Listen to the Silence, acrylic on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2021

Hello dear friends,

Happy New Moon, the first moon of summer! What kinds of energies are starting for you? I’m working on Chapter 9 in my book, the 2nd to the last chapter. It’s on Embodiment, and it’s here that I’m realizing that the working title of the book, Making Meaning, Making Soul: Developing an Inner Life as a Political Act, is just right. It’s when I think about, feel about, listen from the inside of my physical self, that I know how childhood trauma has formed so much of who I am, and who so many are. I explore how the structures of power in the home echo and compensate for the lack of power outside of the home. How silence and cooperation is enforced. How the status quo has been built out of certain numbers of us living in captivity, “held” by those who love us. The auto-immune issues as one consequence, chronic pain as another, and yet other issues are the consequences, but also the scars that are the badges of surviving, and thriving, and not colluding in silence and hiding. For so, so many of us, we’re doing pretty damned good, all things considered, and in pondering who we are, what we’ve been through, and what we want for all our children, are creating a new way of thriving in this toxic world. Another political consequence of embodiment is the color of my skin. How I am seen and treated, how my body is seen and treated, is charged with meanings that have participated in the sufferings of those with a different amount of melanin in their skin. So much to write about, so much to listen for.

I did this small 8″ by 8″ painting this month — witnessing to how much sitting in silence it takes to make sense of the blobs of intuitions and insights that swirl around us, hiding in plain sight. It is daring and it is a political act to put into words what is inchoate in our flesh. I started with the intuition that I was in the middle of something — something having to do with my life force and the blood of my flesh:

Then came the blobs, and shapes:

And then finally the words that helped me know what the painting was about:

Dear friends, know and grow, grow and know. Be willing to sit in the no know, the not knowing. It’s not fun, but it’s wondrous to experience what Walt Whitman said “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

p.s. I was interviewed by the New York Parrot Literary Corner a little while ago about my poetry. Have a listen: