Tag: essay

love and compassion

Survival. 

It is a sign of strength to survive hardship, without a doubt, and the last three years have thrown enough hardship in my way that I am proud to have moved through it all and found myself at this moment of promise and change.

However, I am exhausted. Every day, I struggle with pain and fatigue to the point that it has made following my passions – particularly as an artist and writer – feel beyond my reach.  While I make art, releasing it into the wild has demanded more than I had to give.  Add on to that the chaos that we all face, living in this time of change and turmoil, and it has been everything I could do to survive.

Lately, my roommates have been talking about how we all need to stop surviving and start thriving, which is a marvelous ideal and one I enthusiastically endorse. Only, I have quietly wondered how.  How can I be in the position I am financially, spiritually, physically, and yet shift my weight away from survival and into transcendence?

Finally, it occurred to me as I was driving home this evening how to accomplish such a thing for myself, even though I am still treading water, struggling to stay afloat.  

There have been a few times over the past few weeks, in the middle of massive change, heartache and new beginnings, that I could feel this inner core of steel – like a tempered sword – deep within my being. Each time it appeared, I was able to act with compassion and kindness because I knew that I could flex and bend but would not break. At first, I thought they were random miracles, but this is part of something deeply significant.  Today, after meeting another friend for dinner and running into another at the grocery store, I was awash in love, both mine for them and theirs for me.  As I drove, I felt taller, straighter, stronger and could sense that flexible, shining, unbreakable steel. 

That was the epiphany: love was the way to shift from feeling overwhelmed and unprepared to feeling like I am already thriving.  It might be as simple as throwing compassion out, whether or not it is returned.  Harder, but still vital, will be turning the same inward, especially if I am in a terrible place emotionally.

For years, my art has an act of love.  Love for creating, love for the poems and stories and images that flow out of me, a very real sensation of using them as vehicles for sending love into the world.  As my art and I have grown, I have also realized the role of kindness within the creation of anything.  All art goes through an ugly stage – maybe all personal development too? – and patience and kindness are required to get to the final point, whether it be a mess or a masterpiece. 

So, here I am, again.  All of the sputtering false starts from this time of struggle have left me with an opportunity for a new beginning.

For three years, arguably much more, I have been surviving.  Like a turtle, I hid under my shell, for protection from a world that can feel so terrifying and capricious.  The world has not changed, but I have reached my personal rubicon.  I have stood up, taller than I ever thought I could be.

I need to turn to love, to kindness and to compassion – both with myself and others.  I will keep offering up this art that I make, in open hands, because that is the first step in moving forward.  This is the unfolding of beginnings, the first step in a journey of change.

 

finding some balance

Strange things happen with time.  I have never quite understood what causes this dynamic, if it is living by myself, or the fact that I work fairly obsessively, or if I just lose so much time when I get into the flow of creating.  But, every once in a while, when all the activity comes screeching to a halt, I realize with shock that months have passed more quickly than a breath.

The past week has been very hard indeed – the more tired and overwhelmed I have gotten, the more time seems to have slipped through my fingers.  Despair can come too easily, looking at the time stretching out behind me, the decisions that should have been different, this view can destabilize me quickly.

snowfallOn Wednesday, I started working on the book again.  Since then, I’ve been typing in poems, editing stories, working with words when the rest of me has felt too terrible to do anything else.  Suddenly, thankfully, I realized that I could find some balance even with time whizzing by me too quickly to grasp and with obligations and duties overwhelming me.  Words provide me with such comfort, with deep and abiding solace.  I love throwing and painting and sculpting, but out of all of my work, the one that can save me is writing.  I have learned this lesson again, and I am grateful.

 

pieces of loneliness: failure

His dog stared up at me with deep kindness, her golden eyes filled with patience and acceptance.  Her human had stopped my car, asking about places that would house dogs.  He had heaped all his worldly possessions behind him in a shopping cart. Holding out his pale, thin left arm, he started to describe how he had gone to the hospital to get it fixed, waving wildly at defects invisible to my eyes, urgently confessing that the doctors had said he had a mental health issue. “They insisted,” he shook his arm, “that there is nothing wrong!  But anyone can see it!”  Yet, he cried, he needed help.  He knew he could not go on as he was.  He called his one friend in town, to find out she had committed suicide years ago.  Intently leaning in, he said he faced a psyche hold, but the doctors would not take his dog with him.  While he burbled and gestured, she stood calmly beside him, something eternally kind in her expression, her patience and stillness surreal next to her human’s wild energy.

The animal control officer, he told me excitedly, was trying to help him.  Did I know of any place that would take a dog?  He didn’t know how long the arm problem would take be fixed, he waved it again, but obviously this was urgent.  It seemed like he could not stop talking, moving closer to the car, he gestured to my dog sitting beside me, staring out at the man and his dog through the open window.  This stranger must have been listening to me talking to my pup about being a good boy when I had lumbered into the seat, realizing I was someone who might have information he needed.

As soon as he was forced to breathe, I gave him the name of a kennel where I had housed my dog twice.  It’s not the Ritz, I said, but maybe they will be willing to work with you.  Maybe they do pro bono work for dogs in desperate need.  He heard my words, incorporating them into his story, which he proceeded to blurt out to me at least three more times.  I wondered if this was his way of fixing my advice in his mind.

Eventually he let me go.  Even as I drove away, feeling like the dog’s gaze became disembodied, following me down the road, I realized I would be haunted by the exchange for awhile.

I had been afraid.  The last dog of size at my house bit mine and nearly killed him.  I could not avoid how much the madness of the man had unsettled me, even though I could see he meant no harm.  But, the people who have hurt me, tried to scam me and made me doubt my reality because their insanity seemed more real to them than anything has ever been to me, rose up in my head – a long line of screaming warnings.

If I were braver, perhaps I would have taken the dog.  It was a failure of compassion that I justified with practicalities – how could I afford to feed another animal, even temporarily?  What if the placid kindness was not her permanent state?  It appeared she had been living with her human on the streets for quite some time – what veterinary complications could be expected? Mostly, I could not put my dog through another attack – or endanger my cats.

And yet, I feel this failure deeply, no matter how I justify it.  Thoughts of my own safety and that of my animals overrode compassion.  I could not be brave enough to risk.

Although, even now, I want to make myself seem less cold and uncaring.  I babble forth with my own confession: I wanted to be free to do something more than what I could.  I wanted to be brave and throw all caution to the wind. I hold onto my guilt as though it could be proof that I have a heart.  I let those golden eyes haunt me, because I feel that I deserve it.  At what point did my fears of being hurt overtake my desire to do good?

bare angel

beginnings

A few moments ago, I felt an undeniable urge to get out of bed and start flinging some of the prayers and meditations that I have been working on for years into the universe. A few have escaped into my regular blog, but I am shy about showing how much of my time and energy is spent in both prayer and meditation.

The compulsion to begin this was strong indeed, for I am weary and long for a good night’s sleep. Not to mention, I am already quite over-extended and another blog is certainly going to take up some time, even though it will be a labor of love.

However, nothing could stop this call. Here I am, typing away on my computer, listening to the dog snore and one of the cats groom himself to sleep.

You see, prayer and meditation are daily parts of my life and have helped me on my journey. Indeed, these are my sign posts and inspirations, as well as my ladders out of the pit, my thanksgivings and my consolations. Perhaps this blog itself is an act of gratitude, placing in your hands words that have brought me such joy, solace and peace.

So, I am starting this with a simple prayer written two days ago. Tomorrow (or later tonight, if the need to work on this keeps driving me), I will put up another page to explain the Anglican Rosary – one of my most powerful tools for prayer and meditation – so that you can better utilize the odd, unique little rosary prayers that I will be posting as time goes on.

Thank you for your patience and for allowing me to share something so dear to my heart.

peace,

asha

Pieces of Loneliness – orbit

Before i accidentally deleted my entire old blog, i had put up a few chapters of a prose work.  It’s working title is “pieces of loneliness” for that is the theme that links all the short stories together.  Some characters are content in their solitude, others fight against it, others are defeated by it.

This is the first story.  Orbit.