19 March 2012

"Marigolds in my mouth"

Illustration Andrew Zbihlyj

This essay by poet Kazim Ali published in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin is a gorgeous piece of work worth experiencing.

A quote:
I believe the "self"  is a risky conjecture... a weird coalition of celestial and spiritual matter, a wobbly and wild thing that quivers through life ... the way a compass needle quivers as it searches for the "real" magnetic north, which a scientist will explain to you is a floating and not fixed point.  
You are half yourself and the other part is just a set of notions -- some of them brilliant, some of them ridiculous, but in any case you will have to think hard in order to sort yourself out and sometimes it will take a stranger in the middle of another city to explain something to you.
And another:
As a human body, I have the privilege to be like dirt listening.  

18 March 2012

The power of storytelling...

"By telling a story, things don't control me anymore: it's in my vernacular, it's the way I see the world. Our stories ask our big questions...what's funny in this world, what's sacred -- And, even more important, by asking them in front of people, with people, even if we don't find the answer, by the asking we find we are not alone and I find that's even more important than the answer." 

I found this interview that Krista Tippett did in her radio program On Being with Kevin Kling inspiring and moving, especially this short excerpt from one of his shows in which he says:  "Every scar is a monument to a battle survived. Now, when you're born into loss, you grow from it but, when you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it."  Kling is a performer and writer who was born with a defective left arm followed by a motorcycle accident in his forties that almost killed him and paralyzed his good right arm.

That first quote of Kevin Kling's about questions without answers reminds me of something Bernie Glassman said in a talk he gave in Germany this year. In starting a conversation with a group, he invited people to ask him questions so he could get to know them better. "But I'm not going to answer them. Because I don't believe answers are useful. In fact, answers can be very deadly. Questions have a lot of energy, they have a life. With a question, you can go on."    

The trick is getting comfortable living without answers. I think Kevin Kling has it just right: asking questions in front of and with other people does make you feel less alone.