Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #6 - Portals

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write how you've opened the door to a new understanding

Have you encountered a sacred space where your transformation was held for court?
Let's say the portal itself was a years-long passage.
Think hall of mirrors.
Think dusty smoke screens and haunting shadows and lingering ghosts.
Think death with no escape from acceptance and the light of meaning bathing your resurrection.
Think perseverance amidst the utterings of doubt.
Think endurance carrying you in a perpetual state of grace until salvation day.
Think specturm and which side you were on when your name was called to dance.
Think deconstruction and how many times your own understanding was neatly demolished leaving you naked and gathering what still remains of the ashes piled high underneath the heap of rubble.

The dream:

An impressive tidal wave set to overflow in your valley. A boy steps in, constructs a wall with pale and shovel and bricks and mortar. Still, the water flows and the wall is smashed. Next, an even higher tide appears. This time a young man steps in to build, quicker and more diligent and able-bodied. The wave demolishes again. Then, the raised water returns. It looms now. This time, a man appears, his methods more calculated and articulate. The water overflows and his understanding built into the brick and mortar comes crasing down. Now the tide stands so tall only darkness resides. An old man steps out with no tools to build, no blueprints to lay out, no clay to paste. He's doomed, downtrodden, surely to be swept away with all of what he's accomplished. With nowhere to turn and nothing to hold he lifts his hands with tears of surrender running down his cheeks. His open palms grow wider and larger and by the time the tide rushes in his hands have cupped all the water there is to hold and splashes his face. He now stands to look in the mirror and with one deep breath a smile emerges.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #5 - Truth

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write how you live your truth

Kant wrote lies injure us. Not those little exaggerations told to pump ourselves up on the playground, but the terrible omissions and manufactured manipulations necessary to maintain cycles of repression and subordination and slavery in the age of mass democracy. You know, the big lie.

There's much I've learned from books and newspapers but the truth is if you keep your head pointed down long enough you'll strain the muscles in your neck rendering it incapable of looking up to hear what others are saying around you. Murmurings of truth, murmurings of revolution flutter in and out of framed windows and glass doors and coffee mugs and frying pans. We know we can't go on like this; stuck in an intellectual prison yearing to break free from the tyranny of irrationality and exploitation.

It's something my coworkers and I agree upon quite regularly; something cellular, underneath the skin, we feel it in our bones. It's nearly sacrilege to put any of it down on paper, it moves freely. The truth stands alone, needs no defense. Some lose sight and collectively we grieve for what we've lost. But still we would welcome them with arms reaching and hands oustretched the moment they chose to give up defending the lie. Self-justification is always worse than the original offense.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #4 - Fear

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Write of a time you've faced your fears

What is a phobia? A traumatic encounter with the personification of dread or terror seared in your memory in such a way it locks up your willingness to venture beyond into the unkown?

They say you're better off living with no regrets or that your only regret in life would be not having lived it. If that's the case then what would ever stand in your way to hold you back? I'm not afraid to die, I can say that much. Perhaps death is the only certainty. If not this, then what do I fear and how do I face it?

I fear one day I'll look up around this beloved frontier town and see none of its old faces or hear its languages spoken or drive by its dilapidated boarded-up storefronts.
I fear the culmination of culture this town has harbored for generations would fade away into the background, overshadowed by the monied and educated interests with their half-baked ideas of urbanism.
I fear my friends would have lived a life not knowing the wonders of its open plazas and outdoor music festivals and off-the-map eateries.
I fear for the children growing up without the experience of a lazy Sunday afternoon spent at Woodlawn lake feeding the ducks with bread crumbs in one hand and an El Paraiso paleta in the other.
I fear for the families absent along the river's banks who will never know all its healing powers and flowing mystical waters.
I fear the political structure will continue to elect and delegate and administer, in their twisted definition of "good faith", while the homeless and students and coworkers are left naked in the street begging with open hands.

How do I face this? It starts right here on this page as I turn and face you. Stand with me. Tonight we begin.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Session Writing Lab - Week #3 - Shadow

Engaging the Active Imagination: Writing as Activism (Summer Session)

Writing prompt
  • Cast a light on your shadow. Write what comes into view

I see those consumed by the shadow and where it leads them: all limbs splayed out on the bottom four corners, sucking dry the last drops from the edges stained glass bottle, slick tongues so wicked to conjure all the unwarranted slander and libel and gossip by night while doling out prison sentences and propaganda by day, the child's stunted wonder and maimed imagination growing not by the reach of the trees baptized in spring but in between the number crunching of another wasted school semester's commercial breaks.

Meanwhile, I sit still and long for the sun to pass overhead at the right angle. Any given agle I wait for and I've waited a long time. Thirty years I've waited. I'm all the ages I've ever been.

The shadow appears carrying with it all the lifteimes I've known and haven't known and will never know because not all wounds grow to heal. Was the shadow ever broken as I? Who else was going to pick up the pieces? What does the shadow lament? Still, I sit and wait and see: the shadow gives shade. Others run to my side escaping persecution from the sweltering heat, from the mid-day burning. They dance overjoyed to rest in my presence. I have no water for them, the sweat off my brow is too salty to share. They don't mind. All they wanted was release, relief. They don't see the signs of my shadow looming. All they know is the shade.