Friday, October 31, 2008
Zombies Run WildI walked into a Halloween store the other day and felt profoundly disturbed. Everywhere I looked there were images of gore. Severed heads with staring bloody eyeballs. Truncated torsos. Scars and mutilations and carnage.
It was like visiting the inside of my brain. These days my head is filled with the pain that humans can inflict upon each other. Betrayals of trust. Fabrics of families and schools and countries torn apart by free-wheeling moral recklessness. The past reaching up to destroy the present and future. Mental illness. Greed. Selfish and nihilistic pleasure-taking. And the horrifying undercurrent of hatred and fear against one of the most inspiring and high-minded statesmen our generation has ever seen.
Shadow is bursting out all over. In our lives, in the world, it seems like we are getting polarized. The brightness is getting brighter, and the shadow is going crazy making itself known. Like bugs scattering when the light bulb is turned on, I'm seeing things scuttling back into corners. And the snapshots of their ugliness is imprinted inside me. Makes me recoil. Wakes me up at night.
Halloween has a purpose. It makes this fear and revulsion conscious, present. We can put on these costumes and laugh. We can alchemize the things that repel and frighten us, and turn the tables on brutality and atrocity and death.
Frankly, for me, it's giving me the creeps, even as I can intellectually understand it. It's too close to home. Too similar to the thoughts that are haunting me in my witching hours in the middle of the night.
Tonight I plan to do this holiday justice. Armed with a cosmopolitan, my lover and a kid who still loves to dress up, I plan on walking up and down the street taking good stock of all of this. I want to look at the false images of carnage and horror and understand what they mean.
Bringing the inside out is what we do when we open up our psyche's crypt and let the zombies run free. We are giving death the finger. And in the process of doing this, I can hopefully start seeing the world as it is -- my children healthy, my household safe, my body whole. Right this second, we're OK. The horrors of the past and future can stay there, in the past, in the future. The past and future don't exist anyway.
So let the monsters lurk and the witches scream. As long as we can bring consciousness to the dark underbelly, we're still OK.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 9:26 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The PianoOnce there was a girl who played the piano.
She would play it when the house was empty, when her mother was out shopping or still at work. She would play when she need to feel something, and when words were too much, or not enough. She would play her white piano and something inside would feel very sad, and yet very much at peace at the same time. She would play the notes over and over and gradually, as the notes became more fluid and her hands became more sure, something inside of her would rest and be at peace.
She played the piano for ten years. She started when she was small and gradually she became more fluent. Her mother loved to hear her play. Loved it so much that she began to demand it, to shame the girl into playing for her pleasure. She would listen from the other rooms and somehow there was a taking, an appropriation of the notes. The notes coming out were so personal, so hard won, and so painfully beautiful, that the girl started being uncomfortable when she was listened to by her mother. She could no longer hear the music through her own ears. And when she listened through her mother's ears, the notes sounded awkward and wrong and full of everything the girl wanted to flee.
Soon, she could not play in front of anyone. Once she tried to play in front of her school and couldn't find the notes. The more she tried, the more she was aware of the other people's ears and opinions. And the more she was aware of the other people's opinions, the more she worried that she would be found lacking, or that they would want more of her, or that there was something wrong with her playing any kind of music and finding that sweet sad space inside her that loved to express itself outside of words. The harder she tried to make her fingers remember the notes, the less she could hear the music in her heart. And the harder she tried, the worse she became. Until she stopped in the middle. Completely blank. Unable to continue.
One day the girl came home and found there was a large space in the dining room where the white piano had been. Her mother had given it away, she told the girl. Because she no longer played it. Because it was just wasting space.
The girl screamed that she had been playing it. That she played it when she was alone. That it was one of the last refuges she had. But her words were not heard. Her mother was too angry that she had not heard enough of the music that she had been providing lessons to produce. So the piano was gone. There was no more chance for her daughter to withhold her music.
The girl grew up. She learned to survive and make money and hold together her own household. One day she bought herself a piano. It was old, it weighed a ton, it was bulky in her small apartment. She bought it so no one could ever take her piano away from her again. She moved it from apartment to house, from house to apartment. She loved the piano. But she rarely played it. And never in front of people.
One night she played it in that still place of great sadness and weight. She felt that sweet sad shifting of something being expressed when words weren't enough, or were too much. And she woke up the next morning and realized she'd been taking away her own piano all these years. So that no one could ever do that to her again. It wasn't enough to just play when the house was empty. She would simply not play. And then she would never have to know how it felt when the music was taken away without her ability to stop it.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 6:02 AM 1 comments