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fear & life

September 4, 2011

Lately, I’ve been astonished at the vast spectrum of human capability: the ice climber who runs up mountains covered in ice and the “Homer Simpson” type who rarely accomplishes anything more than watching a movie or finishing a beer. How can both of these people be of the same species?

Some people love dangerous things, they have no fear and are attracted to activities that place them on the edge. Being on this edge causes people to sense life. How is it the closer to death you are you’re more able to feel life clearly? Is it that you see death, know its eminence and sense its closeness; when you realize you’re still alive, it helps you also know your life in a deeper sense? Why do we fear these activities then? We fear them because they do bring death sometimes. Death is something none of us alive can understand. None of us have experienced it and so it is unknown. The unknown, that is what people fear. If knowledge is power then not knowing is the opposite- it leaves us powerless. We’re not prepared, we don’t know what to do, we don’t know anything, and so fear ensues. What are we to do?

When we depend on our human capabilities, fear debilitates. It begins to dictate everthing we do in order that we might stay in control. Fear is tricky and wants us to be paralyzed- it wants us to play it safe because by playing it safe in everything, nothing happens. If nothing happens we never learn, we never change, we… nothing. Fear wants to tell you that you are not capable because in trying you might fail and failing is uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is unpleasant and we don’t like unpleasant. But the thing is, we must move through unpleasant because it is the only way to real joy, real understanding and real life.

Wars are started because of fear, hate crimes are caused because of fear, generations of people are enslaved because of fear and kept down by use of fear. Fear is powerful and it’s a reality of our place on earth. We all fear something: fear of losing what is “ours,” fear of change, fear of being alone after someone sees who we really are, fear that we can’t do it; we fear. The beauty in all of this is that when we accept our fear and decide to move past it, we jump into a world of possibility that was greater than anything we could have dreamed. Our relationships are allowed to grow deep, our ownership is released and we don’t need to hold on so tight, we are able to climb the highest mountains.

This all begins with one step. One step after one step and before you know it, you are somewhere. We all get this same choice- to move or not. We can choose to play it safe but is that really living? And yes, if you choose to jump you’ll probably fall but in falling you’ll know life, you’ll taste it, and then you’ll want some more.

If we forgive our fathers…

June 12, 2011

How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream?

Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us  too often,

Or forever when we were little?

Maybe scaring us with unexpected rage,

Or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all?

Do we forgive our fathers for marrying,

Or not marrying our mothers?

For divorcing,

Or not divorcing our mothers?

And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?

Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning,

For shutting doors, for speaking through walls,

Or never speaking, or never being silent?

Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs?

Or in their deaths, saying it to them or not saying it?

If we forgive our fathers,

What is left?

-Final Scene in Smoke Signals; screenplay by Sherman Alexie

A NOTE TO MY FATHER

As Father’s Day approches, I’m naturally reminded of my own father. I remember the good times. I remember growing up and how my dad knew all the answers- he knew everything. I remember running to his side as a little girl, hiding behind his leg- my daddy was the biggest and strongest of all the daddies. I remember him taking me camping, sharing his love for nature, for the wild. I remember hiking and fishing. I remember building a shed together one summer. I remember our long talks on the road, driving across the state- I remember  how everything he said was so important and I wanted to capture every word, never letting them slip from my mind. I remember football games and Christmas trees. I remember rocky beaches, searching for sea creatures. I remember working on cars and catching balls. I remember because these were good times, real times, important times.

I also remember the times that were not so good. I remember these times and I know they had impact. They impacted my choices, my mindset, my being; they still do. For, we are impacted by the good and the bad. That’s life.

I’ve been drawn to this final scene in Smoke Signals recently for the thought that my father may think he only remembers his wrongdoings. He may regret more than he feels he did right. This was never how I felt, nor ever will. As I grow older, I recognize my father’s faults- his humanity. More than something I hold against him, it brings me peace. I am allowed to make my own life separate from my father. I am allowed to make my own choices.

I wonder if fathers need to know that they are forgiven. I wonder if they don’t know. I wonder if my father doesn’t know how I feel.  I have always forgiven my father. It is not a moment- it is a continual forgiveness, it is an awareness, an understanding that love conquers pain. We have a special relationship; I am his little girl and will always be. I know, inside, the love he feels is stronger than some of the pain that was passed down.

To my father, I wish you the best Father’s Day. One that recognizes all of who you are, the good and the bad, and loves you just the same.

“I want purity, I must have it here right now”

March 11, 2011

Michael Jackson once said in an interview with Lisa Robinson, “…I’m going to do bigger and better things in the future. I’m compelled to do what I’m doing and I can’t help it—I love performing. I love creating and coming up with unusual new things. To be a kind of pioneer. You know, innovative. I just love it. I get excited about ideas, not about money; ideas is what excites me.”

Recently, I have been thinking about the people who effect us the most, who touch our souls and leave us with a lasting impression; the people who when we see, hear, watch them we can’t help but be moved, be in awe. These people are motivated by a desire deep within themselves, they are sensitive and aware, they are rooted in creativity, they long to learn- every opportunity is an opportunity to improve. They are not motivated by money, fame, or recognition but by pure love for their art. Often times,  these people are tragically affected by the fruits of their success. Specifically, I have been thinking about the lives and careers of River Phoenix, Heath Ledgar, and Michael Jackson.

These three individuals sought after pure art. Their performances were captivating, original and lasting. I am curious about them because of their individual tragic fates: River’s drug overdose outside West Hollywood’s Viper Room, Ledger’s overdose of prescription drugs, and Jackson’s suspected homicide- it seems the world surrounding them got too big to handle. Their ability to capture pure human emotion simply by being sensitive, absorbing people leads us to push into their lives, which becomes overwhelming, causing their internal selves to destruct. It is hard to say if this is a bad thing or not. Although I would not wish death upon anyone, their performances are art, they are beauty, and I don’t think they would even take away the opportunity to be a part of that history.

The purist kind of motivation is that for idea, to carry through an idea to its fruition. It is when this is actuated we are in awe. We are so distracted- by money, by relationships, by winning, by appearance… We loose sight of the original, pure motivation we felt.

I am reminded of a verse I used to know quite well, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8. We are enthralled by these people, we are curious about them because they have the ability to do this- they see what is pure, what is lovely and execute it. In our lives that are filled with so much stuff, they have the discipline to see and create. That is a gift that comes with a cost simply because it is so valuable and rare. The cost for these three stars was their life and it does not go unnoticed. RIP River, Michael, and Heath.

back to the future:

February 19, 2011
I find these photographs entirely interesting. The notion of re-enacting the self past and bringing it to now, which in turn becomes the past again, is wonderful. I enjoy these on many levels: aesthetically, in their accurate detail, and conceptually. What a great idea! 

photographs by  Irina Werning 

la negra 1980 and 2010, buenos aire

PANCHO IN 1983 & 2010, Buenos Aires

CECILE IN 1987 & 2010, France

Nico in 1986 & 2010, Buenos Aires

flor, male, sil in 1983, 2010

MARITA & COTY IN 1977 & 2010, Bueno

MECHI IN 1990 & 2010, Buenos Aires

magic water

February 17, 2011

Excerpt from War Dances by Sherman Alexie, chapter titled Salt:

“I wrote the obituary for the obituaries editor. Her name was Lois Andrews. Breast cancer. She was only forty-five. One in eight women get breast cancer, an epidemic. Lois’s parents had died years earlier. Dad’s cigarettes kept their promises. Mom’s Parkinson’s shook her into the ground. Lois had no siblings and had never been married. No kids. No significant other at present. No significant others in recent memory. Nobody remembered meeting one of her others. Some wondered if there had been any others. Perhaps Lois had been that rarest of holy people, the secular and chaste nun. So, yes, her sexuality was a mystery often discussed but never solved. She had many friends. All of them worked at the paper.

I wasn’t her friend, not really. I was only eighteen, a summer intern at the newspaper, moving from department to department as need and boredom required, and had only spent a few days working with Lois. But she’d left a note, a handwritten will and testament, with the editor in chief, and she’d named me as the person she wanted to write her obituary.

…I was young and frightened and craved respect and its ugly cousin, approval, so I did as I was told. And that’s why, five days after Lois’s death and a few minutes after the editor in chief had told me I would be writing obituaries until they found “someone official,” I found myself sitting at her desk.

I kept my peace, opened the file, and read the handwritten letter inside. A woman had lost her husband. Heart attack. And she wanted to write the obituary and run his picture. She included her phone number. I figured it was okay to call her. So I did.

I followed her inside into the living room. She slowly, painfully, sat on a wooden chair. She was too weak and frail to lower herself into a soft chair, I guess. I sat on her couch. I looked around the room and realized that every piece of furniture, every painting, every knickknack and candlestick, was older than me. Most of the stuff was probably older than my parents. I saw photographs of Mona, a man I assumed was her husband, and five or six children, and a few dozen grandchildren. Her children and grandchildren, I guess. Damn, her children were older than my parents. Her grandchildren were older than me.

“I’m really sorry, ma’am,” I said. “I really am. But I have to get back to the newspaper with these.”

“Is that my husband’s photograph?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“And is that his obituary?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s the one you wrote.”

“I remember, I remember.”

She studied the artifacts in my hands.

“Can I have them back?” she asked.

“Excuse me?”

“The photo, and my letter, that’s all I have to remember my husband. He died, you know?”

“Yes, I know,” I said.

“He was at D-Day.”

“If I give these back,” I said. “I won’t be able to run them in the newspaper.”

“Oh, I don’t want them in the newspaper,” she said. “My husband was a very private man.”

Ah, Lois, I thought, you never told me about this kind of death.

“I have to go now,” I said. I wanted to crash through the door and run away from this house fire.

So I left her on the porch. She was still waving when I turned the corner. Ah, Lois, I thought, are you with me, are you with me? I drove the newspaper’s car out of the city and onto the freeway. I drove for three hours to the shore of Soap Lake, an island sea heavy with iron, calcium, and salt. For thousands of years, my indigenous ancestors had traveled here to be healed. They’re all gone now, dead by disease and self-destruction. Why had they all believed so strongly in this magic water when it never protected them for long? When it might not have protected them at all? But you, Lois, you were never afraid of death, were you? You laughed and played. And you honored the dead with your brief and serious prayers.

Standing on the shore, I prayed for my dead. I praised them. I stupidly hoped the lake would heal my small wounds. Then I stripped off my clothes and waded naked into the water.

Jesus, I don’t want to die today or tomorrow, but I don’t want to live forever.

—————————————————————————————————————–

In life we are led to take certain steps, we have an idea of the outcome of these actions, given past experience and what we’ve been told or witnessed. Often, however, the events we think will or should take place never do- it is the incidents that do occur which make up our life. The choices we think lead us one way, lead us to the places we’re actually meant to be. It’s a funny thing, this life-never letting us figure it all out. I am learning, it is those who come to peace with that, that are the happiest.

just the facts: the top 10 movies of all time

February 15, 2011

With the oscars coming up and all these great movies in theaters today, the past and present of greatest cinematography has been on my mind. As a result, I have narrowed down the best movies of all time. I don’t mean, “in my opinion,” i mean these ARE the best, top 10 movies of ALL time. You are allowed to disagree (and be wrong). Without further ado, here it is…

10. Forrest Gump (1994), directed by Robert Zemeckis

9. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), directed by Frank Capra

8. The Darjeeling Limited (2007), directed by Wes Anderson

7. Citizen Kane (1941), directed by Orson Wells

6. The Last Picture Show (1971), directed by Peter Bogdanovich

5. Psycho (1960), directed by Alfred Hitchcook

4. The Godfather (1972), directed by Francis Ford Coppola

3. No Country for Old Men (2007), directed by Ethan & Joel Coen

2. Lost in Translation (2003), directed by Sofia Coppola

1. American Beauty (1999), directed by Sam Mendes

This list was composed with a mindedness of each film’s ability to depict the human condition, their thoughtful & astute writing, and overall original filmed-stories; taking into account character development, cinematography, and lasting effect on the viewer. (I do admit this list is biased to american films and the american condition.) I welcome comments, disagreements, and discusion; let me know what you think!

lady gaga (in lindsey speak: la-De, ga-Ga)

February 12, 2011

alexander mcqueen slash-shoulder tailcout, bib bodysuit, and embroidered trousers. de grisogono ring

lady gaga is out with a new single: “born this way.” i can’t say that i am thrilled with the outcome. it is fine, but i wouldn’t go much further than that. yes, it has an uplifting message for those who find themselves outcast from the normal, however despite that, the song itself is a very normal pop song. some are saying it is too similar to madonna’s “express yourself,” but  it is very different lyrically and enough musically to not be confused. the fact that it would be confused at all, however, leads us to believe it is not that interesting to begin with. i am disappointed with this single, but can’t let go of gaga quite yet. i still find some of her work horribly interesting and am drawn to her out of this world persona. she has created herself into a pop-phenomena and that could be the most interesting thing about her. she is becoming a fashion icon in her desire to wear the most out-standing attire created by the most well-known fashion designers today (see Vogue). her videos developed from the hous of gaga, such as bad romance and telephone, are enormously original, creative, compelling and entertaining. so why is there this divide? the conclusion i am proposing is perhaps that gaga is a persona, an entertaining force- she can hold that power in her person. she is a performer at the core of her being. possibly, the creation part of her music is not as original. it could be that she too is drawn to the more outlandish, weird, artistic details of our culture but she, herself, Stefani Germanotta, is normal just like the rest of us. this is not a bad thing and could actually fare very well for her. the more she can relate to us “nobodies” the more we can relate to her. this paired with her interesting choice of clothing, stylistic video decisions and ability to wow an audience can only be a good thing. This method keeps everyone relatable and therefore attached, while also giving them something new to look at and be entertained by, holding their interest strong. lady gaga is smart and though i am not WOWed by “born this way,” i will still keep her on the radar. not to mention she gets to wear the most amazing outfits!! (see picture above).