Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Phoenix and the Blues



Some days the melancholia is a chain encircling your neck. You despise yourself, everything and everyone. The previous day you were all smiles; you noticed the sun, a patch of blue in the sky. Today the birds outside your window are irritating – what makes them keep chirping tuneful melodies? Deeply you resent them. Not a lark, not a robin, nor a rare dove cross the sullen silver sky. Only pigeons, blackbirds and single magpies flitter through the pale opaque canvass outside your window. Trees shorn of leaves and cloaked in dusky browns depress your soul. The uniformity of houses whose colours match the trees’ dirty browns stimulates only a desire to return to the world of dreams. You remain as long as possible in bed- if there’s no work and there is no work because you have no energy to do anything or there isn’t anything to do. Without money – that accursed blessing without which there’s no beginning to attune yourself to its divinity. No – no money since some sod has refused to employ you or forced you to quit their employ or outrageously fired you when all the shortcomings were undoubtedly theirs. There’s a bubbling guilt churning through your insides for your flippancy with the preciousness of time. You know you must do something. But seriously what? Has anyone ever suffocated from this kind of nausea? For that’s how you feel, that the sickness in your stomach is a noose swiftly tightening around your neck, swelling its veins. You can’t breathe; though you are breathing and know you’re alive. You feel worthless, helpless, weak, lost, angry, sad, depressed, lonely. And alone. Beside the silly bird sounds, their wings drumming a collective beat from their occasional flight pebbling the sky, an empty stillness is your only company. This thing – well you know what it is and probable cause though you dare not name it - is predatory and pristine. Its severity is timeless. It has always known you. You reach to the cleft in your history that birthed it and settle at some childhood lack. No motherly bed tucks and stories; no hoistings up and swirlings round and round by daddy. No daddy period. No sibling with whom you didn’t compete for single mummy reassurances. And those were ends she didn’t always know how to make meet. The mantle of mummy and daddy she couldn’t always master when she too was prey to the thing that now attacks you. Positivity is a contrivance right now. You just can’t muster the courage to believe in it. Should someone dare to remind you of your brilliance you would not merely disbelieve them you’d be furious – and perfectly aware this is irrational - that they should lie simply to ‘pick you up.’ You don’t want to be ‘picked up’; you don’t need their lies; you don’t need them right now. The predatory thing needs its day. Today is it. Self-doubt and disbelief is that bluesy rhythm you need to experience right now. It was playing the moment you woke up. Though pathetic, which of course you know it is, self pity is some kind of sick necessity. Rare for some, it’s a regular narcissistic indulgence for others. It is the underbelly of all you know to be Truth. Yes – it is a soulless entity. You know this too. It’s transitory like all experiences. And from it you certainly will not die. Yet now you feel that’s what it might do; maybe it’s what you want, to die pitiably. Who would miss you and cry and care? Whose heart – how many will break were you to quit this wicked world and its tangling talons? And the year end with its incumbent, universally sanctioned merriments terrify you. You’re not brave like they who accept that now is the time to feel this popular peace and to believe in faith. Sceptics live and die alone. So you feel that perhaps now is your time to die. Does the year not have its end? Were the trees not lushly green some months back? Was the sun not real and hot in recent memory? Did the light not last for more than eight hours in each day a short time ago? You will rise again and return. So go on and die why don’t you? The clouds are never still nor the same; even now a new patch of blue is curling through them. This mood is a heavy curtain but you will summon the strength to push back and let light in. Your bed is no tomb. Though depression is a tyrant that commands your mood today you will gather the littlest stone -the sum of your energy- and aim straight just like David. You’re a Truth seeker attuned to hear the awakening beat. And there it is - within the darkened chamber of your mood there’s a sudden, varied illumination – an alchemical spectrum – the brilliance and magnetism of red firing your vitality into the richness, the absolute perfection, the sheer delight and splendour of burnishing gold. Now it is no ordinary, blandly coloured bird that penetrates your window. There is no greater vision that now claims your aliveness than a Phoenix whose eyes pierce but do not break your window. Without words it declares some vital need of you. Slowly motioning enflamed wings startle some secret purpose that inclines you to rise. This majestic bird is no mirage but the signal that the stillness has birthed. When you rise your bowed head is no sign of servility but the pride and perfecting meekness a Goddess displays in the absoluteness of immortality. Agelessly the Phoenix perfects the rhythm of its wings. And in its timely retreat from your window it weaves golden promises across the curtain of your now luminous horizon.

Shout Out

Thursday, 11 November 2010

‘Living by Maat’:Or Do Good and Good Will Follow



As a child I found the concept of this bearded white tripartite being/man (my “Father”), whose image I reflected and who lived in the sky from where ‘he’ randomly unleashed ‘his’ wrath, despite also being loving and merciful completely mindboggling. I mean, what did Isaac do? I argued a few times with my mum about this story of Abraham and poor Isaac. She tried unsuccessfully to justify God’s action to me; succeeding only to convince me that my head was not mine, but hers to chop off at God’s behest.

Equally perplexing was the concept of the Devil; God’s veritable opponent. Though all powerful and supreme, God still had an opponent? I rarely mused over the Devil’s other name of Satan. ‘Devil’ did enough to instil some kind of relative fear about the evil this equally powerful enemy of God represented. Though the etymological accounts of the words tell us otherwise, our third eyesight identifies their associations with ‘good and ‘evil’ by respectively extracting or adding a letter to each: good becomes God; Devil that which is evil. It was hardly instinctual to know that God would always outdo the Devil. The Devil being bad aggressor would always be defeated by God. Yet, it remained true that the Devil would never give up his assaults. The significance of this dualism couldn’t be grasped when I was a child. But in this spiritual game of life, to know God (good), one must also know of evil (Devil – signs of negativity as expressed in the previous Shout on Mara).

Good in this sense I associate with Truth (note the capital ‘T’) as an aspect of Maat. This Truth is something you know, rather than believe; it’s not something easy to learn, nor teach. It’s innate, intuitive or some kind of primal thing that springs from a clean – rather an unstressed heart. Requisite to ‘Living by Maat’ as the symbol of harmony, Truth, justice, social order and perfecting balance between good and evil is a clean heart. Though the idea of a ‘clean’ heart sounds biblically fanciful, I’m trusting most of you will recognise it as an expression, perhaps emanation of light. Seeds germinate in the dark; we’re formed secretly in womb space from a dark dot but realisation, beingness (becoming) is expressed in light. The heart, which is metaphysically considered to be the ‘seat of the soul’, must reflect light if it’s to be weighted on the side of Maat. Our deeds collect in the heart, some of them good, some bad. Our becoming depends on how greatly the good outweighs the bad.

Goodness then is a matter of expression that reaches fulfilment when we have mastered the balance between good and evil. Our heart must be as light as the Maat feather by which our deeds are judged at transition. When we’re stressed or depressed we are mostly in a state of selfishness. I don’t necessarily mean that literally, since we often don’t choose to be either. I mean that these are states of being within which our vision is blurred, we don’t see outside ourselves because we’re in our funk. At this time the world is about us and how we’re feeling. An unstressed state or one of good levity enables us to see and think clearly; our heart is unburdened. Depression, stress, selfishness, lack of forgiveness, self-hate, bitterness, arrogance and so on are states of being that burden the heart, contaminate the soul, reflecting the darkness or bad (read Devil). Contrastingly self-love, selflessness, generosity, compassion, humility and forgiveness etc make light the heart and nurture the soul, reflecting good spiritedness (God’s image/likeness; our expression of divinity).

Perpetuation of our funk is the weight that burdens our heart and follows us into eternity. Our perception of Maat, how we grasp the dualism of good and evil (God/Devil) will determine our mastery of self. To achieve it would make the meeting with Maat mellifluous; our transcendency would manifest in a glorious blaze of light. The alternative would be like that dream of walking along a never ending dark corridor, either end seems equally long, you’re unable to decide whether to go back or to continue forward; either way it is the longest walk. Our only company in that state is the weight of our funk chained to our necks for eternity. The light of our heart is something we cultivate not simply through acts of goodness but as something we express in our being. I suppose one meaning of I am that I am can be deduced from this: I am that which I express. And if I am the image of good that is the divine expression by which I am perfected on my journey of becoming.

Shout Out

Saturday, 2 October 2010

On "Defeating Mara" (Negativity)

For Simone

“Mind (as well as metals and element) may be transmuted, from state to state; degree to degree; condition to condition; pole to pole; vibration to vibration. True Hermetic Transmutation is a Mental Art.” The Kybalion

I’ve not seen it in reality, but in my imagination and perhaps that was influenced from the first images I saw on TV. It’s the way a vicious snake recoils when prodded by a stick. It might recoil like a bouncy spring preparing to uncoil and strike again so that the movement with the stick has to be ninja quick and decisive. The intention is not to pet the snake like the games you might play with a dog or a kitten. This is a vicious snake bent on attacking, possibly killing you. The strike must therefore be intentionally to force the snake into submission; for it must be wilfully removed from your path where its only desire is to bring you harm.

Of course it can be argued that the snake was not in your path; that you in fact crossed the snake’s path - thereby justifying its attack. But would anyone wilfully cross a snake’s path? That, I would say depends on one’s state of Mind. Meander with me through these brief lines and see where the insight takes you...

From my rudimentary readings on Buddhist philosophy, I stumbled on the concept of ‘Mara’. Some definitions refer to the term as a ‘demon’ – a destructive force. It was one of the many obstacles Buddha had to defeat before he attained enlightenment. This he was able to do owing to the perfecting light within him. In other words, he had reached a level of purity (on the verge of enlightenment) that made Mara impossible to penetrate his consciousness.

The philosophy tells that Mara, who had a massive, powerful army compared with the lone Buddha meditating under the Tree of Knowledge, mounted attack after attack on him. Mara engaged the furies of the elements to frighten the Buddha; extreme winds blew around him, uprooting trees, crumbling mountains, devastating villages; rains engulfed the earth; firey rock boulders were tossed at him but Buddha was undisturbed; his concentration unshakable. Mara’s soldiers retreated when they realised their clamorous might was no match for Buddha’s quiet power. They could not understand that although Mara commanded the elements to attack Buddha how he remained unharmed. What kind of force had he used as counter attack when he had remained calm, quietly meditating and alone under that tree? They feared that Buddha’s invisible but mightier force would bring about their own destruction.

Mara too began to wonder at the might of Buddha and wanted to know who would bear witness to his kindness and generosity (which would secure the latter’s enlightenment). You see Mara thought he himself was kind and generous and could not therefore understand how Buddha was defeating him. Mara’s soldiers, in earshot of his despairing cry said, ‘indeed, we bear witness of your kindness and generosity.’ But a beautiful woman emerged from the belly of the earth and proclaimed that Buddha’s generosity extended to many existences (in his other incarnations) and for that reason his generosity surpassed that of Mara. Thus it is that Mara (the demon who contested Buddha’s path to enlightenment) was defeated because the earth itself could testify to Buddha’s kindness, whilst only Mara’s (a symbol of negativity) soldiers could give such testimony about him.

At a certain angle of seeing Buddha’s defeat of Mara is linked to the hermetic teachings of transmutation. How do we change the order, not only of things but of being? That capacity to change our being from state to state has everything to do with how we use our minds. What was in play in the story were spiritual composure and mental dexterity over physical oppression (negativity).

How we think, how we channel our energies determines a positive or negative outcome of our actions. When Mara engaged the furies of the elements what were Buddha’s options? One option might have been to stop his meditation since he was in a position of vulnerability. So why didn’t he? How could he stop his meditation when this was perhaps the very source of his power? In his state of meditation what was Buddha seeing? Did he see himself battling with Mara, being defeated by him and therefore spiritually castrated? Or was he having another vision? Buddha could not have been visualising his own defeat. He might not have been visualising that of Mara’s either. I don’t think he was focusing on negativity or giving energy to the fact of his oppression. I think he must have been visualising victory; seeing himself as an enlightened being; focussing on his light and how much brighter he could make it; thereby seeing his divinity.

Negativity manifests in our lives in all sorts of ways. For example, one of my nieces scoffs at me if I happen to tell her she’s beautiful or looks at me as if I’ve saying something absurd. She also scoffs when anyone compliments her about her figure as if she genuinely doesn’t believe what they’re saying. Although she has recently graduated I don’t think she appreciates her degree because it was not the classification she expected. Now, the more she reacts in this way, rejecting the positive vibrations directed at her, the more she creates an image of negativity that serves as a block to her personal and spiritual development. In order to transmute a mental state of negativity (the dark corners of our imagination) we have to see the good within us. In other words, it’s not enough for others to keep telling us how talented or loved or beautiful we are we have to know, truly, deeply know this for ourselves. I don’t mean in a kind of arrogant self-aggrandising way. But in a way that is humble and true; something that others can feel emanating from us without us having to declare it. It’s the power, the force from which Mara’s soldiers ended up fleeing because it was so real, quietly potent and measurable by countless incarnations. To his core Buddha was a being of light and goodness and this was his focus in the face of countless attack by Mara.

Often we are less inclined to see ourselves as ‘good’ or rather as god (expression of divine mind). Instead we readily recognise the demons within us but do not know how to fight them. It is the good (god, Buddha) who fights the demon (Mara, bad, negative entities). Interestingly, when we speak of these demons they are always plural, but if we recognised our divinity, our god-self it would be a singular mighty force by which those demons can be defeated. These demons (Mara and his soldiers) are our fears, our greed, hatred and unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, lack of humility (and countless other lacks – generosity, compassion, willingness, understanding, gratefulness), downright maliciousness, wickedness, selfishness, and so forth. We have to recognise these demons, it’s true, but only because we know they must be defeated by that which is our good, our god self. For our demons deny us the cultivation of our god self. But they are there because we must experience all there is to know that self and to find ourselves as Buddha did on the path to enlightenment where testimony of our “goodness” (our right to divinity) is hailed by the earth itself. My Shout to you is to identify your Mara and defeat it. Buddha used the mental art of meditation, vibrating on a powerful frequency. You will have to find your own means to transmute the negative vibrations of Mara to a positive one of personal and spiritual fulfilment and only you know what those vibrations truly are. Buddha was alone, as you are alone. Your defeat of Mara is possible when instead of acknowledging its power (being fearful, unforgiving, ungenerous, ungrateful etc) you visualise your glorious victory over it.

Shout Out

Friday, 2 July 2010

Protest against the killing of schoolboy Kelvin Fraser by policeman

A protest outside the Guyana High Commission was held today (July 1st) to seek justice for 16year-old schoolboy Kelvin Fraser, brutally gunned down by Guyanese police on Monday June 7th. It was led by Norman Browne and Dr Michelle Asantewa and attended by a small but vocal group of supporters.

Disgusted by the heavy-handed measures of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) our slogans called for real justice for Kelvin and for Human Rights violations in Guyana to end now. We also stressed that accountability for the widespread killings of innocent people lies with the PPP regime. It is our view that the Head of State is ultimately responsible for such blatant crimes against humanity and should therefore be brought to trial in The Hague under International Human Rights Laws.

The shooting of Kelvin Fraser took place when police were called to the Patentia Secondary School to settle reports about a ‘scuffle’. The disturbance was allegedly one of many instances of sexual harassment of young girls by teenage boys. Of course these boys’ actions are despicable. But no one involved in this school ground ‘scuffle’ and acts of sexual harassment were brandishing guns, knives or any kind of weapon. Therefore, this shooting was unprovoked, unnecessary and can only be described as murder by which an innocent child lost his life.

It has taken over three weeks for a charge to be made against the policeman believed to be responsible. This charge came as the result of continued pressure from Guyanese at home and overseas. It is well known that the GPF do not investigate such wanton shootings by its trigger happy members.

Guyana is now effectively a police state in which the police are empowered by a shoot to kill policy. It seems clear that a shoot to kill policy exists because the police who shot him did not intend to ‘disarm’ Kelvin Fraser – the boy was unarmed. They meant to shoot him. Several pellets discharged at close range against an unarmed schoolboy is unjustifiable and therefore mindless murder.

Given this outcome the Police did not arrive at the Patentia Secondary School to protect and serve the harassed girls, but to enforce its power to shoot and kill. When such enforcements and unwarranted shoot to kill policies are enacted against innocent, unarmed citizens they are callous acts of Human Rights violation.

The issue of Human Rights is more urgent than ever in Guyana, if there is to be any hope of ending the mindless slaughters. Who is accountable for the countless acts of extrajudicial killings by the GPF that go uninvestigated? We believe it is the Head of our now lawless State. Charges made against police never seem to lead to convictions because corruption in Guyana seeps from the government through the legal system. This is our main concern about the charge against Quancy John, the policeman allegedly responsible for Kelvin’s killing. Such is the level of corruption - and given the government’s power over the judiciary - we are not confident about due process.

We want genuine justice for Kelvin. His death must not be in vain. Guyanese live in fear of being shot or otherwise silenced for dissent against the government. But in a democratic society every citizen has the right to challenge the actions of its democratically elected government. However, the operations of the Guyana government, GPF and the GDF (Guyana Defence Force) bear the marks of Apartheid South Africa and must be condemned.

Our protest was the basis to form an organisation or join others for a more collective call to the international community to investigate Human Rights violations in Guyana. We will press said community to acknowledge the Head of State’s involvement in these atrocities by wilfully empowering its security forces – such as the sinisterly named ‘Phantom Squad’ - to shoot to kill. We will seek support from Guyanese across the Diaspora to participate in ongoing, peaceful campaigns that highlight Guyana’s situation to respective international bodies concerned with such instances of Human Rights violations. We would like to thank those who have so far provided their support.

Protest Organisers

Shout Out

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Tower's tumbling

For my mum and her special affinity with words

A few Shouts back I wrote about the blight of the Brown and Root Tower that confronts me on my journey to and from home. It may be coincidence (I’d prefer not to think of it like that) or timeliness (I prefer this) but the Tower has been condemned for demolition. The grim industrial grey coiling car park is already being bulldozed. Half of it has been drilled through, leaving iron tendrils clutching onto the emptiness like flailing entrails from a body sawn down the middle. Light now filters in that empty half; not quite candescently but promisingly.

If you would indulge me I’d like to muse here on the timeliness of tumbling towers – those many conscious or unconscious blocks in our lives that we perceive are finally coming down. I don’t like to call this coincidence because spiritually I find this a cop out. It’s too easy. Anything that is momentous in our life, I feel, deserve a moment of our contemplation, a reflecting (that annoying ‘thinking too much’ of which I’m sometimes accused) on the experience.

My mum uses ‘affirmations’ for everything. I don’t mean neurotically – but it’s part of the way she expresses her very individual spirituality. ‘Words’, she says, ‘have “moulding powers.”’ You utter or chant your conviction (otherwise meditation) – a wilful intent to bring into effect something that benefits your journey. This ‘benefit’, rather than its association with materiality is a kind of alignment with a deeper purpose. Affirmations are the meditative expressions that realign us with a greater awareness of who we are; where we are, what we want to do/be and how to step rightfully along our path.

I confess - lest you think me a charlatan- that I’ve not always used the affirmations (and I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve typed for my mum); at least not in the way and with the same consistency as my mum. Instead I have written things down (one of my nieces teases me about writing lists) as a way of settling some issue. When the writing’s over I feel a kind of liberation from the troubling experience. It’s better, I think, than allowing the issue to foment into a Tower. This strategy sometimes seems cowardly – the confrontation is done on a page not necessarily with the direct object. Letters sometimes get posted (another of my mum’s teachings) to the Universe asking for someone’s forgiveness or forgiving them. It’s a way of releasing the situation, she tells me.

So I wrote about the Brown and Root Tower, that pervasive monstrosity that darkens the light of my journey. I like to think my writing was an unconscious affirmation that hurried the process of the Tower’s demolition. “Divine Order and Divine Timing,” are mum’s favourite words. Nothing happens through pressure or force. Ever notice sometimes that when you try to force things they don’t happen? That’s not to say they won’t or that they aren’t meant to. I have a three strike mental policy. If I have to try something more than three times I feel I’m forcing it. This was tested the other week. I tried to get to an event my friend had invited me to. Obstacles were hurled from every angle like those computer games my nephews play making me eventually late. Vexed, I enforced the three strike rule and decided to abandon the event. My friend called and persuaded me to turn round (I was nearly home!) and try again. The way she saw it was that I was ‘meant’ to attend the event and I was being somehow challenged. Though later than any self-respecting African should admit these days I went along and got much from the second part.

Sometimes despite the challenges and blocks as big as the Brown and Root Tower we have to stride determinedly. When passing the Tower, no matter what time of day or season there’s a powerfully abrasive wind that forces your body against gravity. At times I’ve walked backwards, pressurising my backside against the Tower’s windy force. There is after all no other way to get to my house. Perseverance here is necessary rather than enforced.

We have no idea how they intend to demolish the Tower. We’ve been surmising the possibilities. Seems likely they’ll have to do some kind of controlled explosion; collapsing the Tower the way the Twin Towers seemed to come down. I’d said in the Brown and Root Shout that I was ‘not psychically willing’ there to be such an explosion. But clearly nothing else will destroy the Tower. They’ll have to seal off the area, probably for hours, more likely days, so enormous the impact would be. There’ll be some who will miss the eyesore – it has been a constant; indelible to the community landscape; a knowing sign of our corner of London. Some of us are comfortable with Towers, spend years constructing them. We’re happy for them to remain, hardly noticing how much they block our light.

It depends, I think, on how deeply we feel about our ‘beingness’. If we think that to ‘be’ is to suffer, to struggle (that longsuffering projection of ‘woe is me’) then of course Towers in our lives will never be condemned. I’m sure you know people who always seem to drag their burdens around with them – they’re never ‘great’ or ‘good’ – but ‘so so’ or they say ‘mustn’t grumble’/’cant complain’ but they’re dying to do just that on your poor already heavy-laden shoulders. After a brief sitting with them you feel just about ready to string yourself up. These blessed folk feel secured by Towers. They never feel responsible for constructing them, though; someone else is always the culprit.

If, however, you associate ‘beingness’ with an attempt to nurture the soul, to scrutinise matters of heart and spirit, to rise each day like Osiris, to brace against hurricanes and be discovered like that brave Haitian boy whose beaming smile was so humbling, his arms outstretched in a conqueror’s prayer of thanks because he understood the rare gifts of life, you too would be elated by signs that the Tower is coming down.

That elation will not likely come without your preparedness to see Towers for the certain blight they are. What do I mean by blight? Take the word itself to understand my meaning– ‘b – light.’ Our light is our life, it’s our mini -Moon, our subtle Sun – it is who we are. We have shadow because we are light. It’s what makes us see beyond the sense of sight; it’s how we intuit. It’s the way we know without instruction or certain kinds of cognitive processes. The ‘b’ added transforms ‘light’ from a source of your aliveness into some pervasive block by which your journey is darkened.

Below are only a few examples of Towers you should rejoice to see come down. For brevity these are merely suggestive, you should try to observe your own. It takes a certain kind of readiness – that timeliness I spoke of earlier - to perceive these Towers tumbling. If you don’t have such insights about the blocks in your life perhaps you can start by putting up signs for their demolition.

Tired, Worn-Out Relationships
The capital letters for each word is not stylistic. They emphasise the importance of observing when certain relationships are dead; and yet we’re often reluctant to do so. I must again call on my mum here. She has an affirmation (she gets them from the mass of metaphysical books she reads) that goes –‘I now release you (slip in the person’s name) to your highest good. And you (again their name) now release me to my highest good.’ Some people, she says come into our lives like spirits looking for a blessing before they move on. Just bless them and let them go. I love the way she describes those passing sexual encounters we women sometimes turn into soul mate discoveries. Some men, she says, only want to ‘mash mash your body.’ When she puts it like that (those words oozing so candidly from her septuagenarian mouth) I regret knowing precisely what she means.

Of course it’s not only sexual/romantic relationships that get raggedy beyond recycling. Some people (so called “friends”) hang on in your life long past their time and purpose served. They hang on because you let them, tolerating their inconsiderations and insensitivities (or over-sensitiveness); their thankless, selfish nature which you’ve learnt to tolerate but cuss about every time they display those doleful colours. These “friends” are the useless, empty rooms in the Brown and Root Tower, the marked spaces in the disused car park. You’ve outgrown them but they’re part of the Tower you don’t know how to dismantle. What more can you teach or learn from them. Nothing. There’s nothing left between you but frowsy air. Bless them and let them go.

There’s no precise measurement for how long the relationship should be before it’s ready for demolition. Relationships can start fast and intense and sometimes expire just as fast; not before leaving an equally intense emotional attachment. I’ve been there – those ones can be crippling. They can otherwise start dreamily, apparently heading toward the long term but sometimes in such cases the end is longed out. You might find yourself in a 15 year relationship that ended 8 years previously. When it began, you were dreaming or at least sleeping, right? How then could you see the myriad signs?

Family disagreements
Toughest towers to tumble are perhaps the blocks imposed by some major or minor family dispute. After a while these are quite pathetic but the “pride tower” impedes resolution that children would readily find to hug, make up and continue their innocent play. If you check – honestly - why you’re not speaking to a member (or any) of your family you might find you’re more responsible for the disagreement than they are. I mean that only you know – really deep down know – why you’re upset with them. Whose Tower is it, who has erected it? Them or you? Only you know – really deeply know – what to do to relieve the situation.

And why would you want to relieve the situation? Members of a family are like chambers of a revolving door. They circle through one end, out the other and circle in again through another. The ‘in and out’ movement has to be timed just right which means understanding the rhythm of the door and the integral part each chamber plays in the revolving motion. Most times we’re fixated with the short comings of another member of family that we don’t realise that we’re the ones who need to fix up. Adjusting the way we ‘see’ each member of our family might help us to understand them and develop a better relationship with them. I think it’s true also that we might never understand them. All we can then do is accept them just the way they are with all their ridiculous flaws that we in our self-righteousness would strain to perfect.

That ‘pride tower’ needs a close up. We’re never too big to say sorry, if not with words then gestures. Notice when a member of our family is gesturing their plea for forgiveness. Caution will prevail – they really hurt you – but caution and pride are cousins. Pride sometimes need to be worn to be respected (as in being a proud father/mother; of the job you do etc). Other times it’s worn like a straitjacket conflicting with charity and reason. You have control over how wide you open your arms to that pleading member of your family who circled back through the revolving door. Family and skin are the same; it’s not easy to be done with family. Even when you think you’ve found a replacement for them it’s always only that. Time will come when you just need to go back home.

Fixed attitudes
To have an opinion, to be critical and to think, whether deeply or superficially are liberating in ways we shouldn’t take for granted. So when I speak about ‘fixed attitudes’ I’m not suggesting we abandon the freedom of our convictions and political position (hah – politics – a ‘dirty game’ my blessed mother calls it). Let me give one example of what I mean.

Some years ago when I first wore my hair short, a cousin of mine was outraged. She said- a woman’s hair is her beauty and that I’d cut off all my beauty. She asked, indignantly what I was trying to do to my race. I really didn’t know! Her hair was gloriously long and relaxed so she seemed to think it abominable that I should cut off my hair. Last week a family friend said something similar (my head is often wrapped so she didn’t realise my hair was cut low), ‘you cut off all your strength, girl.’ This fixed attitude about short hair on women stems from the Samson and Delilah and other such allegories in the Bible. I tried, like a fool leaping into the air after a loosed helium balloon to say to the friend that it was Samson, not Delilah who had to preserve his strength. But she believes what she has always believed and only God, the illustrious author of the King James’s version of the Bible can come down and tell her this is a load of nonsense.


Knowledge is always partial. We never fully ‘know’ what we think we do. A Degree is one of 360 yet we own that portion of knowledge about a given subject. And because it’s partial, knowledge always advances. It never reaches some predestined absoluteness. Fixed attitudes prevent us from advancing as knowledge does. We’re stuck in the limited state of our belief, a lonely place from where children are happy to leap. An openness to what else there is or might be, a willingness to change our minds about something; to reconsider our position, take someone’s advice and importantly be critical of our own attitude suggest spiritual maturity and the kindling of soul force.

God/Goddess complex
I accept that understanding who we are as divine beings is intrinsic to kindling soul force. This is a long journey beyond many lifetimes of spiritually evolving and perfecting our god centre. We might think we are ‘gods or goddessess’ but have no idea what this really means. Often it reveals itself egotistically, self-righteously, judgementally and arrogantly. These are more Towers that must come down if we are to walk rightfully and with that certain kind of humility that comes from being deeply in tune with your own expression of divinity.

Your divineness is not something about which to boast. It’s not to be lauded on others as if in fact you are the one true God. It’s your thing, meaningfully expressed without arrogance or self-aggrandisement. It speaks itself without affectation; doesn’t exert pressure for praise. Your divinity is not the same as the Orishas (Yemaya, Oschun, Ogun, Shango etc.). They are, as I recently heard Wole Soyinka say, ‘heightened expressions of human impulses.’ Our divinity then cannot compete with deities: to what supreme height can we express such impulses as jealousy, arrogance, sensuality, love, anger? These impulses turn demonic when as humans we boast about our beingness as gods. That’s why it’s a ‘complex’ (a block or Tower). Humility, perhaps because it doesn’t seem so impulsive might be regarded as a weakness. But since the Bible is a common reference we might recall that Samson was brought to a state of humility, so too was David, Solomon, Moses and of course Christ. This was the esteemed path to wisdom along which they each had to journey. It was from this wisdom that Solomon built his Temple (divinity). Without it he would otherwise construct his divinity as many who ill-express their divinity into a Tower.

So finally, we’ve tried to imagine what might replace the Tower when it finally comes down. For a while we’ll enjoy the light and space; the freedom to walk without bracing the wind. I don’t think we’ll get the cultural centre with book shops, art exhibitions and independent caf├ęs/restaurants I’ve dreamed might go there. We know it will be flats. The space is big enough, the location optimum (right next to a tube station and shopping centres). But it will be a new scene, life will stir from each one of the flats – couples cuddling, rooms filled with love and laughter, windows flung open to take in air. And I will ever express my thanks for the moulding power of words that have the potential to turn Towers into nothing more than refused rubble.

Shout Out

Monday, 22 March 2010

The good old days

For all those cygnets struggling to become swans
and Tracey Ford, rather than a cygnet’s or swan’s,
your son will ever have angel wings

At what age can we speak realistically or even euphemistically about the ‘good old days’? We over 30s and 40s have decades behind us that make retrospection possible. But what about a 20, 17 or 10 year-old – are such portals available to them? I don’t think so; though arguably the 20 year-old is advancing thus. They are within their moment of experiencing what should become their ‘good old days’. But so are we. We are also within their moment of experiencing. The decades behind us do not only offer retrospection but also the maturity that enables introspection. Introspection is an honest, deep ‘examination of our thoughts and feelings’ – a serious (hence ‘examination’) looking within; and not only of our ‘thoughts and feelings’ but also our actions. This looking in for most of us is the most painful and ugly thing we can do, for which reason it’s often avoided.

In this Shout I want to think seriously (you might want to print this) about the cries of disillusionment from our children– or our cygnets, as I like to call them, struggling to earn their swan wings. Why do they cry? Why do they feel, as my 20 year old niece recently told me, that ‘there’s no point’ to their life when this is their moment of experiencing their good old days? Are we hearing them? Are we even listening? Or are we, as my 17 year-old nephew told me, from a generation that can’t understand them? I’m hoping that by giving some thought to the kinds of struggles our children are facing we might realise that despite their feelings of disillusionment this can be their good old days if we’re willing to extend our ears, hearts and hands to help them master their swan wings. This is why that honest examination of our own thoughts is crucial. Avoiding introspection can leave unattended those issues that hinder spiritual maturity. And how can we help our children master their swan wings when we have not found ways to perfect our graceful gliding against the torrents of our own lives.

It may not only be a ‘black problem’ but it sometimes feels like it is. Every knife or gun killing is despicable. I am certain most black people have some direct or indirect association with a child who has been the victim of a “knife crime.” “Knife crime” – a term spouted in the news so often, like that other “terrorism” (and the ‘war on it’ – in Afghanistan, in Iraq where lives are being senselessly destroyed every day) that we’ve become desensitised to the absolute and particular trauma each one holds for the families involved. When we see in real time or in a movie someone being shot or otherwise killed, this comes to us as entertainment. Deaths caused by disasters like Haiti are compellingly tragic; we’re truly moved; no longer desensitised – at least momentarily. After the opening disaster scene of Haiti – we return to our numbness, watching the news, hearing that another child has been killed, we ‘tut’ and that’s mostly all we seem able to do. But what if that child is yours or someone you know? What if the child who killed the child is yours or someone you know? Questions abound. And anger, frustration too; a part of you dies. You know that you did the best by and for your child – whether victim or perpetrator; you’ve supported them and loved them. You know too that your child was good, so why?

No matter how many ways you ask yourself the questions there will never be an answer that explains to you why your child died before you. Whether you support your child, are the best parent/s you can be to them; whether they are good or not, they are living within their moment. And their moment, however much or little it’s spread in the news is one where a life seems valueless; taking it easy. My 17 year old nephew – brilliant, loving, positive (one of those dream children) has repeatedly neared death (and only until writing it, have I admitted that it’s this rather than the ‘bullying’ it might otherwise appear to be) from boys and boy gangs who see him as some kind of easy target. A target of what? Of bottling, knifing, exercise of power and, disgustingly the Ninetendo game style ease of taking another’s life. The martial arts lessons have not prevented the attacks. Although he’s more confident, his smiles mask the very thing he tells me I cannot understand –‘it’s not like your time, aunty.’ I try to reason with him, that I do understand; that in my time we had fights but...As long as I have to add the ‘but’ his point is better made.

What makes him this target? Nothing perhaps; or something – maybe it’s his aura or his positivity? Maybe it’s the way he will say, when you least expect it, ‘love you aunty?’ Frustratingly, I can’t say for sure. I feel, however, that enmeshed in his moment of experiencing is the persistent edge of a knife against which he lives. His parents – the most supportive I’ve known – recently bought a knife vest for him because he insists that he must be free to travel wherever he wants without them driving him to and fro. It was a compromise –he didn’t want either - because his parents are also living his experience. His mother prayed, when he was born with a heart defect that threatened his life that he should live; bargained that she would be good if God kept him alive. She continues praying, because he yet does not have his swan wings. And until these extremely dire years of his experiencing are spent, when he has retrospective distance she will be solidly supportive, just there to return back the words of love he needs to hear to know that his world is not as bleak as it seems.

Another nephew, a good boy too - he was one of those round babies born with a big, cheery smile and evident love for life; a young Christian, who loved to write and draw. In his moment of experiencing those traits seemed impossible to sustain. Other things were demanded of him. He stopped the smiles. Not immediately, not obviously, he also wore a mask. But if you were reading him with your heart; if your ears were really opened to what he was saying or not saying you could perhaps intuit his good old days turning into a dodge and haggling for his life. Young Offender’s Prison only confirmed that he was part of his moment, properly living within it. After that ghastly term, the knife that missed his kidneys sharpened his credibility within his gang. They had become his new family, providing him with something we didn’t seem to know how desperately he needed. No amount of imploring could force his introspection (‘why are you doing this to yourself?’) because the retrospective portal is not yet available to him; he’s still within his moment. There is an enemy within his time but he doesn’t know who or what it is. Therefore it – the enemy - might as well be his life; the enemy might as well be himself. ‘This is how it is now, aunty...it’s nothing,’ he told me when I cried, ‘but you nearly lost your life.’ ‘It’s nothing,’ he said without an ounce of emotion. How bitter a pill? I had watched his mother in agony- those 18 years ago – bringing him into the world. Her agony soon turned to elation when he made it; we were so happy that this blessed boy was my mother’s first grandson. Questions abound. And introspection, if pursued might lend answers about how and why ‘he turned out like that?’ And more importantly did he do it all by himself?

Clearly these questions should be posed to the society in which our children are born. But this does not change the fact that they are our children. So have we looked, retrospectively, at our time and sought answers there? Have we looked deeply, honestly within ourselves and acknowledged, however difficult, whether we might have played any part in the disillusionment our children are experiencing within their moment? If we haven’t, perhaps we’re not as willing, not properly ready as we think to understand why.

This is not to say that society should not be probed. If we glance back to the 1970s, 1980s what was happening in those ‘good old days’ of ours? I was not born here, I arrived in 1980. Enoch Powell had long before then confined me to a destiny of creating terror and violence; prophesising my vile, bloody impact on the imperceptible tranquillity that was English society. But I didn’t know that I was this vile, evil creature he had thrust into the minds (!) of his followers (the bold ones and the others). I was trying to deal with the emotional trauma of being in and adjusting to this new hostile environment, one that questioned the very point of my existence. I was unaware that I was considered the cause of its hostility towards me. A bizarre notion – that I should be the instigator of my own oppression. Those born into this hostility might have a different sensibility about belonging, feeling part of England. I know only that I had no perception of racism until I came here. I learnt how to read its signs. And they were everywhere. I learnt that I was a ‘problem.’ I suspected myself – that my attitude needed checking – all the time – it was me, always me who was the problem. What else could I do but try to prove how much of a problem I was. Someone decided that’s what I was and I wanted evidence.

Now, our mothers and fathers were used to repair post war Britain; stooping to do the menial jobs the poorest English person refused to do. By the time I arrived here those poor English people had cottoned on; they checked their exercise of pride; decided to muck in; after all those Caribbeans were buying houses, travelling back home– how? The exercise of pride switched, which is in no way to imply that our parents were not proud but we – the now over 30s and 40s were not prepared to stoop. Why should we? It didn’t get some of our parents far. We wanted in – wanted a bigger piece of the English pie (even though our parents didn’t seem to we knew there was no gold). Some compromises had to be made to sample it – compromises some of our brothers were not prepared to make; some of them loafed their way to jail, others played the entrepreneur, the loot of which is yet elusive, the big boys always seem to have the trumps. Compromising meant that you couldn’t quite be – couldn’t fully express yourself without seeming like ‘the problem’. It was hard to get over your vexation (knowing that you weren’t wanted, that you would never belong whether you were born here or not - a vexation exacerbated by that pivotal screening of Roots); so you carried the thing with you like a genie that every so often popped the hell out. You knew you weren’t going to be promoted, no matter how hard you worked – and some of you – worked very hard, so you never went for the promotion; a hapless white colleague went for it instead. What was the point? You were trying to control the ‘genie’ – the ‘attitude’ – if only to keep your job. So you bore a smile; played the game.

The 1980s birthed ‘buppy’ – those blessed black folk who managed to get a foothold in what Thatcher let us believe we all could have, upward mobility; a juicy, if tenuous stake in capitalism. Some of us stuck with the dole, though, (that sorrowful queue) because it was easier than having to play the bottled genie game – the pie could only be shared so many times before it ran out. Bags of weed were purchased (and hustled too like it was bullion) with the dole – it just wasn’t enough to do anything else with; to put down for a deposit on a house say! Besides, some of us thought it was money owed to us; some sorry compensation for being treated as the scourge of humanity. Others studied everything we could, framing certificates and diplomas for this and that course in social anything, in Accounts, in Business Studies and yet no advancement in our jobs – we still didn’t have the guts to go for that promotion. And while we were busy studying (for that better job and promotion) our white peers worked (you know - those you went to school with that weren’t as bright as you or maybe a little brighter); they got that job you went for with your ill-fitting face and attitude, knowing you were a ‘problem.’ What has any of this got to do with our children? Whether we acknowledge it or not in many ways we were experiencing our own disillusionment in our ‘good old days.’

Powell spawned the gargoyle Griffin who perpetuates the puke that I and my children are an ‘alien threat.’ The language of terrorism is used with subtle variations to define us and our children. So now that the goldless streets are repaired; the menial jobs apparently taken care of - not only by the poor English who are now willing to muck in but also by their harder working European brothers and sisters - what need has this society for our children? The sense of feeling, of knowing that you are surplus, (which you share with white working class children whose parents didn’t indulge the pride check), that before you were born it was prophesised that you were going to be ‘a problem’ can compel you to present the evidence.

My mum tells me she loves often now. I think I needed to hear it more when I was in my moment of experiencing – when I was being told at every turn that I was a problem. But with maturity comes the understanding that she too was in her moment of experiencing and struggling to master her wings; so I had to assume the love was there. But when you suspect yourself of being a problem, you turn in on yourself – which is adverse introspection. You agree that the enemy is you. Everyone says so. And you want them to know how right they are. You do what you can to present them with evidence. The prophecy is not only self-fulfilled, you become bigger and badder than the design.

If we want our children to appreciate their moment of experiencing despite its bleakness, we must ask ourselves some hard questions. Have we unwittingly transferred our own disillusionment and sense of feeling unwanted to our children? That feeling can make us aggressive, unloving and frightened –a fractured sense of self that we may not know we’re exhibiting to our children. Do we properly listen to our children? Do we know how to respect them? Do we know that we should respect them – that their respect of us might have to be earned- especially if you’re a ‘step-parent’? Or are we as ‘old school’ as our parents - exercising the harshest disciplines that are symptomatic of the brutal beatings of the slave whip? Do we always think we’re right, our children wrong? Have we forgotten the negotiations we had to make in our time to survive the hostilities we faced? Are we honest and open with our children (you will know the boundaries)? Do we tell them how brilliant they are? How much we love them? That love thing cannot be overstated. The fullest expression of it to our children manifests when we express it to ourselves – when we have properly accepted who we are – a place we might reach through some introspection. Frankly some of us know more about how not to express love than how to. Sisters might know the hardcore supermatriachal version – I’m strong- I’m a survivor-I stayed with you when he (your father) left me, so I obviously love you. It’s kind of messed up, though, and your child knows it- children are remarkably perceptive. You resent the weight of your supermatriarchy. Who can blame you; no one needs to be exerting that much strength all the time. But it’s not the children’s fault. The man you settled on to father your children was your choice. Brothers, this is not like expressing milk; women have that angle, but love man, you possess it too. So your father might have been part time, if even there; what of love did he teach you? You think your child cares about that? They need you fixed up, not messed up with your own cygnet issues. Some fathers who were there only knew the ‘old school’ version of expressing love. You might thank your stars he wasn’t there and that you earned your swan wings through higher guidance and, I think maternally (hopefully the balanced type). Ramping with your children, getting cutesy with them does not make you vulnerable. You might look at it another way, that being vulnerable is the slow flap, flapping and fall manoeuvre of mastering your swan wings.

Questions abound. When was the last time you went out with your child, to see a movie –(the pirate DVD’s not the same thing) - to the park, to a shopping centre, to other family members – don’t shriek - to the library? Are we interested in our children and their interests? Do we know who their friends are? Have we invited those friends round (or is our house out of bounds to our child’s friends)? Do we know where they are (they might pretend they’re some place they're not, but do we know where that place is – at least)? If they find themselves incarcerated, do we throw hands up and leave them there – because that’s the way they’ve made their bed? If we can see, somehow intuit something’s wrong – do we let it go because we’re too wrapped up with our own issues to bother?

Troubling questions abound and I feel pressed to ask them – of mothers, do you put your child first – always – before any man, even if he’s their biological father? I mean, does you child know how much you have their back; that they are like cubs a lioness would defend against any lion, even her king? Of fathers – have you properly considered the enormity of your responsibility as a father – and if so, can you handle it? Do you refuse to raise/mind another man’s child? If so, hmm - galang is the only thing that springs here! That child don’t expect you to play daddy; they want you to come correct, to earn their respect; they’ve been mopping up their mother’s tears when their father or another ‘sailor’ stepped; watching her working round the clock to feed and clothe them- then you come along expecting some kind of unearned honorary position and prize. The child’s just watching you, man. You have to prove your distinctiveness? You have to try real hard at being a father (not in your mind simply a ‘step’ one) or at best someone who shows them the respect they deserve and who truly loves their mother. The single parent emphasis is not intended to suggest that problems of disillusionment are only experienced in these cases. The examples earlier cited are from children with dual parents. So then of mothers and fathers are you perhaps still living in the clasp of your own disillusionment; failing to do the kind of introspection that would assist your own movement from cygnet to swan and thus have the wisdom and maturity to extend to your children?

Society must take its shameful share for the disillusionment our children are experiencing, of that there’s no doubt. Society will spit them out; make them feel unwanted and valueless. But it’s our responsibility to help them recreate their worlds anew and give them fresh sensibilities. They have been saddled with the burden of being surplus –our young boys stuck in prisons – some of them ironically ‘for life.’ They are fighting a war where the enemy is themselves. We must adopt a warrior stance that attacks with love every time they flare up. We let them cry. We show them we can cry with them. We tell them we will try to understand. And we must mean it. We do some introspecting because they need us fixed up – now; and they need us to be their friend. I don’t mean the kind of ‘friend’ they ‘roll with.’ This friend is shelter, comfort, support, love, understanding, trust and consistency. If you assign the label ‘generation of vipers’ to young people, they will strike because that’s what vipers do. It’s impossible to love a viper. How can a viper love itself when it knows it’s a viper? Our challenge (that’s what warriors face) is to direct them towards mastering their swan wings. This is possible only if we haven’t subscribed to society’s labelling them as ‘a problem’ long before they were conceived. We can watch them being pushed around, perhaps do some of our own pushing them around. Or we can take full joy in helping them slowly flap flapping their cygnet wings until they’re finally able to perfect the swan’s graceful glide through their own tranquil waters.

Shout Out

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Completion

"Day upon day the sun is risen. Day upon day the sun rises"
Awakening Osiris, Normandi Ellis

When is something really over? Is 'really over' what completion means? I'm not sure how much the Oxford dictionary definition helps: "the action or state of completing or being completed." What's an 'action', if not movement? 'State', as it's suggested here is a "condition of something or someone." Does this 'state/condition' imply fixity? If so, would this not contradict 'action/movement'? "Completing" certainly corresponds with action; as does "being completed."

The perplexity lies in the apparent permanence or finality of something being completed. The following illustrates some of the times when we're supposed to watch the curtain embrace after the fat lady's song, signalling the end of the show...

The end of our school years: need I stress the obvious? If school is about learning then how can this end? School, life and learning are variables of an interminable quest.

Completing Further and Higher Education: where we end up after the painstaking trials of academia depends on our character. Some of us end up right where we dreamed we would; landing ourselves that pre-planned job without submitting to distractions. The whimsical among us float into a job that will simply do (bills must get paid). Yet when the course/degree is over, do the books leave our heads? Do we throw back, feet up and forget that long, painstaking journey to the fussing and family photo at graduation? Perhaps for some this signals the end of that journey, but surely the experience needs savouring; a degree is only a stage towards something, it's not the sum of it.

Relationships 1: whether painful or pleasant (both?) our relationships (parenthood, friendships/partnerships) mark us for life. We may never see that mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend or lover after a heart breaking bust-up but their 'absence' lives (has life force/energy), like some benign tumour, in part of us. The end of a relationship doesn't have to be heart breaking, of course, but those tend to be the ones that loiter. You dream of old school friends, whom you've not seen or spoken to since school; ex-husbands/wives/lovers slip, surreptitiously into your thoughts when least expected (when would/do you most expect it?); parents keep instructing you or dominating you after kicking you out - claiming that 'there's only room for one mother/father (pair of lovers!) in this house.' Your home is where your children's heart remains. They leave, having responsibly observed that it was time, but are comforted to know that you'll always be there for them (this is for those Shirley Temples- you know who you are - who didn't feel the boot).

Relationships 2: here, the fat lady's song would come when you've met a significant other who allegedly 'completes' you. Ah, how sweet. Some people do find their 'soul mate' and that's marvellous (I say this without sarcasm). But I wonder how reciprocal this is? There's something deific about calling someone your soul mate or 'the one'. The one what? God? What a burden! How can they live up to this? Worse, perhaps, is the belief that your 'one' should regard you as theirs! I once had the same dream as a lover (at the same time), and this may be the closest I ever come to truly believing in a soul mate; it was there, somewhere at a psychic level we met in dream space. Pedestalising someone as a soul mate - 'the one' puts pressure on them to be that perfect other half of you. They can never live up to your expectations; you will be disappointed and blame them for this. It's not their fault; they did not elect to be deified. Rethink this idea that you need to find a soul mate to feel 'completed'. Instead work on understanding the urges of your own soul and how you can best satisfy these.

Death: the end of ends? True, the physical body perishes. But we have soul. And like the ever rising setting sun, the soul is undying. It sets and rises. The Eyptians referred to this as 'becoming' and hence the Set/Horus contention in the mythology. One, Set attributes destruction; the other, Horus ressurects (gathers the scattered parts of Osiris, recreating him). This dualism of dark and light is between Cain and Abel in Genesis. In the Bible Seth (the way the Greeks spelt Set) is Adam and Eve's third child after Cain killed Abel; but it's a mirage. Cain is banished and somehow returns in the story having met other people. What if Cain has been substituted for the Egyptian Set, an attribute of Ra (the Sun)? Then his banishment could not be permanent because the Sun both Sets and rises. The Egyptians saw death as preparation, not the end. Here's an impression of what I mean from an interpretation of The Book of Coming Forth By Day (the Greeks renamed/interpreted (?) it The Egyptian Book of the Dead):

"I am Ra, from whom time began, rising, a red feather in the wind, turning,turning. I am the hub of a wheel, a day star hovering over an endless sea. I am not the harvest; I am the seed. I am not the lyre; I am the song. I will not pass away. I will not pass away. I will not enter the cavern. The lion's coat turns black in the cavern. I will change myself into a lotus dancing on water. I will not stumble in the cavern. I will follow the sun over the mountain and move on to a land of endless sun. I live for the light. I am that light, a form in the flame when one has gazed long at the fire" (Normandi Ellis's interpretation of one of the sections in the book, 1988, p.123).

Eternity seems daunting when we dance against its rhythm. Hell is a mode of consciousness. It's what we fear most about death. Some of us battle with ourselves, like Set and Horus but there is a bigger picture, a brighter light. Heaven too is a mode of consciousness, perceived by the fearless embrace of that light, the basking in the sun's rays. Nothing ends. Perhaps they become what we are, we absorb them into our being like the last words of an inspirational novel. Completion is an idea, something we're tending toward, part of our becoming and with that, I'm afraid we must try, however troubling to live. After all, have you, has anyone ever heard the fat lady's song?

Shout out