Glad to be back home or, Wow, Racism!

I spent last week in the States, where I spent the first 23 years of my life. This trip was the first time I’d been back by myself. Prior to that, I’d always brought someone else with me. It’s a radically different experience going somewhere by myself than it is with someone. I’m able to be with my reactions and responses a lot more. I don’t spend any energy working to help create a certain experience for someone else.

It was eye-opening.

Let’s take the example of the Paula Deen thing that’s happening. For context: Prior to my coming to the States last week, I had no idea who this woman was. I haven’t had a TV in years and don’t really care about network television or cable programming. Additionally, I am actively anti-racist. I work to be an ally. I pay attention to situations where my white privilege gets me things that it doesn’t get a person of colour.

Every single person who I questioned about the Paula Deen case told me this:

20+ years ago, she said the N-word and now she’s being sued by a white person for being a racist. Can you believe it?

And then there’d be rhetoric defending her. I suppose it would be important to note that each person I spoke with on the matter was/is white.

I took them at their word, which was, in retrospect, quite naive. I now respond: Aw, hell no.

Why the change in my response? Because I actually read a little on the matter and learned more about what’s going on. Read the following for what’s really going on.

The Paula Deen Incident: you should know all that’s being alleged before defending her

Defending Paula Deen: what the national reaction can teach us about race

 

Yesterday, I was in Port Credit, Mississauga. Mississauga, New Market, and Brampton are the top three most multicultural cities in the world. They’re part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Yesterday was July 1st, Canada Day.

Hazel McCallion, the 92-year-old Mayor of Mississauga. She's held that office since 1978. Photo Credit: Angela Warner

92-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion has held office since 1978.
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Photo Credit: Angela Warner

A little bit of Africa
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Philippine Heritage Band
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Philippine Heritage Band Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Philippine Heritage Band
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

St. Andrews Pipes and Drums Photo Credit: Angela Warner

St. Andrews Pipes and Drums
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Welcome to Port Credit Photo Credit: Angela Warner

Welcome to Port Credit
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

South Asia Photo Credit: Angela Warner

South Asia
Photo Credit: Angela Warner

And there was the Mississauga Chinese Arts Organization performing, which I took a video of. Youtube is being difficult and won’t let me upload the video, nor will WordPress.

Technical difficulties aside, I’m so thrilled to see such diversity. On one float, there was a man on a platform talking about diversity instead of assimilation, and truly, that’s where it’s at. Believing someone is inferior because of their skin tone is seriously one of the most ridiculous things we humans have come up with in our global cultural legacy. I find it absolutely bizarre.

While I was visiting the States, I felt the divide between white people and people of colour so much more pronouncedly than I ever feel it in Toronto. I distinctly recall thinking, “Oh yeah, there really is this divide in the way white people perceive people of colour. I remember thinking this way. Thinking about Them, as though they’re Different from Us. The Great Othering.”

I don’t feel that divide so much anymore. People really are just people. We all want to have fulfilling lives. We all want to feel loved and useful and relevant. We all want to have the means to pay our bills on time. If more of us acted like we’re really all on the same team, fewer of us would be defending Paula Deen. And, more importantly, even fewer of us would be acting like her.

Whole unto Ourselves

White Bleeding Hearts  ©Angela Warner

I had an epiphany earlier today.

What I realised is that part of the reason we cling so desperately to the idea of soul mate (and twin flame, for those of you familiar with that term, regardless of how you may want to distinguish it from soul mate) is because of Separation Consciousness: We feel so keenly the separation from the Divine when we incarnate on Earth, and this feeling of separation engenders an unmatched desperation for reunification with the Divine Love Source from which we emanate.

We need to know we’re not alone in this world.

A grand part of our journey on this Earth, however, is to learn how to feel the Divine within us so that we know with immovable certainty that we’re whole unto ourselves. That there is nothing wrong with being single — you’re not half a person when you don’t have a partner. That’s like saying there’s no difference between being alone and being lonely, when those two states of being are worlds apart from each other. You can be lonely in a crowd and be completely satisfied and at peace whilst alone. The entire notion of ‘our other half’ is as much an illusion as this feeling of separation we’re immersed in. It is all part of the Maya that the Buddha spoke of. It is Illusion. And a really damned convincing one, at that.

This, of course, in no way means the idea that having a partner or partners to share it all with is not desirable. For the most part, we humans are communal creatures. My point is more that we need to take a look at ourselves and realise that we don’t need completion — we are already complete. And if we’re constantly seeking somebody to complete us, it’s not going to work out the way we’d like. Looking outside of ourselves for what we need to discover within us will always leave us wanting more.

So the next step would appear to be a move from feeling separated, lonely, and broken to feeling whole and perfect just as we are. How does one bridge that gap? Like everybody else, I’m working on it, but some things that come to mind as really, really having a positive impact would be the following:

 

Body Positivity.
Realising that your body is perfect no matter what it looks like, no matter what it can or can’t do is, I believe, the first core step towards recognizing your wholeness. Your body is perfect because it allows you to exist on this planet. Give it the love, appreciation and gratitude it deserves.

And for this, I’m giving a much-needed shout out to all the beautiful fat women in the world who have internet connections and are posting amazing articles and blog entries, writing books, making fantastic videos, and taking gorgeous photos celebrating their journey towards self-love and self-acceptance in the face of so much outright societal hatred. All y’all are amazingly inspiring and you have my sincere and heartfelt gratitude for putting yourselves out there like that. You do humanity proud. I have benefited hugely from all the fat-positive, body-positive everythings I’ve come across. Thank you.

Adding to this link love is the best NSFW body-positive blog I’ve ever come across: Diversexity. The owner of the blog writes, “People are amazingly diverse and within that diversity is more beauty than any ideal could possibly bring.” And she shows that with her collection of images, pages and pages of humanity in all our sex-positive, body-positive glory.

And lastly, Olympian athletes. If you really want a range of peak-performance ability and associated body type, take a look. We all have different abilities and appearances.

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

 

Creative Expression.
Once you start to get the idea that your body is fucking awesome and can do all sorts of amazing things, you may have an easier time understanding that using it to create more awesomeness is a necessity for the sanctity and sanity of the soul.

This is one of the primary things we are designed to do. We are designed to create. It is fundamental to being human. I have more to say on this in a later post.

There is no one in this world who can do the things you do. There is no one in this world who can draw, sing, or dance the way you draw, sing, and dance. Write, drum, make music. Build buildings that no one thought to design. Learn how to tattoo. Develop recipes and variations on themes. Create the most fascinating Rube-Goldberg device ever. Go forth and express the wholeness of who you are because it will unleash within you the joy you are made of and that will flow out into the world, enriching and inspiring us all.

 

Celebrating Mistakes.
So… I have to talk about this one because I know so many profoundly creative people who contend with mental illnesses of all sorts, along with mild to severe anxiety. I don’t feel like I can paint with such broad brushstrokes without addressing the realness of how we mentally perceive ourselves and the world around us.  Even if it’s a completely inadequate nod, such as this one. I’ve struggled with depression myself, so I know whereof I speak. It’s like this.

I’m linking creativity and mental illness with the idea of making mistakes. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen how often the artist suffers for her art and how it’s all rubbish if it’s not perfect.

Making mistakes is part of being human. How we feel about those mistakes will tell us how far we have to go in our journey. There is no judgment here, by the way. This is not a more-evolved-than-thou tack I’m taking because my journey is not yours. There is no better way or worthier way to get from point A to point B; it’s completely individual. Progress is sometimes direct and sometimes meandering across lifetimes. It’s. All. Okay. Ooohhh… there is so much here to unpack and untangle. Eventually, I’ll write about it all. Muahahahaha!

This idea of owning our mistakes and not letting them own us is, in part, inspired by a blog I came across the other day called Fumblr. It’s a celebration of academic failures in the humanities (as opposed to the sciences, where they write it all up already and publish it in journals so that people can learn from their mistakes).

This article, as well, really helped me realize the importance of recognizing the humanity in making mistakes, forgiving those mistakes, how we hold people accountable, and whether the implementation thereof needs to shift a bit: The Mistakes We Don’t Forgive (But Maybe Should)

 

When we come more fully into the understanding that we are not mistakes, that our bodies are not wrong, that we all miss the mark and that expressing that which is within us is fundamental to being human, we move ever closer to embodying the notion that we truly are whole unto ourselves.

 

You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.
Rumi

 

 

“exploring mind/body dualism”

CBXI6c2UMAAf27P

Hysterical Literature: The Orgasm as Art by Clayton Cubitt

 

When I first clicked on this Hysterical Literature link,
I was piqued. Obviously. What could possibly be more
awesome than wonderful women reading books they love,
dressed beautifully, recorded in black and white,
being stimulated to orgasm… It ranks high
for this woman-loving nerd.

And yet, when I sat there, having read
the description of the project,
looking at the still of Teresa, I felt shy,
hesitant. Like I didn’t want them to be so exposed
and so vulnerable in front of millions of people,
even if it was just three people and a camera in the room,
at the time. I sat there like a trespasser feeling like
I should walk away from this voyeurism.

But then curiosity won out.
Curiosity nearly always wins out for this cat.
And I’m so glad it did.

There is such similarity in all their experiences.
The fight to maintain composure,
the determination to continue on.
The interplay of control and release
focus on the words
focus on the words
breathe
words
the breathless oh my god
finally giving over to the body is incredible.
Listening and watching their breath move through them.
I was swept up in Alicia’s reading of Leaves of Grass,
likely the most beautiful recitation I will ever
have the pleasure of enjoying
I found myself laughing when they laughed,
felt giddy and breathless right along with them
watching their fingers spread stiffly, tension coursing through them,
then grab pages, clutch book, claw table,
hand to face, flushed, such a beautiful union of
the intellect, the unbelievably sensually intimate
and, of course, the humour, because
the whole situation is awesomely ridiculous.
Hysterical, one might say. I cheered for Solé,
raised my arms in the air and cheered.
And Amanda’s question at the very, very end was perfect.

It all finishes with wide grins and laughs
and is such a wonderful contrast of genuine humanness
to the slick, pre-packaged voyeurism of conventional
pornography. For me, I found a marvellous sense of
connection watching these women.

A highly pleasurable experience not to be missed.