Author Archives: Sha'Tara

About Sha'Tara

Reticence rules. I don't like talking about myself. Cosmic in awareness, I live for challenges to everything I believe, or think I know. I suppose my main focus is on the philosophy of social issues. I think that every problem is an invitation to all of us to work out the solution, and I believe that no problem exists that does not contain a solution within itself. All we are asked to do is unravel it. Life is like a Rubik's Cube. There is a solution, it's just a willingness to work at it until it emerges. On another note to all who read this, and read my posts: if you find anything there that you find interesting, or useful, feel free to copy, paste and use in your own works. Nothing is copyrighted, by choice. Ideas must be free or man is doomed to remain a slave forever.

Williams Lake Volunteer Project, week 2 of 4

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

I feel too exhausted to write anything but it’s Sunday and I am bunking in a church basement, above which there is a “service” replete with raunchy wall-shaking rock-n-roll noise that passes itself off as worship “music.” So I’m out here in my van with my own music emanating from ear protectors because even out here at the end of the parking lot and with all windows closed the horror still penetrates. Well, that’s the world and that’s how madness has managed to pass itself off as normalcy. The programming has adjusted to make insanity seem sane, torture as entertainment, insulting performances as the highest form of praise for insane gods and equally insane followers.

Beginning of week 2 of a 4 week stint, today is a bit cooler due to a combination of light cloud cover and thick wood smoke. Yesterday ashes were carried on the wind, the smoke was eye-burning and the sinuses were not happy. It sprinkled a bit during the night, settling the ash blow but not the smoke. No matter which way the winds blow, there are wild fires all around… The West Coast is burning.

We are currently “processing” three houses for people who literally lost everything in last years wild fires. I’ve been working on framing the third house. Next door (almost) to this work site is one of the other houses I worked on framing over a month ago on my first venture in this part of the country. The outside is almost completed and it is a very pretty house.

It gives a true perspective of the “endless struggle” for survival through perpetual rebuilding as we rebuild burned-out homes surrounded by more of the same, in smoke and ash and more fires. Thus it will be as more of the earth is devastated through climate change and accompanying wars and man’s stubborn and stupid unwillingness to take responsibility for causing much of this negative change.

There is more. Two nights ago about a thousand dollars worth of lumber were stolen from our work site by locals. While this kind of theft is common practice among the predatory Earthians, hence all the resources spent on security to protect ourselves from one-another, it also goes to show how the creatures remain irredeemable. Our work sites are clearly identified as volunteer labour. They know the materials are purchased mostly from funds donated by individuals, many of whom can ill afford it. They know the situation, that these houses are being built to replace losses the owners could not recoup. They know, they know, they know, but they don’t care. They are just like their leaders and rulers: it’s all about me and if I can get away with it, I’d be a fool not to help myself, fuck the losers.

I could have entitled this “fuck the losers” because that is the real motto of Earthianity. We take advantage because that is the first rule of our type of survival. We steal because we can. We rise to the degree that we can push others down. We make ourselves feel good to the degree that we can oppress and push others to serve our desires and greed and we do not ask how the losers feel about it: it’s their role to provide.

While I’m sitting in this church parking lot I remember how many such parking lots I’ve walked through, driven in, parked in, then walked into the “sanctuary” to find God and along with that, a solution to man’s depraved nature. I’m made aware of the futility of it, and the vile hypocrisy. It’s all about entitlement, isn’t it. I’ve read the bible in a desperate attempt to discover the nature of God and I found it: God made man in his own image, and in that nature, as it expresses itself today, is God. To those who believe in God I say, seek not in institutions, books or theological arguments to find God: look at your species and how it interacts with others and with its environment. There is the mind of God in action.

For those who do not believe in God, nothing changes. The nature is the same. Atheists, by and large, claim to be superior to those still in bondage to religion but they are not. I have found no difference at all. Same Earthian hubris. Same sort of attitude summed up as “Après moi, le Déluge!” Their God is a mix of science (whore of the military-industrial complex) and their messiah, replacing Jesus, Buddha or Mohamed, is Darwin; promises of eternal life replaced with self-assurances of blissful annihilation.

What I have found, not only in this life but in remembrances of other lives, is that the Earthian creature is incapable of living empathetically. It does not understand self empowerment, the necessity of compassion-based self-sacrifice, putting others constantly before the self, or self-denial. Despite the clear and present evidence that its ways are bringing forth its own termination and perhaps that of this entire world, it refuses to take personal responsibility for any problem.

Quote: “A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

Another Sunrise Drowns

[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]

I remember long ago,
I was watching the sun set
I remember it was from an island
but I don’t remember which,
or when,
or where. I remember I was alone.

I say to myself: does it matter now?
No, I answer, it does not.

The earth has already turned,
oh so many times for me
each time a little slower,
each time taking a little longer
and I know now, as I didn’t know then
there must come a last time.

I sit at a little round table,
overlooking the sea, the see…
the table rocks a bit,
as does the chair,
they were made who knows where,
not for this kind of terrain.

I am alone, looking at the sea
looking at what I can see,
sluggish waves so casually
make love to a tired sandy beach.
My glasses are on the table
beside the empty wine bottle;
tonight, particularly tonight
my thoughts are far from here.

Once, I remember, I had a future;
it was filled with colour
and the laughter of children
mixed with mine, my smile,
they said, shamed the rising sun;
dreams and hopes chased each other
across so many landscapes
and seascapes where tiny white boats
sailed away into the sunrise
questing in hope that springs eternal.

Every sunrise must turn into a sunset,
is that not so?
This evening, slow and cool in purple
fills with rasping dreams of romance
that never was; dried longings
parched Autumn leaves falling, sails
no wind ever came around to fill:
I see just another sunrise helplessly
come to drown into the endless sea.

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

“…and you realize this is where you live.” (last words from the movie, “Brooklyn”). How many times have I tried to tell myself that “this is where I live” only to have to face the fact that none of those places, countries, lands, towns, houses, families or circles of friends represented where I lived? If I ask myself, ‘Where do you live?’ the most honest answer must be, ‘Nowhere.’

 

I think that the cosmos is a very big place, almost as big, but not quite, as the inside of my heart. That is the biggest place of all because no matter where I go, it is already there waiting for me. I know this, and should I apologize for having such a perception? It’s true, no matter where I go, I need no introduction, no ID, nor do I need any ‘Welcome home’ parties.

Because I am nobody, I am everybody. That is a hard fact to get my small head around. Can such a concept mean anything? Maybe. If I am ‘everybody’ in my heart (inclusive) but in my mind I hate someone, or think of someone, anyone, in some lesser or derogatory way (exclusive) doesn’t that mean I’m hating myself, mocking myself?

While I’m preparing myself to engage another month-long volunteer excursion in that northern country I don’t much care for, I realize that life has erected this strange parabolic mirror for me to look into. Well, talk about an embarrassment! Looks like I’m a far cry from being what I’d imagined myself to be… by now, what with all that talk about living compassionately. Oh sure, for this one life, in comparison to where I’ve come from certainly I can say I am living compassionately, if I remember to add: incrementally.

I don’t make resolutions, too much like promises and I don’t do those either, but I do have to work from the mind at changing myself, and that means resolving to eschew certain though patterns I’ve grown quite fond of through the years.

Where do I live? I live in my mind. Where does my mind live? In the thought patterns that define my real, not imagined, philosophy; that define my real self. So, it isn’t what I do, or what I’m perceived as being I must focus my mind on, but the thought patterns that circumscribe the world I exist in. What is that like?

Imagine living in a place that has suffered some serious strafing and bombing: that’s what it’s like living here. Sure I can call it home, but not the kind of home I could ever be comfortable in, not until some equally serious reconstructing has been done.  OK, I live in a reconstruction zone. Only I’m the owner, and fully responsible for how that reconstructing is being done. I’m the architect, the designer, the contractor, and I also pay all the bills. That’s how it is. And, I need the wherewithal to pay those bills.

As humans; as mind beings, we are not poor. We do not lack any of the means to do the reconstructing in our minds. I don’t know how the resources got there but we have them: all the vices and all the virtues we will ever need or could ever use. All we need to do it pick and choose which ones we will use in the reconstructing.

That’s not rocket science but it does mean we need to teach ourselves how to put these things together properly so we can live with the end result. Who wants to live in some cobbled-up construct that could collapse at any time, or that was designed by some fly-by-night con artist we thought we could trust?

Another day of observing thought patterns to see if, and how, they add up to the kind of life I need, I must, have for myself before my smug life-long companion with his ever-present grin claims my body.

“The mind has many watchdogs; sometimes they bark unnecessarily, but a wise man never ignores their warning.” (A Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clark)

Believe what you will but let me believe what I will

[pure off the cuff, spur of the moment fiction, by ~burning woman~ ]

“No, no!” I said. “Stop beating me up with it, I thought we had agreed we were not going to discuss this. I know what you believe and it doesn’t bother me, it’s your choice. By the same token, you know what I believe and it’s my choice.”

We were sitting at the table in the dining nook, me at the window facing west, he across from me. I had a glass of white wine, he his strong, dark beer. It was already late, of a Summer Sunday evening, and I just wanted to enjoy the darkening skies and the fading colour from the clouds hovering near the horizon.

This is how it started:

“I am going to watch for meteors,” I said. “Make a wish, you know?”

“That’s pure superstition,” he replied, looking up from his book and taking another sip of beer, “when are you going to give up that childish nonsense? It’s embarrassing.” He looked at me with his mouth turned down, making it obvious how displeased he was with me at that moment.

Only he wasn’t talking about my wishing upon a shooting star, he was talking about my belief in the spirit world and particularly in my insistence that I was fully aware of past and future lives.

We had agreed, before we decided to live together that our differences in those areas we would accept from each other and only broach the subject philosophically, in a “what if” sort of way. It wasn’t supposed to become another patriarchal relationship in which he, the man, decided the correct way we, meaning me, the woman, should believe, or think for that matter.

When it came to beliefs, as far as I was concerned, there never had been and never would be a “we” in the equation. I didn’t care what he believed or believed in. He was (still is!) handsome, kind in his own way, supportive most of the time, great in the sex department, an important aspect of the relationship to me, and I must admit that I loved him, well, sort of. Is it love when there is no passion in it, just an easy comfort?

But does that mean I have to give him my mind so he can fill it with his own ideas while excluding mine? Not on your life. I’m not made to take things that way; to be taken for granted, or thought of as the little trophy woman who bats her eyelashes and exclaims, ‘Oh, but you’re always so right, dear!’ No, he’s not right, not when his “right” needs to supersede, or cancel my “right” as it does when I express myself in what he calls a superstitious way.

This isn’t about who’s right, who’s not. This is about who is free, who is not. I didn’t sign up to have my ideas replaced by someone else’s. Not that I signed anything to get into this relationship mind, but you know what I mean.

So I countered: “When you buy a lotto ticket, what do you call that feeling it gives you? You don’t buy a ticket without some hope that you could win, even win the jackpot. What do you call that hope, if not a form of superstition? Logically it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to buy a lottery ticket because the odds are so against you. So in that moment you override your logical thinking and allow yourself a wild moment of magical thinking. You allow yourself to be pulled into that shameful realm of illogic.”

“It’s not the same thing,” he replies. “I don’t believe in the lottery as if it was some spirit force, some divine being, an angel or the Great Pumpkin. It’s just a game.” He did enjoy mocking me with that reference to the Charlie Brown cartoon super being of Linus’ he called the Great Pumpkin.

“But it’s a game of chance!”

“So?”

“It’s a game of luck!”

“And?”

I could feel myself becoming frustrated and upset. “It’s superstition, honey. The other morning, when you came storming back in the apartment and said, ‘God, I went and locked my keys in the truck last night,’ were you subconsciously praying to some superbeing you say you do not believe in because you were in a tight spot, in a hurry and didn’t remember where you kept you spare set of keys? Instead of invoking some deity neither of us believes in you could have said, ‘Karin, do you know where my spare set of keys is?’ and I would have told you. I told you anyways but you didn’t ask me. You addressed the problem through a kind of superstition of your own which you justify with excuses and that hurts. Do you think I’m so stupid I don’t notice these things?

“It’s late, I’m going to bed and I’m sleeping in the spare room. We’re both working tomorrow, I’ve got a pile of reports to check over before my first class so I’ll be off early. I’ll eat on the way, you make your own breakfast, or not. Tomorrow evening I want you to apologize to me and reaffirm our agreement to enjoy each other and leave our beliefs as sacred and private to each other. If you cannot do that, and do it sincerely, I’ll be leaving by next weekend.”

“Where will you go?”

“That’s a really stupid question. Since we’ve been together I’ve been propositioned at least a dozen times, the last one was just a week ago. I travel light as you know and there are a lot of lonely beds out there whose sheets will eagerly part to let me slip in. Don’t self-blind Rico or think I need you because no one else will have me!”

I was getting angry and hated the feeling.

“You’ll miss me.”

“Of course I’ll miss you, you don’t have to state the obvious. But that too shall pass because I choose intellectual integrity over a great fuck.”

“Is that all I am to you, a great fuck?”

“That doesn’t please you?”

“Well, yeah, but isn’t there more for you?”

“Of course there is, or there could be but not when you try to emasculate my choices. My feelings for you cool very fast then.”

“So I’m wrong then?”

“I’m tired and I’m not going around this mulberry bush with you Rico. Good night.”

That was a year ago, probably why I remembered it today. He didn’t apologize, he said he couldn’t see that there was anything to apologize for so I left him that weekend, I could tell he was going to try to talk his way around the problem but I was having none of it. I’ve seen him a couple of times since; he bought me a drink the last time. How are you doing? Fine, you? Oh, OK, I’ve got a girlfriend, Nina, she’s Italian. Good for you. Our team lost again. Yeah, too bad. I had her change the drapes in the bedroom; they reminded me too much of us. Good idea, no point dwelling on the past. That was about it. I suppose it never was what you’d call a deep relationship, more of a convenience.

It’s not the way I prefer them but it’s the only way to keep my options open. I’m sort of living with a guy too but I saw no point in mentioning that, he’d already assume I was or he’d already know that through his male gossip circle. I know the pub where the circle meets and what is talked about there.

You know what? I need to find another direction for my life, I feel I’m on treadmill if not on a dead-end street. I don’t like myself much these days and I used to feel so sure and so proud of what I’d accomplished for myself. I feel that the more I insist on my independence, or perhaps the way I go about it, it’s making me increasingly self-centered and selfish. That never used to be me and I’m certainly not blaming the men in my life for this quandary of mine. If this was another girl’s story I’d end it with: “Get a life, woman!”

We have Played this Game

[experiences – by ~burning woman~]

It is time. I walk to the edge of the River’s bank, take a deep breath then slowly step down into the water. The water is fast, the current noisy, hissing with the effort of carrying sand to some unchartered destination.

 

The water eddies around my legs and thighs. The current is very fast here, that’s what makes it so exciting and challenging. The water is cold but not numbing as a month ago, repelling and inviting all at once, I feel a desire arising in my heart, like wanting to abandon yourself to make love to a stranger you don’t really trust and who is much too old for you.

I tell myself I don’t mind the cold. I feel the sand eroding off the bank under my feet and suddenly I slide down into the water, slipping as much as three feet, down beyond my standing depth and thrust outward from shore. My heart skips a beat, maybe two, as I find myself facing the rushing, swirling surface of the murky water. I’m committed now, no turning back: my body is pulled away into the spinning whirls of colder waters. There is no swimming back to shore here. All I can do is follow along as the water spins me in an ever-widening circle, then sweeps me downstream.

I am alone here, it was always my choice. No one to throw a rope, or shoot out in a kayak to help me back. I swim slowly, carefully avoiding panic. After all, did I not seek this? Dream of it? I am in the River; I am one of her children, whether she acknowledges me or not. I acknowledge her and I’ve always loved her, even if I’ve never trusted her. She has her life, so much more awesome than mine, so much more significant. She flows off and down, to lose herself in he arms of her lover, the sea. All I am is a bit of flotsam, that’s all. Alive or dead, she will carry me until an eddy throws me upon a gravel bar, or into a pile of driftwood stuck in the trunk of a giant fallen cottonwood.

I have a life too, however. I have dreams and purpose. I have drive. I chose this encounter, not to challenge the power of the River, but my own silly kind of courage. I spin around, still filled with fear that the whirlpool will suck me under but I’m just far enough away from its center to drift, arms out, legs kicking slowly, trying to find traction. And I do. Suddenly I find myself moving in a chosen direction. I decide to aim for a spur of gravel far downstream where the current assumes a more predictable flow. I roll, front to back, one look at the serene blue of the sky and I know, once again, I am going to live.

We have played this game, the River and I, for a very long time. It’s not a competition, just a game. It is also a played-out allegory of one life lived outside the communal box. No “life jacket”; no safety net; no buddy system. Alone to face myself and grasp a fleeting taste of some vague remembrance of a primordial relationship with nature as a purely natural being unencumbered by societal mores, taboos, complications.

Eight Things You Need to Know About Me and the Beach

Another reblog, I know, but… how many times must the “r” word (racism) be heard by an American to finally recognize that nation’s great, perhaps greatest, sickness, and one that can only be put squarely on individual American shoulders? I realize that racism, like misogyny, is a global Earthian sickness, not just American, but since this story is based on American “values” as expressed by white America, then it is an American disease. The cure will not come in the form of a pill, or a vaccine, but in an individual change of heart when Americans (in this case) finally realize there is absolutely nothing to be gained, in any possible way, by being racist; when they finally realize that racism is a root cause of dissension eating at the nations’s sense of “selfhood” and destroying it. This is a powerful, if sad, story. Sad mostly because too common.

Longreads

May-lee Chai | Longreads | July 2018 | 15 minutes (4,118 words)

When I was a junior in college, my father, mother, and brother took a trip to Hawaii. I didn’t go because I’d been named editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and needed to be at school before the semester started. I needed to get the first issue out for freshmen orientation. I also needed the money. My parents weren’t paying for my college, and I needed every little bit of cash that I could get.

While she was in Hawaii, my mother called me at my dorm to tell me about the trip. Only recently had my mother overcome her severe fear of flying and she still had a kind of ecstatic quality to her voice that I associated with the extreme highs that followed her moments of panic or fear.

“It’s beautiful! This is my place,” she declared…

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