What’s the Rage in a Raging Magma Life?

January 2, 2010

Rage is our natural response to injustice. It’s a clear, direct illumination of the truth.  It demands our response.

Rage is what we deny and suppress when we just go along to get along, trying to blend in, afraid of taking risks.

Rage will not make you comfortable.  Rage is the guardian of beauty.  It teaches us our true needs, our actual desires.

Rage requires that we protect what matters.

To put it another way, rage is what we need to deal with the likes of the Board of MisDirectors, those insidious internal voices that give us every reasons in the book to not live the lives we’re capable of living.

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Dance, Partners

October 3, 2009

We danced that one time,
(was it Salsa?)
taking turns with the roles
naturally curious, both of us explorers.
Then talking as we drove home
reflections on the instructor, the other students, ourselves.
“I’m surprised…following was better for me.”
A clear contradiction to my normal way in the world.
And you?
Leading came with such grace – we both felt it.
Sometimes a yes is so clear, the question ceases to exist
(serving only to birth more questions)
This one stands before me now:
how is it that your lead, my follow, is our most awkward movement?
(something so natural – why are we so damn bad at it?)
Is it as simple as inexperience?  as pathological as resistance?
are we hopelessly mismatched despite all our dreams?

There is no escaping the demand for our mastery:
your expertise, your desires, your boundaries, your vision,
each day asks only more.
[It’s so tempting to think:
I could follow if only you would…]

But back to Salsa (or was it a Rumba?)
What did I learn?
…seek my excellence in the steps that are mine
…be substance to your flow (that’s how we are form)
…ask only this:  what is this beauty we create?
Curiosity, exploration – there is no other way.
How do I remember this now
with deadlines and anxieties
and the misdirections of my mind?

If the deadlines are the tempo
and our goals are the beat
and you are the lead
how do I know my part?

Those dance lessons…they weren’t Tango or Foxtrot or Waltz.
(or did we waltz, for just a bit?)
But the lessons – what were they?  Samba maybe?
I cannot recall.

But that day –
that day I knew.
And that day – we danced.
Once again, the lesson is the same:  it helps to know intent.
(It’s the music that’s the cue.)


High Noon – Men and Boys

September 24, 2009

Through a lifetime of loving westerns, I had never seen High Noon, perhaps because both my parents were more John Wayne than Gary Cooper – fans, I mean – and I didn’t get around to Mr. Cooper myself until recently.  In any case, it was not what I expected.  I expected a fairly standard, if high quality, shoot ’em up western.  Instead I got a wonderfully rich examination of what makes a man rather than a boy, of what makes a woman, and of duty.

These have all been on my mind for quite some time, partly because I met and got to know a few men who were noticeably different from other men of my acquaintance, who held a different kind of maturity and centeredness, and who seemed perfectly comfortable interacting with me and other women.  I had been so used to guys who were charmingly boyish – and rather unreliable, as well as awkward in one way or another around women (worshipping, on the make, ignoring) – that I had stopped considering the possibility of other options.  And then suddenly there they were.  I must say, it was very sexy.

So, I found myself completely fascinated. 

Gary Cooper’s Kane, who has just married Grace Kelly in her first major film role (manner of speaking), has only some initial hesitation about where his duty lies when a killer he sent to prison is set free and returning on the noon train, bent on vengeance.  His new wife’s begging, threats, and eventual departure don’t sway him, because he knows he is right.  He’s not belligerent or angry or defensive about it; he’s  just quietly – and regretfully – certain. 

Can you imagine marrying Grace Kelly and then finding out moments later that you’re likely to be shot to death before you have a chance to – well – enjoy it?  What might a boy do in that situation – run away with her, and hope the bad guy can’t find them?  Take her off to the barn and shag her, quick before the train comes?  Whine?  Drink?  Lash out?

Fortunately, there’s the “boy” character in the film (Lloyd Bridges as Harvey), and the wonderful Katy Jurado (as Mrs. Ramirez) to point out to all of us – and to Mrs. Kane in particular – the difference.  Mrs. Kane eventually sees the light – and the beauty of a man who knows what he requires of himself and holds to it.


Susan Boyle

April 26, 2009

I got links from several friends recommending I watch the inspiring video, something really beautiful.  I did.  And yes, I found her singing quite beautiful, and she seemed a real character.  But I wasn’t left with a feeling of inspiration – at least, not unadulterated inspiration.  Actually, I was – well – enraged.

I gather this has been so popular because her voice is not what one would expect from someone with her appearance .  No one expected it, and they (everyone?) were brought to an abrupt and profound realization their own prejudice based on appearance.

As a woman who has never really fit the standard definition of beautiful, and who has chosen (I admit it – from laziness, among other things) to leave my eyebrows wild and woolly, my first question was, if she had been beautiful, would she have made anywhere near the splash she did?   Or did her combination of “frumpiness”  and talent just create in people a combination of guilt (“I pre-judged her wrongly!”) and self-importance (“But now I realize how wrong I was, and how wonderful she is, and I’m not prejudiced anymore!”)?  How long will the enlightenment last?   Can we look forward to a new era of average-looking people, or even ugly people, being more generally noticed for their talents and other good qualities, the way movie stars have been?

That would surprise me a lot more than the beautiful voice that came out of Susan Boyle’s mouth.  This is one of the reasons for my reaction.

Did no one in her 47 year lifetime realize she could sing?  Or did they just not care?   This is another reason for my reaction.

And does this mean that the spectacle of cruelty, which is part of the appeal of shows like Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol, will now be passe?  That people who are average to frumpy, moderately or not at all talented, will now be shown a larger measure of respect, because we now know they probably have wonderful qualities we’re just not aware of yet? 

That would be very gratifying.  But I’m not holding my breath.

Now, she’s dyed her hair and had her eyebrows shaped, and people are frantically worrying that she won’t seem as authentic, and will lose her popularity.  Or is it that they may no longer have the frumpy/talented dichotomy to bolster their feelings of virtuousness?   Why is it such a big deal?

Unfortunately, it all seems to be a piece with, and not a break from, our society’s fixation on appearance.   I would love to continue to see and hear Susan Boyle, as she develops her talent and goes through whatever changes this experience will bring to her.  I would also love to see and hear other people, who don’t quite look like Angelina Jolie or Britney Spears or Jamie Foxx or any of the other good-looking and talented people, develop their own talents.   And I’d like to see it all treated with respect, not like a freak show.  As my former boss used to say, “Don’t act so surprised.”