Exploring animism, embodiment, deep ecology, vulnerability, and imagination . . .
Spent the night philosophizing with 5 people of my own generation all struggling to understand and hold the world. So much dysfunction and muddling through, so many wounded people.
When a young man said he was an anarchist, I said I was an animist. "What's that?" he asked. I tried to answer: "Animism is about seeing the aliveness of the world and ourselves. Animism is at its core a practice of wonder."
That question we were talking about: "What would you be willing to die to defend in nonviolent protest?" My answer: "Beauty. I think that only if life is beautiful, if it there are glimmers of what is nourishing and meaningful and fulfilling, can there be different, more creative and holistic ways of holding situations of conflict."
But then they asked: "if someone killed a person you loved, wouldn’t you go kill them because they need to be punished?" The entire concept of punishment is something so intrinsic to the system we operate from. A system where people have so little empowerment and meaning that they try to take it through force. Punishment, revenge, control…
The harder but more beautiful thing to do is to look at the uniqueness of the person who perpetrated the act of violence, to see their wounds, to hold them also with compassion, to not destroy them but to find how their healing and creativity can replenish the beauty they took away.
"There is a Hitler inside each of us and if we do not heal the Hitler inside ourselves, then the violence, it will never stop…How else can I heal the Hitler inside me but to give to them what they took from us?"
We need to start with the uniqueness of every living being, that particular, essential spark—the gift that each of us carries, our curiosities, our wonders, our abilities to love and nurture and protect. We need to grow and sustain that beauty in every being, and allow that uniqueness and that unconditional acceptance to ripple out into communities and world. It has to start with the personal, with the familiar landscape of home, the village, the tree in the backyard.
It has to start with the beings we can personally nurture and sustain relationships with, the village that witnesses, the wild that nourishes. Starting on that core level of being in community with the human and more-than human, that collective organism, that autopoietic, self-making system that needs each being within it to exist in their full power.
All the left brain institutions, all the violence, all the separation is rooted in the same mindset of mechanistic, reductionist “objects in the world." Individuals as generic, as interchangeable, unfeeling parts in the machine, conditioned to respond in a certain way.
What the artist does is brings back the personal. Any act of taking care, of compassion, is witnessing the uniqueness in something. It’s impossible to authentically love something generic, it’s always because there’s a uniqueness, a particular feeling, a meaning inside the form. Such love is when we leave the theoretical, the abstract, and enter into an active practice of taking care, of loving the beauty of an other. We become relationship-making in the same way that we are self-making.
My curiousities entwine around the concept of “mythopoiesis" — literally "myth-making" — the creation of mythologies that nourish our interbeing with the earth.
My writing explores the betweenesses of different fields—deep ecology, indigenous wisdom, trauma resilience, living process, cultural transformation, sacred activism, grief rituals, play . . .
I am learning how to become a connoisseur of the felt sense, a savorer of the moments that create meaning and nourishment in the world.
I am apprenticing to traditions that practice compassionate witnessing, creating containers in which it is safe to release into the depths of emotion, to traverse the grief and holdings that must necessarily be released before healing can begin to take place.