Friday, March 26, 2010

Where is the Compassion?

“Compassion literally means to feel with, to suffer with. Everyone is capable of compassion, and yet everyone tends to avoid it because it's uncomfortable. And the avoidance produces psychic numbing -- resistance to experiencing our pain for the world and other beings.” – Joanna Macy

I’m many things in this life - I’m deaf, I’m a mother, lover, friend, and a writer. That last takes precedence here.

Even though I may be deaf, my words have substance, a voice that can plead or bring moments to life. There comes a time when we can no longer remain silent. A time when something affects us so deeply we’re not afraid to shed tears, hurt or find that compassionate place within us to take a stand. As a writer, I chose to let my words reach out to you. You don’t have to agree with me…just take a moment…to listen.

I often have the TV playing in the background - its visual to me is what music would be for someone who hears. Yesterday evening my dog ran up to the TV, pacing back and forth upset, so naturally I looked up to see what distressed her. By this time Pickles was all out whining and pawing the wooden chest that held the TV, as if that could make it stop and my heart hurt to see what she saw. I called her over to me and we both comforted one another - human and dog, her body trembling, my heart racing - witnessing the devastation of an American Icon.

PhotobucketCan you imagine existing wild and free, suddenly alerted to the sound of helicopter blades cutting the air, coming closer and closer? You hear the beast before you see it. When you do, your heart leaps, your nostrils flare in fear and you run like the wind trying to outrace this new menace. Running ragged and hard for miles - hours, you can’t stop for it looms closer and closer and you’re forced down the mountain under a hovering helicopter in desert heat.

When you finally do get a reprieve you’re trapped, exhausted, lost, confused. Your mane is tangled with burrs and debris and your flank is soaked with perspiration. Your nostrils are running, you’re overheated and you’re separated from your mother. Without warning your legs go lame and the last thing, the worst - you’ve died in captivity, deadened eyes crusted open and mirrored with terror.

Can you imagine the despair and panic that remain long after the dust settles? Separated from all you know, the land, your band and family…

That’s what happened in a wild horse round-up on the Calico Range located just outside of Reno, Nevada, over and over for two months solid, until the round up ended in early March. Wild horses once coveted as an American Icon are now being run ragged by hovering machinery and corralled into captivity. Why? All because claims made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the horses were starving or dehydrated – claims of protection and welfare. The same horses that witnesses refuted were healthy and in no way in harm. All under the guise of what our government calls management, when in fact they are denying these horses the very thing we have fought so hard for in this country for ourselves - freedom.

Out of over 2000 horses rounded up, 77 are dead including 2 foals that lost the outer layer of their hooves. 39 Mares miscarried. More will die before this is over, before they are auctioned off or slaughtered. Now you have to ask yourself, is this what you want your tax dollars spent on? Is this what you call protecting a species? Surely you would expect the BLM to be aware the winter months would herald heavily pregnant mares and endanger them. Isn’t that part of what protection is, knowing that which you profess to protect?

Even a dog could see the wrong in what unfolded on the TV screen. How is it humans failed to see what an animal instantly recognized and understood?

Don’t take my word for it, watch a video of a roundup unfold and ask your heart who you hurt for, the animal or the beast in the machinery?

Better yet watch this PSA <-click here, find out how you can take a stand and contact your elected officials in Washington, DC. All the information you need is found throughout the PSA.

We are better than this. Human beings can’t ignore how cruel this makes “us” appear as a species. May we be reminded of Peter Singer’s quote, “All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”

Picture found here

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rain Dancing

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening.” – Woodrow Wilson


I breathed a sigh of relief looking out the window specked with wet droplets, wishing I could hear the rain gently fall - pooling into puddles and flowing into rivulets which turn to meandering small tributaries ants wouldn’t dare forge. Placing my fingers on the clear reflective surface and tracing runaway multi-facets of clear streams, I smile as the cool dampness invades my fingertips.

Relief floods through me in weary contentment. The hazy day outside my window promises a well needed reprieve. I want – need to lose myself in the comfort of my couch, an Indian blanket strewn across my knees and my laptop waiting, ever waiting for days such as this for the dance to begin.

Spring’s arrival kissed my cheeks with warmth and mischievously tousled my hair in blithe merriment in recent weeks - playing havoc with the nature lover in me. How could I not want to lose myself in the fresh scent of dirt and gentle breezes invading through windows at half mast? Grass never a greener, green – emerald, jade and shades of olive let loose from imprisoned snow.

Old Maid woodchuck came out from under the shed to take a bow, her winter fur with it’s tuffs of beige shimmering in the sunlight. A visit to the creek gave way to the blue jay’s soaring flight at eye level across my path. Let’s not forget the bright red backyard bird to the north – the Cardinal or the beautiful Oriole. They’ve all properly graced us with their company these early spring days.

And yet…I smile looking out my window fogged with each exhale. Yes, spring has let the sun kiss my lips and the new growth of lawn tickle my senses. “Almost”, I whisper, not yet, I’m not quite ready yet to leave this space I inhabit to write. It’s comfort enough to know ere long I’ll have my hands buried in dark brown soil and dirt ground beneath my fingernails as I plant and knead the earth.

I’ll take what comes, no rush, no candor just wanton days of ‘what if’s’. As I let my fingers loose across the keyboard, my heart flutters and the words begin to fly free to grace the page. It’s the perfect day, my kind of day, to let my fingers do a little…rain dancing…

Picture found here

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Time?


When told the reason for daylight
savings time the Old Indian said,
"Only the Government would believe
that you could cut a foot off the
top of a blanket, sew it to the
bottom, and have a longer blanket."


Pickles doesn't get it either.
"Say what? You save daylight how?
This is going to mess with dinner
time isn't it?"

Paintings by Terry Sodd
Pickles is all mine...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don't Stop the Music

“I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
I know this loser's living fortunate
cause I know you will love me either way”

Finally given the opportunity to relax after a harried day, with the words to the above lyrics in live performance running through my head; I wrap my legs under me in my office chair and twist it around to stare out across the living room, out toward the bleak gray sky with skeletal winter branches stabbing skyward. My thoughts are lost in that frozen tundra beyond the window.


“Most were being good for goodness sake
but you wouldn't pantomime”

Shaking myself from my reverie, needing to write and finding myself all kinds of distracted, I glance down and break out in peals of laughter. Nothing so hilarious but perhaps to me, my feet were wrapped in opposing colors - one sock varying degrees of blue, the other shades of gray. I couldn’t tell you why this was so amusing to me, other than I was wearing mismatched socks.

Pickles sits up on her haunches and bats the air with her paws, entertained by my giddiness, causing me to laugh even more. While I laughed my hand crossed laying flat against my chest and I giggle. There you are, I thought. In this way I could hear something I had been missing, my voice - nestled in the heart of me. Oh sure, I could hear myself speak all the time. Although I’m not sure I want to be the deaf woman walking around with her hand over her heart, leaving people wondering if at any moment I might break out into a rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Later still I find myself needing a song, some kind of music to build the crescendo of the moment I’ve just written on the screen in front of me. You would think that discovering new music would have been an impossible task since I became deaf over five years ago. Amazingly no…If anything I find I appreciate the discovery even more now.

Keep in mind I was able to hear right up until I went deaf. Add in all the music versatility that I used to enjoy from one extreme to another, from a monk’s choir to punk rock and it’s not a hard stretch to imagine a new sound, no matter how different. With today’s technology it’s amazingly easy for a deaf individual to hear music in their own distinctive way. It’s all about bringing the other senses into play and recording them in your mind like an orchestra.

Having discovered lyrics I’ve never heard before, I’ll go in search of reviews of what the band sounds like. Are they hard punk or delicate strands of melody? Is there a heavy bass played? (Bass lends a louder acoustic sound that comes through a speaker or amp in a jovial vibrato).

When I’ve found what I need, I close my eyes and listen.

The candle gives off the scent of brisk evergreen reminiscent of a forest dew morning. I hear a complex song, a less gritty version of Nirvana. The latter a band I’m familiar with so it’s not really that much of a stretch, then I play the words I’ve gleaned from the lyrics to ‘Who I am’ by Smile Empty Soul in my mind.

“No one knows the way I feel a part of me I have to find
Buried somewhere deep beneath my skin
The emptiness in me is faded
And I can see my life is waiting
Now I know I’m living for who I am”

Did you hear it? Not only did I hear it, It gave me the edge I needed to feel for the protagonist in my latest story. She’s gritty and angry at the world - full of emotional overflow. She’s me and she’s not – writ across these pages.

Hearing despite being deaf for me was a skill honed by time. Just as time will hone these delicate strands of words I write into something we both hear. I learned by testing my boundaries and questioning everything. My world doesn’t subsist in the box deaf might have labeled me. Nor will my writing. It’s an extension of who I am. We – you and I live/write with the best parts of who we are.

*The first two stanzas were by the Verve Pipe from the song ‘Colorful’
*Pickles - my working dog for the deaf.

Picture from here