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It’s All Around Me, #JusJoJan

It’s just past midnight as I write this and so obviously it’s dark out, right?

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I am headed to a routine eye appointment next week and nothing feels like it is routine. It feels much more like I am hurtling towards darkness.

There are all kinds of darkness.

People are scared of that, the dark, and “blindness” means darkness. Thus, most of the sighted world is more afraid of blindness and what that would mean, what that might look like, as the case may be, than being buried alive.

Okay, well I hear that was the case in one of those “what would you rather?” games. Since I am a definite clausterphobic, I thought that unbelievable. To be buried alive would be my worst fear.

I could never be a coal miner, for several reasons.

I am not afraid of the dark however. People are afraid of it because they are afraid of the unknown, all they cannot see, and afraid, in the practical sense, of falling down a flight of stairs or running into the wall.

There are ways we who are blind or mostly so learn to adapt to such practical concerns. I did run into the corner of a wall once, bleeding and leaving a scab in my eyebrow for weeks, but that doesn’t happen with any semblance of regularity because I try to take my time and move slowly. I don’t remember my hurry that day my eyebrow made such forceful contact with that wall.

I slide my feet, if a floor is messy. I know when there are stairs, in a familiar place, or I walk so slow because it isn’t familiar enough, unless I use my cane.

It isn’t always so easy to accept the need for a white cane or any kind of cane, for mobility or assistance because that cane is a visible symbol of perceived human weakness.

I need help and I keep learning to ask for it, to not be afraid of it, as some are afraid of the dark.

I am afraid too. I lived with some vision for my childhood, then lost a lot as I grew into an adult, and now here I am.

I don’t use my little remaining vision, as blurry as it is these days, but then it hits me how much I still do use it, as I contemplate the darkness that could be in my future.

The eye doctor might see something during his tests, but it’s more likely he will not. That is a good thing, but like with the invisible chronic pain I live with, sometimes there is nothing to see. This is both good and bad too. Nothing urgent showing up to attack with modern medicine.

I am drawn to the north, far up from the part of Canada I live in, where darkness means something different. I went to check out Yukon skies and June’s extended light. Strange to see vestiges of daylight at midnight.

I hope to return to Canada’s north in winter. I want to experience all that darkness, as a representation of that darkness that means blindness to so many.

I think it’s more like a fallen screen of dimness, fuzzy, foggy, twilight, which wouldn’t be all bad, but the fear still hovers there in my own head.

And so I count down the final days until my eye apt and, though I know it won’t probably be the giant thing I tend to build up in my own brain, I know these topics will continue to attract me, always giving me something more to say and to write about.

I didn’t even get into the symbolism of darkness and light in terms of contamination vs purity, good vs bad. It’s tied up in religion and in so many things, but so much negative is in the news every day and I think about all that far too much.

It’s this appointment that’s on my mind, front and centre.

I wish I could convince myself and other people that the darkness isn’t the worst thing in the world though, that we’ve made it that way in our own heads.

And so, the debate continues and the question goes on. I will continue to write about this. Stay tuned and look to the skies, but, if you can, watch where you’re going too.

I’m thrilled to be the provider of the Friday prompt word
for Linda’s #JusJoJan
to end off a long week, as January passes us by, on its own time.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

There’s BOUND to Be One, JusJoJan

I languish in the calm here. I try to convince myself it won’t happen here, or even anywhere close to where here is.

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Canada is my peaceful place, but that isn’t the case for so many, I feel even the circumstances here are biding their time before something shifts and cannot be put back right.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Governments and corporations like the money and the power, as humans tend to do, when presented with either. It is classic stories that make this clear for me, but shut the book and I am back in cold, hard reality where there is no cover to close.

How long people like myself stay mostly ignorant before blowing it all up in protest is the question on my mind sometimes.

It’s protests in the streets, but often even the biggest of those fizzles out. Or maybe not really. What will Iran do, I wonder.

It’s a rebellion I read about in history class, in Canada’s not so distant past. Those seem like heroic tales from long ago. I stay out of such things. I try to keep away.

The ridiculousness of politics baffles my mind most days. Countries are just trying to function, their citizens only wishing to live a nice life, and all this thought/talk of rebellion and revolutions is simply stirring things up.

My mind gets carried away often and I have to struggle to get it back under control, to where I need to listen to something like the rushing and roaring of the waves, the only thing that puts it all in perspective and calms my racing thoughts.

Fears I have of such discourse as what’s happening in Canada’s neighbouring country ending up no other place than
open revolt of some kind
keep me unable to let it go. It’s ongoing.

As I picture what history books one hundred years from now might look like, I am starting to see that writing in that book in my mind.

I’m being silly, right? Tell me that I’m just being overdramatic. Go for it.

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The Power of Failure in Memoir

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz YellowstoneBy Jacob Little

Recently I have been translating a book of poetry by the inimitable Antonio Gamoneda. I was nervous when I began, having never attempted any kind of literary translation before. During, I am enveloped in the engaging challenges, the uncommon nuances, the wordplay. And after? I am obsessed with each small failure. I can’t stop thinking about my choices:

Was I right to lean towards meaning over rhythm? I don’t think I got the diction right. I never did get all the connotations of “mosto” in there. Was it okay to translate “ácido prúsico” as “DDT”? Or “Una mentira luminosa” as “a neon lie”? Am I erasing the culture of the original? I kept Spanish in my translation—Will an English reader know that “madre” means “mother”? Will they be able to translate “dulzura” from context as a term of endearment?

These, to me, aren’t just empty obsessions. I…

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Silenced, #TheCranberries #JusJoJan

The folded up newspaper sits on my coffee table, containing words about another, taken too soon.

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I can’t see to read it and wonder why I bother to keep the paper anyway.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

This is not an official tribute…or is it?

Just how much do I want/need/have to say about a woman I’d never met before anyway?

I am rocked by the news, left meandering through
contemplation
of my own life and what it’s meant to be.

All her lyrics are on repeat in my head. They invite just this sort of examination.

I keep trying to grow, as I write, and to try a bunch of different things with it all. Some things are bound to catch on, while others might not. I have to trust in that process, to thrive in its randomness, but I won’t lessen the effort I put forth.

I have plans in my head, shifting daily perhaps, and then an unforeseen tragedy happens. A woman, middle aged dies suddenly, leaving behind teenage children in the world.

A man is celebrated every January who also was taken much too soon, in evil and ugliness, leaving the lives of especially his children forever changed.

I am lucky to have all I have, to have love and family and a safe place to be. I listen to lots of music, not just The Cranberries, to keep forging on.

I listen to Another Day In Paradise by Phil Collins and I feel the same as I’ve always felt when listening to that set of lyrics. I may feel better that I am feeling for the homeless woman in the song, but really I don’t know what kind of a person that really makes me in the end.

I see those on the street, just as the blind were often seen as beggars on the street, and I want to feed and house everyone. There is a shame and a stigma about it all.

I contemplate and then I hear Dolores’s words in my head: “Don’t analyze. Don’t analyze. Don’t go that way. Don’t live that way. That would paralyze your evolution.”

And oh the lump in my throat returns and I go back to the revolving thoughts in my head and I know I’ll always mourn her voice silenced far too soon.

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Ode and Lament

RIP Dolores.

Her Headache

As the final few days of 2014 are coming to a close, I wanted to highlight a few anniversaries. Most importantly is the twenty years since the release of an album full of music that has changed my life and gotten me through everything from illness, to loss of a loved one, to the end of an important relationship.

The Cranberries released their second studio album in 1994 and this has remained, not only my favourite, but the favourite of so many others. Songs like “Ode To My Family” and “Zombie” remain this Irish band’s biggest known hits of all-time, but it’s in every song and beautifully haunted lyric that I find solace and refuge from some of the harshness of life.

I know this particular album may not hold the same meaning for many people as it does for me, but I urge you to listen to it sometime…

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A Stranger Returning Home, #MLKDay #JamesBaldwin #JusJoJan

Just. Juice. Prejudice.

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These are three things that come to mind when I think of the word
“justice”
because they look similar in my mind, not because they have anything really to do with the word itself.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Okay, well, maybe justice and prejudice are related, but really I say this now because I am delaying the moment when I have to write about serious things.

Today hasn’t shaped up the way I was expecting it would. I was trying to figure out how to write something about Martin Luther King Jr. and then Dolores O’Riordan died.

Well, that’s not really a topic of justice. It only adds to my blue mood on Blue Monday as it stands.

I relate to the fight for racial justice, in that I can take my disability and think how discrimination manifests. Still, the subject is a sensitive one, as it should be.

It’s like the reconciliation discussion I learn about, with Indigenous Peoples, daily, here in Canada and in other places, all over the world. I am just sad, sad we haven’t come far enough and in some cases, have slid backwards with time.

This is the type of writing that evolves and changes throughout a day. I started this (mid month Monday) thinking about how to address MLK Day.

I’ve spent most of today lamenting the death of a one-of-a-kind voice in music, and I’m ending it by watching a documentary I have known about for months about writer James Baldwin, being shown on PBS.

I haven’t read his stuff and I know very little about him to be honest. I do know that these issues of rights, of where privilege lies, and on how to fight oppression and for justice, are bound to be found throughout Baldwin’s doc, in his own words, years before I was born.

He watched the young girl try to attend school and be spit on, chiding himself for not being there to help her.

Disgust and anger. How to move past this and into making it all better?

Baldwin didn’t miss America while he was in Paris. He didn’t miss it, but he did miss his family and his culture.

MLK knew he wasn’t likely to live long to see any sort of change.

It is painful for James to return, though he is home again.

James Baldwin said: The line between a witness and an actor is a fine one.

This feels so intensely true right now.

So poignant all these years later.

All about class and culture and race and so many other classifications I cannot seem to parse.

James did not stay, as witness. He was free “to write the story and get it out.”

He saw Martin and Malcolm X both go and he wrote about it.

Malcolm, Martin, martyrs both. Baldwin was the writer.

He writes: I Am Not Your Negro

How to reconcile any of this?

And so goes the clicking of the typewriter’s keys.

If you get the chance, watch I Am Not Your Negro.

Things sure have changed, since last century, but we writers still will write.

The story of America,” Baldwin said, “is not a pretty story.” “Aimless hostility.”

“This is not the land of the free.”

—James Baldwin

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The Licking of the Flames, #SongLyricSunday

Storms and slides. Mud, water, fire, wind, snow. Oh, the entire world, burning uncontrollably.

The natural world is a powerful force and it cares little for what we mere mortals think or want.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

In Ontario (the province where I live) and out east in Nova Scotia there have been two awful house fires in the news the last few weeks, killing multiple adults and children.

Sometimes it is human error and sometimes there is no-one to blame, though blame is rather off point.

We humans like to spread it all around, but where does it get us?

I hear all of these disasters, going on all around, and I remain untouched where I reside, but my mind races and can’t keep pace with world events.

Then there are those fires that some start, metaphorically, to distract and divide and destroy.

***

Hearts are worn in these dark ages
You’re not alone in this story’s pages
The light has fallen amongst the living and the dying
And I’ll try to hold it in, yeah I’ll try to hold it in
[
Chorus] The world’s on fire
and It’s more than I can handle
I’ll tap into the water (Try and bring my share)
I try to bring more More than I can handle (Bring it to the table) Bring what I am able

I watch the heavens but I find no calling
Something I can do to change what’s coming
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone
[
Chorus]

Hearts break, hearts mend Love still hurts
Visions clash, planes crash Still there’s talk of
Saving souls, still the cold Is closing in on us
We part the veil on our killer sun
Stray from the straight line on this short run
The more we take, the less we become
The fortune of one that means less for some
[
Chorus X2]

LYRICS

***

It feels as though the whole world is on fire, more and more these days, alarm bells going off on all sides, in all directions.

I stand, somehow avoiding the licking of the flames directly – for now anyway.

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