Sunday, 22 April 2012

freedom + dreams

cool graffiti i thought, as i was taking photos
a lady came up and asked if i did it
and i said "No," and asked her if she thought
it was graffiti or art?
She said it was illegal 
and i said art is illegal?
that is a scary society to live in.
That shifted the conversation
i saw the light click on
and we had a great chat after that line
had been crossed.

~ Chris Bose, re: dreams

Missing my son Theo, who is on an adventure~ all week I've been kicking around a title, "letter to my son on his island," "letter to my son on an island that it takes a whole year to get to," and like that. He and his friends planned for months last year to go on an adventure together, to said island, and several things occurred to prevent them. One mom intervened in a most shocking way, what looked to me to be a most callous abuse of power.  Sabotage. No doubt from her perspective, it seemed like not just the right thing to do, but, the best thing. Why else?

How do we respond to our children's age-appropriate testing of their wings? Selfishly? All of their months of planning and pooling resources, dreaming together, ended in a social and psychological train wreck: this dream has been irrevocably delayed.

Although I'd love to have the power to keep my children safe, in every situation, well beyond their childhood years, I have not lost track of my own surges into independence, and I have to trust that all the early days trainings and endless discussions, alongside their own common sense, will carry them through.

I remember one day, heading back from a day at Cambie Water Park, standing at the bus stop: I was on a bit of a roll, a mommy rant, philosophizing and cautioning my charges in my most piquantly grumpy voice. I wandered to the end of my riff, ambled to a stop, and stood quietly eyeing the traffic, drawing on my cigarette.

"Mom," Theo said, and I turned to him. "Is there anything else?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I just wondered, is there anything else about the world that you think I should know?"

Haiga 810 ~ see haiku here
Visiting on my porch over cups of tea last Friday night, three lady poets reminiscing: one left home at the age of eleven, by accident, another left home with complete sense of purpose, at the age of fourteen. I left home, by accident, at fifteen, but after some months of insecurity and exploitation, i found my reprieve: a shift of provinces, a few years more in one of my parents' homes.

The context is social oppression, and the cascading effects: parents whose first and prevailing impulse is to protect themselves from their own pain, the personal struggle to balance freedom, structure, healing, and a sense of control, alongside the need to get along in this world. Some fumbles are spectacular, and push the need to make resolution down the generations, parents in effect saying, "someone else deal with this, i just can't." Like fobbing off a package of pain to the next generation.

Some things are inevitable, unavoidable. The death of a parent is one such eventuality. I remember my father's annoyance, as we his youngers of the time began to debate who would get what-- most sought after was his blue stone ring. I don't think anyone put dibs on his guitar-- we couldn't really imagine the two as separate beings.

It doesn't seem to matter what age we are, or they are, when our parent dies, the transition is a marker of life and humanity, often a sort of unwanted freedom, sometimes a substantial relief. For the baby and the small child, it is a formative disaster.

Yesterday i participated in the life celebration of a joyful and eccentric lady named Heidi, whose daughter, life companion, brother and other family members, and diverse friends and neighbours, came together at a picnic spot overlooking the sea, with a children's playground at the foot of the hill under our feet. Heidi died suddenly, unexpectedly, at the age of 55.

As it happens, my father used to bring his strappy pack of kids to play on this hill, that firetruck, and in the waves arriving on the sandy beach, back in the late 1960s. I have brought my many to play here, alone sometimes, sometimes in company, many times over the years. My children Jules and Flora were friends of Heidi's, and they held on to me for quite a while, before moving off to circulate through the group independent of me.

I really appreciated the spiritual leadership, the opportunity to make tobacco ties, to smudge, to sing the Woman Warrior Song, as well as Amazing Grace, the shared food and the stories, the rueful laughter and the tender reminisce. I've never seen so many dogs at a funeral or memorial, but, that was Heidi, and Heidi's community, all the way. My last task was to accompany Flora to the water, as she tossed a long-stemmed rose onto the waves, in Heidi's memory. Together, we ran up the beach and away.


Above, the Chris Bose photo and story from a touching reflection on parenting, mortality, generations, freedom and dreams. Haiga 810 by Kunihara Shimizu, bringing the sensibility of Jack Kerouac forward to consider again, something bridging the aesthetics of my son Theo, on his island-that-takes-a-year-to-get-to, and me.  These are some of the  things that have come my way via the blogs that I follow. Gary Barwin is also reflecting on death and grieving; this is a recent post that spoke to me:

Titaniceberg




~~T~~^



~~T^~~



~~^~~


  .
   
~Gary Barwin, serif of nottingblog
Re-telling a story that persists in the oral as well as official memory, through the songs children learn at summer camp:
well, they built this ship titanic, and when they were through, 
they said this ship, the water'll never go through, but 
the good lord raised his hand, said this ship will never land, 
it was sad when the great ship went down

o it was sad/so sad/o it was sad/real sad/it was sad 
when the great ship went down to the bottom of the
 /husbands and wives, little children lost their lives/
it was sad when the great ship went down/

kerplunk/she sunk

Somehow this seems like a strange way to teach children how to grieve collective disaster, remembrance embedded in a memorably deep shrug, haha. At least it is a disaster that has registered on the collective memory: what else has happened that we should be bearing in mind, teaching our children to remember and grieve, this past hundred years?


Learning to say good-bye, re-grieving the past, small surprises and large ones, accommodating the demands of real life. I trust that the profound love that ties me to my ancestors and my children will survive the coming and going, the rise and the fall, of all my relations. Lateral love lashing me to a raft of human others, like the pregnant teen was lashed to a raft by her soon-to-be-drowned husband and crew-mates and brother.*

What does it mean, to be 18? Who decides?

Moment by moment, conversation by conversation, life goes on. On the islands of our dreams, on our journeys, in the homes we learn how to make, using the wisdom and the strength that we develop by using our wings.


Poetry blogs:
Chris Bose, Urban Coyote Teevee 
 Kuniharu Shimizu, see haiku here
Gary Barwin, serif of nottingblog
*final moments on The Loretta B, see-hear the story here,
 http://joannearnott.blogspot.ca/2012/03/women-in-fish-hours-of-water.html


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