense of responsibility, the whole community cannot move. So therefore, it is very essential that we should not feel that individual effort is meaningless—you should not feel that way. We should make an effort.”
~ Dalai Lama
In this nonstop whirlwind carnival circus filled with shysters acrobats mimes tricksters and, ugh, jugglers, we are almost incapable of surviving a second without a two-foot thick shell of protection. And the heroic act is to open it. To go through it fearlessly.
The message is to be with oneself without embarrassment or harshness. This is how to love oneself and one’s world.
~ Pema Chodron
Can we allow that? Because harshness has grown into feeling “right.” The opening must be gentle, making friends with our harsh tendencies, but strong, not taking no for an answer. We’ve built our own blocks, fear-based mechanisms that we built to show the world that we are okay. We are strong. We “don’t need this shit.” But the show is a sham. We do need this. Our solution (hiding behind fears and defense mechanisms) has become the problem. Our show is vacuous.
A man’s own self is his friend. A man’s own self is his foe.
~ Bhagavad Gita
There is this well of forgiveness we can draw on, and my feeling is that it is only visible when we drop all the judgements, and stand naked, grateful, open.
Call it Festival.
Some feeling came into you, unpleasant feeling, and you said, Should not come, it should not come! Doing that, you are resisting it. When you resist, it persists. Just observe. See, Oh! Go deep into it. Dance; stand up on your feet and dance. Be intoxicated; move intoxicated.
Sri Ravi Shankar
There’s nothing in this world like the feeling of non-resistance. Letting go of the right and wrong, and witnessing. Allowing all to unfold. And dancing, whatever they say.
One day a long time from now you’ll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re capable of.
I love that, and know it is possible—for all of us—to find this opening, this freedom beyond slavery to the group opinion.
Beyond the need to be accepted. Beyond that dull but compellingly fast pull toward shelled comfort: the opening up to our nature. There’s a freedom in breaking the chains that bind us to safety in the eyes of others. All forms of emotional conformity are toxic, and we cling to them like a lifeline, in a rush toward safety that is illusionary.
The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.
~ The Buddha
Let’s keep feeling our feet, and thanking them with each step. Let’s make believe we know that this planet is our playground, our huge lovers’ bed, that our life is playtime. This is a joy. This is festival.
I’ve had enough of hiding, and being stuck in default to unconscious patterns. I want to hurt when I hurt, and laugh like a bastard when shit is funny. I want to really awaken, open up to this ride of rides. I refuse to let the Festival vanish into the Carnival. If that makes any kind of sense.
Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.
~ Victor Hugo
I will not be robbed of wonder. If elephant journal writer Karl Saliter is right, and I hope he is, part of the answer is in not taking ourselves too seriously.
Carnies built this country. The carnival part of it anyway.
~ Homer Simpson
Taking ourselves lightly, taking the work of navigation seriously, might be an access. Opening up to life unshielded. Listening, really listening, before jumping to defensive emotional conclusions. That is celebratory. That is festive. That is spotting the moment where two lovers share a cotton candy, and knowing they are you. Seeing the cigar chewing overweight blue baseball capped ancient tired jeans wearing mildly sociopathic minimum wage ride operating poor dental hygiene drifter and recognizing yourself. It is being the ball bearings at the center of the ferris wheel, and the gum under your feet. It is expanding into everything. The whole midway. You.
Special thanks to Sarah Blodgett Photograpy.
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