I spray the sky fast (sic). Eyes ahead and behind. Looking for cops. Looking for anyone I don’t want to be here. Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.
Like the turtle’s shell, the sense of self serves as a shield against stimulation and as a burden which limits mobility into possibly dangerous areas. The turtle rarely has to think about what’s on the other side of his shell; whatever it is, it can’t hurt him, can’t even touch him. So, too, adults insist on the shell of a consistent self for themselves and their children and appreciate turtles for friends; they wish to be protected from being hurt or touched or confused or having to think. If a man can rely on consistency, he can afford not to notice people after the first few times. But I imagined a world in which each individual might be about to play the lover, the benefactor, the sponger, the attacker, the friend: and once known as one of these the next day he might yet be anything. Would we pay attention to this person? Would life be boring? Would life be livable? I saw then clearly for the first time that the fear of failure keeps us huddled in the cave of self – a group of behavior patterns we have mastered and have no intention of risking failure by abandoning.
He was sitting in moonlight and candlelight, scratching the head of some beast that looked to Vevay a cross between a lion and a bear. It had black pelt, a flat, broad, fanged face, a powerful bulky body. It seemed to be purring. It cast a smoldering red glance at Vevay then closed it eyes again, leaning heavy against Felan’s knee.
“What on earth is that?” Vevay asked.
“I’ve no idea,” Felan said. “It came out of an old book I was reading once and it never went back in again. It seems harmless and is very obliging: it let the students practice transformation spells on it. It eats strawberries when it can get them.”
Revelations help us accept the things we need the most, expose the secrets we so desperately try to hide and illuminate the dangers all around us. But more than anything, revelations are windows into our true selves… of the good and the evil and those wavering somewhere in between. But they have the ultimate power to destroy all that we cherish most.
I’m going to enjoy every second, and I’m going to know I’m enjoying it while I’m enjoying it. Most people don’t live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn’t make any difference whether they’ve reached the goal or not.
We readily forget what we once knew as children: our flaws are not only natural but integral to our beings. They are interwoven into our soul’s DNA and yet we continually reject the crooked, wrinkled, mushy parts of our life rather than embrace them as the very essence of our beings.
I once believed that aiming for perfection would land me in the realm of excellence. This, however, may not be the trajectory of how things happen. In fact, the pursuit of perfection may be the biggest obstacle to becoming whole.
It seems essential to value hard work and determination and yet recognize that the road to excellence is littered with mistakes and subsequent lessons. Imperfection and excellence are intertwined. There is joy in our pain, strength in weakness, courage in compassion, and power in forgiveness.
―Ann Brasco, “Killing Off Perfectionism”
To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.
―Bell Hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the practice of freedom
When gorillas smell danger, they run around and call out to the rest of the primates in the jungle to warn them something evil is coming. And when one of their own dies, they mourn for days while beating themselves up in sadness for failing to save that gorilla, even if the cause of death was natural. And when one colony is mourning, their chilling echoes migrate to other colonies — and those neighbors, even if they are territorial rivals, will also grieve with them. When faced with a common danger, rivals turn into allies. And when faced with death, the loss of just one gorilla becomes the loss of the entire jungle.
–Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
Dedicated to the memory of Chris Welsh, a dear friend and brilliant thinker. Our jungle is filled with howls tonight as you embark on to that journey into the deep unknown. I hope you are delighted as you flow with the current of the universe into mysteries we do not yet understand. Love always.
Fear is the primary force upholding structures of domination. It promotes the desire for separation, the desire not to be known. When we are taught that safety lies always with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat. When we choose to love we choose to move against fear–against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect–to find ourselves in the other.