Friday, June 6, 2008

Feeding intuition

"Eat up quickly little one,
then tell me, please, what should be done"

Vassilisa the Fair (also known as 'the Brave') is a Russian fairytale featuring the fabulously named witch Baba-Yaga Bony-Legs - go on it's too good not to roll your tongue around a few times.

In the way of fairy tales, the heroine, Vassilisa is badly treated & must overcome her protagonists with determination & the help of magic. In this case she has a tiny doll which she keeps in her pocket, and when she needs help she feeds her doll & then she asks her question. The doll always comes through.

This image is the loveliest one I know for that indefinable attribute termed intuition.

I started a post a good while back called 'logic - the dark art' - actually that was as far as I got, but I think here is as good a place as any to weave in those few threads. Logic, being rational, reality call it what you will, to my mind they're blood(y) relations, & from the kind of family one may visualise as issuing from Sicily. In a semi-perfect world logic would come with the same health warnings as paint stripper or the mafia. It has been turned into a dark art that allows it's initiated wizards or wizardesses to coat this world in the supergluey substance it calls 'reality'.

We are surely at a time when we need to claim or reclaim the vitality of shouting -you weren't expecting that were you, neither was I :) - sorry I couldn't find the right word, but shouting - loud, vital, sparkling, powerful - well that works pretty well - at least it's alive.
Day in, day out I 'do' my life, following the prescribed routes of income earning & bill paying with two days off each week for good behaviour. Like most adults, in my opinion, I lead a semi-comatose existence with far too few moments of ecstatic creativity & connection.

So I've been wondering more than usual about this just lately & getting impatient. I don't think we can just sit around & wait for enlightenment or the next 'consciousness breakthrough' & I don't think we're meant to - that's working at the pace of evolution, & that's just too damn slow.

Humans are naturally creationist - every moment of every day, day in, day out. Take a look at children, they bloody well hum with activity & curiosity. If you've ever looked after them for any length of time you'll know you can't even go to the toilet without being interrupted.

So what's happened to us. God I miss the creativity of my childhood. I thought I'd come here & kick a few ideas around as much for myself as anyone who might like to join me.

From what I can see we start to shut down in teenage years, I think puberty when combined with the education system, has somehow been turned into an off switch. Gradually throughout these years the humming grows quieter until around 18 or so, hey presto, out pops a pre-packaged adult (humming not available). They still need tweaking, but for the majority, childhood has been trimmed away & a self-regulating member of society full of its desires has been created. A few years of work is usually enough to complete the transition.

It does seem that very great importance has been placed on 'growing up' in our society. The word childish is an oft used & potent control word but you know I think we've been had. The jewels & treasures of life are seen nowhere as intensely as in childhood. Just because we physically change in size & shape does that mean we are supposed to change in heart & soul.

I had an aunt who at 77 used to complain about the 'old ones' (she was Irish & pronounced it differently) who would get in her way at the supermarket. She was the youngest person I've ever known, with a charming ability to laugh at herself, & it was my pleasure to make her laugh as much as I could. There was some ungrownup, playful quality about her that was a sheer delight. She was my mother's sister & never have I seen such a contrast of characters.

I got interested in the idea of play & wondered what if would be like if we had evolved into a society where play instead of work was the top priority. I went searching on the internet for ideas about adult play - silly me, you don't type in those words without getting an eyeful back. I couldn't find anything for 'grown ups', play was all for children but... only up to a certain age - 12 years seemed to be the cut off point, after that it appears you are supposed to grow up. I've noticed as my son moves through the school system how playgrounds have disappeared, to be replaced with sports fields - flat open spaces where acceptable team sports complete with rules & regulations & judgements on performance take place. Spontaneous play becomes a 'childish' activity.

Before puberty you are a child, you will be trained to be a girl child or a boy child, but the lines are somewhat blurred. Once your hormones kick in you become, first & foremost, your sex. Following hard on it's heels is the expectation to grow up which means grow out of childish ways.

I still remember the oh no feeling I had many years ago when I realised I was growing up - I knew deep down that I was going to lose something. I remember the shutters coming down & going to a catholic girls school, the shutters came down good & hard. A mix of religion, education, society's expectations & those of my sex left bugger all room for humming. When my buzzing went out the door so did my creativity.

I'm trying to tie a few ideas together here, sorry if I'm rambling. I've been groping with them for a while now but they're slippery critters which is why I'm trying to tie them down Gulliver style on to a page (screen) so I might be able to look at them & find something I lost.

So we come to the story of the Golden Compass, which has been much in my mind lately & indeed looking to other blogs I've seen it appearing there as well. In the story each person has a daemon, an animal that is as a part of them as their breath, their soul. When I first listened to this story, I loved the idea of being able to touch & communicate with your soul - visual & tactile confirmation of greater self. (Perhaps there are other ways of looking at this story but for now I just want to use it as a backdrop for some ideas).

I got to wondering about children. Many of them develop a special attachment to a toy or blanket during their early years - this bond is extremely deep and god help you if it should be mislaid - I've heard of parents having to travel hours to recoup a 'special' toy that has been left behind. Now I've been wondering if children are not creating their own daemons, and if this was the case could we run with this thread a little longer & suggest that something is cut away at birth that they seek to recreate. This leads on to musings of the umbilical cord as a symbol of a greater connection to ..... I don't know, I forgot to make a note of it before I left . Human life does seem to feature a great sense of disconnection that the idea of daemons does much to allay.

In my family, unlike Vassilisa above, dolls were forbidden, so my teddy-daemon was a green elephant (not having Barbies golden locks I made do by rolling up his ears & tying them with a rubber band), and I still remember a certain confusion as to whether he (& he was a he, so a bit of cross-dressing did go on) was real or not. So sure was I that he was real that I cut off part of his tale to see if it would grow again. It was my sister I think who dobbed me in & suitably unimpressed my mother sewed it back on. The large white stitches proving for once & for all that she was never destined to become a plastic surgeon. To my child's mind this experiment was never successfully concluded because no time was given to allow for the new tail to grow - such was his reality for me, that I still wonder.

"ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2007) — Every parent of a young child knows how emotionally attached children can become to a soft toy or blanket that they sleep with every night. New research, published today in the international journal Cognition, suggests that this might be because children think the toy or blanket has a unique property or ‘essence’."

If we return to Vassilisa & her doll, the elements of daemon & childhood toy are woven together along with something else - magical knowledge. The doll must be fed before she can help & here indeed I think is treasure.

Along my slow & bumbling journey home I have found a few tools that have so far proved reliable. I think the greatest of these is hunger. To override a shitload of programming I have found I must have a very great appetite. There is a world of difference between yearning & hunger. We are trained to yearn, to wish for something, as in Cinderella wishing upon a star - load of bollocks - you may as well wish upon a pile of horse manure. In essence, to yearn is to 'pine' & you need go no farther than the story of Narcissus to see where that gets you.

So we pine away for love, a holiday, a new car, to win lottery or whatever your particular fancy is. The physical manifestation of yearning must surely be the sigh - that horrible little noise that can leave a mushroom cloud of despair in it's wake. The virus of yearning/despair creates paralysis.

Now I come to a little story I had no intention of mentioning here, but these articles are created word by word & idea by idea, & I follow as much as I lead.

Last year I went to Hawaii. You may think 'big deal' or 'lucky cow' depending on what flavour your yearning takes, but stick with me. I'll give you the details, but like a dream the whole story interweaves so much that there is no particular start or finish.

From 1989 - '99 I lived in England, my son was born there & I even married his father for a short time. We split up, my son's father eventually moved out of England & I was able to return to NZ with the understanding that my son would visit his father & relatives in Europe every year, plus additional holidays. Every year, sometimes twice a year I would drive my son to the airport, say good bye & sometimes not even hear from him till he returned a month later. At first it was very hard indeed. Last year I started to think how soon he would be grown up & I would never know what it was like to get on a plane & go away on holiday with him. (In order to finance trips to the UK the agreement was that I would receive no child maintenance - so money has often been tight).

The thought that time was running out started to whirr around in my head, then one day I was visiting my friend Deb & somehow we started a game of make-believe. I pretended that I had taken my son on a holiday to Easter Island & Hawaii (at the time I was very drawn to the former) & she told me about her 'trip to Paris'. The energy created that afternoon must surely have registered on some scale somewhere - we laughed uproariously & giggled & spun a web of of fantasy that was pure magic. I also had a child's sense of 'being naughty', of somehow playing with something that was supposed to be out of bounds. Such was the energy of that day that I never let it go, the following day I bought some plastic leis to put round the house & went to the travel agent to check on prices - very expensive, but the energy stayed. Any time I came across anything vaguely Hawaiian I would leap on it. Gradually events formed around this idea, Easter Island dropped away, & one night I found myself talking to another friend. Her husband is 30 years older than her, they've been together a long time. She told me how she has never put anything off because she never knew how long she would have with him - that was the last magical straw, then & there I made the decision to go to Hawaii.

The trip itself was amazing, it shook me awake. In actual fact I was nervous much of the time. I'd done bugger all for years, just work & parenting. I hired a car for three days, but Americans drive on the wrong side of the road & being severely directionally challenged (never could work out left from right) I found it very daunting. I took to following the car in front of me whenever I couldn't figure out which way to turn, my son tells me that one man kept looking nervously in his mirror as I followed him through the back streets of Waikiki one night trying to find our hotel.

Whenever I look back on this time, always, always I go back to the game I played with my friend. I have tried to understand the magic we cooked up that day, I've tried to recreate it. One thing I know, I was hungry - seven years of driving to & from the airport, seven years (not slow am I) of being left behind built a hunger in me, but in my semi-comatose state it took a long time to realise.

Realistically, rationally, logically I could not afford to go. Yearning would have seen me doing a narcissus impression over a weekly lotto ticket. Hunger & make-believe lit an explosive charge beneath my ass that propelled me across the Pacific Ocean.

Hunger seems to be a body-felt emotion, it demands feeding - the lusty cry of a hungry infant, insistent & relentless - it doesn't go away, it just gets louder. This is the quality of children, they are always hungry & I've been thinking that it is hunger that is removed or re calibrated somehow during those teenage years. This is the time when the teddy-daemons are packed away & you must to learn to stand on your own two feet. I asked my son about his teddy - strangely enough he also had an elephant, given by an almost stranger, but this was the one he chose. He said he knew that it was a toy with stuffing inside, but it was like there was a mind inside it, it was very real.

When humans give their attention to something they change it. We have a cockatiel, to anyone else he's just a bird, but to us he's a grumpy little bastard, but a grumpy bastard with a distinct personality. At present in this world it seems that much of human attention is of the pining kind, what would a good hearty appetite do for us - blow away a lot of cobwebs methinks.

I found this meaning on Celtic Rebel's site for daemon - "one that has exceptional enthusiasm, drive, or effectiveness" - this is the realm of children who I believe are driven by healthy hunger.

So what might some of the elements of hunger be? I am groping here for descriptions but how about - big curiosity, fabulous wondering, awesome humility, tremendous desire to learn, gigantic urge to experience, all-consuming desire to laugh, unrelenting demand for physical touch.

Herein lie the workings of the soul's hunger gland - when did you last get yours checked out?

I leave you with a quote that surely comes from hunger & could be addressed to the stagnant forces at work in this world, from Lizzie in Pride & Prejudice - "I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me."

Additional: two excellent reads incorporating the Golden Compass