24 February 2010

the shadows and the light

There is a song that I really want you to be listening to right now but it doesn't exist on the internets for me to share with you. It is on a compilation by Bobbito and it's entitled Shadows and the Light by Maysa Leak (formerly of Incognito). Anyway she has an incredibly rich voice and the song is just one of those Soundtrack to My Life songs that would be played around dawn as you're departing from someone you really like with the uncertainly of whether you'll see them again. Here's her remake of one of my favorite MJ songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fReeoFAfsiY (why can't I embed videos?).

So this idea about shadows and light came up in a conversation today. I was speaking with someone who was reflecting on a time in her past of which she's not proud. Not only was she reflecting on it, she was sharing it with someone close to her. I told her that I hoped she knew how much more in love with her I am as a result of it, because admitting our own oopsies is one of the hardest things to do. Hard enough to admit to ourselves, and even harder to show our asses to people close to us, whom we want to like us. I think we're so afraid to be judged, so afraid to be cast out, to be revealed for everyone else to see and subsequently shun (despite the fact that not a person is immune from their own skid marks on the underwear of life, shall we say) that we hold in all the naughty and really contort ourselves in an effort to present the shiny side of ourselves.

The idea of "shadows and light" is one of those pseudo-yoga jargony concepts that really gets my goat. By way of a little tangent, I have been really burned by the pithy nonsense that gets thrown around in yoga classes. "Ghandi said..." or "in Eckhardt Tolle's book..." or just something ridiculous like "breathe in light... and exhale fear..." And I can say I don't like that kind of dialogue in a yoga class because I used to be the one saying it. So not really much of an actual shadow, because quoting Ghandi is not exactly sordid, yet and still worth acknowledging. It bothers me because I feel like so often the people who are putting forth these ideas are not embodying them - which is a wayyyy more effective way to communicate the principle - nor are they acknowledging their own "shadows" which I now feel I have to put into quotes in order to distance myself from it. I just want to give that caveat and be clear that this is not an online seminar on How to Transform Your Life and Gain Abundance With Seventeen Minutes of Meditation Per Day.

If only we could all be so brave as to look at those part of ourselves, current or past, that just are not what we now consider to be "good" and not to judge them. Not to reject them. And just say, "this is part of who I am." You probably know a lot more as a result of whatever it is, you probably can identify with more people than you'd imagine. I think it's important to do it in a safe space (which is why, unless I can think of something relevant, I'm not going to go ahead and arbitrarily tell you about my own shady past because this may be Lent but it's not confession and there is such a thing as a statute of limitations that may or may not be up after ten years), because if you're not safe with the person you're sharing with, there is no transformation of the shame. In fact, it may just be reinforced. First and foremost we need to be truthful with ourselves. And very gentle with ourselves. Forgiving. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about holding the perceived negative feeling (fear, anger, jealousy) as a mother holds her infant. I appreciate that image. Could you do it? That time that you... the person who you... is it illegal to... I never want to.... again.

New subject: this is not a formal book review, as I'm neither qualified to be nor interested in being a Reviewer of Books. I did, however, just finish reading Brooklyn: A Novel. And holding aside anything about the plot, the writing, or the character development I will say that it left me feeling pissed off because the main character (a woman) did not make a single decision for herself in the entire book. This is fine and seemed to be intentional. I'm not pointing a finger at the male author for not having a clue as to what it means to be a woman, Memoirs of a Geisha style, I don't even necessarily think it's an anti-feminist or misogynistic work or anything like that. It's an interesting take on Irish Catholic women, that's for certain. She doesn't make a decision for herself. It bothered me. End of story. I'm going to go read some Jeanette Winterson to make myself feel a little better about womanity. Woo woo.

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