vendredi 26 juin 2015

On Balance And Inclusiveness

I have been thinking about balance lately.

Balance between work and play; mind and body; body and soul…

Joy and sadness, sun and shadow...

But then balance is hard to find (and to keep) if we do think about it as a rope between two polarities; a rope we are supposed to walk upon.

(Some of us can do that, walk on a rope: it takes a lot of dedicated practice first.)

I have come, instead, to consider balance as an inclusive process.

I decided to include perennials into my balcony garden. Hello Lupin!

Take love, for instance. 

Loving is seeing.

Love is at the center of everything; it is why we are here in the first place, from tiny ant to big elephant. 

Yet, as humans, we have a kind of limited access to this foundational, encompassing love – so what we generally call “love” (in various contexts) is a fragment of it: parental love, romantic love, self-love. Friendly love. 

Love for your furry companion.

These forms of love are simply parts of the whole – like each of us, in fact.

And just like us, these loves need to grow, to evolve, to be sustained and heard, to find their own balance.

Maybe there is a reason why we are like this, forever struggling and searching; maybe there is something to be added, to be created in the endeavour, something important for the whole? Surely.

Something like a song, a choreography, a poem.

This is why the inclusive quest, I think, works best than the elusive.

In other words: chase something that is elusive, and it will elude you (me, at least). But consider yourself as a whole. Today. What do you see?

Blooming Yarrow.

I see – or rather I feel, I hear – a song, a rhythm, carried out by several voices. To simplify, I’ll call these voices: Body, Mind, Soul, Connection to nature, Awareness of the cosmos. These are just words, but I find them useful to identify (somehow) the various kinds of voices humming me into life, humming life into me.

I am not separate from them; they are not separate from me. And of course, they are not separate from one another. We are One, remember? We are One as a species, as a planet – and as people.

These voices create our own song (what we experience and manifest) together. Body, Mind, Soul, Connection to Nature and to the Universe, all of these elementary aspects of life are naturally involved in any human process (like love, work, or play; like building a cabin or a relationship), and when you try to leave some of them out, you start losing balance.

Whereas the closer you get to the center, the more layers you find, in delicate, intricate harmony.

Mind and Soul (each and together) need to be grounded in the Body; in the sensual, daily experience of nature around us, of the circadian and seasonal cycles – as they have always been.

Body-and-Mind, on their own, are an instable duo: soon the Ego steps in as a referee or ruler, whereas the Soul would have created between them a much more gentle, natural equilibrium (leaving room for the cat and the moon to hum along ;o)

Lola calling me out to the balcony is my first daily connection to both Nature and the Body 
and brushing her purring self in the soft morning air is a Soul-nurturing practice :o)

Are you still with me? Is this becoming too abstract? I hope not.

For you see, I have been immersed in mental processes way too often since my former post: the translation that had “just arrived on my desk” was followed by several others, in close succession and sometimes concurrently.

These were interesting essays on contemporary art (for galleries or magazines) but they were not easy, and one particular magazine was a new client with very high standards. I had dreamed of working for them! So pretty much everything but translation was pushed aside for weeks (in addition to my job at the yoga centre).

Since Body and Soul (or even Nature) were not able to properly balance the Mind, worry stepped in (how can I do it all in time? or properly?) and started fogging my mind, ironically, preventing me to function properly on the translating front. For weeks (and it’s not over).


So when the most pressing deadlines were behind me, a few days ago, I made a pause, to create again an inclusive space in my life for balance  :o)

Stretching in Wild Thyme.

I switched from Yoga to Danga on Andrew Bird’s music (and it felt wonderful).

The night of the Summer Solstice (which I would have missed if not for Milla’s post), I improvised a small ceremony, with a cedar smudge and a beeswax candle I made this winter. It connected me again with the subtle currents out there – and in there – that can help us swim, if we don’t swim against them.

Yarrow, holding her buds to the light.

Last Sunday, I invited my neighbour to share a comforting cardamom-spiced cocoa: we talked about his work (he is making impressive marionettes for a circus right now), Lola (I need to find a nice cat-sitter within two weeks), flowers (we both planted many this year)… and sick trees.

For this is what happens when a number of humans, instead of inhabiting Earth on an inclusive mode (taking into account other populations, future generations, other species, forests, oceans), chase the elusive illusion of power, thereby putting themselves – and the whole planet – off-balance.

In Montréal alone, 200,000 ash trees – up to one third of our city trees – are threatened by the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle from Asia that has already killed millions of ash trees in the United States, where it was detected for the first time just fifteen years ago (!). The larvae of these insects create extensive galleries inside the trunk, feeding on the sap until the tree dies.

Opposite branches are one way of identifying an Ash tree, but this one has lost too many.
However the ridged diamond-patterned bark reveals its identity (and age).

Elm trees are severely affected as well by a widespread fungal disease (Dutch Elm Disease, transmitted by another beetle, also invasive). There are several around my home.

Here it is : Saperda Tridentata, known as Elm Borer.
What was this one doing on my friend the Rowan though?

Apple trees, Crabapples, Rowans, Hawthorns and the lovely Amelanchier are quite vulnerable these days to various kinds of Apple boring beetles. Several Rowans have recently been invaded on the hill I love to visit, including my dancing friend.

Here is one of them: Saperda Candida, known as Round-headed Appletree Borer.
Pretty, but dangerous. Also, rather ubiquitous, since I photographed this individual on another Rowan.

Typical holes at the base of the trunk. *sigh*

Then last month, our beautiful Crabapple was also, suddenly, attacked in a similar way, while she was still all white with flowers: one full branch became brown and withered in a week. This sight sent an electric shock in my heart, because I knew then that she was already invaded – and now the whole tree is browning in patches. It makes me so sad, and sorry.

Parasites and their hosts usually manage to reach a kind of ‘balance’ (I don’t kill you, so you can still host me). But invasive parasites, suddenly introduced to a new habitat by human actions, don’t respect elementary environmental rules. They are threatening their host’s, and ultimately their own, survival. (Guess who they remind me of?)

Ants and Peonies get along pretty well.

I feel responsible, as a human being, for the imbalance my own species brings to the planet.

Unfortunately, this tends to make me feel helpless and paralyzed.

In this perspective, the essay written by David Loy on was very helpful for me a while ago, so I still come back to it (and to other relevant essays listed on this page, among which Only Love Can Save Us From Climate Change, an inspiring interview with Thich Nhat Hanh) when I am tempted to forget, or to push aside, the reality of our planet today – though it is, of course, my own reality.

Sweet Crabapple, will you keep enchanting my days, in rain or shine, at every season?

Because this reality is mind-boggling and heartbreaking, I can’t face it with my Mind or my Soul alone.

I need to remain connected to my friends the Crabapple and the Rowan, as threatened as they are today (and they might share some wisdom on their own condition). 

I need the soft summer wind’s feather touch on my skin; I need to exchange smiles with the Moon, and winks with the stars.

How do you find your own balance? 

Making a waxed cotton thread necklace for my moonstone pendant. 

Are you sometimes too much in your thoughts for a while, and disconnected from your own life?

How do you manage to make space in your heart for big, serious issues? 

Do you sometimes feel you are holding the whole planet in your hand ?

ps - See also Mary's essay In Communion. It is deeply moving (I read it through my tears).