This Is Not A Story (Also trigger warning)

This is not a story about a victim and a perpetrator or an accuser and accused, this is messy and nuanced and human and real, this is life. And it only serves to heal to the degree that it can be seen and known and felt as it was, not as a story with clearly defined roles, but as a blurry manifestation of the confusions and wounds that exist in that complex organism that is the dynamic interactions of human beings.

I write this because I see that younger generations have a chance to start fresh with our help and guidance, but I think it takes some honest reflection on our parts first, where have we misstepped how can we perhaps guide them in better directions?

In the interest of all of this I personally have been doing some deep diving over the past few months to jostle free some truths that might make me a more honest, more informed guide (Perhaps aiming to give them something beyond “I don’t know, I’m still learning”—though I do find breaking down of the illusion that any of us has all the answers to be a helpful starting place).

This is just one small example of the confusion I have carried with me into adulthood, and my guess is that many have had similar experiences. I do worry that by sharing this it might solicit sympathy or attention, so know that is not what I wish for at all. I have perspective that this example is simply a drop in the bucket, and a small one at that, of not only my life stories, but of the collective pain and trauma we hold as a group. It’s only value exists in whatever lessons we can take away, in whether we can use it to grow and evolve.

Now all my fretting and postponing aside, here’s my “not a story”. When I was 15 one of my early negative sexual experiences went like this (again guessing many had similar incidents):

It was a house party with a bunch of teenagers ranging in age, we were all drinking, an older boy took me into a back room, it was exciting to be getting his attention, he pulled me onto a bed, we were making out, at his abundant physical and verbal coaxing I began going down on him, being that he was very inebriated he was having trouble climaxing however, so the situation got more and more forceful, he didn’t want me to stop and said it would leave him in pain if I did, it was rough, it was late, I wanted to leave, his friend came in and started watching and laughing and the more I said I wanted to leave the more they laughed and protested that I needed to stay. The friend took my top which was off at the time and hid it so I wouldn’t be able to leave. The situation continued for some time (to be clear I was not screaming, I was not banging on doors and attempting escape, I was somewhere caught between whimpering-nervously laughing- crying-playing cool-begging to go-wanting to be please-being silent) then a girl at the party busted in, not sure what sparked her kind gesture, I think perhaps she had experienced something similar with this guy, she asked me if I was ok and when I explained that I really wanted to leave she helped find my shirt. I was able to go home. The next time I saw this crowd (I think the next day) the group of guys gave me “an award” for “Most Persistent” announcing that I gave a blow job for more then an hour. Yes it was mortifying, but also I didn’t get angry or protest or say that what happened was wrong or not wanted…I was caught in-between feelings, in some haze of wanting the group to think that I was deserving of approval and praise, that I was indeed admirable, not timid or weak or upset. I wanted to be desirable, I wanted guys to like me. So I proudly accepted the praise, made my excuses went back to my apartment and proceeded to get sick and not leave the apartment for months to come. I felt gross and guilty, I had a loving boyfriend I had broken it off with because he was across country and now I refused his calls and his attempts at love and friendship. After months of missing school and not wanting to leave the house, I was put on antidepressants, but oddly didn’t have the emotional literacy to connect all of this and in my later years wrote it all off to being a moody dramatic teenager.

This is NOT a tale about how horrible those guys were, my guess is they were equally if not more confused then I, who knows what was going on in their lives that was at the root of the binge drinking which they were escaping into, who knows the insecurities and pain at the root of their sexual frustrations, my perception is that they honestly thought I was happy and proud of my “persistence”, and probably left with some hazy, drunken altered impression that I enjoyed myself. My point IS that it is on us to insure that future generations can be given better tools to navigate through the bizarre emotional and hormonal rollercoaster that is being a teenager.

Telling these stories, facing these truths is ridiculously hard (recounting it I find myself feeling such shame, self doubt, self loathing, etc. that I simply want to avoid the subject). But I do hope that by being open and reflecting on a scenario, the likes of which I believe many of us have experienced, I can add to the trend of healing that must take place for us as a collective.

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Inspired- Fragment

Here’s a strange choice, deciding to share a short chapter of a book I’ve been putting aside and not writing for far too long. My hope, perhaps that it will encourage me to get back to writing, or at the very least that now it will be doing more then collecting metaphorical dust.

Good thing there’s no requirement to read it, but now it’s here if you ever wish to. Probably in need of much editing, but sharing isn’t worth much if it is not exposing and potentially mortifying right? And right now I am sitting in a state of eye-rolling, self-judgment, so seems like the moment to expose myself right?

It’s a story called Inspired about a muse and her “dyadum” (made up word from the Greek dyad-a group of two; couple; pair). There’s a lot of detail I’ve written about this particular muse universe, but nothing you really need to know for this chapter. Might be helpful to know that the meeting takes place when they are both very young. Also I use “her” & “she” but in truth muses have no specific gender beyond the one they adopt for their inspired.

Chapter –

From that first moment she saw him she knew he was the one she had been waiting for, her dyadum, her inspired.

It was as though every bit, every tiny fragment of her being, anything which could be considered her had been awakened all at once. As though life itself, whatever force that is, was her and she was it.

In that instant everything in this world, this universe and beyond had transformed, transmuted from a state of solid heavy stagnation into an almost translucent, flimsy, malleable, state of infinite possibility. As though she could lightly reach her hand out and the world around her would ripple, as would a reflection in a pool of water.

There was no permanence, no adherence to the tyrannical authority of time, here it had lost its hold, its ability to dam in potential. Neither did there exist any fixed boundaries as they all began to give way under the velocity of her rapidly expanding view. Future and past became simultaneously accessible to her and she was unable to take it all in, images—full and vibrant, a mingling of overwhelming quantities of feelings, sensations, sights, sounds. This brief instant all consuming flashes, filled her, took her over, carried her away, coming at such speed it was as if they sparked and popped as they entered and exited. The speed with which these images moved in, out and onward was faster then anything she had ever known. She thought she might burst open in an explosion of light which would cover and swallow the whole of everything known, as if she were the big bang itself.

In contrast to this tumultuous reaction he had triggered in her, he sat there very still, in quiet contemplation, completely unaware even of her existence. At that moment he was in the process of studying the newly fallen leaves which he had been collecting from the trees in his park. While his mother, older sisters, and brother kept busy— two sisters playing a makeshift game of soccer. Mother and baby brother were feeding a family of pigeons. —While they were all immersed in their activities he had slipped away, his mind fixed on accomplishing the goal he had set for himself- recording all the various types of trees there were in the park. He had been collecting as many different types of leaves as he could find and now it was time to copy them into his favorite notebook. Using a new set of crayons he applied a technique he had learned from his teacher at school last week. He placed the leaf under a fresh piece of paper, just so, and ran a crayon over it, and now he took it one step farther and tried to find just the exact color which best expressed the patterning of each leaf. It was all a very precise process, he had to place just enough pressure that all the veins and lines which made the leaf unique would be visible, but not so much that the leaf would be crushed or the crayon broken. He had watched as many children in his class fell prey to one of these two extremes and his teacher had praised him for his ability to find this perfect balance. It was not her praise though which had pleased him so, it was this joy he discovered in being able to experience the beauty in each leaf, not simply copy or approximate this beauty, but read the hidden messages in the unique lines, structures, and patterns. It seemed like a kind of magic to him that he was able to make the unseen visible with his own hands. He could shine a light on this beauty that had been hidden in the shadows. Now he looked up in awe at the thousands of leaves all around, on the trees on the ground, in the air just now floating down. It overwhelmed him knowing how many there were, how many patterns, colors, unique displays of beauty and how temporary they were, in this moment they existed, but one day soon they would all disintegrate, fall away, be broken, stepped on or mashed until they were simply part of the very ground on which he now stood. He did not yet know the words with which to label these thoughts, to contemplate them in any solid form, all he knew was that when he looked up and around at the leaves in this park of his, he felt this overwhelming sense of joy and excitement mingled with a sense of sadness and loss.

It was these thoughts of his that had called her to him, this element, this essence that drew her near. It was the intensity of his concentration, the scope of his vision, his desire, not to own beauty, not to hoard it, but to share this beauty with all those he could. It was his heart. And it felt as though his heart beat inside her now, a part of her, always to be protected.

Maybe this was all in her memory, maybe it was happening right now or was this his memory? There no longer seemed to be separation between any of these. Perhaps she had, in fact, been with him always from the first moment he existed.

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Cherished Scribbles

books_quote_astrobrightSo I have been asked many times (particularly since posting some snaps of my bookshelves) what my favorite book is, and as all of you book lovers know, any attempt to pick only one favorite book feels comparable to picking one limb or one finger to keep, in other words in attempting to do this I am always left feeling a great sense of loss for all those books left out that are such a vital part of me. So I’ve decided instead to share a list of some of my favorites (though I know as soon as I post this I will think of 10 that I missed…and then I will finish 10 more that I desperately wish I had read before completing this accounting). My hope though is that some of you will feel a bit more connected when they know that we have shared some of the same favorite journeys, and that some will be inspired to go a on an adventure into new realms which open new magical doorways for them.

Favorite Books:
LES MISERABLES- Victor Hugo
THE SIMERILION-JRR Tolkin
THE LITTLE PRINCE – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
ALICE IN WONDERLAND &
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS- Lewis Caroll
THE MISTS OF AVALON- Marion Zimmer Bradley
HARRY POTTER (1-6)- J.K. Rowling
HIS DARK MATERIALS (1-3)- Phillip Pullman
SHERLOCK HOLMES- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA- Arthur Golden
THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG- Muriel Barberry
CONTACT- Carl Sagan
ROOTS- Alex Haley
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND- Robert Heinlein
THE ALCHEMIST- Paulo Coelho
THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF THE SOUL- Douglas Adams
CATCH 22- Joseph Heller
THE SONG OF THE LARK- Willa Cather
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE- Jane Austin
ATLAS SHRUGGED- Ayn Rand
THE REPUBLIC- Plato
SYMPOSIUM – Plato
PARADISE LOST- John Milton
DEVINE COMEDY- Dante
FAUST- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
THE BHAGAVAD GITA
YOGA SUTRAS-Patanjali
VASTHISTAS YOGA-Venkatesananda
A MOVEABLE FEAST- Ernest Hemingway
THE BLUE SWEATER- Jacqueline Novogratz
THE HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE- Charles Van Dorren
A STUDY OF HISTORY- Arnold Joseph Toynbee
A PEOPLES HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES- Howard Zinn
THE LIVES OF MARGARET FULLER- John Mattesson
BIRD BY BIRD- Anne Lamott
REASON FOR HOPE- Jane Goodall
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME- Stephan Hawking
UNDERSTANDING COMICS- Scott McCloud
MIDDLEMARCH- George Elliot
THE STORY OF THE STONE- Cao Xueqin
AND EVERYTHING William Shakespeare EVER WROTE
PS- favorite poetry books would be a long additional list

Also probably to my own great embarrassment (oh well shame is for the weak 😉 ) I am including an essay, I wrote for an assignment some time ago, which goes into detail as to my personal feelings about one of the books I’ve listed. So if you truly have nothing you’d rather do, I suggest reading one of the books on the above list or feel free to scan through the following. Again hoping perhaps it touches one of those chords of familiarity with someone and they (or you) feel a bit more understood a bit less alone in this whole life journey thing we are on.

With love always,

Rachel

Essay:

In truth my life has been forever altered by countless thousands of artistic works, of significant events, by so many words put to paper by so many great minds, and their demarkations aren’t so definitive, these changes happen one flowing into the next, they overlap, their edges bleed. To separate out one appeared to compromise the nature of the change described. This act seemed akin to attempting to isolate the lone drop of water most responsible for turning the tide. Upon first reflection, I worried that to single out but one work or event would be an arbitrary whim, or worse still a calculated act, contrived for effect

I realized then that there is an answer revealed by my reaction to the question itself, a book which helped to cultivate in me this view of the nuanced, multifaceted nature of existence—the novel Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. I read this work in 1997, and though I had read many brilliant, thought provoking novels earlier in my life, Les Miserables was the first which so elegantly provided an example of how to weave multiple views together into one coherent communication. This symphony composed of many movements and singular melodies, was in such sympathy with my nature that I do not think I have been satisfied with a solely singular point of view ever since. Henceforth, truth to me would always lie in the plurality which composes any unity.

Les Miserables, has an exquisitely rich expansive scope. Spanning a significant stretch of time and great distances of space and circumstance. Addressing issues of class and revolution. Displaying changes in perspective, on both a personal and societal level. Examining questions of politics, ethics, economics, justice, love, war, ideas, and ideals. All this shown from many viewpoints woven together in a singular connected flowing line of experience, with a common tonal center. Illuminating how we humans commingle, alter and change each other’s lives irreversibly through our interactions—large and small, intentional and unintentional. Illustrating how inextricably connected we are, how impossible it is for survival or happiness to exist for the one apart from the whole, that only in knowing there is a communal purpose and reason for our lives can we truly be happy as individuals.

Hugo focuses our attention on those aspects of existence that we don’t always see, the lives we are a part of yet know nothing about, the ripples we blindly create, those stories that, too often, have no one to tell them. He even takes this examination to the extreme of penetrating the sewers of Paris— the truly discarded aspects of our world which we attempt to ignore— and through this, again, he finds the ways in which we connect, on both a literal and figurative level. By covering a substantial period of time in multiple lives, he shows that an outcome which appears one way at a given point on the journey may end with a very different result, once again, giving us a perspective on life which we sometimes fail to see.

To what degree reading Les Miserables altered or created in me a new way of seeing, and to what degree it validated an already extant view, I do not know, but because of my experience reading this novel I feel confident that I will never again think that I can truly comprehend something without viewing it holistically, from all angles, acknowledging all its dimensions and its potential repercussions across time. This novel has solidified my view of life as an equation, a formula so precise that even the slightest shift changes the whole organism completely, wherein a single breath, a single smile alters the course of history.

 

 

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Turn on The Light

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” –J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter

I know there are many who are confused by all the people waking up and fighting these days, “where was all this outrage when injustice was taking place before?”. Yes, you are right we should have been speaking up and fighting back before, we shouldn’t have let things fall this far, but also please see that before the Malfoys were running things (yes they are Death Eaters and all that, but you could kind of reason with them), and now the Dark Lord is back so there really is no more turning a blind eye, we must fight. x

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Part 2-Important to Me

Feeling grateful to know so many wonderful people who are involved in worthy causes, non-profits etc, but never been good at asking for help or advice. So 1) know that I am always looking to help & do some good so don’t hesitate to reach out to me 2) I would love to connect with others who are interested in creating a major platform to transfer the money we are donating in the form of our purchases from bad actors to ethical ones – i.e website, apps, advertising dedicated to making ethical shopping choices easily accessible and more affordable for all. This is likely to be a long term project and there will be many times that I am reaching out to people to get involved, but right now I am just doing investigation and reaching out to people who have or know someone with real expertise in the the logistic of setting up of a non-profit from a legal/organizational standpoint and in website design. Feel free to comment, message (or email/call me if you have that info).
Much love always,
Rachel

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Quick Question for you-Important to Me

I wish to (in fact I need to for my own wellbeing) do much much more to help this world. What I always come back to is that real change won’t happen till we each take responsibility for our part by stopping our daily funding of companies who are harming the earth and our fellow human beings. I work hard to research all the companies I purchase from and have found so many beautiful ones that are doing so much good. My important question for you is what is in the way of more of us doing this? I really really want to help to make it easier for everyone to buy from ethical companies. What are the biggest barriers for you? Time? Money? Lack of information? I am hoping to hear from as many of you as possible, and so much appreciate any responses. With love always

xx  Rachel

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What Is A Gift?

So I am called sick, and disabled, and for many I might be considered one of the unlucky.

’Tis true of late I find it difficult to do most of the physical things we often take for granted.
Yet, I also consider myself to be one of the very lucky few. I am fed, sheltered, and cared for. In my lifetime I have not seen my home, my family, my loved ones ravaged by war. And most crucially, I still have the ability to love others, and to receive love. Yes, I may be confined to a body which often limits, but am not trapped in the much darker illusion that I am alone in this world.

What others might not see, is that my situation has also given me the most tremendous gifts. Daily I have been given the wonderful opportunity to contemplate, to evaluate what is truly of importance to me. Some might see that I was torn away from the life I had known, but on the very bright side I was torn away from the life I had known.

In other words all the indoctrination, the taking for granted that life is arranged as it is because “that is just how life is”, “it is just how reality works” became exposed as untruth when I was given the beautiful opportunity to extract, when I was given some perspective. I think of it like a detoxification- while on a drug life seems one way, but when it is purged from your system you can see things anew.

All self-important philosophizing aside (one of my remaining addictions). My great wish is to share the freedoms afforded me. To pass along this gift- the knowledge that the world does not simply run by a fixed set of rules dictated to us by others, but instead is made anew each day by our own actions, and by the decisions we make each moment.
So let’s make them very good ones, let’s shape this world beautifully, because it is and can be a magnificent place, because life can truly be wonderful for all.

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