Monday, January 23, 2017

Of Waves of Sound And Silence

"Hello darkness, my old friend,I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light That split the night And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools" said I, "You do not know, silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming
And the signs said,
"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls And tenement halls And whisper'd in the sounds of silence"
-The Sound of Silence, written by Paul Simon, cover performed by Disturbed.

I have been thinking a lot in the past few days, both of the beauty and power of silence, and its pain. In weeks past, I often felt alone, Isolated in my feelings, and experiences.  Darkness encompassed me again, as a nation, a world, friends, family were talking passed each other, ridiculing, and not listening.  Hopelessness grew. But more cutting  than words and digs, can be silence.   I thought back to just about 5, 6 months ago when I got engaged.  Yes, it hurt to have a person verbally attack me.  But far worse than that was the silence from some closest to me when I was engaged,  And the hollowness of the returning noise when that engagement ended.   I have not forgot that silence. Phone calls ended suddenly at the mention of a name, because of gender alone. Phone calls suddenly abundant because it was over. 

 I know the message that was intended (change, conform for us), but the silence is not forgotten and what it really told me was  who I cannot trust, and who I can.

"We will remember, not the words of our

 enemies, but the silence of our friends"

 -Seattle Women's march Speaker

 As I heard those sounds spoken, I knew what this woman meant, and I remembered it, and I realized that that is what is cutting the deepest, for me during this time. Its not that my friends and I have and are expressing different political views, Its the silence that comes when regardless of your views, we  ought to stand up for fellow humans that are being treated poorly, but for some reason we don't.

 "We can disagree, and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist"

We other, we read these words and we think "yeah, those guys aught to knock it off."  instead of taking a moment and hearing what they are saying. I'm guilty of that. I've done it. I did it just the other day. My friends had a valid complaint, and rather than hearing them I was about to say, "yeah but...." and then I paused,  I waited a day, and I came back, and I asked .... "what can we do to do this better?  to meet both our needs how can we come together on this?"

 And I don't know that I would normally do that.  But to be honest, another moment of silence changed my heart, and my fear and my loneliness and added some kindness and compassion. A lot of people have asked me what that march I went to was about. Why did I go?  Some of my friends were asked why they went when it wouldn't change anything. I can't speak for them, but I will speak for me. I went because I was feeling helpless and silenced, and voiceless. So I went to claim my voice.  And what I found was Zion. 

I found people, not just women. Old, young, black, white, Asian, Muslim,Christian, Atheist, Scientist, Disabled, Queer, Straight, Able bodied, Trans, Cis, all coming together to stand up for each other, imperfectly, but doing it all the same. Next time, perhaps we can be even more inclusive. I think the power I felt at this came directly from how inclusive it was, so if say we made more trans inclusive sinage or maybe didn't make disparaging remarks about peoples bodies to make our point (tiny hands signs im talking to you) we could get our message accross better. 

We marched, more than 10,000. 175,000. 3 Million. More. Seattle, St. George, London, Africa, Asia, Alabama.  We marched together.  And I can only speak to my experience, in one small corner of Seattle, where we marched, mostly silent, but powerfully. Police our friends, not postured to attack us, but to protect our free speech ( I will tell you this does make a difference in helping it be non violent, and there are difficult reasons to hear why they were being supports for us, but are not always for others).

The most powerful things of the day were speakers asking people to be mindful, don't step in front of those we are marching for as allies (we were all each others allies) let them lead, lets amplify each others voices.  Not to litter, because we were also standing up for the earth.  People were courteous and kind, polite.  we stopped for the disabled, we helped them. We weren't impatient with the person in front of us, even though we got tired, and hungry and sore.  at one point I needed to pee. I only saw 4 port-a-potties, the line was sooo long. but no one complained, no one pushed. They were the cleanest I have ever seen, despite being probably also the fullest. 

 And as we marched forward, in mostly quiet, waves of sound would travel occasionally forward  from behind us. You could feel that sound wave piercing, Whispered, if you will, in the sound of silence. We felt the vibration of it long before the vocal wave reached us and we joined in, to watch it travel on. POWERFUL. just a Woooooo! 

The things I gained from Saturday was the knowledge I am not alone. There are people, complete strangers even, that will stand up for me, that will stand beside me. I learned how powerful we are when we stand together, for the rights of people that are different than us. I learned that sometimes you have to give your self self care and recover, and sometimes you have to fight on, and neither one is anything to be ashamed of. I learned that if we are going to stand up for each other in these moments, we must plan and prepare for it, or we will cower and falter in adversity. I learned the positive power of sounds, and of silence, and that both are important, and both must be used, to lift, not to shame. not to beat down, but to stand up for the down beaten.  

 I have frequently thought recently, this country should probably just get a divorce, because we have some irreconcilable differences, and we may have, I'm still not sure.  

But I do know that people that are willing to stand up for each other are all over this country in the smallest towns and the largest towns.  They are republican, they are democrat, they are  independents.They are the people that realize we don't build a great America without everyone.. gay, straight, Muslim, christian, atheist, scientist, black, white, able bodied, disabled, mentally ill, "normal"   those willing to allow others to be thrown under the bus out of fear of what they will loose if women are payed equally with men in their same positions, or if some moms choose to stay at home... fail to see that all this diversity is what leads to forward movement, to progress, to invention. 

I recently discussed in a book group (haven't got to read the book yet) The Professor and the Mad Man. It is a book about a man in an asylum (mental)  who during the Victorian era was schizophrenic, and had committed a murder in what he thought self defense because  of his delusions. And felt bad about what had happened, and had others reach out to the widow to bring her support. He had been a doctor before this, and was a very intelligent man.  She reached out back and brought him books to read in the asylum. In one of the books was a pamphlet asking for help with the Oxford English dictionary. Without this man's help, we wouldn't have had the wonderful dictionary that came of his efforts, and other peoples compassion. His contribution was extraordinary. 

All people have worth. All people have value.  Not all Ideas have worth and value, but all people do. and more important than hearing each others words, are hearing each others lived experiences.  So we can have empathy, So we can start to march together, even though you may be here for one thing, and I am here for something else. I will speak up for you. will you please also speak up for me?  and for my friend over there?

As I marched with my friend, I said to her "If people could just be like this every day, we WOULD change the world"  

  I will end with the words of another march speaker

"Help us love, even those that hate us, 

so we  can change the world"

 -women's March, Seattle

Monday, January 2, 2017

Week of kindness and Week of the Phoenix Rising

Last week was the week of kindness and love in the Phoenix festival. I thought with it being christmas, and boxing day that was most appropriate. I thought it was going to be a week focused on giving to others, but I was so exhausted all week it became a week of kindness and love to self. Mostly expressed by letting myself finish Xena  and relax, and going to bed at 9 pm. Super early for me.

This week is the week of the Phoenix Rising. It is a new year. Last year was pretty crap, so now it's time to gather our strength, rise from the ashes and soar into a new year. I hope this year is better, but if it's not, I'm ready to fight to make it the best it can be. 

We still have a few feast  days and things ahead this week. So happy phoenix  festival through the 5th, and happy new year.