Friday, February 20, 2009

On the poem "Doing dishes"

In different ways, some pieces of work are easier to share than others: “Doing Dishes” is difficult for me to present in the written form as opposed to presenting it in a live forum. Anyone out there who actually knows me as a person will realize what a huge statement that is. To say that I am not a fan of public speaking would be a gross understatement. After the first time I did a live presentation from "De die in diem" I veered from the podium, down the isle which had clapping people on each side, through the open doors and into the hall (more clapping people) and to my office without acknowledging a single person. I have regretted that I didn’t stick around for handshakes and compliments – writing that statement makes me feel somewhat shallow (sorry I missed the praise) – but leaving was better. Leonard Cohen made claims of not having room for regrets and in this case I can understand his statement: it was far better to have the breakdown that followed, in the privacy of my office. That was the only time I’ve ever had that violent reaction after a reading but the experience has made me quite uneasy about live presentations of my work. Strangely when I present (this poem) in public a positive response never fails; however, I am also unsure as to how well some pieces will be received in the written word. “Doing Dishes” is one of them.

This issue, of hearing and seeing a writer as they present their own words as opposed to reading the work on the page, is very interesting. I have brought it to the floor with students in every class I have taught (no matter the level of practice they were at) and every age-group (grade 8 to adults). I personally have thought about the issue since my days in university. One of my poems (“Yellow”) hit the table for discussion. The practice was that we (the author) read the piece before it would be discussed. After I finished reading “Yellow” (which I may get up the courage to post) my professor claimed that she had a sheet full of comments but they became irrelevant. She did not have questions; no criticism to give me, nor did anyone else at the table of a dozen. All that accomplished was me doubting the power of my work in the written form (which I’ve never told my students or anyone else for that matter). However, our experiences are not as important as what we learn from them. This is the period when I began to pay attention to the appearance of the word (“I” vs. “i”) and to their position on the page. I also started utilizing the blank space on the page and doing away with most punctuation (which is maybe too often read in association with prose).

So here I step up and present “Doing dishes” in its written form and invite you to comment, question, or criticize…all opinions are valued. And remember that you can click on the image to enlarge it for easy reading.

Thank you in advance.

Doing Dishes

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"The Ego Boom: Why the World Really Does Revolve Around You"

Last night TVO’s (Ontario Public Television) “The Agenda” aired a very informative debate on Steve Maich’s book, “The Ego Boom.” Though last night was the first time I have heard of this book or of Steve Maich, for that matter, it is amazingly relevant to my post on spending.

The show opened with a brief introduction of what Steve Maich explores in his book, which was published before the lay-offs and buy-out, before the experience of the present global situation.

“Our ego is responsible for the current economic crisis,” Maich said. He went on to describe how the 1980’s quest for self-esteem (and to instill self-esteem into our children) had gone awry, how the advertising media had shifted from statements of aspiration to those of self-affirmation (“because I’m worth it” shifted to, “because you’re worth it.”): eventually over-blowing self-esteem into something narcissistic and how the banks eventually came to invest in the notion that “ownership” somehow reflects self-worth.

I think of the book as a depiction of the gradual, steady building and the consequences of false self-esteem on a very large scale…defiantly a book that I’d like to read.

Something that rings true, and that we may each need to think about, is the idea that “the economy is here to serve us, not the other way around” (Elizabeth May). I admit that I have never thought of it that way before but I find May’s statement quite liberating. If we give May’s statement some thought and turn our practices around, it seems to me that we will experience more freedom than we ever have before – traveling a more positive road.

Elizabeth May (Political leader of the Green Party), Brink Lindsey (from the CATO Institute), Alan Hatchenson (Law Professor), and Dalton Conley (Sociology Professor) debated the issues Steve Maich raises in “The Ego Boom.” Bulleted List
Click onto the Wed. Feb 11/09 tab for "The Ego Boom" debate
Details on the book "The Ego Boom"


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On the message of spending

In the media I often hear this message about getting out there and spending money. In general, I find it to be an insulting and miss-directed message. People are being laid off, they are losing their homes and then the media, ultimately, blames them for the economic situation with the absurd claim that they are supposed to be spending money. How? What money? People (be it individuals, businesses, governments) have been spending money they didn't have for decades and now it is catching up with all of us.

The most important message of the moment is the idea that we have been neglecting our spiritual needs, thus creating a feeling of emptiness (some kind of hole that needs filling) and we have been trying to fill that hole with 'things'…materialism; if any thing it is time for us to step away from that. It is time for us to learn to live simply; simply learn to live. And it is time for us to each get acquainted with the self and our individual spiritual needs, or if you prefer, the needs of our spirit (the genuine self).

I am also laid off and see no ‘job’ prospect, which is why I started this blog in the first place. Depressing? Yes! And that is fine. It was okay for me to take a few days to feel sorry for myself but in all, I do have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I won’t bother posting what I don’t have…what I’ve learned to live without, but I do have my old computer and internet. I have friends and family and communication. And I have one aspect of ability that I have worked very hard to try to develop, one passion that I could not justify spending time on because I was supposed to be out in the world generating money, working at some job some place to prove something to someone somewhere. I have neglected writing since graduating university. It is what many university graduates do…they graduate and look for a job and end-up doing something that has nothing or little to do with the area of study which meant enough to them to keep them going through the four to seven or more years it has taken to earn their degrees. What, ‘Reality’ sets in?…how sad. I am kindly lifting the guilt, for not making and spending money, off of my shoulders and I am working at getting to writing; to get doing the thing that inspired me to be able to endure seven years in that learning institution.

And okay, this may seem like a ‘privileged’ example. What about the people who, life being what it was at the given time, felt a need to take that factory job, make money so they could live and so they could spend money? The difference is slim. I am not, nor have I ever been ‘privileged’ in the financial sense. I am the first university graduate from my blue-collar family (outstanding school loans, past due). My brother is laid off after 21 years of working in a factory. He had ‘goals’ which he misplaced by labeling them as ‘dreams.’ When I learned about his lay off I suggested that it could be a blessing in disguise. He readily agreed with me. He has severance pay and training services available. Should he be spending his money right now? No! He should be taking time to digest the idea that his life has taken a new direction, getting in touch with himself, acknowledging the possibilities. It’s time to be creative, think outside of the box, and see the new. Winter feels long but spring always comes.

I was speaking with a very dear friend the other day, and as is true with many people right now, our conversation turned into talk about the economic situation. I told her, I feel that something positive is going to come from all of this mess; however, I didn’t explain myself. Now I have.

Positive thoughts = Positive energy