You WILL Choose.

This week a team of three of us had approved our application to facilitate a workshop on accomplishment at the 2018 Global Transformations Conference in Monterey, California. The full title of our topic is “Living the Dream: A Life of Accomplishment”. During the process of putting together the application, we (the team) have had weekly conversations about what accomplishment means and where it all came from. Looking at a thread of accomplishment that I am calling ‘creativity’, and how I might address it from my view of my own biography, I can hear any number of people who might present alternate viewpoints of what accomplishment is and how it ‘should’ work. In pondering those potential ‘alternatives’, ideas I have already heard from various sources, I began to realise that we are all just be standing in the path of our own choices. For all of us, there is only that, given whatever we think we know and much we don’t, we will choose as we will choose.

A couple of years ago, The Poetry Foundation post a commentary by David Orr, that we often fail to fully read this famous poem by Robert Frost. When we just read the beginning and the end we come away with the common interpretation that Frost is encouraging us to take the more arduous looking path. However in the middle two verses he regales that neither path is really any different to the outward glance but that only one of them can be taken. In this case, when we read the last verse we can see he is being ironical about how we will dress up the story of our life, in the future, as one that was the more adventurous.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

David Orr tells that Frost actually wrote the poem as a tease while in England and going for regular walks in the countryside with another poet, Edward Thomas. Frost told that, after the walk, Thomas would often complain that he should have chosen different pathways because of what they missed out seeing. So, Frost wrote the poem just to say, a choice is made, and that is that. Everything else afterwards, is just a following along that path, as it has to be.

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At Tio’s

Burrito’s and chips
at Tio’s outside diningimage
under the songs
of MeH~He~KoH
and the gaze of giants
made of wire mesh
stuffed with plastic bottles
and metal caps.

A girl whispers in her father’s ear.
I wonder at the open family secret.
And the memory of an excited woman
so imminent by Skype,
our ages fading away
to a younger coyness
and wanting her,
breezes through my mind
from so far away,
clashing with an ancient threat,
an irate disappointed parent,
a confused, querulous child,
my religious community,
in the background, now.
Yet, soon enough,
asking questions,
turning a blind eye
to the entanglement of arms and legs
showing that they saw it all the same
and not yet asking whether
I will marry this woman
who no longer wants marriage
as her badge,
that I am left wondering who
I am to her and who we are
as she opens her heart and
mind and body
and I like it all as I flounder,
weighing the balance
of my life:
she and companionship;
they and an aspirational community;
beautiful delightful love;
a loneliness of vague possibility;
energetic risk;
plodding safety.

My gaze rises from the thought
on the book, to an empty place,
alighting on the boy riding
his tricycle on the roof,
frozen in time and space
against hurtling down,
a mild mannered smile on his
doll-face, as if the consequencesimage
of gravity don’t exist,
while I notice my imbalance
and my hurtling down
is a sense of something
contrived of a physics I
don’t know.

… in no answer for my life
I give up forcing as if I live in a 3 dimensional world,
and, turning, turning, turning,
trying to see out of the corner of my mind
the access to that other dimension
to the essence
to as it is
to what I need to see
and where I need to stand
and how is my humility
and what is my contribution
and how is my leadership
and does the will of God
move through the awkward,
messy, yearning, striving state
of me.

I could tell myself any story
and I know the one I choose
for now, and no one
is wrong about it.

Placental

EmbryoShe noted, “You seem happy and buoyant this evening”

I replied, “Perhaps I decided to be an adult.”

She retorted, “Whatever that is.”

“Perhaps”, I gathered as quickly and cleverly as i could, “it is being happy and buoyant.”

I woke the next morning with the soul on my mind,
the query of a philosopher,
“There is so much wonder in the universe,
why ask that there has to be something else?”.

Death.

The desire to lift the fear of gone
with a belief there is something
within us that can live forever.

My teacher, Baha’u’llah, had another take,
that life is vastly beyond time and space.
The universe is wonderful, contingent, a womb.
A womb is wonderful,
an embryonic exaltation
in its universe.

A fantastic germ catalyses
the ooze of a root
in its warm, watery womb,
growing a fascination
until the day of realization,
the womb cannot contain it,
the child being is expelled,
freedom preceded by one last constraint,
one last reassuring connection with the womb,
then the root separates,
the placenta dies.

Through infinite dimensions
the fascination reflects
or maybe a reflection of the whole
ancient, imperishable, everlasting
dominion.
In one domain oozing
base elements.
In another, oozing,
from the placental born one,
elements of consciousness,
outside of physicality,
outside of time and space,
the fascination grows
until uncontained,
released onto that imperishable domain,
the placenta dies.

AFTER YASI – A Review

Tully has one of the highest rainfalls in Australia so built a giant gumboot with a frog as its icon.

Tully has one of the highest rainfalls in Australia so built a giant gumboot with a frog as its icon.

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Yasi in the Tully area, North Queensland, June Perkins took to documenting the story of resilience of the people around her. In the process of this documentation, June was one of the people activating resilience-building activities for the community.

The stories she tells in “After Yasi – Finding the Smile Within” are simple, almost pedestrian, and so are, in style, a commentary on the paradox of an ordinariness of the community spirit that seems quite extraordinary. These straightforward stories shine a light on the vulnerability of people who have had their lives turned on their heads in one day of environmental violence.

The poems that people wrote for the book are similarly simple and authentic, a sharing of lives finding their way out of the struggle to making it work again.

Throughout June’s photography captures both the devastation and the recovery, and, in the recovery, the beauty and the friendships.

Having an interest in contemporary dance, I particularly appreciated that one of the recovery events that June documented was a dance workshop run by local dancer Danielle Wilson. Contemporary dance is still a less well-developed community art form in Australia, so it was great to see it working for the community in resilience building. When the world shows us that, rather than being stable and faithful, it can be unstable and fickle, it often attacks the very core of our identity. In that attack, the body and mind can need the experience of revisiting the feeling of the event and the aftermath. Often it can be difficult to express in words what is showing up for the body. Facilitated contemporary dance can allow the mind to honor what the body is expressing and then generating a new story, a new future as a reconstituted identity and self-assurance. Contemporary dance also brings bodies and minds together, so that the sharing of experience and a new future with others, restores faith in that our true stability and support and our tomorrow is in the people around us.