Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Dance With Snowflakes

There are dishes to be washed
Floors to be mopped
Clothes to be cleaned

Outside my window
Snow is falling
Flakes of white
Inviting me for a dance
Who am I to turn away?

tall penguin

Living the Questions...

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

In my last entry I spoke of the awareness that seems to come from the ether upon asking a question. It is as if the questions of the heart are silent prayers to an unknown god who reveals what needs to be known in the course of life itself. As I've said before here, I'm treating my life as a sociological experiment, meaning that I have become the observer/scientist. I ask questions, wonder about the answer and when it will appear and in what form, continually open the space in my life for an answer (meaning I clear away the emotional debris that has contributed to my lacking clarity before this point) and then I live my life. And as dear Rilke so wisely stated, "someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

For me, the key seems to be suspending any and all beliefs of what you think the answer is. Like any good science experiment, the observer can make a hypothesis but he must not let that sway the course of the experiment nor influence the conclusions he draws. I like letting my life unfold out of the questions of my heart. I like wondering "What will happen next?" I like not knowing where it's all going. I like being surprised.

I think this is what all the great inventors realized. I've read a number of accounts of how the great ideas of history came to people. It was when they'd put the questions to rest and turned to other areas of their life. They left the questions hanging in the ether and went to work, or did dishes or went for a walk or had coffee with a friend...and poof, from somewhere came the answer, the needed clarity. And the world was forever changed. I think this is the magic of life. I think this is the power of questions and the magic of holding a sense of wonder about life and everything in it.

So, be five again. Ask lots of questions. Wonder. Look at the sky and get immersed in the shapes the clouds make. Assume that you know nothing. Start every day, every moment, with a fresh breath and a fresh eye. There is only one life and it is the one living through you right now. And it is wonder-full.

tall penguin

Shift...

About a month ago I ranted about my mother and how frustrated I had become with myself because I was accepting treatment from her that I would not accept from anyone else. My beliefs around the concept of "mother" had been so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I'd lost my perspective on how to see her as I would see any other human being, and act from that place. In that entry I asked, "Why should she be treated differently than any other human being I interact with?"

As is so often the case these days, I noticed a shift in my awareness within days of asking this question. I'm finding an interesting phenomena occurring, that when I begin to question a belief, and release the emotion surrounding it, a new perspective gathers around the issue; clarity and a new way of seeing things. I realized that if I wanted to deprogram the belief that my mother deserved a pedestal and required special treatment, that I was going to have to remove my mother from the pedestal and treat her like everyone else in my life. Which meant calling her on unacceptable behavior. And showing her the unconditional love and compassion I'm learning to express with others in my life.

Fortunately, the universe obliged with yet one more triggering situation around my mother and I took the opportunity to be clear about her behavior and how it was driven by a false perception of the events. I reassured her of my love for her and my desire to be part of her life. And something shifted. Something has changed between us. We are beginning to interact like...adults. I dare say we're both growing up. And I'm pretty damn proud of us.

tall penguin

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point, released his new book yesterday entitled Outliers. Gladwell has a knack for looking at what lies beneath phenomenas and his latest book takes us on yet another journey into what appears to be so, questioning all the way.

What makes someone successful? That's the question Gladwell tackles this time around. Society seems to commonly believe in meritocracy, the idea that successful people come to their success by innate talent and a great deal of sacrifice and hard work. Outliers takes this assumption and turns it on its head. His findings are interesting and eye-opening.

For me, this is exciting reading. Seeing as I believe that our quality of life is based on the questions we ask, I am always intrigued when someone questions the status quo view of something and wonders, "Is this really so?" Gladwell proposes that there is more to success than just hard work and that luck, opportunity and timing play a greater role in success than we might think.

So, have a read and let me in on your thoughts.

tall penguin

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kudos to Mom...

So, it might seem from my ranting that there was nothing good about my mother's parenting. Not true. Here's a list of things my mother did that I remember fondly:

1. If I had a friend to our home for a sleepover, Mom would make me us a munchie tray and put it in the fridge before she went to bed so we could wake up in the middle of the night and have snacks.
2. My Mom attended almost every one of my school trips, events and parent/teacher interviews.
3. She took us shopping and modeled for me how to get the best deals on good quality products.
4. She showed me that money can be stretched pretty far with a little creativity and faith. (Did I say faith? You didn't see that. Move along.)
5. She showed me how to be generous with people; with my time, my energy, my love and my money.

Of course, if I wanted to, I'm sure I could make a case to show how all of these things were taken to the extreme or of questionable motive. But that's the great craziness of life isn't it...we can spin the story any way we want to. We can see things through any filter we choose. When it comes down to it, I may not ever know why my mother did the things she did or made the choices she made. I can speculate, extrapolate, interpolate and all manner of other 'ates' but the reality is, who knows why anyone does anything? And, does it really matter anyhow?

tall penguin

Monday, November 3, 2008

To wonder...

Life makes hypocrites of us all. In the past year, I have done a number of things that I once judged others for. I've gotten drunk, gotten high, smoked, engaged in casual sex, gossiped, lied, paid my bills late, said hurtful things and done hurtful things. I have also loved more deeply, spoken more honestly, experienced deeper joy and been more present than at any other time in my life.

My mind still judges quite a bit. Old habits die hard. The difference now though is that I do my best to inquire rather than to state. Even when I write here, there is a mental question mark where you see a period. Life has become a series of wonderings for me. A long list of questions to which I hope I will never have the answers. It is the journey that excites me. I've often said that I now treat my life like a great sociological experiment. I play with situations. What happens if I do this? What will be the reaction if I say this? If I do this differently than I've ever done it before, what will happen next?

At the end of my day, I sit with all that has occurred. I watch it replay like a movie. There are moments of That was interesting or Didn't see that coming or Yup, just as I predicted. There is a knowing deep down that none of it really matters in the end and that it's part of the great mystery of life why anything happens at all. So I play. And I wonder. And I hope that when the final replay of my life occurs, my last breath will be a deep belly laugh. Oh my, what a ride.

tall penguin

For Elessa...


I hope you see this. Wherever you are in the world, please find your way to a bookstore (in person or online) and get yourself a copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. It's the story of a china rabbit who learns about love. This book speaks to me and I know it will speak to you.

Love,
tall penguin

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Conflict Not So Scary Anymore...

I used to be completely afraid of conflict. I used to hold back what I was thinking or feeling in case someone would disagree with me. I used to believe that my ideas were who I was. Not so anymore. In recent posts, I've been sharing more of the meanderings of my mind in their raw state. And the reactions have been interesting. People are disagreeing with me. And it's okay. When I feel like clarifying a point, I clarify. But there isn't this need anymore to defend in the sense of my needing to be right, as if my identity hinged on everyone seeing my point of view (a cult throwback I'm sure). I'm actually enjoying just having you all engage in the discussion with me.

This has been a huge fear for me to face. One that I think is instrumental in my growth as a human being. I'm willing to be wrong. Everything that comes out of my mind is up for question. If you suspect bullshit, please, call me on it. It's all good. Just realize that the reverse is also true. It's called open dialogue. What a novel idea. Thank you all for being willing to engage with me here. I learn so much from you all every day.

tall penguin

Scene From The Bookstore...

Lady customer approaches me:

"Do you have any books on puberty?" she asks.

"Yes, we do. Is it for your daughter?" I ask, motioning to the girl at her side.

"Yes."

"How old is she?" I ask.

"She's 8 but she's already started growin' tits," the mother says.

Woah. Did she just say that? Yup, she did. She just called her daughter's beautiful, budding breasts tits.

Not much more to say on this. Just another day mixin' it up with humanity.

tall penguin

Tagged...

CyberLizard tagged me to write six random things about myself as part of a "blog meme". It's sort of a blog chain letter. In usual tall penguin fashion, I'm not going to follow the rules by tagging six others to continue the meme, but I did want to do the exercise. Curious myself to see what comes out of it.

So, here we go...six random things about myself that you don't already know:

1. I order Creme Brulee in restaurants because I enjoy cracking the caramelized sugar on top. Yes, I am Amelie.
2. I still have one of the original Care Bears from back in the 80's. Well-loved, well-worn. Which one you ask? Bedtime Bear, of course.
3. I have a love/hate relationship with cats. Basically, I love to hate them. Yes, yes, I know...I'm supposed to love all of God's furry creatures, but alas I do not. And we could go into all kinds of psychoanalysis as to why this is. It could be because our first family pet was a neurotic cat named Ginger. It could be because I reject my own feline nature. It could be because I've only ever met one cat I respected (Sasha, you ROCK!). Whatever the reasons, I am not a fan of the cat's work. Ironically, I have recently acquired a cat poster from fellow blogger Irregular Tammie, which now graces my bathroom wall. It combines my loathing of cats with my newly found fondness for smoking.
4. I'm secretly beginning to enjoy disagreeing with people. I'm sure this is how wars get started. I'll do my best to use my powers for good and not evil.
5. I'm a counter. I count ceiling tiles, panes of glass, the paintings on my kitchen wall; anything that forms a square, I will count. It's obsessive, not compulsive. I do not think bad things will happen if I don't count, I just count. And related to this, ever since I learned shorthand back in Grade 12 Notetaking class my fingers or tongue automatically spell out every word I see in shorthand.
6. I love the way my body curls, contorts, rises and falls during orgasm. For someone who only experienced her first orgasm at 25, masturbation is now the ultimate journey into self-loving, a connection with the Divine and a deep meditation and exploration of who I really am.

So, there you have it. Just when you thought there was nothing left to learn about the tall penguin.

I leave it to you bloggers out there to tag yourselves if you like. Comment on this entry when you've posted your list and I'll be happy to read it.

tall penguin

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Cult of Another Sort...

Both of my parents are still alive. I have friends however who have lost a parent in death. When I speak to them of the issues I have with my mother, they often tell me how much I'll miss her when she's gone. I don't buy it. They tell me how much they wish they'd tried to make peace with their parent, how much they wish they'd said or did with them before they died. Nope, as far as I'm concerned, I've done and said all I need to do and say with regards to my mother.

I think that when a parent dies, it is not the person we grieve, it is the relationship with them that we never had that we grieve. It is the realization that the relationship we wished and hoped to have with them since we were a small child was never there to be had, that it never will be had, and now, there is nothing left to be done. When I left the Jehovah's Witness cult three years ago, I went through a deep grieving process. I realized that the relationship I had with my mother was based on my staying a JW. Once I left, any bond we had disappeared. I was no longer willing to stay enmeshed in her crazy cult dynamic. The grief I felt was for the mother I never had.

Frankly, as it stands right now, if my mother died tomorrow, I would grieve for the life she never lead, for the children she never saw, for the joy she could have experienced. But I will not grieve that she is no longer here, no longer part of my life. I have done that grieving. In fact, I would feel relieved that the ties that bind are freed and that maybe, just maybe, my brother, my father and I could have some semblance of normalcy before my father passes on. But life is a pain in the ass...I'm sure my father will die first (men usually do) and my brother and I will be left with this woman called mother.

We put parents on a pedestal, like their choice to unite an egg and a sperm was some altruistic decision based in love and awareness. And for the rest of our lives, we excuse all manner of behavior based on these illusions of what we owe them for the sacrifices they've made on our behalf. It's bullshit. It's all bullshit. If I met my mother in any other context, there's no chance in hell I'd let her be part of my life. Yet somehow, this word mother confers upon her a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. Why? Why should she be treated differently than any other human being I interact with? I would not accept this type of treatment from anyone else, yet somehow I've been socialized and programmed to think it's okay. It's crap. I grew up in two cults: the JW's and the cult of the mother. The former was much easier to deprogram than the latter. What a mindfuck.

Edited to add: I think the bearing of children is the greatest ego-trap of our time. What makes anyone think that adding their genetic code and their particular parenting style to another living being is going to bring anything good to this planet? With a world filled with unwanted children, crap parenting, war, strife and other reflections of a demented collective consciousness, what makes someone think that their adding another soul to the morass is a good thing?

tall penguin