Quote for Today: Margaret Atwood

Mom and daughter doing housework by Julie de Graag (1877-1924).

The structure of the house was hierarchical, with my grandfather at the top, but its secret life – the life of pie crusts, clean sheets, the box of rags in the linen closet, the loaves in the oven – was female. The house, and all the objects in it, crackled with static electricity; undertows washed through it, the air was heavy with things that were known but not spoken. Like a hollow log, a drum, a church, it amplified, so that conversations whispered in it sixty years ago can be half-heard even today.

Margaret Atwood, “Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother”, Bluebeard’s Egg

Image: Mom and daughter doing housework by Julie de Graag (1877-1924). Original from the Rijks Museum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel

Quote for Today: Harper Lee

camellia-1883205_640

Jem opened the box. Inside, surrounded by wads of damp cotton, was a white, waxy, perfect camellia. It was a Snow-on-the-Mountain.

Jem’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Old hell-devil, old hell-devil!” he screamed, flinging it down. “Why can’t she leave me alone?”

In a flash Atticus was up and standing over him. Jem buried his face in Atticus’s shirt front. “Sh-h,” he said. “I think that was her way of telling you—everything’s all right now, Jem, everything’s all right. You know, she was a great lady.”

“A lady?” Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. “After all those things she said about you, a lady?”

“She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe… son, I told you that if you hadn’t lost your head I’d have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see something about her—I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Vera Nazarian

26863509860_7162d14ec2_z

If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant.

Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation.

It will do both of you good.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Image © Thijs Paanakker with CCLicense

Quote for Today: Leo Tolstoy

Levin had often noticed in discussion between the most intelligent people that after enormous efforts, and endless logical subtleties and talk, the disputants finally became aware that what they had been at such pains to prove to one another had long ago, from the beginning of the argument, been known to both, but that they liked different things, and would not define what they liked for fear of its being attacked. He had often had the experience of suddenly in the middle of a discussion grasping what it was the other liked and at once liking it too, and immediately he found himself agreeing, and then all arguments fell away useless. Sometimes the reverse happened: he at last expressed what he liked himself, which he had been arguing to defend and, chancing to express it well and genuinely, had found the person he was disputing with suddenly agree.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Public Domain Image via MaxPixel

Quote for Today: Vera Nazarian

800px-Dalai_Lama_&_Bishop_Tutu._Carey_Linde.jpg

If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant.

Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation.

It will do both of you good.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Public Domain Image of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 

 

Digging Together: Synkroniciti’s Building Bridges

Synkroniciti’s latest Open Mic was a wonderful, intimate conversation about building and being bridges in our communities, families and world.

IMG_5247.JPG

On Saturday, February 20th, eight souls (seven human, one cat) took on the vulnerability of sharing things that separate and connect us. We were diverse in terms of race, culture and circumstances, and we truly enjoyed coming together to speak to and learn from each other. We enjoyed it so much that the night didn’t wrap up until after 9:30, five hours after the posted start time. That was a new record for synkroniciti!

Most of this time was spent in open and unscripted conversation, as we shared ourselves and our backgrounds. Our tiny group was no stranger to prejudice and challenge, be it racial tensions within family and community, making a home in a new country, clearing socio-economic hurdles, or dealing with physical and mental issues that mark us as different. Digging down deep, we found some rough edges and we didn’t shy away from them. It doesn’t seem right to throw these things up in great detail here; they were bonding experiences that are meant for the safe place we have built at synkroniciti. There are, however, a few things I will narrate for you briefly.

As a warm-up, we had a great time creating an oral story that passed from person to person around the room. We told of twin sisters who, in celebration of their sixteenth birthday, fearfully crossed a magic fairy bridge only to find their deceased grandparents ready to tell them a profound truth about life over a delicious breakfast. Grandpa exhorted them to find and follow their passion in life and grandma ended by saying, “That’s nice dear, I just wanted to remind them to always eat a good breakfast.” None of us had any control over where the story went or what genre it strayed into. We had to release our personal expectations to allow it to be breathed into life.

Saba read “The Other Immigrants”, inspired by a trip to Grand Central Station in New York City. In this lovely, spare poem, Saba thinks of the countless people who have travelled through Grand Central Terminal to make a new life in the United States and remembers growing up in Lahore, Pakistan. As human beings we move from one reality to another, crossing so many bridges that we become bridges ourselves: between countries, between cultures, between periods of time, between our own memories. This beautiful poem appeared in Natural Bridge Journal and you can read it here.

I presented “To a Dancer”, which you can read here. It deals with a cultural divide– a young woman watching a dance desires to join in, but is held back by prejudice because the dancer is not of her race. The physical truth of the dancer’s body, the movements and the reactions inspired by those movements wordlessly reach across the gap between cultures, beckoning to her. It is a wonderful and terrifying thing to be a bridge.

“Reverse Psychology” was inspired by an interaction Michelle had with a friend who, in a moment of zeal and religious dogma, attempted to tell her how she should believe and live. These moments never yield positive results, only frustration and division. They destroy and block bridges, which can only be built by two sides listening and reaching out to one another. We have to be careful that our bridge building doesn’t turn into a siege.

Neil, Buki and I want to thank Ariel, Kelly, Louis, Michelle and Saba for wonderful evening and for being open to sharing so much of themselves.

The next Open Mic will happen on Saturday, April 9 at 4:30pm and will be titled “In the Garden”. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote for Today: Douglas Adams

“The difficulty with this conversation,” said Arthur after a sort of pondering look had crawled slowly across his face like a mountaineer negotiating a tricky outcrop, “is that it’s very different from most of the ones I’ve had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees. They weren’t like this. Except perhaps some of the ones I’ve had with elms which sometimes get a bit bogged down.”

Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, And Everything

© Sarah Gilbert with CCLicense

© Sarah Gilbert with CCLicense

Synkroniciti has quoted Douglas Adams before here.