Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rites of Passage (Moving, part two)


The only cure
I know
is a good ceremony,
that’s what she said.
Leslie Marmon Silko

...if I were so inclined, I might accompany this move-down-the-street with some kind of ceremony of beginning and renewal...with, like, candles or incense or pig’s entrails or something...then, gotta admit I’ve never been much of a fan of that kinda thing...or ceremonies in general...can’t stand weddings, funerals, skipped most of my graduations...and everybody else’s graduations...grew up going to a Quaker meeting, which is about as unceremonial as houses of worship get, but even that was too much...even if I am kinda excited I just got invited to a yoga mala & summer solstice party...

...then, it may just be that I don’t like ceremonies when they’re prepackaged....one August got invited on a trip to the Adirondacks...some time after accepting, realized that the third day of the trip would also be the first anniversary of my dad’s death...and was actually glad when the friends said they had to cancel...and went by myself...climbed to the top of Mount Marcy...Tahawus...Cloudsplitter...the tallest peak in New York state...and, there at the top, sat by myself on a rock looking out over the broad expanse of the mountains, thinking about my dad, who’d taken me on my first hikes, and loved the outdoors, listening to a couple of mp3’s that made me think of him...including Helpless by Neil Young...though he’d never liked most of the music I listened to, one day he walked into the room right after I’d listened to that one—the Last Waltz version, with the Band, and Joni Mitchell on backup vocals...in my mind, I still need a place to go...chains are locked and tied across the door...leave us helpless helpless helpless helpless...he was strangely quite moved by it....then, he was a guy who lived his whole life, I think, feeling like he lost something essential very early on...and I’ve often felt the same way....he asked what it was, then actually went out and bought the CSN&Y album the studio version was on...and, listening to it there on top of that mountain, I felt very moved as well....

...elements in this world began to shift; and it became necessary to create new ceremonies. I have made changes in the rituals. The people mistrust this greatly, but only this growth keeps the ceremonies strong...
Leslie Marmon Silko

...actually, did go my PhD graduation...since my mom made me promise after I skipped the Master’s one...went and ate mushrooms in the desert that day, though I didn’t tell her that...nor that I was skinny-dipping in Puget Sound when my college graduation was happening a mere mile or so away....so, there I was, feeling a bit nervous, watching somebody go up the steps to get his diploma, thinking for a second about how embarrassing it would be to stumble on my way up to the stage...which suddenly flashed me back to fifth grade...and a self righteous and humorless teacher who, after I tripped over a chair, to the laughter of the whole class, said the sad thing is, he did it on purpose...then I heard my name called, and walked up, without stumbling, to formally accept my doctorate...

I got nothin’ more to live up to...
Bob Dylan

...sometimes, still, I realize I’m watching myself through the world’s eyes...or what I think are the world’s eyes...wondering, as I move into another cheap one bedroom apartment, if I’m not somehow failing to live up to the expectations of my socio-economic class...though, if that’s the case, it’s only fair...as my socio-economic class has certainly never made any attempt to live up to my expectations...too many arbitrary rules blindly followed, not enough imagination...too much expensive crap, not enough soul...not nearly enough Walt Whitman, but way, way too much Donald Trump...

...the world doesn’t owe you anything is a popular phrase in the self-help world...and I'm cool with that...one thing I’ll add to it, though: I don’t owe the world anything, either...

12 comments:

Insults said...

You got nothing more to live up to, I'd say to Bob Dylan.

ZenYenta said...

I hope the new place brings you the sense of renewal you're craving. Sometimes we do need something to fire up the adrenalin a bit. Ceremony probably isn't necessary and would just put too much pressure on the new apartment to produce, though. Just new views out the window and having to form new habits can do something for you.

the walking man said...

At least it seems so in the reading here that you actually know what the material meant that you learned in your studies. The paper being an adjunct to that learning not the other way round.

The only ritual I know of and have ever practiced when moving residences is the music is the last thing out of the old place and the first thing into the new.

Beyond that leave the incense and entrails to them committed to such.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the new scenery within.

earthtoholly said...

I haven't come across many posts that bring tears to my eyes, drjay, but your observance of your father's passing was just so very moving. I had the most peaceful image of you sitting up there, listening to that special song, thinking, possibly feeling your dad's presence in the nature all around as he shared the moment with you...how beautiful.

That fifth-grade teacher was in the wrong line of work.

Brooks Hall said...

I think you should do a ceremony--of your own making, and preferably include witnesses/friends to honor your new situation. But... GOSH(!) I hate it when anybody tells me that I "should" do something. I think I just said "should" because I'd like to do that for myself sometime, and it would be inspiring to hear a story about someone else doing it. Ya' know!

RB said...

I think that writing, especially the kind of past/present/future piece you've done here about music, is a ceremony. In writing about how you're not officially marking the move, you have marked the occasion as is appropriate for your life now.

Yay, Deconstruction.

Aggie said...

Sounds almost as if you didn't think you deserved those awards? Still, the feeling of being on the outside looking in ... very common. I hope you do make your own ceremonies/rituals ... they then become your own in joke as only you know what they mean.

Lydia said...

Ah, I was so moved by this post. What an indicator of the real spirit inside your dad, that he loved Helpless.... What an indicator of your real spirit that you played it on the mountain on the anniversary of his death.

I don't like all those ceremonies either. Am glad, however, you went to the one for your doctorate. That's as it should be.

This post at insideCandy segues nicely with your thoughts about the move and what you move and what you toss and what you pass on.

svasti said...

Personally I'm a fan of ceremony, but its gotta be heartfelt. Been a part of some really big kickass yogic ceremonies with all sorts of elaborate decorations and incense and shit. But the ones that have been the most profound are when I've found a connection within, regardless of the external trappings. The most powerful one I ever experienced had no trappings at all...

But then yeah, there's the more typical rituals and ceremonies - basically actions with meaning. Such as drinking your morning coffee, visiting your yoga studio or local cafe - all ceremonies of sort that are meaningful in your life.

Looking at yourself through what you perceive to be the world's eyes isn't doing you or the world any good. Really. I think, you're doing what you're meant to be doing. Although most people in the west seem to live a certain kind of lifestyle, there's no reason you have to conform to that idea of 'normal'. But I do know what you mean.

Bird said...

"...wondering, as I move into another cheap one bedroom apartment, if I’m not somehow failing to live up to the expectations of my socio-economic class..."

Well if that's true, give yourself a pat on the back. Too much Donald Trump and not enough Walt Whitman sounds like shit to me. What more does anyone need anyway?

Christine Vyrnon said...

Dali Dali Dahli

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