life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

non timebo mala

Coming of Age in the Family Renaissance:
An Emerging Cultural Reality

“Who of us could endure a world… without the divine folly of honor, without the senseless passion for knowledge outreaching the flaming bounds of the possible, without ideals the essence of which is that they can never be achieved?” –Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“I want to speak about bodies changed into new forms. You gods, since you are the ones who alter them and all other things, inspire my attempt, and spin out a continuous thread of words from the world’s first origins to my own time…” –Ovid, Metamorphoses

Blink quickly and they will pass you by. It's time I came into being with my own connections, and lo and behold! I like it. Alot.

Some parents --it seems to me an inordinate number of them, actually --look forward with trepidation to the years when their children become teenagers. Having already raised one, maybe I'm a bit relaxed on the subject. Or maybe it's just obvious that my children (15, 13, 11) are only continuing to unfold into the caring, creative, all-out wonderful creatures they always were, only more so. Every day brings a new step toward enlightenment, as much for me as for them.

i find bright young minds
unspoiled and open
beyond limits imposed
by successive
generational layers,
accepting as a matter of course
all the differences they find
in humanity.
wasting no time on particulars
never turning it over and over
and over in their minds ad nauseum
pointing out and categorizing
better appreciated
more established minds
often described as wordly wise
often see nothing in differences,
or refuse to accept them when they do,
may even belittle them
say they don't matter
and are more likely to immediately find
a pigeonhole or tightly lidded box into which they resolutely attempt to make one fit otherwise they cannot see what is even there much less the wisdom.
the world evolves
or we die.
that, in truth,
is something
of which acceptance
has no part.

--susannah eanes

my dad --eternally youthful and questioning --used to say:
if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand the answer.
in some ways, i'm finding out how wise he was. i am hearing the echoes of his longing, his epistles, his passion, in the words i read written and hear said by my children. who are the main youth in my life.
someone mentioned recently, how the generation who came of age in the 1960s, was supposedly more "with it" than the youth of today. and then went on to make the predictable comparisons with his generation and angst-filled young moderns.

i soooo beg to differ. it is well known, and one of the observations of our times, that the 1960s generation sold out to wall street, walmart, and mundane life a long time ago.
in other words, turned their back on your youth, and walked away.
and, imho, this person hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "I see the music some of these folks (including the 40ish crowd) are listening to, and it might as well be another planet as far as I can tell.. with some exceptions. "

he might as well have said, "I can't hear the music..."

neither could my dad. and it's sad, really, because it just means neither of them cares enough about other people to really give a damn, and LISTEN. as if, it's not worth anything that they might come up with in their own minds: to hell with youth. the hubris is real, and all-pervasive.
that, my friend, is obvious. when my older daughter was listening to Nine Inch Nails almost a decade ago and watching movies like The Crow and Donnie Darko, I couldn't hear the music either. I just "saw" men being tortured and violence and darkness.
But when I listen to my very oldest daughter, as well as her sister and the younger 3, because I now suspend judgment and keep holding them up as examples of light, unspoiled, fresh from God --because that is what they are --I found it was fear of the unknown, and fear of going back, of losing myself, that stopped me from hearing the message of all of the above, and so very much more.
i rediscovered pieces of myself i had rejected when i was as young as 9, and had left behind completely by age 14. and the rest of my youth was totally destroyed by age 19. so now i feel like, hell yeah, i've gone back and embraced that young, questioning, innocent young girl. 'cause she was a good person who deserved to live. she had enough violence in her life to cause her to run away from herself, avoid any mention of violence or follow true passion in her life.
but... thanks to my youthful companions, and those like them --who are all around, thank god, i am finding that exploring humanity in all its forms instead of running away from what scares me or alarms me or at one time would have been put away in the "inappropriate" box has allowed me to climb up on top of it and crow.
Now I hear the music. And I put alot of it on my MySpace page.
J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in the original form said basically the same thing.

It's a universal idea. Not dead, not even resurrected. Just enduring.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

tears & laughter

those of you who know me are more than likely aware that i get choked up about certain things. for instance, i can not watch the part of sound of music where maria comes back to the von trapp children, striding across the lawn, her silvery voice picking up the notes to "my favorite things," just as they become unable to sing for sadness from missing her. my face was a blindingly wet marshmallow when we left the theater after "bridge to terabithia." for goodness sakes! they shouldn't make such movies. my armor gets all cracked.

but then again, thank god they do.

don't get me wrong. i am perfectly sensible when situations require it, i don't get all silly in an emergency and can drive on through the darkest rain. it's just that since reaching adulthood i feel the tug and pull on the strings that hold the shades closed over my vulnerable sensibilities, and can't always ignore the lump in my throat --sometimes it's happiness, sometimes heartache. and over the years i've decided it's not necessarily a bad thing. i do not turn away from strong feelings, i've learned to take them and mine their depths for meaning and insight. and sometimes, the feeling turns into a beacon, that upon further exploration brings me to a place where i find a poem, a story, or even the beginnings of something more, a new understanding of what it means to be human in this century, on this earth.

a recent story told to me by a myspace friend resulted in this very thing. you know, we are an extremely cerebral, emotional, and tactile culture, and yet we move at the speed of light. we want everything we experience to have meaning. when we find something that speaks to us, someone or even a character in a book or television show, we make it a part of ourselves. it is part of how we grow into who we are meant to be, whoever that is. we take ownership of that and cultivate it like a relationship. and because of the depths to which technology can take us, it is even possible to reach out and claim for a brief span of time --a breath in the wilderness of our emotions --an affirmation that another person shares our thoughts, our opinions, our feelings, our triumphs and even our worries. it is possible to know someone almost better than our own families by typing back and forth over a keyboard. i myself have cultivated friendships this way, i can vouch for the fact that they can be profound, indeed. it is possible to put your heart out there, talk about your very deepest hopes, wishes, whatever, and never even know the last name of the person to whom you are speaking. it's not wierd, it's not detrimental, and it's not dishonest. in the past, because these feelings were never explored in a safe or positive way, many people became addicted to drugs, sank into depression, abused alcohol, or worse.

today, we can do something really fine: we can keep our masks over our identities, and yet put certain things out there for the world to see. we experience something i call "hiding in plain sight." only the important stuff remains hidden, so that the other important stuff might be shared, and hopefully understood by someone else. and hey, sometimes we learn something glorious and wonderful this way. so don't knock it. let it stand on its own. be respectful of the mystery. it's important.

but to continue with my reaction to the story recently told me by my friend: if the person on the other end happens to be well-known, a person hounded by fans and paparazzi because of his or her line of work, what can happen? are those people able to get the same satisfaction and life-affirming confirmation of a shared, somewhat anonymous online friendship? sometimes. but it's dangerous. by the very nature of their work, which involves imagination, fantasy, and belief in something larger than life, by being accessible they are more likely to be the targets of obsession. which makes the fact of any shared experience like this that much more valuable.

after hearing the story of one such relationship that had to end when fans became scary, i was moved to write something. you can read it here. i'll keep the identity and situation secret for what i hope are obvious reasons. it's the feeling and validation that i believe are important.

that, and i hope perhaps someone out there may learn a lesson, and realize that famous people ARE people. not objects there for your possession. they're not perfect or insensible, any more than you or i. so be respectful. have some class.

evolve, damnit.

the poem is called, "hiding in plain sight" and is, or will be, up on my website in a day or two. you can find it under the poetry page.