May 25th, 2007

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Here I am, finally!

I hate to complain about something that is so amazing, and I must admit to a wee bit of not understanding how Livejournal could not be a bit more sensitive to what it is for people when their whole system goes down, and not just for a day, but for two days.   I have been unable to post since early yesterday morning.  I understand that problems with computers occur, but when I kept getting phone calls and emails of concern as to where I might be and if I was all right, I emailed a request asking if they could put on the sites that were affected, a message stating that people were unable to  post.  That request has not only been ignored, but not addressed as to future possibility.  I feel they continue to add bells and whistles, when I would prefer to have the system work as it has worked for the 19 months I have used it.   I think when a system is down for more than 24 hours, people need some reassurance as to what is going on, more than a message posted on a site supported by a different server, a message from a day before and completely out of date.  Maybe they don't need to do that because they provide a service, and maybe there isn't really any competition for that service and maybe it doesn't really matter if the system is down periodically.  Maybe it shows how much we depend on technology to work.  Anyway, it seems it is now back, and I am realizing that I will say now that if something happens to me, I will have someone post that, so, as usual, "no news is good news," and I am well and fine.  I also realized how much I rely on posting and so I felt a bit discombobulated with not being able to check in and knowing that for some of you that would be a cause for concern.   The good news is that I had some actual phone conversations that I would not have had otherwise. 

So, what is going on in my life?   Well, yesterday I spent at Renaissance Stone in Oakland where we sat among the stones and sculptures discussing Rilke and his work for and learning from Rodin.  He learned to sculpt words as Rodin sculpted stone.   It was a fascinating place to learn more of Rilke and his life and again to see how important it is to read many translations of a work, and to have an understanding of the history from which the work emerges. 

I took a workshop with Amy Rennert, a book agent and I have been reading the books she has placed to get a sense of her and whether our book fits what she sells.  One book is Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.  It brings WWI to beautiful life and brings back memories of what our grandparents went through.  I recommend it.

It is also timely, in that this is Memorial Day weekend, a time to think back and remember those who have died, especially in wars.  It is a time to wrap in memory, connection, and love.  Summer is here, and the fog is in, and it is cold.    Mark Twain's, the "coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" has officially begun.  I am at my desk, wearing a jacket, as the fog spins round, and allows me a place to go inside and think of all those I love who have died. 
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Heron Dance!

I have mentioned subscribing to Heron Dance at

Here is this week's inspirational message.   It begins with four Joni Mitchell Quotes.

—Four Joni Mitchell quotes from the documentary film,
Woman of Heart and Mind

A lot of it is being open to encounter, and in a way in touch with the miraculous...It has to do with the Irish blood, I think, and luck. Whether or not the Blarney is flowing. Some nights, if you listen to the rattles of your own head, it is more linguistically colorful or eccentric than other nights. Is the Blarney running or is it not?

One night you will trip over your tongue. The words won’t come with the same facility. And on another night it is just with you. Why? Is it your biorhythms? It is divine intervention. They are saying, “You can’t have it tonight.”

The writing has been an exercise, trying to work my way towards clarity. Get out the pen, and face the beast yourself. What is bothering you? That is not exactly it. Okay, well go a little deeper. That is not exactly it. It is very hard peeling off the layers of your own onion.

When you get to the truth, you ask yourself: “Do I want to say that in public?” You are really doing a tight rope walk to keep your heart alive, to keep your art alive. To keep it vital and useful to others. This is not useful, because we hit upon a human truth?

I moved up into the Canadian back bush where I could be alone. I lived with kerosene, stayed away from electricity for about a year. I turned to nature. I was going down, and with that came a tremendous sense of knowing nothing. Western psychology might call it a nervous breakdown, but in certain cultures they call it a shamanic conversion.

I read just about every psychological book I could lay my hands on, and threw them all against the wall basically. But depression can be the sand that makes the pearl. Most of my best work came out of it.

If you get rid of the demons and the disturbing things, the angels fly off too. So there is a possibility in that mire of an epiphany.

The artist is a canary in the coal mine. We’re supposed to be out on the fringes of society, with an overview. If we are doing our work, we should be a little ahead of the strife. People would ask me if I was being a little negative. I’d say, “No, aren’t you being a little like an ostrich with your head stuck in the sand?”

I tried to train myself to be a realist. I am not cynical. To me it is, “Can you get through this life with a good heart?” That has been my struggle. With all the injustice and all the things that piss you off, to try to get the heart to rebound. And bloom again, you know?

Dear Heron Dancers,

Twelve years ago, deep into a struggle with cancer, I heard a story on National Public Radio about someone trying to row across the Atlantic Ocean. He was blown off course and ran out of food. He said that he would lie in the bottom of the boat and say over and over to himself, “I am a survivor.” He changed course for reasons he couldn’t really put into words, and was picked up by an ocean liner. After hearing that story, I immediately started to do the same. I would lie in bed in the morning for half an hour or so and chant silently to myself, “I am a survivor.”

In the book of quotes I’ve put together over the last twenty years is a synopsis of a study of adults who were severely abused growing up. About a third grew up to be healthy, happy adults. The researchers concluded that the common denominator among these adults was that sometime in their difficult childhoods, they developed a close friendship with their own self.

Through thick and thin, through all the ups and downs of life, having a close relationship with one’s own self adds a deep satisfaction and perhaps survivability to a human life. An important part of that is a close relationship with one’s subconscious mind. I have an affinity for the subject because I’m a daydreamer. I love to just sit and watch thoughts make their way through my head.

For artists, a close relationship with one’s subconscious mind is crucial. Real art communicates on a visceral level, a level deeper than words. Similarly, when I read a phrase like “the art of business” or “the art of relationships” what goes through my mind is making time for the crucial nuances and subtleties that cannot be easily put into words. When I don’t make time for that, I tend to get myself into trouble.

To have and keep a friend requires time. To develop an important skill requires effort and study. These commitments are also required to develop and maintain a close relationship with one’s subconscious mind. I’ve always been interested in this subject, but am now devoting much greater study to it, and experimentation. I’m finding that the rewards are deep and rich.

In celebration of the Gift of Life,