In Honor of Beauty, Mystery, and a Life Well Lived

Teresa

Teresa Morgan, Sep. 20, 1956- Dec. 26, 2013
Rest in Peace. I love you.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, one of my closest friends died.

It wasn’t unexpected. But it did come more suddenly than we thought. The whole thing seemed to happen so fast.  Last year, we had plans to visit her and her sweetie on New Year’s day, and she decided to take a rain check as she had an important doctor’s appointment the next day. Nothing serious, she just wanted to get something checked out.

That something turned out to be cancer.

Less than a year later, she was gone.

We got the call on Christmas, as we drove home from Christmas dinner with my sister. Her husband wasn’t sure she would last the night. Thankfully she did, and was still with us when we arrived on December 26th. She passed at roughly 11:36pm that night.

Here’s the thing – her death, sad though it was, for she was far too young, was also strangely beautiful and inspiring.

Does that sound callous? Delusional? Did I make it beautiful in my own mind, to buffer myself from the pain of losing a dear friend? It is possible. However, I have  borne witness to 3 deaths. 5, if you count cats, which I do. They are family too, after all. Each death had a different quality. My father’s death, although fairly peaceful, was much more matter-of-fact.

Teresa was a trained magician. And honestly, I have no better explanation for why her death was so much more majestic than my father’s. She departed this world in an array of lights, shimmering blues and golds and whites. I began seeing these lights as soon as we got the phone call on Christmas night, and they lasted several days after her passing.

Admittedly, I have always been a very visual person. It’s as if my third eye came into this world on acid and never came down.  I have had to find a framework for this, and the language of magic fits better than anything else. Either that, or I’m in need of medication, but this interpretation has always felt annoyingly dismissive.

That said – Teresa’s passing was psychedelic as all get out.

This is what it felt like:

It was as though she was streaming out of her body for 48 hours. Gently diffusing like an essential oil, permeating the room with her essence, slowly and steadily rising out and up, as though she were rising on the plains. And the lights! The air around her was positively crackling with lights! Blue and green and white and gold – like fireworks. As her life force ebbed away from her body, the room was infused with this pulsing energy and light.

When she was gone, she was gone. Her body was an empty husk, nothing of her lingering.

And yet this perception of light lasted a good 3-5 days. My perception shifted to the view of all life as a river, that the things of our manifest world are not so solid as they appear, and that all life blinks in and out of the world of form in an endless dance of light and energy, never truly ending, just returning to a great sea of consciousness.

I have perceived the world like this off and on since childhood, and it has always struck me as somehow more “real” than our day to day mindset. It has always felt like an undercurrent that exists just beneath the surface of habitual perception. I don’t always live in this mindset, due to the need to participate in the day to day world. But it came back to me as a consequence of Teresa’s passing, as if she were leaving me a final teaching before she went, a reminder not to forget. It was utterly beautiful, to the point of ecstasy.

Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of  loss, I would expect comfort. But ecstasy?

Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of loss, wouldn’t it have produced a similar experience when my father died?

“What exactly is going on with consciousness?” remains, for me, one of the most fascinating question life has to offer.  What is this experience of life being a river, of the separateness and concreteness of matter being rather less absolute than they appear?  The postulation that we can explain away these experiences as mere brain chemistry does not hit the mark for me at all. It feels like just the very tip of an unimaginably vast iceberg. Why do we have these experiences? Why do they so often strike us as more profound than “real” life? These are the questions that captivate me. Our brains give us the ability to have them…but what purpose do they serve, and why does it feel so essential to who and what we are as humans?

I don’t have answers for these questions. I do have a conviction that these experiences are vital.

Larger questions aside, I sit with the observation that each death has its own story to tell, its own current that manifests as an extension of the quality of life that person lived. My father, who lived his life without any strong spiritual convictions, felt as though he sunk into the earth, dissipating into the elements and molecules. My friend Tara, who passed a few years ago, felt to several of us in the room as though she shot out her heart and into the body of Hecate. (Complete with a spontaneous song to Hecate shooting through T. Thorn Coyle at the moment of Tara’s passing).

Teresa felt as though she rose up into a vehicle she created for herself through years of magickal practice.

In writing this, it is not my intent to attempt to prove or disprove magick. Only to stay open to mystery. It is my will to acknowledge Teresa’s friendship, her wisdom, and to honor this feeling that as she departed, she left me a very great gift, a feeling that life is so vastly more beautiful and fascinating than we can ever imagine. Teresa was a friend that I spent many years exploring life’s mysteries with, and as she departed she gifted me with an experience of mystery that I will not soon forget.

Thank you Teresa. May you be blessed on your journey, and may we meet again!

World Domination Summit – Giving to the World, Being True to Ourselves.

Sign

Perhaps this red sign seems a bit ominous for my report on Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, which I attended July 4th weekend. And yet, when I came across this photo, it really cut to the core of what I got out of the Summit.

This world can be heartbreaking. We humans can indeed be very destructive and hurtful to one another. And yet, we can also be incredibly compassionate, inspired, caring, and creative.  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with about 2800 other folks all gathered together in the hope of making the world a better place.

For two and a half days I mingled with creative entrepreneurs of all stripes, seeking to live on their own terms and create something truly remarkable with their lives. Every one of them approached life with a sense of artistry, and every one of them hopes to be a force for good in this world. That much concentrated optimism can be pretty potent!

Highlights for me were:

Danielle LaPorte. This woman has just got it. She came across so completely relaxed, in her slinky black dress and bare feet. And as she spoke, a light radiated out from the crown of her head and filled the room. Her words came from a place of such authenticity that it gave everyone in the room permission to be as true to themselves as they possibly can be. She reminded me that yes, we can be successful on our own terms, we don’t have to conform to anyone else’s mold. Which of course exemplifies the entire spirit of #WDS.

Chase Jarvis was also another truly inspiring force, with his lecture on creativity, and how our system dumbs people down and teaches us all to be good little robots, but what we actually need is a whole world of people taught to think creatively. Folks who know how to apply creativity to problem solving will be the ones who find solutions to the world’s many problems. We are hampered by both the style and cost of education. So he and a partner have launched a learning site, Creative Live, where you can take classes on just about anything, for free.

I had a chance to meet Pace and Kyelie, of the Edgewalker Academy, and felt immediately at home. I’ve been admiring their work for years. And bonus – Dyana Valentine was dining with them, so I got to meet her as well.

I could go on and on, but if I had to declare just one takeaway  from WDS, it would be this: I already have all I need, right now. I have a strong sense of identity and mission. While I will always be a seeker, I know what I want to bring to this world, and am already well on my way to doing it. I want to re-enchant the world. I want to be a living representative for what the world can become if we strive to delight each other. To create beauty and wonder and magic for each other. To be kind to one another, and to lift each other up. And I want to sing this from the rooftops, both for you and with you. My mission is clear. My passion is strong. I just need to get the word out about it better than I do.

And that feeling? It made me feel like I belonged there. With these people. With the creative world changers. To be in a giant theater of awesome and feel like I truly belonged there? That rocked.

Peace and Violins

Patrick-violin

Patrick McCollum and his handcrafted “World Peace Violin”

Greetings, and welcome to my second installment of “Inspiring Things That Happened at Pantheacon.” This one concerning a very magical violin.

Winter and I were settling in to our hotel room when a fellow I’ve met, but don’t know well, came by to say hello to our room mate. His name is Patrick McCollum, and some of you may know him better than I, for he has worked tirelessly on behalf of Pagan rights, indigenous cultures, and world peace.

We talked for a bit, and before departing he asked if he could leave his things in our room for the day, as he wasn’t staying at the hotel. We said yes, and asked what it was we’d be safekeeping, for the purpose of figuring out the best place to keep them. Along with a small bag of personal items, he was leaving us a violin.

But not just any violin. It was what he called “The World Peace Violin”.  As I asked him about it, a magnificent story unfolded. A story of how he made made this violin by hand, without any prior knowledge of how to make a musical instrument. And how every piece was chosen to have a symbolic intention, even though it may mean waiting years for just one element. And with the voices of many naysayers in his head, telling him it wasn’t possible. And how this came to echo the peace process in his  mind, and how, to demonstrate that yes, peace was possible, he mustn’t give up on the violin, no matter how difficult it became to create it. How he rebuilt it over and over, until it sounded beautiful.

I asked him if he would tell me the story in detail at some point during the weekend. He did. I recorded it. Here it is:

Patrick (paraphrased here and there for easier reading):

World-Peace-ViolinI decided I  wanted to make a magical violin to represent world peace. In the course of doing so, there were a series of requirements I put on myself. This violin wouldn’t necessarily be made from conventional materials – the right woods, etc. – but everything I received to do it would be made of materials that had to do with resolving conflict or war, or come from some sacred place.

I didn’t really know where to start, I was just sort of waiting around, and I was involved in negotiating and helping to mediate between two warring tribes in Africa who’d been fighting and killing each other for almost a thousand years. I told them about the violin idea and they gave me a block of wood from a sacred tree that only grows in their part of the world, a little known and isolated region of Ghana.

I used this wood for the body, and I just drew the shape of a violin on it and started carving it. I was kinda happy with what I had but that’s as far as it went. I had some pieces left over so I started carving the neck and a few other parts.

Later I was doing some work with some Native Americans, helping them fight to have access to their sacred sites and not have them bulldozed and turned into rest areas. They told me of a tree that had a voice. I had to wait for the tree to die before I could take wood from it, or something to happen with it. I decided to let it offer me a piece if it chose to do so. I brought it gifts and sang to it, so that it would know what music is. I prayed under this tree for 6 years before it surrendered a piece large enough for my purposes.

I knew the wood needed to be dried out. This wood was to be the top piece of the violin. (The face, with the sound holes). It took years. In the course of waiting for the wood to dry, the bottom  piece that I had carved for the body broke. The whole project was over, from my perspective, because I had this broken thing that I didn’t know how I would repair, and I couldn’t get another piece of wood as I was no longer working with these people in Africa.

World-Peace-Violin2Then I decided, well, I’ve started, I will find a way to fix it. And all of a sudden, it started sounding like a familiar story. Trying to make something a particular way, don’t know what I’m doing, but it sorta looks pretty good – and then it gets broken, and seems hopeless for a time, but then you start finding ways to fix it – which is a lot like the peace process. This is what we’ve been doing all along.

So I continued, and there were several contributions along the way, but the next big contribution, for me, was, I went to Brigid’s Well in Kildaire, Ireland. In my spiritual tradition we see Brigid’s well as a Chalice that links worlds, and the trees that grow there also grow in many worlds, so these trees represent a manifestation of the Divine in our world. There is a beautiful willow tree growing out of this well. I cut a piece from this tree and it wasn’t big enough to do anything significant but I carved some knotwork for an inlay to represent unity.

It took years gathering these basic pieces but finally I saw that I had all the pieces I needed. Once I realized I was in the home stretch I was eager to put it all together, so I was in a rush. I cut some corners. It wasn’t varnished or sanded or finished in any way, but I just wanted to see what it would be like as a finished thing. So I put it all together, put strings on it, and it sounded like shit.

Which is what everybody told me would happen. Violin makers had been telling me, “It’s the wrong wood, it’s the wrong shape, it’s not the right length”, etc. They gave me all these reasons why it wouldn’t work. “You’re not a violin maker so you cannot possibly make a violin that would sound halfway decent anyway, so you should just quit”. And I started thinking “That just sounds a lot more like the peace process” because that is what’s constantly happening. Everybody who’s working on it knows that everybody else is sitting back thinking “This is ridiculous, these guys are going to kill each other, they’re going to blow up the world and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

So I decided to  ignore them and keep pushing forward.

Then I decided, I didn’t care if it sounded like crap, I would finish it and make it something beautiful to hang on the wall. So I took a lot of time to finalize it, I put inlays in the top, and each little thing I put on it was  something sacred I had collected. I went to Merlin’s cave at Tintagel in Cornwall where the Aurthurian legends originated and got small bits of wood for the inlays there. I got it to where it looked pretty nice, and I wanted to put a finish on it. It still sounded like crap, so it wasn’t at a good place, but it looked pretty nice. For the first time during this process, I decided to do a little bit of research. And what I found out was, nobody has a clue what to use for a finish. Folks would say “Use all the best varnish, however the real masters made their own secret varnishes with magic and shells and animal parts, bones and insects”, and nobody has any record of what these formulas actually were. There wasn’t even a consistent base that they used to create out of.  So I started thinking, in my tradition we have passed down a recipe for what we call “Sacred Oil”, made of several different herbs such as belladonna, wolf’s bane etc. so I set this as a base and added other things to it. I added horsetail, as I had learned that Native Americans would polish flutes that they had made with it. It has a natural silica that can be used as a fine sandpaper.

Winter with the violin.

Winter with the violin.

One of the things that I had read about the masters making the secret varnish was, researchers think they added substances such as sand or larger particles that would get stuck in the wood of the violin, which would make it kind of glassy and give the sound a ringing quality. So I decided, horsetail may accomplish a similar thing.

So I sanded the whole thing with horsetail,  put the varnish on and hung it up to dry. It took a long time, months and months, for this stuff to dry, because first of all it wasn’t real varnish, I just made this stuff, I didn’t know if it would ever dry. It did eventually dry, and when I played it, it did sound a little better, but still not great. So I just hung it on the wall, and thought that was very cool.

And then I got the idea that the violin couldn’t know how to make music if it couldn’t hear music. So I taped the violin to my speakers and played it violin music all day. I figured maybe this would help it understand what the right vibration is, and the funny thing is, it started sounding better. (This is a real thing. Wood instruments are known for their tone becoming richer and more resonant the longer they are played. Here’s a bit about it).

It still wasn’t a decent violin, but it was improving. Then, on Solstice, the Goddess spoke to me and said “You need to take the violin apart, and change it”. Now I had spent all this time getting it to the point were it’s really nice. I have no idea how to take it apart, it’s all glued together and everything, varnished, I had no idea what to do. I had put  years of time into this so far.

So I thought “Okay well, I have faith in the Goddess, it might just be my imagination, but I have to do this”. I was compelled. So I got a big butcher knife and just started hammering, ripped the top piece off and such. My friends were having a heart attack. It looked pretty nice, they said, and it wasn’t going to sound good anyway and I was just going to ruin it after putting in all these years.

It needed to be thinned out. So I sanded it down, from the inside so that I wouldn’t ruin my finish. I took it to a violin maker who told me that they  scrape them down with special tools a thousandth of an inch at a time, but I just used an electric sander. Folks who came to my house were horrified when they saw. But I glued the sucker back together and it sounded pretty good. So, I was happy!

Then I tried to teach myself to play, and I was pretty happy with the sound. But I got the same message – “No, it isn’t right.” This happened 4 times! I took it apart and rebuilt it. It would get smaller each time, and thinner. I’d break a piece and I’d have to glue it back together, it was getting dinged up and I was getting upset. It felt like I was going downhill, but each time it sounded a little better.

I came to realize something really important. The thing that is most missing from the peace process is our faith – in a higher power or anything – that it is even possible. No one  right now really believes peace is possible for the most part. People talk about it but in their minds they figure “How in the world are you going to get 7 billion people who have all these different ideas to get along together when they fight in their own house?” But I decided, it’s through that connection, that is the only way it’s ever going to happen. I decided that what I needed to do was surrender myself to the Goddess, and that I would surrender to her Will, whether the thing fell apart and got smashed, that I would accept that as a possibility and trust.

Then I had a dream that I made it more round. So I did. About this time I walked the Sinai desert in Petra. There is a stone that is the oldest carving of the god and goddess in the world, and I was permitted to take a small shard from it to add to the varnish. I also added sand from the baptism site of Jesus, sacred plants, grains from a sacred stone given to me by Himalayan shamans…

(About this time people started arriving at my hotel room for an event, and I was unable to get details about the final phase).

Patrick wrapped up the interview by telling me that the entire process took at least 10-12 years. He doesn’t remember exactly and that isn’t what matters to him. What matters most to him was undertaking this journey as an expression of the peace process, and  how, because of this association it was imperative that he never give up. At the time that I saw and played the violin, it looked and sounded gorgeous, and had been valued at $25,000 by a violin appraiser.

This story moved me deeply, and has stayed with me ever since. This is how we do it, folks. This is how we make meaning in life, and how utterly crucial it is for us to do so! This is how magic is made – by creating symbols that touch us deeply, and give powerful ideas root in the  collective unconscious, ideas that may hitherto have seemed impossible. When impossible ideas begin to seem possible, a way to make that idea manifest begins to emerge.

We live in a society that expects everything to be handed to it on a silver platter, easily, cheaply, and right now. And in most cases, every whim we can think of is available to us easily, cheaply, and right now. And yet – has this made our lives better? I don’t see that it has. It is so easy to take everything for granted, easy come easy go, but when everything comes so easily it has no meaning. No life force, no story is attached to it, and we quickly lose interest, and look for the next thing to fill our void. Yet we never find the thing to fill our void, because what we are yearning for isn’t a thing. It is the story behind the thing. It is the meaning that we bring, the effort that we put in that gives life its purpose. Life matters when we live it as though it matters. We look for the meaning of life to no avail, for it is our task to bring it.

When we look at the things in our lives, what stories do they tell? Do they tell a tale of cheap meaningless nothing brought into the world on the tears of slave labor? All so we can have an empty thrill for 5 minutes? If we can somehow convince ourselves that this is okay, it is just how the world is, is it any wonder we find ourselves increasingly capable of shooting schoolyards full of children? I believe that the sickness in our society has its roots in this throwaway culture. We have allowed ourselves to accept this hollow shade of a life being sold to us. We have forgotten our duty to create the world.

But we can remember it, as Patrick has. We can make sure that our choices are intentional, that we are creating good stories. We can make of our lives an epic saga, worthy of being sung in the halls of heroes for years to come. This is how magic is made, how we etch our soul’s desire upon the fabric of all life. Let us take up the charge, and become heroes in the eyes of the next generations. Let us piece together our most fervent dreams for the world, and make music.

Artist Spotlight: Heather Dale

Hi Clan –

This beautiful lady is Heather Dale. I first came across her on a compilation CD called “The Secret Life of Celtic Rock”. Her song “Mordred’s Lullaby” was featured, a somewhat sinister ballad of Morgan Le Fay singing her child to sleep. It blew me away.

Several years later, I was invited to perform at SJ Tucker’s Strowler event series. One of the most exciting elements for me was sharing the stage with Heather, who was also playing at 2 of the 3 events.

We have since run into each other several times along the winding gypsy road that is touring musician life, and are becoming friends. This past summer, Winter and I performed in her home town of Toronto for the first time.

Now, in October, we are reciprocating, and bringing her to the Bay Area.

And I want you to come. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Heather will give you a night of inspiration and enchantment that only a world-class musician can bring.

As I have declared many times, my mission in life is to bring more beauty, wonder, and poetry to this world – to seek it out, court it, and then reflect it back to you via music and art. But not only my own art – I want to bring you all sorts of inspiration coming through all sorts of folks. And Heather is one of those folks.

So. For those of you who have a fondness for the Celtic-Mythic-

May I present Heather Dale and Sharon Knight, in concert October 12th in San Rafael (Marin), CA.

Yep we will both be playing for you this evening!  Heather will be accompanied by Ben Deschamps, featuring guitar, cittern, fiddle, keyboard, bodhran, and probably some instruments I am not even thinking of.  I will be accompanied by Winter and Caith Threefires, and our musical texture will be vocal harmonies, guitar, octave mandolin, mandola, mandolin, keyboard, and bodhran.

We’ve set the price at $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  However, if a lower price helps you attend, we do have a 2-for-$20 special. What this means is that you commit to bringing a friend, and purchase in advance, and you both come for $10 each. We help you out with a lower price, you help us get folks in the door. Win-win, yes?

This will be a very special evening of magickal song, or I wouldn’t be giving it it’s very own blog post. I am proud to bring Heather’s music to our community, and I sincerely hope you’ll join us.

Here are the details:

October 12th
Open Secret Bookstore-Cafe
923 C St.
San Rafael, CA, 94901
Doors 7:30 show 8pm
Tix $15 in advance, $20 at door
Special 2-for-1 ticket concession for those in need (advance purchase only)
For advance ticketing – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/271129
www.heatherdale.com/
www.opensecretbookstore.com/

Here are a some videos of two of my favorite Heather Dale songs, to help get you in the spirit! (NOTE: These are fan-made videos so they may not seem “professional” but it is pretty darned cool to have fans who love you this much! You can view Heather’s official videos as well as many more fan-made videos on her site http://heatherdale.com/)

First,  Mordred’s Lullaby. And set to images of the gorgeous Prince Nuada – watching him  move does nothing to diminish the song, nothing at all ;+).  The Second is Joan, written for/about Joan of Arc.

Enjoy, and may music inspire you always!!

Oh! AND I made this spiffy poster for the event!

Friday’s Featured Fabulousness – The Art of Earning

Happy Friday friends!

As you may know, Friday is my self-proclaimed day to feature one of the cool things I am offering in my store.

Today I want to call your attention not to something I created, but to something another created that is rocking my world. An eBook called “The Art of Earning” by Tara Gentile. Tara is an inspired online entrepreneur whom I have quoted several times, and her passion and fresh thinking about how to conduct business in a way that feels good for all involved has been getting me fired up for months.

“The Art of Earning” is a beautifully written and heartfelt book that confronts the age-old money demons we all have in frank and fresh ways. It explores the mindset that earning money can be an art, that we can create a win-win situation for our clients and ourselves by coming to know our true value, and that we are not “taking from others” by succeeding. This book reframes the anxieties we have about our pricing, and proposes that we are in our highest service to the world when we are doing what we are most passionate about. This book is a refreshing read for any of us trying to create our own business, and struggling with issues of worth.

The Art of Earning: Because Making Money Should Be Beautiful

Another cool feature is, she let’s you decide what you want to pay for it. She recommends $25 but you can change the price according to what is comfortable for you.

In case you’re wondering – Tara generously pays me HALF for this sale. So my work is supported, Tara’s work is supported, and you get yourself a great inspiration blast at a price you decide. Everybody wins.

Check it out, and if you love it, let me know!

Click here to view more details

Howard Thurman and the Art of Everyday Activism

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Well, I have returned from my road-warrior adventures, and am settling back into my Bay Area routine. Part of that is that I have committed to blogging more regularly. So as I sit here in front of my laptop, I contemplate all the things I could blog about. The Pro Bloggers say I should offer you all something useful; you know, some helpful tips from my own life that will surely enhance your own.  Or I should say something witty and inspiring.  “27 things I’ve learned from doing (insert ‘thing you wish you were doing’ here)”.  But that all feels rather contrived just now.  Now – and most times really – I would rather just speak from my heart, and maybe that will connect to you in some way that is meaningful for both of us. For really, we’re all in this together, right?  We all have hopes and dreams, we all share uncertainty about our future and the future of our world. We all strive to be good people and create a better world, and we all struggle with feelings of failure on that front.

So here’s where I’m at today. I have slipped into the typical post-tour depression I knew would come.  It always happens – I get home, and realize that I have transformed overnight from “Musician” to “Unemployed”. I don’t have another tour lined up nor have I solved the problem of what work I do when not on the road. The work I’ve been doing when not touring has become spotty at best. And this time out we didn’t make enough to float us for the few months it usually takes to generate more gigs. I know, I should have been booking while on the road, but due to computer problems, this became more difficult than it already is when most of your time is spent driving, performing, or visiting folks you haven’t seen in awhile.

Also – the world sucks. Not that that’s news. But it just keeps sucking and I wish it would stop. I won’t go into the ways in which the world is sucking, you all know. The point I’m musing on today isn’t so much all the suckitude, but rather, our own – my own – reaction to it. Part of the sadness comes from wondering if who I truly feel I am at the core of my being is relevant to where the world is. This is a strange feeling, and one I have struggled with for years. So it’s not the “Unemployed” element that bugs me so much as wondering if the world really needs a fantasy-folk-rock singer to come around and spin tales of pirates and phoenixes when they aren’t even sure if they’ll be able to buy groceries next month. Living my idyllic life and telling you all about it on my blog seems trite at times like these. Shouldn’t I have a more “serious” life? A more serious mission?

Now before you all chime in and tell me I’m swell, let me say that I am not revealing my vulnerabilities so that you’ll bolster my confidence by saying “Sharon you rock”.  I don’t really need that.  Because, I eventually end up remembering that quote by Howard Thurman that I included at the beginning of this post.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

And I remember that I want to live in a world that is shaped by magick, imagination, and creativity. I want to live in a world where people are passionate about what they are doing with their lives. I want to live in a world where beauty is a priority. And the best way I can live in that world is to live it myself, every day.

So I strive to create beauty with song. I strive to create beauty with the clothing that I make for myself and for others, I strive to create beauty when I cook and in the way I arrange my home. In every movement, in every action I take, I strive to convey a sense of beauty. And kindness. I can choose to be one of the people that doesn’t cut you off on the freeway, that smiles at you in the grocery store, and that feeds your parking meter.

I don’t need to be somebody other than who I am to do these things.  I can find ways to incorporate actions into my life that shape the world in the direction I want. It is one of the finest awareness practices we can undertake, and one that is deeply rewarding if we can cultivate it as an ongoing discipline. This is a commitment I have made to myself. And as I remember this, I feel better.

At times when I feel the world bleeding and wonder if I am relevant, if I shouldn’t instead be an activist, or a farmer, or a revolutionary, it helps me to remember that we can engage in everyday activism by being present to who we want to be in every moment. That, in being genuine, we give the world the greatest gift we have to offer.

With that, I leave you with another quote from Howard Thurman –

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”