A Moment of Clarity

fingerprint

The room, the last office along the beige corridor, cornered to the right. Its windows, showered light that enveloped the walls. She sat in front of the windows facing me, while I faced the windows. The desk bore no personality, or ownership. Just semi-empty drawers occasioned by pencils, napkins, and salt and pepper pouches from a lunch long past.

I couldn’t feel my body. Still in dismay from their lies to get me there, my stoic body stared with wide eyes open. She asked questions, and I replied with calculated quips that at first strategized the best right answer to get me out of there, but then gave in. Leaving was not an option.

My mind raced with what had just happened.

Cringing from the betrayal, I craved satisfaction that would not come for quite some time. I needed sedation by the doctor’s remedy to numb the uncomfortable pain of transitioning. Sitting there, motionless, I wondered how my life came to this instance of reckoning: the end of a long road of running. It took endless seconds to realize this confrontation, between nurse and patient, marked an opportunity.

My addiction started long before the first drug.

Memories go as far back as when my little sister was born. Dad, taking charge of his three little girls, seemed overwhelmed, yet elated with welcoming his fourth. Each small hand holding the other sister’s hand waved to the hospital window above us. A shadow of our mother waved back, and we all felt special.

Having a little sister meant I had someone smaller than me to play with. I quickly learned that the specialness of being the “baby” passed to her. Now, relegated to the third out or four, I represented the child in-between: no longer the one cuddled and cooed over, or given full attention. All that hubbub came to its end, and a different self awareness awoke, unfolding to a darker, saddened worldview.

Little sister and I were a twosome pod in a family that grouped into twos. With six, this kind of compartmentalization seemed natural and effortless. As besties who looked to each other for companionship and compassions, I loved the idea of loving her and being loved by her. We pretended all the time: to be wealthy, talented, scholarly, and fashion forward.  But dreams don’t often manifest in real-world self actualization. Although a twosome, I always believed myself alone: distant and outside the group.

My daily growing up stared into the abyss of my parent’s 1960’s TV. No books. No conversations at dinner. Little time for connecting. My inner dialogue tethered to the TV sound track, which brainwashed my imagination.  Overtime, when I took to exploring deeper meanings from within, and mindful thought found spoken words, these meanderings met criticisms, or ridicules, from older sisters and their friends, who mocked and beat down any lingering confidence.

Craving a connection to hope, which I couldn’t imagine for myself, I believed that anything better existed beyond my reach at home. My sole purpose in finding a means to the end only led me down darker alleys with g-o-d centered smack as the elixir to open imagined doorways at dead ends.

I wandered off, looking for like minded fiends, yet craved fixing the damaged spirit. Some days happened without issue, but one day, I stayed away longer than usual. The return home only convinced me to leave for good. Moving to New York City, in the fall of 1976, marked the beginning of a ten year run. The beige room with the chair facing the windows marked the end of the marathon.

The nurse locked the doors behind me. She put the key in her drawer. She expected me to learn to live a new way of thinking. Although given this moment and many others to confess, leaving was not an option until I believed in a life without regret.

Enduring Eyes

Creativity-Imagination-Banner
So much talent in their youthful exuberance walked in another direction, out of the necessity for survival. To those who stayed in the game despite the conditions, you are pioneers on the frontier of unyielding creative imaginations.

  • We need your visions to help give life to our mundane perceptions, creating worlds and possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.
  • We need your visions to give breadth to our suffocating exhaustion.
  • We need your visions to help context the symbols and words we use each day in trying to express our own identities.
  • We need your visions to laugh, to cry, to feel a sense of belonging.

Thank you for staying the course against waves of insecurity, poverty, and fear, which in your endurance to survive, you arrived at the other-side, and privileged your imagination to pour onto the page, canvas or stage.

As your audience, your endurance creates opportunities for us, however brief, to shed our self-centeredness; strip away the contrived thoughts as we take in the raw emotionalism you put before us.

As your audience, while examining your work, our emotional life journeys through an array of fears that question identity; that feed obsessions, sometimes grandiose, sometimes of uselessness, but in the end, experiencing joy in witnessing a new form of understanding.

As your audience, the painting, sculpture, book, poem, play or film catapult us, if we let it, to find ourselves on a frontier of believing in something better.

As your audience, we transit outside of ourselves, and in that instant place of reflection, we somehow, magically walk taller, more assured, and with greater meaning in the obsession for our security.

As your audience, we give to you, our contributions, to keep this world afloat.

The selfishness of our nation of states, in its quest for power, greed and promiscuous consumption, seeks to kill, to silence, the images artists reflect of our world by starving them of sustenance. Your messages become our messages to ourselves, to face truths we turn away from. The more truthful they are, the more they threaten the liars, cheaters or thieves those who revel in the conspicuous consumption of lust and exploitation.

Stay the course. Believe in your third eye. Believe in your process of bringing enduring creative images or dialogues from within to us. Believe in love. Believe in higher beings. Altruism is not dead. It lives in your enduring eyes.

Living with Dignity

One way sign
Dignity: the quality or state of being worthy honored, or esteemed

Being accused of harassment in a brief, protocol driven letter, and then put on hold because there wasn’t any evidence, is a cruel joke. The eventual meeting of the principals revealed the “witch hunt” aspect of this accusation, which inspired disdain, and fear. Such stressors do not subside easily, nor do they inspire loyalty to the system.

Despite my attempts to let go and let good orderly direction prevail, the feelings, at the base of my being, sought to resolve the unresolvable conflict with the “enemy” in my midst, who wanted me either removed, or a least harmed. Their remained anonymity, because of protocol, would never allow such a resolution, thus increasing my level of stress. I will never know my accuser.

Making decisions from burning impulses never goes smoothly. Taught to come from a place of reflection and adjustment, friends reminded me to reach out to my support community, which operates on the assumption that a collective moral compass, rooted in a spirit of forgiveness, will lead to a right view, thus a right path forward.

As a sentient being, who’s arrogant brain pride-fully feels its self-importances, often, my steps walk into troubled spots, and stick in the mud for a while. Reflection and adjustment are the only available frameworks for amending my poor behavior. But this process takes time, and many times, my efforts see-saw: I shine or muddle; cajole or insult. No matter where the words, the feelings or the instances take me, they are mine to reckon with; mine to accept, how logic and feelings drive ideas versus misperceptions, self-righteousness versus compassion.

Although I butted heads at work from what I believe were grass-roots efforts, the leadership and I usually came to a common ground: or so I thought. This incident changed my view of those I sit across the table to negotiate with. Now, efforts are to quietly accept the misperceptions.

The accusation, a concerted effort by a colleague to create smoke where there was no fire, could signify some denial on my part. This event, forced me to face the possibility of an unwilling acceptance of truth, which too easily led to a grave and dark place of fear.

Can one live with dignity in a state of fear?

When we live in a state of panic there is no peace. And where there is no peace, there is no faith, thus removing our state of freedom. So, how do we get it back? It begins by connecting with our higher power and gaining clarity regarding the necessary steps for our lives to count for something greater than ourselves. Having faith in real change, starts with us changing how we view life. No longer can we depend on society, family or careers to bring value to our lives. We must begin to see our own value, and then bring value to the lives of others.

— Charmaine Carraway, “There is No Freedom Living in a State of Fear,” THE BLOG 08/05/2016

Alone in the world – in solitude — we can receive the daily repreive of acceptance, courage, faith, and love, if we strive for positive decision-making. Service to society depends on these individual values. At the same time, solitude breeds self-centeredness.

Recently, someone close to my heart told me how I enjoy my solitude, which paused me to consider what that meant in relation to how my life has unfolded. Solitude is a double-edged sword: a prison of self, but also a necessary place to create.

In my tower growing up, high above the forest below, the birds and trees were part of the alter where I saw my potential. In my youth, the world seemed overwrought by competition, gendered stereotypes, and the inability to see any potential living outside the “box.” I found what little faith in myself I could gather within that vestige of nature. I found a creative center. However, that gift of building a self in my solitude also gave way to limiting my ability to have relationships: limited interactions obstructed smoothly accepting social norms that built thriving communities.

Aloneness led to darkness, and no one sought to guide me toward a light. When children make their own decisions, they often fail to see the lessons those who previously lived learned to avoid. Since I was someone not seen, I had to see for myself without a dialogue to appreciate or understand the innuendos of a growing youth.

Throughout my walks in public places, my choppy paces ashamedly forced me to look at my negative self-perceptions. I needed a place to work through balancing liabilities and assets; the stressors of bad choices and healthy living. Such a resource did not come easily, and only remains thru due diligence.

There is no perfect human being. The qualities appreciated in one situation can be negative in another: both celebrated and denigrated. Choices to remove my obstacles to success only work with a sincerity of walking on a path of dignity. Successes have only happened when my practice balanced the fears manifested in solitude with a courage, and fearlessness, to reach out, and publically serve to give voice to the voiceless.

In Progress

In an instant one post can send you into a tailspin. Scrolling thru the mulch of social media, and coming across an innocuous post celebrating something or other in someone else’s life, far from my own world, I confronted myself in a way that struck me with fear.
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My feelings, digging deep into my psyche, in an instant, told me my path was a beeline to Loserville.

So conscious of the negative feelings, I held myself, trying to figure out what to do with them. Conscious of fear’s growing depth, with a feigned denial I continued forward, posting a few ‘hellos’ on various friend’s Facebook pages.

When uncomfortability continued, despite my efforts, I then switched to Instagram as a getaway, tring to shift up my point of view. Although I moved deliberately thru the mundane, my body quivered, with regret, fear, and loneliness rolled into one giant pit in my stomach.

After realizing the computer was only making things worse, I texted a query to someone about their apartment hunting. We started up small talk about the business of searching for a place to live, and while winding down, my text blurted a — DO YOU HAVE TIME TO TALK? I NEED TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE.

A message of such intense magnitude quickly garnered a “call” response. As soon as the voice on the other end of the phone said hello, I knew that I would be OK. I believed because that person believed in me, when I could not believe in myself. They loved me, in some odd but incredible way,  and that sense of connection, helped me to right size myself.

I’ve always been good at talking to myself, and grew to celebrate my solitude. Tonight however, the power of conversations, of talking things through with people you can trust, became the very medicine to reconnect with my true best self.

My dilemma is that I need people, yet in so many ways, constantly reject them at the same time.

I recently finished a fantastic writing group with amazing individuals. We found a safe space to open up our craft to each other, and in the process I made new friends. Small collectives binding each of us by our common purpose, but not forums of indoctrination. Working as a group, our support of one another provided each a needed sounding board. Here a new voice emerged from within me, which tempered my tenacious arrogance, while at the same time, allow me celebration of my individuality. So exciting, yet sad to end.

The picture catalyzed the fear of losing those I shared my heart with, as if the emptiness that followed became an invisible, impenetrable wall shutting those very people out.

Fear must be stopped. The solution rests upon faith it can be stopped. While the place of becoming grazes my horizon, the only foundation that must persist is to stay in the game. If one stays, and remains open to building sober references, then overcoming eventually wins out.

Switching Things Up

tortoise and hare

Taking one’s time at figuring out the next step in a situation is not a bad, or weak, thing to do. On the contrary, moving slowly with major changes allows for a greater opportunity to have things be more successful. In this age of fast tracking information, and constant gratification through internet feeds, the old road of the tortoise still has ground.

In the beginning of my life in academia, I took on whatever task I could fit into my schedule, which meant each day was filled with multi-tasking, and late night sessions to complete an assignment ready for submission the next day. There was little time for play, and if there were extra moments, those belonged to my daughter. As a result, the marriage failed, and gaining my freedom just became a greater opportunity to get more done, in as little time possible. I was the “hare” in the race.

I competed with myself, through the eyes of others. A good decade, and then some, older than the average student; married then divorced; a single mom on welfare, while very insecure about academic writing; these essential elements of me only fed my desire to make good. Determined, I set out to become something that was shortchanged right from the beginning of my life. Success.

I created a competition for myself, which shaped my approach to everything I set my mind on.  As my children grew, and have slowly left the home nest, the hare eventually became exhausted; tempered down from mediating academic and domestic life. The creative flame, which once burned bright with passion, although dulled over time, continued a low, hidden light in the shadows. Slowly the tortoise came to be. So slow that she grew into grey.

So as the ages come to the salt and pepper phase, I am blessed with switching it up. Starting the race again, in competition on an unknown playing field, with eyes wide open, and fears in check. Like the students in college, some 35 years my junior, we are both leveled by hearing our words give import to fictional moments in time, showing loves, jealousies, insecurities and sometimes death.

There are no visuals, no lecterns to lecture behind, or advertising of a portrait. All these things would expose the greyed novice and feed the bias of audiences. Blind to the writer, the audience and performers speak whether my truth is real or fodder for what they see, not who made it. Knowing age compromises, or blurs the lines of acceptable art.

So, a new decision, long in the making, has switched things up. I show up each week, hoping to find some inner humbled light shining on a jewel, hoping my words see the place, and understand the psyches. Words that for so many years failed me — so I sought out others with similar talents, as a way of turning up the light burning inside.

The maker, or builder, of tableaus creates images that move on a stage. I sit as this computer, marking when the curtain rises, and at the same time, for this moment in a life’s journey, I can more confidently choose when the curtain falls.

The Whitewash Firing!

Senate Armed Services Committee

Michael Flynn resigns in the late hours of Monday night, in the shadows of being fired for misleading everyone about his phone antics with the Russians!!! Forbes magazine spun it during prime time with a detailed article about real leaders resigning in the face of disgracing the White House. But as we all know – REAL LEADERS DON’T BREAK THE LAW!

Up into the 9:00 hour, T’Frump and his K-K-Kellyanne Conway spewed her doublespeak support of Trump with alternative facts, despite the warnings of Congress and the Department of Justice inquiry. Perhaps the earlier DOJ firing portended a challenge to this very issue.

Flynn’s negotiations with Russia, at the same time that President Obama was enforcing sanctions, undermined the United States position in favor of the Putin-Trump marriage. This fiasco basically affirms Trump’s love-fest with Putin, and affirms the Republicans have no moral political compass against President’s breaking the law as long as the Republicans are in power.

Although T’Frump dumps on the media – calling journalists the opposition – they have been the keepers of the truth flame. Back in early January, Indira Lakshmanan, a writer for the Boston Globe, called Flynn’s actions, and the support of T’Frump and his goon squad, to task:

What did the president-elect know and when did he know it?
Not to go full Watergate, but it’s a fair question, considering Donald Trump’s persistent defense of Vladimir Putin, some of his advisers’ close ties to Russia, the credence he’s given to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and his stubborn refusal to credit US intelligence findings that Russia hacked Democrats’ e-mails and peddled “fake news” to influence our election in Trump’s favor.

In his resignation letter, Flynn believed his service as National Security Advisor was carried out with distinguished service, when in reality he brought shame and corruption to the highest offices, and made a mockery of what it means to be a leader.

The circus continues, and this House of Cards is not falling down, just gluing the corners in a different way to make the fragile truths spin differently. This new administration, and their machinations of power, are about dividing so we are trailing off in different directions, failing to unite and stand strong as a nation against their lies. Now begins only another chapter to a nightmare story that can only end badly.