Metaphorical Mountain Climbing

It was only when I finally accepted the reality of my situation within the dominant paradigm that things started to really shift and rearrange themselves in my internal landscape. It occurred once I gave voice to the understanding that I would never be fully acceptable regardless of whether I followed every rule laid out before me or I ignored them, whether I shut up or spoke up, whether I was naughty or nice, whether I loved or hated. Sure, the language and particular brand of oppression and punishment varied, but the established and reinforced image of “unacceptability of everything associated with Robyn because she must make amends for the terrible misfortune of not being born white” was overwhelmingly persistent.

This is not an idea I picked up via fanciful and naive notions combined with a misunderstanding about society, rather it’s a perspective that was deliberately drummed (or beaten) into me by various people and circumstances throughout my life, such as the White Australia policy intended. The actuality of my being in this society, in this time, in this body, with this mind and animated by this spirit is considered to be some kind of offense to creation, or likened as such, by many a supreme white god during a brief moment of you’ve-got-a-chip-on-your-shoulder righteous indignation and hold-the-liniment-while-I-deliver a tongue-lashing clarity. And I’m talking about the non-racist supreme white gods, don’t get them confused with those other types(!).

but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive
—Audrey Lorde, A litany for survival

I’m not going to gloss this…it hurt. To fully accept the level of oppression you have been living under when you are not literally running for your life every day, will likely plunge a person into some kind of temporary depression or anger, grief, whatever. It hurt like I didn’t think I would survive it, and to be honest I am not so sure I did. Eventually, it did stop hurting so acutely, as anyone who’s been through anything can tell you. Once the shock and devastation subsided, after the tears and rage exhausted themselves, beyond all that pain and self-pity and many miles past the “why can’t it be different?” phase – I began to understand simple things.

If everything I do is already tainted because it is done by me, it follows that I am free to be and do as I please. Let that taint be my insignia.

It surprises me that there is no more worrying about avoiding potential consequences and no more wasting my energy on frivolous attempts to be understood, welcomed or appreciated. There are no more external masters to please as they have already proven that they cannot be pleased by the likes of me. My days are no longer populated with “Yessirs” unless I totally accept that behaviour in the moment as my choice and my honour. More importantly, I am now in a position to set my own standards and to judge, to draw boundaries and define borders, to erase and replace them at will, but never to be judged. No, I absolutely do not confer upon my oppressors the right to judge me.

It is inevitable in a divide and conquer approach to discrimination, that I would have no peers, so who would be left to judge me in any meaningful way? Of course, I am not oblivious, all manner of people will have a crack at passing judgement on their fellow humans, but these judgements are well below the standard and level of humanity to which I aspire, thus rendering them entirely irrelevant within the context of my life. Similarly, my judgements are irrelevant to rural families, sporting heroes and every single one of the political candidates in the recent election, to point out a few. We are each operating in entirely different reality frameworks.

The mental image I hold for this set of experiences is akin to climbing a mountain through all kinds of weather, until the moment you break through the cloud barrier into pure sunlight and clear air. At this point, we become invisible to those who remain at the base of the mountain.

I posit that there is no greater gift for freedom than to be considered utterly inconsequential and therefore to be consistently overlooked.

I ask you in all sincerity, is there a greater advantage to the cause for freedom than spectacularly failing to inspire people to want to use me or enslave me to serve their own agendas?

My measures and markers for success are no longer dependent on the persistence of white supremacy as a social norm, and in this manner the race war within has ended and the human journey has begun.

*

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It begins and ends with awe

The earth people keep calling me
The sky responds with my voice
Water passes everything along

The sun people are blinding me
The stars look through my eyes
Fire is making everything dance

The wind is refashioning reality
Seeds, cells and leaves go on a world tour
Weather is transforming everything

Too many ways to enumerate –
Existences, vistas, vibrations, echoes
Cracking and snapping weary worldviews

Impossible to remain connected to one idea
When every particle of life is radiating
Infinite waves of mystery in it’s wake

It begins and ends with awe.

Suddenly I’m doubled over with laughter
Clearly nothing of any value
Can ever be taken to the bank.

The 21st Century Cave Man

There’s a tiny cave behind
All those igneous rocks
Surrounding oneself with
Protective square blocks

Peer past the cliff-face
Into the chasm rent with pain
At the edge of this vision
Sediment flows with rain

Enclosed in illusions
Hard surface all around
Layer upon layer
Particles form on the ground

When this was your choice
To be firmer than air
Do you retreat to your pedestal
Or your safe little lair?

Dusk calls to the spirit
Miles and eons below
Dawn will be here in a minute
We contract, then we grow

I find no true home enclosed
By the igneous or sedimentary
You’ve got rocks as your battlements
So purposefully rudimentary

Yet the metamorphic forces
Yield solid rock at my core
My light floats to the outside
In bright space do I restore

These rocks hold the memory
Recording what’s transpiring
– Your haven that will cave in
And suffocate what is inspiring

– My preservation pillar
Of what’s constant, true and timeless
– Man only needs a cave when
The rest of him is spineless

Go home to your pedestal
Go home to your fortress
There’s no line you won’t cross
For the souls you would possess

Yes, build up your fantasies
About goodness and hate
Try and mask your soft core
While you stride and berate

The bereft are mostly free
Pride in all colours and races
While you perpetuate still darkness
With the lightest of all faces

Though little might survive
When nothing’s real inside
Blast those walls to kingdom come
On this you could decide

I know that you’re stuck
What you need is space
Climb past the debris
Walk into your grace
*

My fear is like a terrorist

Let your fear politely inform your actions rather than completely hijacking them. RM

Most useful conclusion for me to arrive at in terms of freedom and authenticity could be that every emotion is valid at the time it arises, but is not and cannot be the totality of the experience. There are other aspects of the truth to be considered with perhaps the same weight and importance as the internal emotional response.

So when I find myself with a strong (or weak) emotional response to my circumstances, I politely say to myself, “Thanks very much for that useful feedback, now, what other information can I observe that might also inform my decisions?”

Sometimes, I am racing around expressing and responding to the emotion before this rationale appears. But it is so effective at quelling or reducing the “overwhelmingness” of an intense emotional response, that I frequently end up turning the experience into an exercise. Let’s give it a title: “1000 ways for returning to peace and making decisions from that space.”

I am naturally very curious, so redirecting my attention to an investigation works 99% of the time and I often take the precise action required to bring about a win/win or some other type of peaceful resolution. The other 1% of the time… be afraid, be very afraid if you were the person who did the thing that triggered the emotional response. You’re about to find out exactly how I feel about it and I’ve got 47 years of barely expressed rage to draw energy from.

Yeah, some people are messing with me and one of them will probably have a bad day soon, courtesy of yours truly.  Nothing to worry about though, it’s actually kind of interesting. Still… I will be glad to see the back of it.

😉

The Shower Song

For those who seek
Of much they speak
Of near and far
And thoughts that mar
The ebbs and flows
But no-one knows
Which way is right
Or what to fight
Our natures deep
Our questions keep
A tangled knot
Of what is not
That’s held up high
But brings a sigh
To all the tears
We’ve shed these years
May peace begin
With peace within
Nothing to find
Except [accept]
_____ your
_________ mind.

*

I write a lot of poems in the shower, generally to some kind of rhythm or rhyme — I don’t really know why the shower muse comes by…

Old men read the lesson in the setting sun. Beat the cymbal and sing in this life, or wail away the hours fearing death. From the I-Ching