Is this a common thing to be seeing all the time?
Why am I seeing this stuff? Are other people seeing this stuff?
There are little flashes of the maddening urgency of 2010, the first time she took a deep dive into cloud watching and totally lost her mind, became crazy in the context of a unique set of extraordinary pressures and chaos dynamics that she was utterly unprepared to navigate well.
She hadn’t ever really even thought about God that much, though admitted to herself a quiet, stubborn agnosticism, a belief in something that just wouldn’t go away no matter how hard she tried to believe that there was nothing, no matter how hard she tried to be an atheist. She could say – sitting by the heat exhaust smoking cigarettes outside of Kramer Hall, c. 1997, black tapered pants, nerdy white socks, face accented by silver eyeshadow and uncertainty – that she was an atheist, but she’d always believed there was something, at the very least ghosts.
However, in 2010 she was not thinking about God, and had no desire to think about God, except that her life was falling apart and she didn’t know what to do. Her family was impossible to talk with, and her friendships had atrophied in the years of children, work, and a difficult marriage.
As soon as she dropped her son off at skate camp, both of them determinedly cheerful, she collapsed into sobbing. She didn’t want to go home, didn’t want to go anywhere, didn’t want to be anyway. She felt completely disconnected from the life she’d had just 6 months earlier, a life where she was a mother working at a science museum, going through a divorce, but still on top of her game, feeling confident, good about herself and her ability to move forward in her life as a person who had made difficult choices and come out okay.
How had she become this person who could not stop crying, driving around her block in circles, waiting to know what to do. It was almost like she saw herself stopping the car in the bright sun of a regular summer day where people at the church on the corner were serving food from a folding table, white plastic tablecloth blowing thinly like a flag of surrender laid down.
She saw the way that first one, then two, then slowly a small group of people quieted and stared, plates held between hands, watching as she stumbled up the steps, openly crying as the woman preacher intercepted her and led her inside the empty sanctuary, ceiling vaulted and blessedly dark.
The woman laid hands on her as she cried and called down warrior angels. The thought of warrior angels was initially reassuring, but soon became strange and overwhelming – the clouds and the beliefs, the sensations, worlds inside of her being washed away and new worlds blooming, new bizarre worlds where entities such as warrior angels and dark forces were transacting all around and through her.
Keep it simple, Faith.
Don’t go into the bizarre worlds now. The novelty of your delusions is a good story, but it’s not the story you need to focus on right now, and you only have a 1/2 hour to write before you need to start getting ready for the day, because it is your mom’s birthday, and your parent’s anniversary, and your mom is not dead, even though they said she would be. So, hallelujah.
She is a syncrete, an animist, but even in those identifications, she doesn’t follow or study anything too deeply or for too long. She studies the sky, pays attention to what she notices, what she is pulled to learn and to then let go. She does not want to be consumed into anything that may keep her from believing what she believes, which changes as she develops.
Fixed beliefs and externally devised prescriptive practices of spirituality are not for her. They make her feel as though she is worshipping a false idol or something, ignoring the wind and her own ways of connecting to what she experiences as ‘spirit’ or ‘the holy unity of all things held in brief, glorious pausing resonance in the vastly constant tumbling of time and space and place’ or…she doesn’t know…
Writing assignment (for self):
Free-write how you feel when you feel connected to a sense of God or spirit or the earth itself, or to ancestors, or some combination of all of the above.
What do you notice in your body and mind space? What sensations and thoughts do you observe?
What are you grateful for and hopeful for in those moments?
What do you know in the most simple ways of knowing?
Yesterday, she began two small paintings of a cloud picture – one of the many, many cloud pictures that she has taken over the last two months, which has been a major period of cloud observation.
Twelve years ago, she began the process of drawing everyday for a year. She drew and painted a whelk. A shell.
Yesterday, she saw – and thoroughly documented- what looked to be the outline of a whelk that hung in the sky for a solid – she doesn’t know – 10 minutes a half hour. She can look at her pictures and tell how long a structure lasted, or at least how long she documented it before moving on to some other holy wonder that is sprawled out over her neighborhood and that nobody else seems to notice, which – to her – is so fucking weird.
Is it even real?
She has let herself get consumed and misled by questions before.
It is very important to maintain focus and grounding, because – after 12 years – twelve years which have held some seriously alarming mass atrocities and generated disturbing trends in avarice, exploitation, hate, and delusion, and have – alas – foretold of a future, ahem, most grim as far as the health and habitability of the planet we collectively live on, well – she is pretty sure there is something weird going on with the clouds and that it is important that she find someone to talk with – seriously and sensitively and rationally and helpfully – about this.
There is almost a desperation in her and she tells it to quiet down, knowing that she needs to listen, but that to be effective in actually finding the right people to help her make sense of why she sees this and is it real and – if so – is it significant, and – if so – how and why, what does any of it and all of it mean and what should she do?
What should I do? What would you do?
At this point, I have 0 attachments to specific outcomes – though there is a part of me, a part of me that is likely alive in almost every human on the planet that longs for the reality of a glorious greater force to intervene, to help, please help. Lord, please help end this suffering. The people and the animals and the places and the water.
It doesn’t seem crazy to me to think that – in some way – the animals and forests and the ocean itself is crying for help, praying for help.
Fuck my scientific objectivity and all the wishywash mealy-mouth careful step around what I say and how I say it – show them, show the people, let them make of it what they will.
What is an appropriate social media strategy for a project like this, which hardly anyone knows about and that is somewhat loaded in that it deals in themes that people go to war over, deals in themes of God and gods, both of which and all of which I know basically nothing about and am totally okay with that for now, except that I have so many questions that I don’t even begin to know how to answer, and – to be honest – feel like I’m in waaaaay over my head with this project, these questions.
How silly is it to see something not just beautiful but profoundly beautiful – powerfully beautiful – and to see it again and again and again and then – haha – retreat into a study to learn the details of this doctrine or that doctrine, to join some thing and then devote your life to fitting in and being virtuous, respectable, unto the code of that belief system?
Nope. Not for me.
I am open to learning many things, but will devote my entirety to none of them, because ideas can be powerful mediators of experience.
It’s two minutes til I have to get ready for my mom’s birthday. I am going to have a good day.
Getting Amor Fati tattooed on my hands was a fantastic decision, because it is a constant reminder and directive to love and appreciate whatever is happening, to embrace it and keep moving toward a fullness of being, to not be distracted by all the reasons something might be bad or unpleasant, to just love it and learn from it and move on.
I depart from Nietzsche in many ways, at many points, I’m sure, none of which I will elaborate on because I have hardly read anything he has written and don’t necessarily intend to, unless his work and ideas begin to show up in articles and ideas and occasional books that cross my path and strike me as significant or stimulate my curiosity.
One thing I do know is that acceptance and appreciation of whatever is happening is great and all that, but the reality is that I can never ever rest in any kind of peace if I do not do whatever is in my power to do to end avoidable suffering and the exploitation of creation in the world that I live in and that I love deeply.
I will never retreat to the comforts of my own acceptance and appreciation and forget that all over the world mothers are grieving and places are dying and entire worlds are screaming in ways that we can’t even hear.