freedom

Truth & Liberty / Vérité & Liberté (John Adorney)

<Oct. 3/10.> I’m a big fan of the music of John Adorney (many thanks to Ruth for the introduction!!)

Again with thanks to Ruth, my latest Adorney CD is “The Fountain.” (I totally love it!! It's amazingly uplifting.)

The lovely song “Comme Le Vent” is quite haunting. It’s sung in French, & since I retain some basic French (I did grow up in the province of Québec), & since the language is very simple, I understand & can sing along with it (& resonate with it!)

The French words go like this:

“Si tu connais la vérité, tu trouveras la liberté,

Et tu seras libre

Comme le vent

Si tu connais la vérité, tu trouveras la liberté,

Et tu seras libre

Tous le temps…

Comme le vent.”

In English:

If you know (perhaps are familiar with) the truth, you will find liberty (freedom?)

And you will be free

Like the wind

If you know the truth, you will find freedom

And you will be free

all the time

Like the wind.

Yikes. Just writing it down like that totally doesn’t begin to do justice to this very beautiful song.

But you can listen to bits of the CD here  (this whole scene has changed since I drafted this post, btw - Adorney has revamped his Web site totally, what with having a new CD out & all. I'm betting it's a corker too!!).

I think Adorney has nailed something here. Truth & freedom do go together.

Moi, j’aime beaucoup la vérité et la liberté!

(Me, I love truth & freedom/liberty very much!)

Janet

p.s. I bought 10 copies of this CD & gave them as Christmas presents to a buncha folks, which was pretty fun. (They were very well-received, I might add!)

p.p.s. the first cut on the CD cheers me up every time every time every time I listen to it. It's awesome!!

p.p.p.s. some quotes about truth here & a few about freedom here.

p.s. # 4. freedom was mentioned in the previous post, as was truth. I guess that’s what made me recall this little essay I wrote 2 years ago, but had never posted. Most often when I think of freedom, I’m reminded too of this posting about Pema Chödrön. Hurray for Pema Chödrön!!!!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “There is often in people to whom ‘the worst’ has happened an almost transcendent freedom, for they have faced ‘the worst’ and survived it.” – Carol Pearson

The Pocket Pema Chödrön (& freedom!)

Had a neat experience on the Toronto subway one day last week.

I’d had a not-particularly-relaxing morning at my friend’s place, trying to pull off everything I needed to do that day & figure out how to manage to still get home. Didn’t manage to figure it out, but hopped on the subway to go across the city for the errand I had to do.

Pulled out my Pocket Pema Chödrön, a treasure of a little collection of words of wisdom from Buddhist nun Pema C. that I always have in my knapsack.

On page 60, in entry # 38 (called ‘No happy ending,’) she quotes her teacher once saying to her “I don’t know why you came here, but I want to tell you right now that the basis of this whole teaching is that you’re never going to get it all together.”

This makes me laugh with a giddy sense of relief every time I read it.

Then I read #103, ‘Keep Standing Up’ & her line “How come I’m not living in a Walt Disney movie now? I thought I was going to turn into Snow White. How come I’m not living happily ever after?”

This cracks me up every time.

Pema has me/us so nailed.

These insights don’t upset me – they un-hinge me – in a good way. They make me feel so free.

I’m messed up. I’m not perfect. My life is not perfect. (The world is certainly not perfect!?) & I’m NEVER going to “get it all together” (or, if I do ever feel as though everything is pretty darn cool, it never seems to last for longer than about 10 minutes).

So there I was, after a morning of feeling kind of tense & frustrated, with Pema making me smile & almost laugh out loud on the subway car. Feeling as free as a bird.

I wanted to read selections of her brilliant short essays out loud to my fellow subway riders – make them laugh too!

I wanted to have 100 copies of The Pocket Pema Chödrön & hand them out to EVERYone.

Thank you, Pema Chödrön.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Janet

p.s. I also own copies of Ms. Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times & The Wisdom of No Escape And the Path of Loving Kindness – both treasures.

p.p.s. & I just used some of my birthday book gift certificate money to buy … more copies of The Pocket Pema Chödrön (great gifts!!) & also a copy of her 2009 collection Taking the Leap – Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears. Another keeper, big-time.

p.p.p.s. Totally did not intend to do this, but just created a document with some freedom-related quotations. It's here - in the 'Quotation Central!' section of the blog.

 

My Day in short phrases

  • Walking: Magical!
  • Fresh Air: Magical!
  • Friends/Friendship: Magical!
  • I LOVE cafés with wireless Internet!
  • People are the best!
  • GOD I love the CBC(1) (esp. ‘Tapestry’ & ‘Writers & Co.’ on Sunday afternoons)
  • Death to boredom!
  • Freedom is not what we think…
  • Stepping in the same river twice. (Can I??)
  • Adaptability/flexibility will take us EVERYwhere
  • I don’t EVER want to be an old fart!

 


(1) For non-Canadians: CBC stands for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, our national treasure of a public broadcaster. Millions of us can’t even imagine life without CBC radio. For sure, I can’t! Hence, I donate a small amount monthly to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a group that works to defend public broadcasting. Our current federal government is hacking the CBC to bits. We have to stop this! Both the hacking & the darn right-wing government!?!

Anarchy, Fairy Tales & Freedom

<March 16/10>

I actually wanted to call this essay “Communism, Fairy Tales, Anarchy & Freedom,” but I know how afraid of communism most people are, so I left out that word.

I became interested in communism in my late teens, after a privileged & pretty mixed-up childhood. Money held no fascination for me whatsoever – but the idea of communities & sharing needs & abilities definitely did.

But then I got caught up in what I now look back on as the fairy tale phase of my life, & my interest in communism (politics of any kind, really) just kind of fell away.

At first during that “happily ever after” phase, I had a job in which I told myself I was “helping” people (& who knows, maybe I did even somehow sort of help one or two individuals), but the prince & princess living “happily ever after,” for me, consisted mostly of marriage & family life – which, admittedly, was pretty darn wonderful for quite a few years there. My prince & I “made one another happy” for quite a while – just not “ever after,” alas…

15 or so years into the fairy tale, a passion for environmental work overtook me (to my own great surprise) & this has led to a great many unintended consequences (a phrase I now just love; it covers such a lot of territory, doesn’t it?).

So here I sit, today, writing this on a sun-warmed rock in a lovely outcropping on a pretty hillside in southern Ontario, where I’m living for a while in this current nomadic phase of my life. No set “home” – a “foot in three camps” as I like to joke (‘though I still have only two legs!) – not knowing what may come next, nor where I am likely to land.

The marriage ultimately didn’t work out (though 20 years & two great kids are certainly nothing to sneeze at), & relationships since don’t seem to have, either. Given my own personal life/childhood history, the 5000-year run of patriarchy & its far-reaching & not necessarily well-understood impacts, women & men’s current confusions over relationships & who we are & what we want – & the state of the world in general – this is not so surprising, really.

The solitary streak in me has grown very wide. Years of living alone have made me…ever more solitary. A bit anxious when around other people’s company & routines for long stretches of time. (For some reason too, I have a positive horror of being “in the way” – some weird holdover from that … difficult childhood, I reckon. I’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling I am in the way…)

I live on a teeny-tiny income no one else I know could begin to survive on (or even want to get by on), and since money & things don’t interest me much, I don’t “have” to “work” right now. This seems to really rattle some people. (I wonder, do they resent/envy my freedom? My choices?)

I adore my current freedom – but it has & does come at some cost. Everything always does, doesn’t it? Biologist Barry Commoner(1) articulated “4 Laws of Ecology: Everything is connected to everything else. Everything must go somewhere. Nature knows best. There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Note that last one, hmm? No free lunch. We do always pay for what we get. I pay for my freedom in several ways, trust me. (We all pay for our choices, hmmm?)

Well, for the past few years I’ve begun thinking of myself as a bit of an anarchist. Like communist, the word “anarchist” seems to frighten people. (Imagine grown-ups being afraid of mere words & concepts; a bit silly, isn’t it?)

The Collins dictionary available to me here defines an anarchist as 1. A person who advocates the abolition of government and a social system based on voluntary cooperation. 2. A person who causes disorder or upheaval. Kurt Vonnegut has a character in his novel Jailbird say “Anarchists are people who believe with all their hearts that governments are enemies of their own people.”(2)

Works for me!

Anarchism-Abbey

All I know is, things on Planet Earth don’t seem to be working too very well. Ya think? Our air is foul, our waters polluted, & much of our Earth now toxic. As the planet sickens, so do we. (Know anyone with cancer? I rest my case.)

A clever quotation I’ve run across goes “There isn’t a problem with the system. The system is the problem.”

Capitalism & “democracy” don’t quite seem to be doing the trick, do they? (Like Christianity, real democracy remains mostly un-tried. (3))

I keep meaning to write an essay called “What is Missing?” & maybe I will finally get to it.

What is missing, in my view, are 2 things:

  1. Deep, deep gratitude for this unbelievably awesome, generous wondrous Earth we’ve been given;
  2. Community. Tribe. Belonging

If we all begin working on these two big pieces of the puzzle that you might call Earth Falling Apart in 2010, I think a lot of pretty cool stuff would start happening. (Of course, lots of cool stuff is already happening!! There are tons of people working away on this stuff as we speak.(4))

Of course, I do not possess a crystal ball. Seems to me this whole shebang could “blow” at any time. Of course, that’s an excellent argument for practicing gratitude, living fully in the present moment, & building community. We might as well keep our focus on what really matters in life, since there are no guarantees about what will happen around the next bend. I have a suspicion that the less we focus now on what really matters, the nastier it’s liable to be.

So sayeth I, your friendly local anarchist. One who is trying hard to bring us all back to the really, really simple things: gratitude, community and circles.

Janet

p.s. There are many essays about gratitude on this blog. Only because it’s the primo, most important & perhaps most left-out thing going on Planet Earth. And because it’s free & wonderfully rewarding & liable to lead, when practiced faithfully, to much happier lives & communities & families – & even a healthier planet… No kidding!!

‘Quote of the day’  with this post: “…as the Buddha told his cousin Ananda, the whole of the holy life is good friends. Our relationships – and our love – are ultimately what give depth and meaning to our lives.” – Joan Halifax in Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death.

My first idea for ‘Quote of the Day: “The aesthetic indictment of industrialism is perhaps the least serious. A much more serious feature is the way in which it forces men, women and children to live a life against instinct, unnatural, unspontaneous, artificial. Where industry is thoroughly developed, men are deprived of the sight of green fields and the smell of earth after rain; they are cooped together in irksome proximity, surrounded by noise and dirt, compelled to spend many hours a day performing some utterly uninteresting and monotonous mechanical task. Women are, for the most part obliged to work in factories, and to leave to others the care of their children. The children themselves, if they are preserved from work in the factories, are kept at work in school, with an intensity that is especially damaging to the best brains. The result of this life against instinct is that industrial populations tend to be listless and trivial, in constant search of excitement, delighted by a murder, and still more delighted by a war.” [Ouch!] Bertrand Russell – June 1921 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.


(1) From the Center for Biological Systems & author of Making Peace with the Planet

(2) Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut, Dell, 1979. Page 216.

(3) If you think Canada is a democracy, then I think you are not really paying attention! And if you think dumping Harper – the best prime minister oil money can buy – for Ignatieff would make a whole lot of difference, you are REALLY not paying attention… ***** Lots of great quotes about politics & democracy here.

(4) Paul Hawken’s wonderful book Blessed Unrest is very eloquent & inspiring on this score.