Monday, October 26, 2009

Kid Rhyme Time

Only I can help me
You can't do it you see

But if you can help you
Then you're helping me too

And if you can find peace
It will spread and increase

And if I find it too
Then it rubs off on you

Cause we're all part of one
Not just one, part of none

And with care for our hearts
We make nice separate parts

Parts that join as a whole
Making one endless soul

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Connected; for better or for worse, 'til death do us part... or maybe longer!?

After reading an article in the NY Times book review about a book called "Connected" I was inspired to take my "Internet break". Once the "break" was underway, I decided to go all out and delete my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The book, written by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, is about "The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives". Weeks after reading the review I continued to think about my connections; my friends, my family and my online social network. I kept coming back to Facebook and Twitter and started to wonder how these things might be affecting me in ways I didn't even know!

If you don't feel like reading the (very short and very interesting) article, this snippet will give you some idea of what the research is about:
Christakis and Fowler explore network contagion in everything from back pain (higher incidence spread from West Germany to East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall) to suicide (well known to spread throughout communities on occasion) to sex practices (such as the growing prevalence of oral sex among teenagers) to politics (where the denser your network of connections, the more ideologically intense and intractable your beliefs are likely to be). And while it’s hardly surprising that emotion can be transmitted from person to person, the authors report that getting a $10,000 raise is less likely to make you happy than having a happy friend is — in fact, the raise is less likely to make you happy than is having a friend who has a friend who has a friend who is happy. They even argue — and this is sure to generate controversy — that the obsessive drive to create “nut free” environments is not the result of any real increase in children’s allergies but rather something akin to an epidemic of adult hysteria, spread via network transmission.
I had chosen to participate in Facebook and Twitter for a number of different reasons and for the most part I enjoyed both and found them to be useful and efficient in terms of creating invitations for events, promoting shows, (pushing my blog), etc. One argument from the article that might tip you towards involvement with these networks is the idea that "as among primates, those humans who are best able to manipulate social networks to their advantage thrive" and we all want to thrive and survive, but when does dipping a toe in the water cross over to drowning and do you have control and/or awareness of the transition from one level of involvement to the next? Due to the nature and speed of technology, specifically the Internet, I have to wonder if the rules for every type of interaction have changed completely! Monkeys picking nits are far from websites getting hits.

What finally pushed me to drop out of two of my major networks was the feeling that they possessed a growing energy much more powerful than myself and that that energy may not be a positive one. It may not be negative but it's too big for me to know what impact it could have on my life and it almost seems to have a life or presence of its own! Scott Stossel notes, "the more interesting implications are philosophical. A social network, while not quite sentient, acquires its own agency; it wants things, and it wants us, the nodes of which it consists, to do certain things, whether to gain weight or have oral sex at age 13."

I don't know the answer but I find it interesting to ponder: What does Facebook want me to do? What does Twitter want me to do?

The idea of the connectedness of a flock of birds was mentioned towards the end of the article and although I've written about this concept before and it always reminds me of a theatre technique called Viewpoints. One of the exercises we did in college under the Viewpoints technique involved moving in unison as much as possible in different formations with our eyes closed. Not trying to listen or guess what other people were doing the idea was to sort of "open up" to an unknown sense and to follow the impulses you received. It was a strange exercise and can be difficult to do but when it's happening it's amazing to see how people really do move together.

When I injured my back and saw a chiropractor/holistic healer, one of her healing concepts was to work with everyone in the same room at the same time to increase the healing trend from one patient to the next. I can't remember the name for this but she told me the theory had something to do with pendulums put in a room that eventually start swinging together.

If scientists, artists and healers have all danced around the same idea, as difficult as it may be to believe, I find it worth exploring. The bottom line for me is that I'm trying to practice mindfulness at this time in my life and I've found that the Internet seems to suck up too much of my precious energy. I don't know if I'll rejoin or stay Facebook-free but for now I think I'm starting to feel OK without it. The pang of panic that prickled up inside me when it was time to click "delete" was a shock and an indicator. The intensity of attachment to my account showed me that deleting would be a good experiment for me to conduct. Observing my own thoughts and reactions to the process has been interesting and I recommend the challenge to anyone who's willing to try just for the sake of seeing how it makes you feel! Our reactions show the weight these "things" hold in our lives.

Stossel ends the article by saying, "network science has potential to be used for good. But then again, if all the strutting and fretting that we believe to be the product of our individual free will is really only the antlike scurrying of a collection of nodes, can anyone really be said to “use” the network? Or is the network always using us?"

I'm not sure yet but I'd love to hear what you think!


Monday, October 19, 2009

New Follow Feature -->

I broke my break to delete and to make

I added a follower thingy-magiggy so you can follow this blog if you want because I'm deleting my facebook and twitter accounts. I just want to have this one online home for a bit so, follow! Since I've been using the other online social-networking sites as a means to communicate new blog posts I'm afraid I might not hear from you all again! Message me, e-mail me, talk to me! In the meantime I'll be blabbing and blogging as usual. Peace!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Internet Break


Stay off Facebook, Twitter and Blog for at least one month.

Be here.

Report back at some point...

(Still e-mailing)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sit. Breathe. Sit. Breathe.

The day-to-day is good.
I don't save lives
but I put love into lattes
and give smiles to strangers
and send support to sisters and friends
and receive it in abundance.
The day-to-day is great.

Following my heart (and crazy whims) has always brought me to the exact place I need to be. When I arrive it's usually different than what I had expected but always surprisingly right. This week has been one of those times when things began effortlessly clicking into place. Letting go feels so amazing! I'm free!

Moving to a new place has given me a lot of perspective on my life and what I'm doing with it. Old desires are gently falling away like the skin of a snake and a new kind of clarity is emerging. It must be a "life-phase-thing" or "quarter-life-crisis" moment but I feel some major changes coming on and they are both surprising and yet make total sense to me.

I have finally realized that I'm an artist with no desire to climb any ladder or fit into any box or "type". I don't need to succeed by anyone else's terms to do what I do. I no longer feel the need to pursue acting as a career but rather to nurture all of my artistic tendencies as creative endeavors that require no compensation or recognition apart from that of my closest peers. As far as work and career goes I'm overwhelmed with the desire to help people in a more specific and immediate way and my interest in psychology, art and the human mind are leading me towards a slightly different path...

My womanly nesting desire is starting to bubble up but not in the way I thought it would. I don't want to nest with a guy and make babies or anything but for the first time ever I actually want to live alone. I want to settle somewhere for awhile, without the plan to move, and I think I have an idea of where that place is, but I'm going to meditate on it. I feel the want for a little tiny home and a plant and maybe a 3-legged old dog or something, but I finally feel like the most important thing to me is to be a contributing member of a community. A community is like a family and I want to be a part of one. It's just interesting to notice these thoughts and feelings because I've been searching for a few years now without any solid goal and it's just funny to watch it shift around. Who knows where it'll be in a week.

It's scary to accept change and it's hard to let go of attachments that we've had for most of our lives but when it happens the reward is a sense of inner peace and freedom. I don't want to struggle anymore to "make things happen" in my life, I just want to go with the flow, help others around me and continue striving towards living in the moment. It may seem like an obvious realization but the impact is huge, something is happening, I think I'm on the verge of a new chapter, maybe even a new book altogether! Buckle up, here we go again.

Really good advice to me from a trusted source: "Don't just do something, sit there".
Gotta go meditate.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sometimes my brain not work right.

Making things make sense requires a type of effort and energy that I simply do not have at the moment and yet I’m compelled to type lovely little letters in ‘Times New Roman’ on a white screen glowing in my dark room under my down comforter in a ‘Word file’ titled “Document 1” with the sound of the fan and the meowing of a cat named ‘Go-Go’ and you may read on if you dare…

There is a chorus of some kind of chirping outside and I have no idea what from! Are there bugs here in Silverlake? A neighborhood dog seems to be aggravated at the sounds and is barking and the cars hum along on the 101.

I went to the beauty supply store and bought ingredients to mix my own hair color, I felt like a wonderfully mad scientist and the result is a very pleasing rich and coppery red. I also cut my own hair with some scissors and a hand mirror while leaning over my porch so as to let the bits drop over the edge. I’m pleased with this trim-and-tone and have received many compliments. If I can keep my hands away from a pair of clippers I think I’ll let it grow long again.

A guy came into the café this morning and chatted with me for about two hours. His theory is that everyone is meant to do something very specific and that when they realize what it is they will be amazing at it and it will energize them rather than drain them. He says you have to try lots of things to figure it out and that there are clues that can help you discover it. One, is noticing what things you do that people respond to positively, also, what things seem to serve others in a unique way and what things you are totally passionate about to the point where you could imagine doing them all the time. *He still seems to be trying to figure out his own thing, but I like his theory.

He also told me about how a lion kills a wildebeest in the most efficient manner so as not to die itself and that it requires "totally severity". He teaches self-defense and sells shampoo and might be doing an acting course at the Stella-Adler school. He’s huge and I’m pretty sure he could take out a wildebeest if need be.

I met a dog whose name is ‘Noodle’. He loves me because I gave him a piece of turkey. If only that worked on people. You would have to give me Tofurkey.

Reading about a book called “Connected” in the New York Times book review I learned that we really, really do take after the people in our lives and even the people in their lives in a very direct way. You have to read it to know what I mean because I don’t feel up to explaining it without quotes and I lent the article to a co-worker, but you really must read it and then tell me what you think. Especially fascinating in terms of online social networks. It struck me on a personal level in terms of 'cutting out' or 'letting go of' negative people in my life. Something I’ve never really made a practice of doing in the past. I tend to sort of love everyone for one reason or another but I’m learning that that isn’t exactly healthy or realistic and that I can’t just will people to be the best they can be, or whatever it is I want them to be (although I know on some level they are unique perfection and wholeness) there really are some meanies out there believe it or not! It sucks. Tangent. Apparently I’m sensitive. Mainly, I'm just realizing I'm not a victim in any way when it comes to the world around me, I don't have to take up with everyone who comes into my life if they're harming me in any way.

I watched “Jules and Jim” the Francoise Truffaut film, rented from the library, highly recommend it. Beautiful, complex, moving, philosophical, entertaining, tragic. They really don’t make movies like that these days.

Today I read about a women’s Shakespeare company and started to tear up with inspired emotion. I dork-out about stuff like that once in awhile.

The free clinic I went to today was another moment of true admiration and inspiration in my day. Women working in shitty buildings for low pay with poor un-insured patients in a non-glamorous, non-Grey’s-Anatomy-esque environment are my heroes today! The one who drew my blood had the lightest touch and smiled and chatted the whole time and the doctor who saw me felt like a cool aunt or a best friend’s mom and filled me in on some realistic pointers to a healthier lifestyle that I actually want to follow! She even told me I can drink the water here! (Everyone else is all obsessed with bottled) but I’m anti-bottled water anyway and I don’t notice any taste to our tap! I will be drinking this tap water joyfully and you can see if I die or not.

Speaking of which, I had this weird, gross thought about online graveyards, virtual headstones like little website memorials… Freaky. Don’t know where that one came from.

Do you think they’ll publish famous peoples’ Twitters in books when they die? I shudder.

In “Jules and Jim” I remember Jim saying something about a mentor telling him his job was to go out into the world and be curious. I’ve always wanted a mentor and I’ve always wished someone I could trust and respect would tell me what to do and I would love it if “being curious” was the job prescribed. Well, no such luck, it’s me, myself and I (and you) and if no mentor will have me then I will run wild like the crazy wildebeest I am! Besides, I’ve already appointed myself the job of curiosity and observation and I am my boss and I say, “good work, Shakti! You shall have a raise! It’s not in the form of money but, uh, well, it’s a raised glass of tap water! Carry on brave adventurer!”

Over and out.

Wait, one other thing. Just so you know the reason the lion has to attack so precisely is because the wildebeest could very easily kill the lion. It's a moment of life or death, total commitment and the attacker has to be completely on target. We're all capable of "going for the throat". Not in a violent or killing sense, I wonder what positive things I can be that precise and severe about, wasting time throwing punches in the air is starting to take it's toll. Wait, am I the lion now? Oh dear...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

YOU are where it's at.

It's a strange time, but when is it not?

I got a new job that I like a lot more than the first one. My boss is a woman who is quickly becoming a friend, I spend my days in a lovely theatre cafe, wearing what I want, listening to my choice of music and having genuine conversations with the people in my small community of Silverlake. This is exactly the kind of job I was hoping for. The pay is low but enough to cover the bills for now and I'm not wasting my life away commuting on the 101, to the 110 to the 10 to the 405 to the 90 all the way to Marina Del Rey...

Thoughts that have been clinking in my mind like the pennies in the laundry again:

Girls, women, ladies; find a spot on your body that you frequently spend hating and devote at least an hour of your day to genuinely loving it. It's hard at first but really rewarding and freeing in the end. I did it by placing my hands on my lower belly as I was falling asleep, started with a simple mental investigation, texture, temperature, movement, the feeling of it below my hands. After a little while of noticing what was actually there and a part of me, I fell in love! Might sound crazy but I found it fun and surprising. Don't waste any of your precious brilliance and energy hating yourself, you could be changing the world instead. You are unique perfection and wholeness.

Boys, men, gentlemen; as a heterosexual, single female and in the context of romantic relationships, I don't get you! Even in terms of the most open types of interactions I can imagine, there are so many complications and ways for things to go wrong, what's the point? Also, why is it that some of you seem so hell-bent on knowing-it-all!? Stay open, it will benefit you!

Kids; if you have one or decide to have one I hope you can explain to it why you brought it into the world. Do you know? Have you thought about it?

Music; give me something current and earth-shattering. Who out there knows someone on a Bob Dylan level? Anything? Anyone? I need musical inspiration.

Movies; stop overdoing the special effects. I want to see a little old-fashioned creativity once in awhile that might involve melting wax, claymation, real film, interesting foley, creative, resourceful uses of the imagination involving available materials are a delight!

Last; this is my life! This is your life! This is our life! This is life! Woah. YOU are where it's at. People are constantly amazing, beautiful, terrible, lovely, interesting, smart, stupid, mean, kind, awesome, awesome, awesome, in the most literal sense of the word.