Angel Ann and the Earthbound eliphot
Yesterday, I spoke with a friend of mine who does…
They wanna throw core holes at the homeless, laugh when friends have nowhere to stay, let drunk teenage girls go home with a group of strangers, think the sick should look after themselves and people who can’t find a job are just lazy. I’ve met people who believe all Muslims are terrorists, all Aboriginals have their hands out, all women are manipulative and all men are idiots.
At school, kids send hate messages encouraging other students to kill themselves. At work, adults poke fun at each other for being poor, fat, black, Asian or sensitive. On the street, I find it hard to get past “hello” without encountering a person’s discriminatory biases. And that’s not the worst of it.
I’d say that “I don’t get it” but you know what? I understand that we are all motivated by the same stuff. So it’s not that I’m perplexed. It’s just that being around all this meanness is making me sick, in a way that I can’t quite explain.
Most of my cosmology is about how the world is an acausal experience – which basically means there is no direct cause we can know; no discrete back-and-forth between a solid act and a solid end. That still stands. The problem I’m having is with language.
That is, I’m having trouble finding the words to describe how this meanness is responsible for the desire to move away from the GC. I know it’s part of the process. I know that it’s on purpose and that it’s not a bad thing. But I also know that my sense of what to do is telling me to “get the fuck outta here!” and that “people are mean”.
The thing is, I don’t blame them. I don’t want to make them aware. I don’t even want them to change. I just don’t want them in my life. Not that I have anything to do with people here anyway. They’re too harsh. It’s like you’re in the group or you’re their enemy – part of the solution or part of the problem.
Whether it’s Flannery’s or charity stalls or poetry slams, the dynamics are the same – be aggressive. Be outspoken and competitive and keep going until you get what you want. Even when that thing is world peace, people here seem to approach that as a war against everyone and everything in their way.
At the Flannery’s down the road, you can’t buy something without someone trying to convert you to their way of life by playing on guilt or righteousness. The minute you walk in it’s like you’re being sized up for their activism drive; as if they’re trying to figure out what your weakness is so they can exploit it. It’s surreal! And what passes for ‘creative support’ on the GC is more of a fight club than a patreon meet.
People seem to want to tear you down and shred you to pieces rather than be curious about what you’re doing. The whole get together is set up around critique and performance – the kind(s) that set you apart rather than draw you in closer. There doesn’t seem to be any room for simply being an artist on the GC. You must partake of the bloodsport if you want to share space with other creatives here. Which is great if that’s your thing but it’s not mine. It’s a bit too gladiator for me.
I’m into consideration and seeking to understand. I’m into letting people be who they are because we are already whole and on purpose, and don’t need someone intervening with their ideas about who we should be. I’m also really sick at the moment – yet another thing I don’t have language for, and that I don’t appreciate the labels I have available i.e., “sick” – which makes it hard to be the bigger person in the room.
When you’re tired and in pain and there’s no money or no means to “get well” (whatever that means) then the bulk of your resources go into basic survival. Often, if you’re as sick as I am, you have to choose between having a shower and having a meal because you don’t have the energy to do both, and no amount of meditation, goodwill, green spaces, or music therapy is going to change that. Not when you have gotten so used to pain that the flashes at the side of your head – which should signal a migraine – become part of your daily routine; so regular, in fact, that they don’t add anything extra to the pain and discomfort you already feel.
It’s like living inside a box that won’t let you stand up, and carrying around a vice that won’t let you think straight, and gripping an electronic pulse that won’t let you relax, and holding in against a wound that threatens to spill your guts out all over the floor, and then do that for four or five years – with bleeding, and paralysis, and tinnitus, and constipation, and bursting ovarian cysts, and all kinds of other interesting experiences. That’s when all your energy goes into the bare necessities.
You stop answering phone calls and emails, stop taking clients, stop taking walks and being outside altogether – unless you count going downstairs to the laundry for washing days. Everything changes. Except you’re not changed. That is, you still process every moment, still go into each ‘pain’ experience as you would any other.
You still look at the world as your cosmology predicts because that’s what a cosmology does – it tells you how to see the world. It is what is. So while all of these experiences may have labels like pain and suffering (two very different things, by the way), the way you, or I in this instance, encounter them is beyond labels.
To the world, say, to Centrelink or the tax department and a G.P., you are unemployed, not working, not earning, and unwell. And to the spiritual-six-figure crowd, you are unaligned, out of balance, dissonant, and waiting for a wake-up call. While to the oneness of all that is which accepts, allows and appreciates all as perfect, you are simply present. It makes no difference how it looks or how it feels. It just is. And that’s how it makes sense to me.
It’s how it made sense to me when I was earning lots of money and seeing lots of clients, and it’s how it makes sense to me when it seems like I’m doing neither of these things… I don’t need those things to tell me what I believe. I don’t rely on evidence – like money and energy – to prove to me that the universe is perfect. Those conditions are not bad, they’re just what is. Those experiences aren’t a sign of imbalance or an indication to do something differently, they’re just what is. The same way they’ve always been.
If I believed in a cognitive-behavioural universe, I would take this experience and call it “lack”. I would try hard to change my circumstances because I believed in the power to transform what is into what I know better. And I would know that I had succeeded once all my symptoms went away and my life got back on the track I envisioned for myself.
Instead, I trust all that is. I trust everything is perfect. I trust my circumstances are meaningful and just as sacred either way. I trust we are all doing what we can with what we have, and that if I am meant to do something – see a doctor, take a pill, go for a walk, have a treatment – then that will be part of my instructions today. And that trust, in doing what we can, goes for the “mean” people I’m talking about getting away from too.
I know it’s not their fault. I know my label is inaccurate – it’s only part of a much longer sentence about life, the universe, and everything. I know they are not the cause of my suffering or the impetus for my move. They only appear that way… right now… until another version of the story makes sense to me; until another truth is revealed about what (appears to be) going on. And I know, in this moment, it appears these people are mean and that appearance is meaningful.
Without needing to be right (or wrong), my belief in the meanness as toxic or making me sick is just what appears to be going on. I know that’s not true; not the whole truth. I know that in order to get to that truth I need to trust what appears to be and then follow that into the place it wants to show me. I guess it’s like a vision quest – the symbols and experiences you have are not literal, they mean something on another level.
My feelings about meanness and this story about other people are easy to resist. They’re easy to (psycho)analyse and break down into logical pieces that divide the world into Eurocentric notions of cosmic order – nature and reason, for example. But there’s no need for me to go there. I have surrender.
If the feelings about meanness and the story about people are on purpose, and I trust there is a reason I’m having this experience, then there’s no need to analyse them as if they were/are psychological issues. All I need to do is do the same thing I do for every other invitation (aka experience), which is trust.
For me that means I explore the experience; I allow it to have its way with me without feeding it in any particular direction. Every moment is different but in this case, that meant going with the story, writing it down, and letting it be told in a particular way. Which is what I’m doing, right now – letting myself be lived by it… out in the open… not knowing where it will take me… not knowing what form it will take or which direction it seeks to go. That’s trust.
Even as I’m writing, I’m feeling different about meanness and people and why I’m leaving the Gold Coast. I know (now) that I was meant to write this piece, but I didn’t know that when I first hit those feelings about people and being too sick to be around them. I just had the feelings. I let those feelings become the story. And then I allowed that story to become this post.
The feelings were never real. The meanness wasn’t either. It’s not about holding onto what you think brought you to this place because this place isn’t real either! In order to be lived by it, one has the experience they’re having – no matter what it’s labelled – as if it is perfect. Not great or groovy. Just what is. That’s enough. At least it is for me.
And then what? Then you have the next experience and let yourself be lived by that, again and again, and again. Until you don’t.