The clocks tick, tock, tick, tock, tick. I sit in the counting and feel the distance between the present moment and long ago and much further east where I last felt this consistent pulse.
My father was an antique dealer and loved old clocks. He had many of them in his house, and each night, he would walk around on old, creaky floors winding them, commenting on their beauty and tone, and reveled in the chimes at every quarter hour.
Contemporary tocks are hollow. They come from plastic cases run with batteries, and like so many new things, are a pale and and thin experience compared to what came before. This is a lesson I imbibed wholeheartedly; the value of good work, of items crafted with the user in mind, not just their money, but their lives, for if something is to count down the seconds, minutes and hours of your life, it is best if it is something that counts with style, grace, and some type of solid authority. I want a reverence in the clock that marks the moments in my life.
This thing that I have about well-made objects is one way I know myself. I don't want throw-away culture because there is nothing in it for me. To bathe in the history of a thing or a place is to better understand what I love and why. To understand that an item was loved by a person who is now dead is to live with a lovely echo that is not your own, but human nonetheless.
I make things. I write. I hope to bring a little bit of joy to people by giving them my art, or, maybe if I am lucky, selling it to them. I make the things I make because I love the process I must use to bring them about. I have spent a good portion of my life figuring out how to put my heart into the things I make while simultaneously cultivating the ability to let go of the end product.
Detachment is a dreamy state where I feel so in love with a moment I must forget in the next and the next and the next. So much is missed on the surface of things that to move through the world too quickly is a cheat. I am appalled by the idea that you must "hack" experiences in life, or fit your work week into only four hours, do less to get more in less time. What is a life made of if not the tasks you do to make a living? To live a life?
Like the old clocks that counted time in my father's house, I like to feel the seconds seeping. I like to know that there is some meaning to passing my time, other than avoiding engaging with it. I won't be trying to avoid wrinkles, or getting rid of any of the marks that show my age because I am proud of the time I have spent taking the world in to my body and illuminating the moments that have mattered to me.
Like my father reveling in the passing of every quarter hour, I too will celebrate the moments that I have fully engaged with the world around me. I will bathe in the knowledge that I took the opportunity to feel and love as much as I could while I had the time.
As Ferris Bueller once famously said, "life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it."
The bee buzzes around my face and ears and finally lands on my shoulder. I have no idea what the draw is. I'm painting a small house with a thick, purple substance that smells like ammonia, but for some reason the bees still want to sleep on me. It makes me feel special, chosen, as if there is such a thing, that the bees like to rest on my arms while I work. I have to be careful not to mush or prod any of them too much lest they freak out with their stinger and fall to their doom.
I think about this a lot as I move carefully throughout my days in the woods. What if humans dropped dead if we overreacted to possible threats? What if, when we hurt someone, we immediately felt that pain and suffered some irreversible consequence, like losing a limb? Or a digit?
We are further away from each other as time passes, and further away from the pain we cause, yet closer and closer to being hurt. I have been told that my very presence is a threat. This is a pain that most do not escape, this fear of the other, this treatment of the leper. We have been taught to fear and loathe each other., and we teach this lesson we learn, mindlessly.
This is why I go back to bees. They do so much good, each sweet buzzy thing, they keep the whole world alive with their work, minding the flowers, carrying pollen wherever they travel.
I am not so lucky. I don't remember the last time I inadvertently saved anything or anyone. I have never accidentally carried life on my limbs, save the bees, and that is more of a combination of extreme awareness and dumb luck than anything else.
The world is calling for my presence, awareness, compassion, and love. It calls me to myself, to inhabit my skin again, though I have been trained out of it for so long, it might be a tough sell to persuade me back in, the me that is in constant need of weight management, of hair or wrinkle removal, or breast enhancement, or nose reduction. Everything I have been taught educates me toward self criticism. It is a distraction in itself, this false desire to amend what has been given.
This is the sadness I carry with me and the lie I believe in, that if I change my appearance my life will be better. If I look more like everyone else, if I fit in, I will finally be happy. But there is no happiness found in conformity to the mediocre. There is no joy in stifling the freak that runs through the blood of our species. And who am I to do so? My people, all people depend on me to break this, smash it utterly and shine the light on this lie.
It takes so much to stand for ourselves. So much to stand for each other, but I must do this now. I have to wake up from this lie that we are separate, that we are a threat to each other. That allowing others in will only cause pain. We have to stop killing each other out of fear. We are not mindless creatures but beings capable of great and lovely things.
I cannot bear the thought of dying, knowing that our greatest inventions have led to the deaths of millions. I cannot sit with the knowledge that our great minds work to bring us products of destruction, and that the sale of these items makes the world spin. Finally, I cannot die having been just like everyone else, knowing that what I strived for was to be average, regular, normal. I do not want to look back on my life knowing that in the end, I didn't even have the courage to pull out my stinger.
Bees might sting when they are threatened, but theirs is a culture of life, while ours is a culture of death. We must be brave enough to change this. We must find the life in our culture and propagate. Our great minds can create life, joy, and opportunity for everyone. We do not have to create, teach and sew the seeds of death.
I will suffer the consequences of this mindless sleep of consumption daily until I can wake up and save myself. I will not do this inadvertently. I am not as lucky as the bees. The life I must carry must be intentional. I must forcefully pull the kindness, the love out of my hearts and bring it in to this world. I cannot cling to the false safety of conformity any longer.
I am more than willing to use my stinger. I am more than willing to use everything I have to fight for life.
I know it is scary, hard, even uncomfortable to stand up for love, peace, and kindness. It is terrifying just to be yourself in a world that demands conformity. But WE must. People are killed every day as a direct result of this lie. We have to have the courage to change it. Our species is dying of the slow suicide of self-hate.
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