Category Archives: Daily Musings

Alphabet of Abundance M-N

 

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with M- A magnanimous heart cannot be contained and coupled with manners is unstoppable. This is a most majestic time to be your best self, to manifest your destiny. You can and must be the change that is needed, but in order to be that you must retrieve all your magic, which is your inner shield and sword, your knowing, the gift you came here to unleash. There are many myths, which abound, but you can dismantle them and get to the truth. We are all farmers of a sort so you must begin by mulching the ground, and maculating a path that is mutually benefiting to most. At best, life is mysterious as it meanders, circling around until you find yourself in a garden, the air mellifluous and where your humanistic deeds get memorialize.

 

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with N- Nature provides us with the second sense we need to live a life that is wholesome and in harmony with our divine selves. You must Nurture what is important and of value in your life, and make sure to narrate your own story. You are noble and necessary from your nascent beginnings. Live your life in a natural way and never allow others to lead you from your path or from pursuing your dreams. You are nebula, star-dust that sprinkles the earth with your essence.

 

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Alphabet of Abundance I-L

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with I- First and foremost you are Important. Period. If you are not important to yourself no one else will be important in your life and to you. Be insatiable about learning and growing and knowing all there is to know, but understand that there is empirical knowledge, there is intuitive knowing and there is basic common sense. You need to be equipped with all to be able to illuminate your life and the life of others. Understand that your boundaries are illimitable so be impeccable in all you do and remember to invoke a higher consciousness, especially when you are confused or unsure of what to do. Stay within the room of your imagination and you will enjoy an idyllic life.

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with J- Each day that you wake, regardless of your physical or mental state, is a joyous occasion, an opportunity to recreate and act justly on your behalf as well as others. As we strive for justice for the entire world, let us move about with jocularity to lighten other’s heart so we can move jointly towards world peace. Think it, live it, make it happen!  Celebrate and live a joy-filled life.

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with K-Kindness is the greatest strength and the deepest love one can share with another, and such a gift that speaks to the melding of the heart and mind in harmony with life. You must be keen and thorough in whatever you do and seek to know all that you can before making any decisions, especially decisions that will impact others. Remember, while everyone is not your kin-folk, you are a kindred soul on this plane call life as your journey, fulfilling your kismet, gaining and sharing knowledge with all.

Alphabet of Abundance for 2015 continues with L- And I must begin by emphasizing how important it is that we pour Libation for our ancestors to bless and open the path for the work we have to do. We must be lion-hearted to plow through and dismantle the barriers that keep us passive and non-acting. We do that by being luminous and lucid, and daily laboring to leave a legacy that is laudable and lifts the spirit of others. We are the light that breathes life and positive energy into the world to end the senseless cycle of greed and poverty that keeps so many divided. Be light be levity.

Re-looking at an Old Poem: “Madness Disguises Sanity.”

Madness Disguises Sanity

Sometimes

I mutter

as I walk

people

stare and pass by

on the far side
To be one

of those

desolate men

who lounge on

stink alleyways

forever talking

to the wind

their words

bullets

people shy from
But I am woman

conditioned

to nurse

my scream

like a mute child
So I write

(From Tamarind and Mango Women, (Sister Vision Press),1992. This collection is the winner of the Pen/Josephine Milles Award 1992.)

As a writer, it is always an honor when someone says they have read my work, and like it – thus far no one has said to my face that they don’t like my work. But it is a profound distinction to know that my work is being used in schools and that students and scholars are interrogating the work, deconstructing it to decipher its meaning. A few months ago students from Cronton College in north west England contacted me via email to say they were studying my poem for A2 level exam. I was indeed thrilled, but also too busy with teaching to give their request full attention. However, what it forced me to do was to reread the above poem, that is almost thirty years old, and relive the writing of it. Quite frankly, I did not remember the poem or even in which collection it could be found, but I found it online. Reviewing the students’ questions forced me to travel back in time.

Rereading the poem, I am proud of it, and believe it stands up to the test of time; it is still relevant, and accurately captures a moment. However, it goes further by using that moment to make commentary on a larger issue –that is how some women feel silenced by patriarchal structures that restricts their need to speak, out on a variety of issues, and as a result label them mad.

The persona of the poem, in the voice of the poet, says that writing offers a safe space for her (should be read as women) to express and share all the things –social and political issues- that skips around in her head.  Writing is a safety net, and an appropriate outlet; it provides a fence behind which women can speak out about issues without being carted off to the insane asylum.

These questions are by
Natasha Mercer, Georgia Hill and Emily Blunden
(All members of our A-level performance group)

What was the inspiration for the poem?

The poem was inspired one morning, long, long ago while living in Oakland Ca.  I was jogging around Lake Merritt, near where I lived, and encountered a homeless man sleeping in a doorway in one of the buildings in that area.  He was clearly experiencing some emotional challenges and was shouting, gesticulating and cursing at people, whomever, passed by. He was so vociferous, and seemingly so self-righteous, and in that moment I thought to myself, such freedom from social decorum.

Whatever was bothering the homeless man he was getting off his chest, and because of his social standing or lack thereof, his behavior was “acceptable.” I paused from my jogging, and stood watching and listening to him, and it is from that observation that the poem came. Also, I was in graduate school at the time and troubled by the Euro-male scholars that were standard part of the curriculum, acceptable masters of theory. There was a glowing absence of women, and certainly Afro-Caribbean women, such as myself, were non-existent. Seeing the homeless man, I thought to myself, he might be considered mad, but there was s level of sanity in his freedom and ability to shout out his pain, to cry out loudly to the world, I have been wronged.  To be able to do so, is in my estimation, the greatest form of sanity, but if I were to rant like that in school about the theories that obfuscate my existence and that of my people, it would be said I had a psychotic break and need psychological treatment. The irony of course, is that by seemingly holding it together, I was forced to swallow my pain in order “to make it.”

All these thoughts were swimming inside my head, which lead to the creation of the poem. Because I had gone jogging, I had nothing on which to write, so I had to keep repeating lines of the poem on my jog home, and upon arriving home, I sat to write without even pausing to quench my thirst by drinking a glass of water. The poem went through four drafts after that first initial inspiration. I kept cutting back, trimming down, as I wanted it to be concise and not didactic.

Why did you choose the title Madness Disguises Sanity?

I do believe sometimes, the pressures in the society to confirm, to be proper is cancerous, forces us to swallow a lot of pain, but if one is deemed mad then one is allowed the freedom to rant and rave. Yet, if one listens, if one over looks the seeming madness, then one can’t help but hear the truth of the complaint. The idea behind this title is, what if we could wear madness like a mask that we put on when we want to speak out about an issue, unconventional or controversial, or our own personal truth that might be deemed unacceptable. I think often we use the label madness when we don’t want to hear people’s truth that might challenge our foundation.

What are the main themes of the poem?

Social norms, being preoccupied with ideas that one needs to express; the plight of homeless people, and women’s need to have safe spaces to express their ideas and be heard without being castigated.

What message (if any) did you want to create when writing the poem?

The primary message is to slow down and listen to each other, be open to new ideas, be less quick to judge someone as crazy or mad because s/he expresses a different opinion. A woman’s need to communicate, to feel as if there is a safe space to share her opinions.

I believe that the poem reveals roles in society. How far do you agree with my interpretation and do you have any comment on it?

Yes, the poem does interrogates roles and what is considered acceptable behavior within those roles, and what are the consequences for breaking those roles — the labels that get assigned to us, and how easy it is to use labels to dismiss and silence indigent members of our community.

I am very grateful that “Madness Disguises Sanity,” is getting a new life and that students have found this poem. My life long goal for my work is that it will be taught and performed throughout the world, and every piece will serve as an opportunity for dialogue.

The Abundance Alphabet looks at H

We are all hybrids, a mixture of more than one thing, a blending of personalities and customs. Many of us hanker for harmony yet find ourselves committed to habitude that we seldom interrogate. All too often we accept hierarchal paradigms even though we know these approaches have little credence and serve to divide rather that bring the harmony we seek both in our personal and public life. We hope, forgetting that hope without concrete plans to transform is futile and in the process we diminish our humanity.