Navigating the Carnival: 10 Quotes on Opening Up.

Via Karl Saliter
on Jan 9, 2013
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Sarah Blodgett Photography
Sarah Blodgett Photography

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

2013-01-09 11.11.03 am
Sarah Blodgett Pgotography

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.

~Tomas Tranströmer

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.

Sarah Blodgett Photography
Sarah Blodgett Photography

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.

Sarah Blodgett Photography
Sarah Blodgett Photography

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.

J.D. Salinger

I love that, and know it is possible—for all of us—to find this opening, this freedom beyond slavery to the group opinion.

Sarah Blodgett Photography
Sarah Blodgett Photography

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

Photo: Sarah Blodgett Photography
Sarah Blodgett Photography

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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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


About Karl Saliter

Karl is a circus artist sculptor writer miscreant gypsy, living in Mexico. He has written two novels, "Compassion's Bitch," and "Breakfast In A Cloud," and has published neither. He often feels as if he was born under a silver whale of a frisbee moon in the back of a red cartoon pickup truck. That careening down route 66 at speed, he leapt up into the cab, took the wheel, stuck his baby elbow out the rolled-down window, and that though the truck had awesome chrome mirrors, he never looked back. He hopes you frequently feel the same.


5 Responses to “Navigating the Carnival: 10 Quotes on Opening Up.”

  1. Mädel says:

    I related specially to what you mention about forgiveness, the need of truly understanding forgiveness as the way to get off the roller coaster, by dropping the resentments and judgements off. A teacher I recently was exposed to told us that -ímmediate forgiveness takes place when we finally realize that what we thought happened, never really happened. Because nothing ever really happens. We are always one thought away from illumination-, that our thought are only thoughts, that they are not even fully ours and we are not even our thoughts.

    I loved the selection of quotes and your sometimes morbid and at the same time marvelous reflections on them.
    Another great article on this -appears to be- a series of revelations, awakenings and offerings to all of us privileged enough to be affected by them by absorbing the simplicity and deep wisdom of your personal inner journey 🙂 congrats Karl Saliter.

  2. Karl says:

    Thank you for that, Madel. I am onto this stuff of late, and it has been a
    healthy process, writing about it. There is something about these pieces that
    Paves the way for understanding for me.

    The lessons you describe are valuable. What we know is that breathing is occurring. We can know this by experience. It is the one true thing.

    All else, ignorance

  3. Mädel says:

    Breathing is still a step further away from the pure awareness of who we are than our thoughts… just saying.
    But yes, all else is ignorance. And ignorance is not bliss.

  4. karlsaliter says:

    Too true.

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