Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

My morning commute has become much less enjoyable, thanks to the ever darkening news in this new Presidential cabinet that now occupies Washington.  I imagine yours has also – if you are brave enough to listen to the morning news.  If any of you ever thought that it really doesn’t “matter” who sits in the Oval Office, and in the President’s cabinet – I hope you can see clearly now, how desperately wrong that thinking is.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington…I haven’t seen this film in many years – but I was thinking about it today, out on the trail, as I day-dreamed about doing something that could disrupt this vulgar cabinet and presidency that now controls the United States of America.

Words.  Words were the weapon of choice for Mr. Smith, as played by one of my favorite Actors…Jimmy Stewart, bless his soul – and the message this film delivers is a powerful one.  Civic Duty.  Remember these words: “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what you can do for your Country!” (JFK – in his Inaugural Speech).

Mr. Smith did just that – he stepped up and fought, on behalf of freedoms – not with guns! but with words, and words alone.  In the film, Mr. Smith was fighting against a corrupt political system (sound familiar?) and in order to “hold the floor” he had to maintain a steady flow of words, or speech – or he would lose the floor.

BTW: (Before the film was released, in the year 1939, the director, Frank  Capra asked the Washington Press Club to set up a screening for the  Congressman, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices – it did not go over well.  One third of the audience left before the film ended; the Senate Majority Alban W. Barkley described the movie as silly and stupid, and complained that it made the Senate look like crooks (hmmmm…)  – and Joseph P. Kennedy, the US Ambassador to the U.K., said the film ridiculed democracy and would do untold harm to America’s prestige in Europe. )

Words.  Jimmy Stewart’s character maintained control of the floor, not with pitchforks or firearms, but with Words.  The amazing power of words is their ability to be used in ways that can be tricky…like “double speak” if you remember this term from George Orwell’s brilliant book “1984.”  Words can be used in  support of concrete scientific proof – such as Global Warming…and words can be used in support of those who believe that Global Warming is simply “a hoax.”

Words are merely tools, and as with all tools, they fulfill the aim that we attach to them.  A simple word, in and of itself, can have a rather static meaning: ie – woman.  But this word “Woman” does not stand alone – it simultaneously represents a fully fledged belief system in our country; a belief system that further expands and articulates  the very meaning of this word “Woman” – thus solidifying a specific position in our society….ie: “Women don’t deserve to earn as much as Men.”  This word “Woman” thus presents a narrowing of what it means to be an earner…to be less valued as the man sitting in the cubicle beside you, who is making more money per hour – simply because he is NOT a She.

What about the dangers that certain individuals must face on a daily basis, here in the United States, because they are seen through the prism of these three considerably dangerous words: Young, Black, Male.  Woman may be limited – but Young Black Male?  African American?  He is the weight of the Americas itself.   What does one do when the very name you carry on your person, on your skin, is an on-going assault, a swarm of carnage that affects you in a dangerous and very real way, all around this country….or this newly injected phobia into our mainstream culture – “Muslim”.

Words…even a single Word carries weight; carries history; carries expectation, silence, invisibility,  and sadly, even danger.  And yes, there are times when a single word can also feed the on-going obliteration of an entire race, an entire people; and it is then that a word in itself, becomes dangerous.

Words, language, they are one of our greatest and most powerful tools,  and they serve all people – regardless of color, race, or creed.

Words can serve as a tool for freedom – or repression.

Words can restore justice, or create greater injustice.

Words can desecrate, illuminate; guide, or disrupt.

Words are power.  And what they deliver is and always will be, entirely up to us.

I think of Jimmy Stewart, standing before Congress, owning the floor through his steady flow of Words – and through this simple, daunting, civic act – he created profound disrupt!

Let us remember. We might be in need of our own profound disrupt in the coming days, months, and years ahead.

 

 

Sick Day…..

Feeling restless…feeling like shit…feeling the pull of a sharp twisted rope around my neck, around my spirit – in this wasteland of a Presidency, this wasteland of a Cabinet, this wasteland of sick and twisted demons that call themselves human.  How is one “human”  while stripping hundreds of thousands…if not millions, of people’s medical insurance?  How is one Human while they rape and pillage and disrespect our beautiful planet Earth…all for the love of greed, and power, and their despicable vulgarity toward Truth?   There is no time for silence any longer – we must resist the desire to crawl into a hole and “wait this shit out!”…because it won’t work.  We must be willing to put ourselves on the line..to challenge what we see, to challenge what we hear, what we bear witness to…now, and for  perhaps – years to come.

Spring in the foothills after last years fires
Spring in the foothills after last years fires

I myself have been complacent.  I have allowed “America” to be my key, to be my solace, to be my freedom, to be my protection, to be my right, to be my privilege!  And for as long as I’ve been alive – 50 years! – I was able to hide  behind America’s Flag and understand that I was FREE…along with the vast majority of my fellow Americans.

NO MORE!  This attitude of take without give must swiftly move far far far from the likes of me!  It is time to Mother-Fucking-HUSTLE for my Beautiful Amazing Selfless Abundant EARTH.  It is time for me to Mother-Fucking-Hustle… not for me, but for the generations upon generations upon generations to come!  So our future generations of children may look upon a sunset that ripples with unbound beauty…so that our brilliant wondrous Forests may continue to spill across the landscape, and young ears will hear the song of wind in leaves, the music of bird on limbs, and feel firsthand the healing power of simply residing in Earth’s magnificence.

The next four years are going to happen, whether I…or anyone else, likes it or not.  But this MUST NOT make us slink into the shadows – it must propel us to do the exact opposite!  We must disrupt ourselves, step outside our comfort zones and do whatever we can to protect Mother Earth, to protect our fellow humans, to protect the most important idea known to HUMAN KIND, and that is to protect the rights of ALL LIVING THINGS…Human, Animal, Air, Water, Woods, Moss…Rights !!!…for all living things.

 But lest we forget – we can have all the Rights on Planet Earth…all the rights we want –  but they will mean nothing if we do not have our Dear Mother Earth to provide for us all.

Calling All Artists!!!

“The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” – Robert Schumann.

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Hard to believe a New Year has landed! I hope one and all have had a beautiful year in 2016, and that you…WE…all feel grounded and rooted and certain of our beliefs as we face this new year. This beautiful collection of books are a few of my favorite reads from 2016!

Peter Mathiessen – The Snow Leopard:  Mathiessen is an exquisite writer – his language is like moving through beauty itself.  This deeply moving reflection on Quest and Loss as he traverses the Himalayas, begs us to consider what we are willing to give up, and at what cost… alongside what we might gain. If you love language as an art form, you must read his work.  Beautiful.

Shirin Ebadi – Until We Are Free:  A profound look at what it means to dedicate one’s life to advocating for Human rights,  personal Freedoms, and the Right to live according to those personal beliefs…even when your own country conspires against you.   Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 – the first Muslim woman to receive this highest honor.  Read this.  It will change you.  It will expand you…and it might just make you get up off your couch to create a better, saner, safer World!

 Jennifer Ackerman – The Genius of Birds – is a Wonder for anyone that loves birds!  We love their song, we love to watch them flit about through the sky, but their genius?  Oh my.  This book will bring you a new-found sense of awe and respect for our gorgeous feathered friends of the air.

Rumi – blessings upon him.  Years ago I was able to attend the Breadloaf Writers Conference, where I met and was inspired by many beautiful writers.  One of them, a young handsome man turned to me one afternoon, on the expansive lawn and asked me this:           R U?  M I?  (Are you?  Am I?) to which, he continued: I M, U R (I am, You are.)  This was my introduction to Rumi, a poet of sheer brilliance, love, joy, and wonderment.  Is always a treat to take this book off the shelf and swim in his sea of profound human beauty.

Joshua, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton – Atlas Obscura – A pure delight! This gorgeous collection of interesting, arcane, expansive, extraordinary, odd-ball tidbits of knowledge and facts is SO wonderful and fascinating that I can say with complete abandon that I love it – and I know you will love it too!  There is something for everyone in this one:)

and last but not least…

Ruth Ozeki –  A Tale For The Time Being!  I gulped this novel down within a matter of days – loathe to separate from it.  Ruth Ozeki created a remarkable, beautiful, haunting and elliptical world that swims through the great sea of humanity…as well as the sea itself. Her novel moves us to engage with memory, loss, love, family, war, and the necessary process of letting go – while simultaneously finding our own way to endure.  This beautiful novel is a meditation on living, on love, on seating oneself in the moment, and acceptance: acceptance of letting go – even when we are not ready to do so.

Thank you Ruth Ozeki!  You expanded my heart, my being, and my humanity.

 

…and so!

Here we are – 2017…a year that ushers in a particular and uncertain time of change.  There is a great deal of discomfort inside the hearts, spirits, and minds of many, all across the nation…and rightfully so. We are off the grid; we have entered a territory for which there is no compass, no guide rails for us to study.

Trump.

How did this happen?

I have no answer for that..I did NOT vote for him.

But I DO know this: More than ever before

 ART will be, MUST be

 our guiding compass. Resistance through Art. More than ever before.

 Perhaps our country, our world, will fare well over the next four years…perhaps…I certainly hope so…but no matter what, it WILL BE, MUST BE time for ALL of us to step outside our comfort zones and make noise.  Make resistance…and one of the strongest ways to be heard will be through ART. No matter what,  Art will profoundly and absolutely, be necessary!

Art is the light shining into the dark spaces.  Art is where Truth is given center stage… no matter how askance one must peek from the corner of  their eye. Year 2017 can be the year that changes us from weak, to bold…the year that ushers in a new Era of Sound, a new Era of Fight, a new Era of Resistance, Unity, and Creation.   2017 may insert the very real necessity for artists and the socially conscious individuals around our country, around our world, to fight for what we believe in…to step outside comfort zones, to raise a voice, to be counted, to be heard. I know that I will be relying, deeply, on the voices of Artists around the world…and I know I will not be alone.

Resist. Resist. Resist.

Create. Create. Create.

Remind the world that we, the larger segment of our nation, did NOT  vote for Trump…and that we are here, we are united, and we will not step down to whatever lies ahead.