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The Heather By The River, #SoCS

Journalists. Photographers. And I use the term loosely.

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As a woman in my thirties, one who writes about things as my oxygen, I wonder what any of us would do for enough money. Would I write about people, even intrusively, for a living if given the chance?

Have I done it now? Already? Before?

How can it make anyone feel good about themselves to hound another human being, with their camera or their pen?

Responsibility: direct or indirect.

A world’s grief. Anger toward someone, needing to direct blame somewhere, the press. The press reports. The papers are printed. People buy the papers and mags.

More. More. More. We always want more.

From birth,
the two boys asked for none of it. That’s mostly where my thoughts return to.

I am not British and barely knew who Princess Diana was when she died. I wasn’t alive for the wedding seen around the world.

A sea of people, rather than water. That is what Diana must have seen when she looked from her vantage point, after saying her vows.

I would rather see a sea of Red or Black, blue or green, but the press fed off of the woman and she fed off of them, in a way, at least at first and for a long time afterward.

She was a fashion icon and a princess, but not only that. She used her position as a bit of an outsider, under the thumb of the monarchy, to become a change maker, by reaching out to those in need, those no one else wanted to associate with.

HIV and AID’s, in the 80s, when the hysteria about both was growing and at its greatest fever pitch. She shook hands, hugged those diagnosed and dying of the feared and misunderstood disease.

She came here, to Toronto, to sit by the beds of dying patients in hospice care. She walked a minefield, literally and figuratively. Danger signs.

Such grief of so many, I would not cry. As a fourteen-year-old child, fresh off of a kidney transplant and a thrilling wedding – I attended, my first of my oldest cousin. That was my wedding of the century.

Of royalty, I knew nothing. A fairytale life gone wrong is more like it.

Fairytales. I was familiar with these…the concept, the ideals, as a young girl. My Disney fairytale movies were my favourite. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the bright pink dresses and dancing with their handsome princes. I may have had similar dreams at the time, but what did I know? A lack of life experience and my own understandable immaturity.

What do titles represent, really? Sometimes, they bring just the right kind of attention and sometimes the wrong kind.

Now, upon reflection, twenty years later I do feel sad. I know of celebrity of her two sons. They are the British royalty of my generation.

I do perk up when I hear their names on the news. I bought the fake imitation giant ring, modelled after that of the one worn by both Kate and her mother-in-law, still lounging in my drawer. I woke to watch the wedding, once again broadcast live.

Prince William and Kate came to Canada after their marriage, the same date as my big brother’s own marriage took place. I hope one generation learns from the previous one, in certain cases, that sometimes it happens we grow wiser with enough knowledge.

They’ve come again since, since then, and with their two small children, touring parts of the country in which I live, that still sees itself as the child of Britain, past and present.

What is Kate wearing? Where are the couple going next? Are they in love, for real, or is it all just another fairytale?

But I do feel for two boys who, in August of 1997, woke up to the loss of their mother when I clung to mine for dear life, during some of the hardest and scariest times of my own childhood.

Are those boys/men in some ways like their mother, under scrutiny of duty, feeling hunted or like outsiders, wanting to reach out to those in need, perhaps not born with some of the advantages? They grew up with cameras as their mother tried to navigate a life of celebrity and being followed. She was hunted, more even than Prince Charles.

Now that I am more aware, I watch documentaries on the weekend after the anniversary of her death. I listen to stories of a nineteen-year-old who got married much too young, to an older man who shouldn’t have ever proposed to her in the first place, who was likely always in love with another woman. He should have been with this other lady all along and now appears that he is.

People marry the wrong person all the time, every single day and have babies with them. In these cases it is my hardest task not to judge because none of us are perfect. This challenges me as an adult who wants to see everyone happy, no matter whether they’re famous or not.

As a writer, this is my obituary of sorts, no matter how stream of consciousness based it may be, twenty years on.

From birth to death: Diana, 1961-1997

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Echoes Heard Through Chambers, #SoCS

“Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife.”

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My favourite Disney film growing up was The Jungle Book.

It takes place in a setting that seemed so far away, the jungles of India. It’s populated, clearly, with all kinds of animals and it’s premise is whether an abandoned human boy can survive and even fit in among them.

My favourite characters are favourites for a variety of reasons. I like the panther’s sensible demeanour and I like the bear for his adventurous nature and willingness to go with the flow.

The Bare Necessities – Jungle Book

The father elephant doesn’t think a boy belongs, but when that boy goes missing it’s the mother elephant who tries to make him understand that any young deserves to be safe.

The ape king wants to be a man and the boy wants to stay with his animal friends. My favourite is actually the snake, but he only cares about his next meal.

🙂

Well, first off, I had to go to my trusty Dictionary App to confirm the difference.

Bare/Bear, #SoCS

I think stream of consciousness writing can become a very dangerous thing because it could lead me to writing about all the things that worry me about this world now, but I did think of that catchy song from a Disney movie instead, to help me focus on something.

A movie about not fitting in and not being accepted fits well with the atmosphere lately and always.

I have recently been watching a Netflix series by Oliver Stone and it’s a history lesson and a critical look at his country. He spoke in it of the mistrust of foreigners, in America’s past, such as the Japanese during World War II and anyone Jewish, at many points. He spoke of Communism and all the hysteria, but what has changed?

“That little boy is no different than our own son.” The mother elephant in Jungle Book states emphatically when it’s announced the boy is missing.

A line like that passed me by all the years I watched as a kid, but lately it hit me hard. Moving words.

I don’t know how some people can bear knowing the damage they have done or are doing with their words and/or actions. They just don’t appear to care.

It was one year ago that Canada welcomed 25 thousand refugees from places like Syria. That doesn’t mean all Canadians welcomed them.

I care about people having their lives torn apart by war caused by terrorists and governments, whatever the reasons are for the fighting. I care and I wonder how they bear it.

The U.S. seems to be heading in a dangerous direction, their most recently elected leader threatening to cause so much harm, and I wonder how he bares all that he is and people still revere him. They think he will solve all their problems.

The media is in trouble and people don’t know who to trust. Doubt is being planted in the mind of society. The chasm appears to be widening, something people say they haven’t seen before, but if Stone is to be believed at all, these things have existed, in one form or another, all along.

I see positive stories about a pair of Syrian refugees who made it to Berlin and found fitting in to be a huge challenge. All the bureaucracy is hard to navigate and I listened to their story of the dangerous trip over on unpredictable boats. Now they face an uphill battle. So many awful and negative stories are what we hear, about how men from the Middle East are dangerous, with messed up values, raping German women. They are often unwanted and what else is the world to think?

Well, these two men are doing their part to make a difference. They studied coding at a program offered and have developed an App to help refugees and migrants figure out how to set up a bank account, for example. How can anyone have such a lack of compassion that they cannot put themselves in the place of someone who left their home, took such risk, for safety?

I hear doubt about why Canada should offer a hand to people from other countries when we have our own issues. I want to figure out where I bear any responsibility for making things better, but I can’t do anything about so much of it.

I get people jumping down my throat for daring to compare this time to the 30s, as if I am committing some horrible sin. I guess my fear is causing me to act/react that way, but we can all look in the mirror when it comes to fear. Fear is why so much hate develops. I won’t let that happen to me, even in my moments of anger that ignorance was allowed to win, when so many talk of 2016 being an awful year, for reasons we could all take a good guess at.

The U.S. seems to be headed in one direction and Canada gets together and makes a plan for the environment, but I ask which will result in a bigger price paid? People say these ideas our leader has for boosting the environment will cost us, but which cost is the riskier one?

Fear is hard to bear. I know it. I feel it. I fight it. This kind of writing asks that one bare all if they choose to.

I choose to bare it all, my truth that is, without losing honesty or compassion. That makes me proud to be Canadian but I am human too, my vulnerability for anyone to see.

I rely on kindness and compassion all the time. I would be nowhere without both. I am determined to give some back, as much as I can give, even as the world fights hate and bears witness to the worst of humanity.

Here’s a theory I’ve come up with. I figure DT plans to focus on science as long as it means getting to Mars. Then, he can feed all his greedy business masters what they demand and when nature takes her revenge, he will stay hold up in his golden tower in the sky, in New York City, which will be destroyed everywhere else. As soon as the water finally does rise to his floor high up there, a spaceship will be there to take him off this planet and away to ruin the next one.

I worry about a bear from the north, once blending in with ice and snow, as the water warms. What will our refusal to admit that we as humans do bear responsibility for what we have done to this world cost them. Polar bears are feeling it, even if some other fools are not.

Gee, I sure hope I got this bare/bear thing straight. I had to go for the challenge of using both and couldn’t just pick one or the other.

I guess I wish I could go on singing that carefree tune from Jungle Book, but even that happiness ended, if you know the film at all, by a sudden danger from above.

I just wish I could say we as humans have made more progress from the state of the world as discussed by Oliver Stone and today. We still like to feel superior to anyone who looks different or speaks different or lives different. No acceptance. I couldn’t say all I wished to say about that, even if I could write stream of consciousness forever and ever.

It is a necessity that we try to find acceptance, but sometimes I feel like I am trapped in some giant, empty echoing chamber and my words leave my mouth and vanish into thin air, as if I’d never uttered them at all.

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Driveways and Sideroads, #SoCs

“Shhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”

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“I’m trying to sleep,” is what my cat Lumos is probably saying, as he curls up in the place between my legs and the couch, but I type furiously for a little bit of stream of consciousness writing anyway, as he cuddles up to me and keeps my feet warm.

Now, I don’t usually write from any cat’s POV, not even his, but I was thinking up ways to start this post with an “sh” as the prompt stated, and that was all that came to me on this early Saturday morning in December.

I thought I’d begin with a little humour, as the rest of this post is of a more serious nature.

I did want to speak about a few
shows
I’ve seen this week, here.

It was both an odd contrast and, at the same time, alinement between a Canadian news program about one young husband and father who would walk down his driveway, attempting to sell his truck, and would never come home.

And then the American news program 20/20 and the young wife and mother who went out for a jog and was missing, abducted, but then finally released on Thanksgiving.

“It was just a truck!” That was the quote from the first program, from the widow left behind by tragedy, all a horrible, nasty, disgusting crime of a thing.

The Cali woman who would survive, has made it back to her loved ones, is now hopefully free to live the rest of her days with her two children and her husband, who never gave up and fought so hard to find her.

The Ontario woman will never get that sort of a happy ending with her love.

I was ill to watch the first program, to hear even more of the gruesome details, of which I managed to miss back in 2013 when the crime came to all our attentions, happening less than an hour away from me. She has her faith and family and little girl to bring her joy again, but a part of her will forever be missing.

Who knows what happened while that California woman was gone, as she is only now starting to help the police piece things together. Her trauma at this time likely intense.

One has, seemingly had a happy conclusion, though the case is still ongoing. Hopefully, whoever these women are, the ones who lured the victim into their vehicle, hopefully they don’t hurt anyone else.

The two men charged and now spending life in prison are paying for their deeds, one charged with two other murders before the truck owning husband and father was senselessly taken. Entitled. Rich and spoiled. Thinking themselves invincible. Murder never should have been the result.

The similarities and differences, matching an fitting in an odd way as the two programs followed each other, it all felt strange to take in.

I was just struck by the contrasting outcomes to these two evening news programs, as the holiday season approaches and so much good is highlighted. The presence of evil in this world hit me with an extra, additional, forcible blow because we all look to stories of good will around this time of year, but there are those bad ones still going on, somewhere.

Not all is well, though both stories felt like they were read as transcripts, more like Hollywood movie scripts, but are true crime, real life in motion.

I put myself and my family in their places. Then, I immediately wanted to push that thought out of my mind.

Sometimes the world feels like such a scary place and I am afraid to leave my house at the thought of it. What are the chances, really, right?

The young Ontario woman who is now raising her daughter as a single mother said, “If it could happen to us, it could happen anywhere.”

You could meet danger or genuine decency in your own driveway or on a deserted side road. You could meet it, no matter where you might be, all depending on the sort of outstanding or rotten humans who come across your path.

I watch these shows, as the Ontario case touched me deeply and this Thanksgiving miracle was a happy story, still in progress.

I also know I can’t be afraid.

These shows weren’t fiction , not this time. They happened. It looks like I’ll get to spend another holiday with my family, whereas some people will not. I don’t take that lightly. I also don’t want to feel paralyzed with fear to go out into the world, to live my life, and I hope I never have to hear stories like these again, but I know, realistically, it can’t be completely avoided.

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Train Wreckss, #SoCS #Halloween #GilmoreGirls

Ho, ho, ho!

  1. Okay, so wrong holiday there. I am looking past a lot of things happening right now. I’m fast forwarding two whole months.

Just over a week left until Halloween and lots to be
HORRIFIED
about I figure.

This afternoon, on my way to a pumpkin patch, but the day looks to be cold and windy, not quite as pleasant as last year’s adventure. Should have some fun with family anyway.

It’s not really the horror of all things Halloween that’s got me so on edge and taking it out on stream of consciousness writing as an art form, more like a form of therapy.

I tried to get into the spirit of the season, by watching
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
last night, but couldn’t get into it.

This clown thing that’s been making the news for a while is scary enough. I’ve never been a fan of clowns.

Nothing against the ones who live to dress up and make children laugh. Not my style.

I think our options for entertainment have grown in the past several years, technology a big part of that, resulting in less need for clown entertainment, but not all will agree with me. Some still prefer just such classics.

When I was in kindergarten, I had a little friend and his mother was a clown. She did kid parties and had a candy floss machine. How cool was it to have a friend with a mother who had constant access to that sweet treat?

Well, something happened after I lost touch with that boy and I grew up. I started to fear clowns.

I was in hospital a lot when I was twelve. The Shriners even have a hospital. Clowns were an easy way to cheer up seriously ill children. This meant one could often find a clown wandering around any children’s hospital I happened to be at, going from room to room on a paediatric ward, trying to help the boys and girls forget about how sick they were and the needles and surgeries, just for a little while, with magic tricks and songs and friendly, lighthearted chatter.

I confess, my trick was to pretend to be asleep in my hospital bed when I got word that a clown was on the way. This only worked when someone could tell me, as one thing I disliked was how clowns were often silent until they were right up on you.

Sounds like a predatory action and it wasn’t. Any clowns I met during my months of hospital visits were nothing but well intentioned. It was I who was growing more and more uncomfortable.

I have never liked makeup and so Halloween only held excitement for me because of the candy. I didn’t want thick makeup on my face and I didn’t like to think of it as a part of a clown’s costume either. The only clown I liked, by this time, was the Jewish clown on The Simpsons.

As I’ve lost more sight, makeup never held any real interest, as a woman. I know it isn’t the case, but now that I can’t really make out faces, whenever I imagine makeup on a woman, I think of thick, dark, clown makeup.

As I learned of terrifying clowns in the horror genre, like Stephen King for instance, I liked clowns all thee less.

This whole thing is ruling social media at the moment. I try my best not to imagine a creepy clown in the woods. Better left for fiction, but when I heard it had started in certain US states, I said, “thank God that isn’t happening here in Canada.”

Well, it has spread, as many things on social media will do. It’s here in Canada, in my town even. I say if I were harassed by one of those guys I would use my white cane to jab jab. Maybe a kick to the crotch. I don’t advocate real violence, but getting up in anyone’s personal space is not cool.

I think people can be a little odd or possibly more than that. I also think once certain folk realized this silly thing would get them some attention, just such a behaviour was far too tempting to pass up. People are on edge now. Someone could get hurt. Will this whole bit of nonsense stop once October 31st has passed us by?

I try not to bring a whole lot of attention to it. Besides, there is a horror a lot more worrisome anyway, but that one we must wait for Halloween to be over before we face it.

I spent a lot of energy talking about the horrors of the US election in my post last week. So, I will not go too far down that rabbit hole this week. Already, much too much of my week/month/year has been spent thinking/talking about the horrible predicament they are in, but of which we in the rest of the world are not immune to.

I focus on the candy of this season and I look forward to the remainder of 2016 because it’s been a life changing one for me, in several ways, more of which I will write about as the end of the year approaches.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

I am tired of feeling this anxious. I want to focus on the things I’ve got to look forward to.

Though, I have wondered lately about hope.

After a few more challenging times practicing my violin lately, I’ve started to fear that I have no hope of getting better.

I hope I will persevere through the trying times, because I never believed learning to play an instrument like this would be easy at age thirty-two. I don’t sound like a horror when I play, but I do struggle to remember everything and not get discouraged beyond repair. This is still something I love and am determined to get good at, or at least better than I am right now.

All you usually hear are those reactions when people hear I even wanted to start, at my age, to learn one of the more advanced musical instruments. They don’t see things as I go along, as I keep practicing and fight my doubt in my abilities. Most people aren’t around for the tough times. I may sound more horrible than a tormented cat or a screechy something or other, but I know what it sounds like when the correct strings are played and the exact notes are found. I still have hope.

And so, all threat of clowns aside.

(Halloween or November 8th included)

😉

I just want to get past Halloween without meeting up with one of those guys. Always have my white cane on hand though, and I will make my intentions perfectly clear before acting in my own defence.

🙂

Then, November 8th will come and go. Can’t wait for that fun day.

After that comes American Thanksgiving and the event I am really looking forward to, something to help me relax after these months of stress.

The new Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

After that Christmas and the start of a new and exciting year.

BRING IT ON!

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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

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The Elsewhere Region, #SoCS

The group ranged from ages twenty to seventy years. Mention of a CBC radio program about a battle of the generations, baby boomers vs the millennials. This is a place to feel safe, a non-judgment zone, but one

view

won’t necessarily be the same as any other in this room. Age and generation gap, these are just two reasons why.

As with life, in all areas, no matter which generation we’re in, out in the wider world there is plenty of judgment. This world is full of it, which is why this room serves such a useful purpose. It’s not easy putting oneself out there. Reading back to the group helps immeasurably.

Social awkwardness threatens to pull down into the depths of an abyss of social anxiety. It taunts and teases, trying to usher its person away and keep up streams of negative talk. You may have guessed it’s me, that person.

These views and voices echo around inside an otherwise sensible brain.

One viewpoint, in this room, is just as valid as any other. The people gathered around this conference table, in a library, in a town many have heard of, only by its famous shared name, one which any baby boomer should know well enough.

It’s important to listen to the poems of the baby boomer, as well as the somewhat hastily recited stories of the opposite generation, seated across the table. Stories are read, yes, but before, during, and after the stories, there are viewpoints to absorb. There are multiple lives lived and experiences of hardship or hard work or hardly anyone to listen at all. It all comes back to the writing here though. The listening and the writing.

Writing is where view takes shape, in this scenario, as story. It is disguised by made-up characters and varied storytelling styles, but the views are there, if you take the time to look for them. When is a story just a story anyway?

I listen to so many viewpoints in the media and I then repeat to myself how vital it has been for me to take a break this week. On the world stage, there are just too many views to ever possibly take any of them seriously, when often they feel utterly ridiculous. So hard to believe you’re hearing what your ears and your brain find they have to work with.

But then there’s that elsewhere region, where the ridiculous is encouraged, if not in made-up rhetoric than in fiction, but these days it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference either way, any way at all.

Stories need to continue to be told, in such safe places, places where I choose to return time and time again.

I can not say just how much I am learning about the actual act of writing, though each time I receive a comment from one of them I learn to look at a situation in a different way, but I am sharing a laugh and my view with the laughter and views of the other writers/readers.

I grab hold of all that tension in the form of my own social awkwardness and I turn it into the knowledge that my views are just as valid as the next person’s. I sit back while they share something of themselves, okay with the idea that I can share something of myself too.

I’m in yet one more place where my own viewpoint is likely to be miles from that of the person sitting at the other end of the table. I listen then, to that viewpoint from opposite myself, and I let it all just sink in. What brought them to the conclusions they’ve arrived at? How can I possibly hope to understand? Are we more similar than we are different?

The night before and it’s ONLY millennials here. No baby boomers to be found.

Oh, what exactly do I know of the musician I heard perform live the night before? What’s revealed through their music? Do lyrics tell the real story of that lived experience, by any stretch of the imagination? Mine stretches to find common ground, as this night I am the oldest person here, at thirty-two, most likely.

The view from this room, from this plush chair I’ve staked out for myself, as a way to avoid the unknowns of leaving its safety, will this mean the night was a lost cause? Do secret locations, first times experiencing musical shows like this, do the many bodies moving about in this tight space of a bachelor apartment, does it all help my placement in or out of the elsewhere region?

I want to open up. I start and stop and start again. Some things aren’t to be missed and the lack of regret for missing them is enough of a victory for the night, for the week. Yet, going forward I must require even more of myself.

The view from here is one of low vision, hardly any at all, which makes that social awkwardness seem, at some moments, to be insurmountable. It’s not, and there’s a way of putting it in its proper perspective, but it makes me tired. Very tired. Oh so mentally and emotionally spent.

Sometimes it makes me want to speak my truth, in one long and meandering sentence, which becomes stream of consciousness writing gone wild, with no end in sight.

If I feel that heavy social awkwardness threatening to pull me under once more, I repeat to myself all the comforting things I can, which today I’m choosing to explain by my unique position in a place I now lovingly like to call “the elsewhere region,” and I tell myself I can come back from that place or I can find peace in it, if need be.

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