Get Out

No spoilers here, but if you have yet to see the film, stop reading and do it right now.

This is so much more than just another film on race.

It’s trippy.

Gory.

Thoughtfully crafted.

Full of good laughs.

And awakening.

I’m really not a fan of horror movies, especially the cheesy ones with lots of blood and jump-scares. I prefer mellow and light-hearted films. Yeah, heart attacks are a real concern for this old girl. But this one transcends horror–it goes so far beyond the norm that I’m left wondering, from where does the deepest darkness spring?

In us, from us, and through us it flows.

In the mirror, the naked beast stares with its glistening yellow eyes. I’m lucky to be so blind that I’ve avoided death by eye contact! But, it is only a matter of time before I have to look into its eyes to see who I really am.

Meritocratic decadence

the black tunnel is lit–

a pin of light

sowing grains of shadow.

the origin of my germ prior to the fusion of my body, the

independent mountaineers of their lives

climb on.

into the fray of foam the waves clamour,

reaching and tearfully melding with the clouds of rain

at last, a sad ship succumbs

sinking

into the depths of happy hell.

oh happiness! Atlantis is found, here, the

underworld of the youthful,

purgatory of the vibrant;

they feast in the wet glow of twilight,

breathing crisp water and drinking bubbly air,

dancing, singing,

their mouths moving like fish

choking in a mid-summer algal bloom, dying in shallow filth and scum of rotting flesh and stagnant silt.

riches of the world, have at it! the

sky is yours, so are the mountains,

trees, deserts and snowflakes!

why turn them down? is there no more to complement your possessions in competence?

what speaks of a privation more

than to accept such gifts–they will not do.

your pleasures are plenty as the stars are endless,

you want no more, and yet you can’t have less.

it rains in the tunnel, but

it is awash with the touch of light.

as oil seeps out of the asphalt bridge,

and cigarette filters swim down the creek,

dust motes hitch a ride on the drops of rain

falling

like leprechauns into a pot of gold

like raindrops

like grenades into the micro-terrain of boulders and lakes

like tears

riding the salt of hard work, of happiness.

Dignity of animals, honor of beasts

I recently had the honor to accompany dear friend SO to two co-op parties. There may be a contradiction in that sentence, but I’ll have to explain.

In my mind, a party is a place where strangers would strike up polite conversations with one another, perhaps veer off into a discussion about the fun and diverse world of dipteran insects and their life histories, all over chips, pizza, and fizzy drinks. Implicit in that understanding is that if I were to have something to talk about with someone that interested him or her, then I would have been important at least in that instant.

At least all of that is wrong.

I don’t mean “important” as though I suffer from extremely low self-esteem on a daily basis (at least I doubt it); I mean important as in “hey I’m a functioning member of society because I can have a conversation with another human being which proves that I’m useful.” Which now sounds ridiculous after I say it out.

We tell people who are depressed that they matter; why? Because it matters that people feel appreciated, valued. Worth doesn’t just spring forth from the inner infinity of self-love; love for the self is learned through positive reaffirmation from the community. I’ve never met anyone who learned confidence about the self without the guidance and nurture of another, whether parent, teacher, or admired friend. Self love could be learned without a teacher, but I believe it would require an extremely courageous leap of faith…

But in the moment, I was honored, because I never would have dreamed of being invited to a party. I’m not very good at mingling with strangers on a dance floor, or being in loud and crowded places, and so I pass under the radar for “people who may enjoy coming to my party.” I’ve sometimes wished that I could be that social butterfly that gets invited to places because that would mean that people enjoy me.

I was honored to be invited because I had the subconscious attitude that being wanted in that kind of social setting was an indication of my value to some aspect of society, and that it was intricately tied to my self-esteem. To be accepted–is that not an acknowledgement of my dignity as a human being?

Perhaps it was my ego talking.

I enjoyed the party on a very superficial level: there were nice strobe lights, loud music. People smoking, spraying, inhaling, dancing, laughing; all outward signs of excitement. But were they happy on the inside the same way they seemed on the outside? It was not the place to be asking such a question; I quickly found myself drifting into the abyss of Bad Thoughts. Suddenly, the lights were too much; they seemed to flash synchronously with loud thuds that rattled my ribs; the air was hot and dry; people were trying to shake off their worries with so much force that the air was acrid with friction and sweat.

Usually, I have a healthy self-esteem. Enough to get me by, not so much that I get in trouble. But at the party I didn’t even know what to do with my hands, much less with the thoughts. There were so many new things to try–should I? I was a fish out of water, and I let it get to my heard that my incongruence meant I was somehow…not enough. That may be a leap in logic, but I had declined alcohol, and can see how that made it harder to “be smooth.” Everybody else was intoxicated, high, “whipping it,” and I didn’t know what to do with the reality they had left behind.

Soon it spiralled into a question of my worth. Was I still good enough? Nobody looked at me; did I still deserve respect? What are these people thinking about me? It was a happy place that I couldn’t share in, so I left on the brink of emotional exhaustion, with the things in my mind; I wanted to take these thoughts to a faraway place, with open oceans and cloudless skies, a blue world that shimmered with texture and depth to complement the monotonous blue of my mind.

I wore off the effects of weed by writing. The next day I had completely forgotten what I had written. When I read it, it made no sense. Just like the party. I mean I know the facts of it, but I don’t know how to read the nuances. All I know is that there were many, whether I made them up or not. Parties are just parties; I know I read into things and between the lines a lot.

Now, honor means something very different to me. Whether openly acknowledged by the other party or not, it is always the job of someone else to give me honor; therefore it could never come from within or be a true reflection of what is within. Judgment is so relative, people think so many different things about me, who am I really? To take honor in being valued by someone else may not be wrong in itself, but it is not so healthy or even a true indication of how I am as a person. My friend invited me to the party. I felt honored to be invited. I was the one who attributed honor to the act, but in doing so I let the act tell me about my worth. Consequently met with disappointment, the act was able to take away my honor, which I also conflated with dignity. Thus I had essentially reduced my self, all this happening without my conscious realization in that time.

I think I prefer to consider myself not in terms of what it means to be honored, but rather dignified. Dignity comes from within and is preserved by itself through eternity. I could never lose my dignity because someone else acted in a particular way to express their belief concerning me; I am born with it, and will forever have it as long as I am. Dignity, in my opinion, is more important than honor. Honor has to be defended sometimes, but dignity is free and arises from me.

The recognition of dignity in myself necessitates the recognition of dignity in other people as well. I don’t know why, but this revelation about the permanence and significance of dignity brings me so much bittersweet satisfaction. In a way, she never died.

Coincidentally or not, it rained that night. Rain, the symbol of cleansing, drenched us. JC was with me. We talked, we walked, then I went home. It was wet and cold, but that’s rain for you, one of the most dignified things to grace the earth.

 

 

An abattoir of words

The world of animals is where we end the journey of self-discovery.

Harvey, Harvey, don’t leave without your coat. And take an umbrella with you; it looks a bit gray.

Maa, I’ll only be a while. The weather report said forty per cent; I’m taking a chance.

’ar-vey!

My boy!

’Ow lovely to see you ’ere, come in! Come right in–that’s right, wipe your feet, we don’t want them nasty flea spawn around ’ere. Would you like some meat cake? Some squirrel gravy? We just ’ad tea, ’ope you like oolong. ’Ow is your ma doing? Still upset about that Olady Johnson? A sheep’s a sheep, I’ll tell you! Whether their faces’ black or white, they can’t look you in the eye ‘cause they always tell a lie!

Oh Mr. Bigly, I can’t say the same. Maa has made up with Olady.

In fact, they have moved in together.

Mr. Bigly sips his tea, thinks that is ridiculous. Goat and sheep just don’t mix. It must look like a varmin bedroom in there, what with all their messy ways.

Mr. Bigly, may I ask you a question?

Of course, ’arvey! Go on, what is it?

You see, I’ve come to inform you that I intend to marry your daughter. Mo and I have known each other for two years, and during this time I have discovered no greater joy in life than that she brings me. We have been through thick and thin; we love each other deeply. Rest assured she and I have discussed our future to great lengths. We know what kind of family we want, and we would like to start it soon. In any case, do we have your blessing?

The old terrier stroked his beard. At the thought of his beautiful bitch settling down with a fine specimen like Harvey, a tear came to his eye. Do you mean there will be puppises? And I’ll be a grandada?

Yes, puppises for you to grandada away.

Then you have it, son!

Thank you, Mr. Bigly. Now I shall be off.

 

I’m home, Maa. See, not a drop of rain.

Did he say yes?

Of course he did. Mo and I just didn’t want him to feel left out, now that we have our own lives.

Well, good for you. My boy knows how to look after himself, I am happy to die. All these years I’ve waited and waited for you to grow up, and look it’s here!

Oh Maa, don’t say that. You’re not that old. You’ll be around for the puppises. You and Olady too.

I don’t know, Harv. All I know is you will make a terrific father. Just like your dad was.

Harvey wondered what his dad would have been like if he hadn’t died. God bless his soul, he was only forty-two.

Continue reading “An abattoir of words”

Starting Training as a Peer Counselor

As ironic as it may seem to me, I am starting my first day of training as a peer counselor at my university.

I’m extremely honoured and happy to have the opportunity to do so. What does it feel like to be moving towards my life goal? Excited, slightly scared, hopeful.

The model we will be trained with is the Rogerian model, which to my knowledge focuses on providing non-judgmental understanding and support, minus any kind of advising. I’ll learn how to help a patient explore their feelings, and how to guide them to discover their own solutions to their problems, meanwhile inspiring them to feel hope.

Ideally, of course. It is supposed to be simple. But what’s simple is usually very hard in one way or another. Can I imagine myself as someone who does not give advice? Impossible. Don’t we all naturally want to give advice when we hear someone talk about their situation? It’s almost absurd that one can have zero conscious or subconscious attitudes about how things should be, including how they can be fixed. Continue reading “Starting Training as a Peer Counselor”

An appeal to inward empathy

A moment comes to me bearing the shiny cloak of danger; I see it, hear its rustling. My fingers stretch out towards it. I can almost feel it, the soft, velvety comfort of release–I want to feel it!

But I retract my hand. This is the cloak of anger, and it is a beckoning beauty. What tempts me has no ability to be when it ceases to be that which it is–a temptation. Anger is not a temptation, but the expression of uncontrollable fury becomes so when all the frustrations accumulate like sand in the hourglass.

Instead of throwing the cloak over my shoulders, I walk away from the situation. The anger is right within me, I know, but it is enough that it should exist without bringing me to actions that neither resolve the anger nor better the cause of it. To allow myself to converse and descend into inner argument because of something someone else said at some time–what I need most in such a moment, is to walk away.

Walk away from situations not worthy of fight or time. Believe it or not, they exist. The kindness you show yourself is all you need.