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Painting by Elizabeth Jerichau Baumann

“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.”

― Jonas Mekas

*

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often
you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

~ Charles Bukowski
The Laughing Heart

*

Indigenous people are very scientific, it’s just that our science includes the heart. — Jonathan Ferrier, Indigenous Ethnobotanist

From a very young age, I imagined other cultures were more civilized than my own. I imagined they were more creative, artistic and philosophical. If I hadn’t had such fantasies, I would surely have stayed at home. It seems I had to make up reasons to go abroad. I readily subjected myself to the alchemy of travel and it changed me. It developed me in a certain direction. It was painful at first because I lacked money, experience and basic common sense. I collected a lot of bad trips in my twenties and thirties. That was my education. Did I become the person I was meant to be? I’d say it was a good start.

I remember the kinds of thoughts and ambitions I had as a dreamy, clueless young person. What I lacked in caution I made up for it in ample fool heartedness. Not being able to calculate risk can be an asset, I guess. I’m glad I didn’t stay at home, get a job and work myself up some ladder I didn’t care about.

A lot of my inspiration came from books, which I always took literally no matter how romantic they were. I wanted a life full to overflowing with romance. I still feel that way as I cross the threshold of my eighth decade on this planet.

Being an artist is a romantic idea, but I never doubted it was possible. Me? Write? Another romantic idea, but why not? My whole life has been spent throwing myself at romantic ideas.

Creativity fascinates. I like the process of finding and knitting together insights and emotions. The creativity that entails is a magnet for me. I probably care less about publishing than clearing the cobwebs out of my own psyche as I write or paint. The ongoing discussions on Medium of how to make money on it fly right over my head. I have two problems, understanding how fit into the requirements of any program and then being willing to do so. Something keeps me in my eccentric paradigm, a kind of orneriness you could say.

I don’t think I was wrong, that the world was too big and full of promise to stay at home. I think I did the right thing, for me at least. Remaining in the suffocating embrace of my native culture was going to kill me, I imagined. And maybe it would have.

Where is home now? It’s not a place, it’s a feeling of closeness and trust of sharing life with a beloved person. I still prefer to live surrounded by foreign ways of living and communicating, but the heart of home-ness is in a loving relationship, for me. I admit, though, if I were rich I’d buy a big family house where all the offspring could always come in times of celebration or emergency. And it would be a healing place to come to.

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