Hello dear friends,
It’s the New Moon, just a week after the Spring Equinox, and also April Fool’s Day! I’ve been experimenting with different ways to approach my days. I have the incredible luxury of being in charge of my own schedule —- I have projects and commitments, but very few places I have to be at a certain time. And I’ve been waiting my whole life for this! I do find that routines create rhythms for my days, and my current rhythm is to come down to my study after breakfast and devote about twenty minutes to painting contemplatively, in silence, with as little plan as possible. I’ve shared here a few of my mandala paintings; I draw a circle using an old cd, and then fill it with watercolor. They’re not perfect, but they don’t have to be. I encourage you to find a daily practice that gives you a little quiet time to let your mind, heart, and soul settle.
Last Wednesday evening was Open Mic at Owl Poetry. It was our first time back live, in person, at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. We’d been meeting over Zoom during the pandemic, and as thankful as I am for zoom technology, there’s nothing like being in person. We had 25 poets reading, with nine of them being newbies (first timers at Owl Poetry)! It was a wonderful time. I read two of my latest poems, poems that I’ve written in response to these crazy times we live in. I’ve included them here; I hope you enjoy them.
With much love and many blessings,
Our Responsibility to be Informed
Cat Charissage, March 2022
How do you get your news?
How do you live out your citizenly responsibility to be informed?
In times of war it feels that we must keep up with it all,
We must know which cities are now occupied by “the enemy,”
We must watch the crowded lineups of women and children escaping the country while they can,
must keep up three, five, nine times a day as our phones “ping” another notification of death, of suffering.
We feel good knowing these things, keeping up with the latest.
We’re being responsible, well informed citizens.
We even think we know what’s really going on
Forgetting that the first casualty of war is truth.
But — what is really going on?
And did you hear about some other news?
That in Red Deer, healthy twins were born to a couple who’d yearned for ten years for a child. And now they have two!
Did you hear about that family in Calgary whose grandparents needed to move into assisted living, renovated their home so that the grandparents could move in with them?
Did you hear that in schools around the world, teachers gently taught little ones how to read? And not just today, but every day?
Or that in every hospital in every nation the nurses cared for their patients, and lives were saved?
Be conscious of what news you take in.
What’s really going on?
A lot more than we’re told.
Cat Charissage, March 2022
The news around me is harsh:
Stats are showing that the vaccines themselves may make you more susceptible to covid.
The new chemicals that civilization has released into the air and water over the last seventy years may be responsible for the explosion of neurological difficulties in children.
Toxic masculinity is alive and well when an actor wallops the comedian whose joke he took offense to — on worldwide live television.
And, oh yes, don’t forget that imperialism burst out in war in the Ukraine. Russian empire building at its ugliest. And just as ugly, American empire building.
So what’s a trickster to do on April the First?
First, extend April Fools day to the rest of the year,
and be a fool every single day!
Be a fool: go write a poem! Ain’t nobody gonna get rich doing that! Ain’t nobody, well, practically nobody, gonna make a living doing that!
Be a fool: major in Religious Studies in university! How are you going to get a job with that?
Be a fool: raise the next generation of adults! Daycare workers and at home moms aren’t going to be any engine behind economic prosperity.
Be a fool: listen to stories and read philosophy! Hang out with friends discussing them til dawn, but you might be late to work tomorrow — a foolish thing to do.
Be a fool: date your spouse! Even after forty years with each other.
Be a fool: look into the eyes of the people you meet! Know that they are probably struggling, too.
Be a fool: dare to be happy, and peaceful! Have no need to argue, harangue, or conquer.
Be a fool: The wisdom of peacemakers appears foolish to powerful men.
Be a fool.
Loved all of it!!! Admire your courage to get up and read poems.
Thank you. Gwen
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks Gwen! It’s a good crowd —- if anyone dared heckle anyone, the M.C. or myself (co-organizer) would get up and put a stop to it. So they don’t dare give any of us a hard time. Maybe they’re all a little afraid of us. Anyway, it’s a good vibe there. From the beginning, Teri (the other organizer and MC) and I said that no matter what the quality of the poem, we’d clap and stomp in appreciation for every poet, cuz just getting up there is scary —- and the stage is very stage-y: spotlights, can’t see much of the crowd, and it’s taped for local cable t.v, so camera on, too. VERY loud microphone. Intimidating. Yet on Wed., 4 people came up to me at the end to talk about what a great vibe there is in the room (a BIG bar/restaurant) and that they appreciate that we created a safe space for everyone. And three others thanked me profusely for “letting them” read their poetry. It’s attracting good, sincere people. Of course, that makes me wonder when the other foot is going to drop —- meaning, when is it all going to go south?!? But I try to convince myself that that’s old trauma talking, not a realistic assessment of the situation.
In July, it will be 4 years old. We’ve had at least a dozen people get up there and come out as gay or lesbian or non-binary— first public coming out. At least two dozen read poems about past sexual trauma (I watch the crowd to make sure nobody’s alone after stuff like that); many, many sexually explicit ones that are quite juicy (the tv guy can’t put those in the tv program though!). LOTS of political stuff. So it’s a miracle that it keeps going as well as it has. Once on zoom we had some guys come on to hijack the evening, but we just turned off their mics, and then carried on. (Still, every month I’m nervous about what will happen, as people just show up —- no vetting. However, the owner of the Owl is very decent, and he would help us handle anything that got out of line.)