IN A FEW DAYS, I will be starting the salon in our protected-page space, ‘Slow Moment.’ It’s about slowing down. Recharging. Discovering yourself when you make time to show up… for you. No obligations, no ‘to-do’s, and scrapping the idea of ‘getting something accomplished,’ the idea of this particular programme is to let it flow. Flow. So important. I have been talking with people in online conversations for about four months now, setting things up for this special 12-week session. It’s our last online workshop, for the general public, as it just became obvious that for DK, making people be creative isn’t important. What’s important for DK is helping those who have already taken a step, of their own accord, towards some kind of transformative breakthrough. Of course you can’t have a linear path to breakthrough. Or transformative stuff of any kind. Of course it takes work, struggle, sloshing about, tackling vague ideas, throwing most of them away, and starting over, when you recognize that all the work so far has been ‘sketching.’ We call it P L A Y. Playing our way towards the new and the next is what we do around here.
Zining in Finland, Cambodia, et al.
ZINING HAS BEEN, for me personally, a way of slowing down. Zining in Finland, in particular. ‘This is Finland,’ said J., whom I met last night at the pub. ‘We just… be.’ Not bad. I really enjoyed our brief chat outside of the place; karaoke was on inside and it was a thin crowd. I cycled over there with my midnight ride in the pretty-bright-still-but-not-like-before light. Mist was out. Mist. This was what we talked about. Small town life. Passerby. Chance encounters. That’s the stuff of gathering the narratives that make S P A C E the zine; showing up to ask the questions and be prepared for anything is the jazzy jam that is Atelier S P A C E. (If I don’t show up for me, how can I ask others to show up for themselves? So I am living the practice. Go where you don’t know anyone. Find out stuff. Ask them things. Talk to people. Learn. Discover. Find a theme. Then, either with guests who are interested in joining in with you or without them, write a short 8-page zine that pulls together the best of that which you pick up, makes it contemporary, gives it a shape, and then, print some of them, and share them.)
Pubs are third places. They are where we convene. I know, I know. There is an objective, most of the time. Not me. I’m there for the conversations.
Here where I am about six hours north of Helsinki, things are quiet. Conversations are slow and easy. All around is nature—and it’s handy that you can cycle around to get the things you need. Foodstuffs. Provisions. Euros. It’s convenient, small, and just fine. I am not a stranger to small town life; and this stay has got me remembering all the things about Skibbereen and rural North Carolina that I used to really enjoy. End-to-end rainbows, for example. Which I talked about in the past, here on this blog, when ‘A Slow Moment begins’ got writ.
Poetry slams in S P A C E
WRITING MORE. Zining. Making poems with people around the world. ‘Whatever of philosophy is made into poetry is alone timeless.’ These words—I had quoted them in my TEDx talk, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’ Something I haven’t admitted out loud anywhere on the public spaces of the blog is this: I was kind of winging that talk, there, at the end. You have to read your audience, right, and see where the feeling is going. You have to see what fits, what’s working, what’s not. It takes time to build up to that. It’s a long, simple crescendo. You get going and you start and you begin to get the feeling. Here is what’s the story. This is where we’re synching. It’s a jam session, to me—even me on the stage felt like that. I was laughing and enjoying myself with the people in the front rows who were laughing and enjoying themselves with me. (Afterwards, a ‘speechmaker’s consultant’ tried to pitch me, and said, ‘You really don’t want to laugh at your own jokes.’ But for me, for DK, for all he things that have become, since, S P A C E, if I don’t laugh, I’m not having fun, and if I’m not having fun, whatever the hell is the point?’ Of course I didn’t ask him to help me. In fact, that was the last time I got on stage, aside from one other time, in the same city on the same stage, in fact, for ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’ Too fun.)
DG said it: ‘Throw away most of the stuff you write, because you know what? It’s bad. I did that. Do you do that? Throw away most of it?’ I nodded. He said, ‘Good.’ DG is a pianist. I get along with piano people, drummers. Maybe because they like to accompany… words. I am the vocals. I realize this now. Words are my thing. Pen is my medium. Whether lines in marker, or cut lines, or lines worked out somehow (it takes a long time sometimes, but other times comes in bursts, like now, unedited and uninterrupted—a story flows) into poems, or occasional ebooks, I make lines.
Slow moment? For me, bringing the lines into shape. Giving the scaffold in architecture blueprint to the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E. Something to say? Leave a comment, below. Comments are open, until the bots catch on.
DK is making S P A C E, a weekly interactive magazine and an online community for people who are highly engaged with the creative process.
‘How did it go…?’
‘Really, really well. I am so… Inspired. To keep doing this sort of thing. You know, I keep on wondering if anyone’s reading or listening or anything and then, wham! It hits, like a juggernaut, heh, I just wanted to say “juggernaut.”‘
*smiles all around*
‘But you know? There was this moment of suddenly waking up, like as if, as if the whole thing about collecting scraps of Camus and Poincare’s stuff and bits and pieces over time, how many years now?–‘
‘–yeah, twenty!, jeez, anyway, I think it has been worth it. Taking it on this journey. Around the world, and all that. I have the handful of books, the books that when I hold them give me a feeling—that’s what I was talking about with—‘
‘Hey. I uh, Um… Can you, um?’
‘Oh, oh. Yeah, sorry. What time is it? Lunch in a few? And you have to get across town for that meeting, okay okay. But the point is, the point is!, that you know what? There isn’t really a point, but the thing I learned is that there is definitely room for this kind of thing. Space making and stuff. Getting it up and organized, the dialogue rooms, even if they’re borrowed spaces, that’s actually part of it, I think the charm of the special focus and thematic arrangement, as if a composition is coming together. I’m not musical, but I like it, and no, I love it, when there’s something fusing in a way that feels right. Feels good. Quality is what you like, remember? Remember that big ol’ book that had that in it? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? That you wanted me to read in the 1990s? And I was like, duh, no way, that’s a book about some dude and a road trip, and you know, later, way later, it was way more than that… It was about seeking things that are more interesting and intriguing and feel good.’
‘So yeah. I’m gonna keep going.’
‘You’re gonna keep making conversation salons? But I thought you were done with real life ones. That you were going to do the online things, like the magazine and the workshops?’
‘Oh, well, yeah. I have had such a great time with the conversations in S. P. A. C. E., and so, I got distracted. I stopped really doing anything with people in person anymore. And I guess not since Denmark, not since showing up and running about to see what might happen have I made any efforts in that dimension because, because, well, I think Phnom Penh is a bit slow on this sort of thing. I mean, not Phnom Penh… The expat scene here… The people I’m talking to, or I think I’m talking to. I think they’re a little bit too by-the-book, you know? Like, no scruffiness, no out of the box, nothing out of the extraordinary. So in form are they with the status quo that something that purports to buck the status quo—as simple and quiet as a salon is, in raising questions about how we are existing and the beliefs we buy wholesale without critique–well, I think it’s just… Sort of… Um. Odd to them.’
‘I mean, the whole thing is just too esoteric, or at least, that’s what I thought. But I’m reading a lot online and going through all these bits and notes like I said and yeah, I’m seeing the commonalities. The big thinkers in physics and psychology and even the motivated business leadership they talk about doing the thing you’re the Best in the World at, and I think… I think.. It’s starting to be clear, after two DECADES, that there is… There HAS to be a way to enjoy the engagements that come together in offline, non-agenda, common space in semi-public rooms where people converge from very disparate backgrounds and origins in order to discuss that which touches our core, as humans. As human beings, you know? Not cogs in wheels in some system that’s been designed by people who just want us to Work so Hard that we are constantly Busy (with what? For who? To what end? And how is it adding to our own long-term value-making, by the way?) for some reason. It’s gig to gig with people here, contract to contract. They’re not even trying, some of ’em. The quality—the competency—is dodgy, mate. It really is. It’s disappointing that people who aren’t interested in aspiring to be more, but just complacent with the paycheck and the pretense of being busy with something (though they can’t succinctly tell you what that something is), I mean… It’s… Gobsmacking.’
‘Don’t worry. I won’t write it up or anything. I won’t make a big noise about how disappointed I am when people aren’t, uh, very good… at seeing there’s way the hell more out there to do and be and seeking is part of it and it’s a choice…Whew, sounds harsh, but I think my people know already that there’s the rest, out there, way closer than anyone lets on… I need to gather them into these salons, so they can relax and engage and talk—I think that’s my Thing, you know? What I have to do, what DK is about… What Making Space can be for people is pretty… What’s the word… I guess you just have to experience it… Plus it could evolve, you know? It could… Be something. I can see myself taking this to Seattle and Portland—I think they’d remember DK from the past, perhaps? It’s not like there’s SUCH a big populace there and heck, why not just reconnect with a few… And…
‘Well, hey. I just promise I won’t complain. I’ll just…’
‘Keep going with the salons. Or whatever comes up next. Maybe they’ll catch on, in time, when there are enough people embittered with a system that takes and takes and doesn’t give them anything in return that makes their lives feel good. Feeling good, right? I mean, quality, right? I mean, yeah! I’m gonna do it.’
‘Do it. I’ve gotta—‘
‘Yeah, okay. Say hi to C.’
‘But dude, what’s that thing about yarn and mangoes?’
‘Oh, right. Remember when you said when we were younger that if you want to start knitting, and you were in Japan, and you were serious, you don’t just start with a set of needles, right, you have to kinda start from the very VERY beginning. Washing yarn.’
*laughing* ‘I didn’t say that. Did I? Someone else must’ve.’
‘No. You did.’
‘And when it comes to drawing, like those ones from The Cloud place the other day that I made, when I followed some people over there? Yeah, that time. I mean, live drawing isn’t something you just go in cold and start, the same way you don’t just go in and start knitting without knowing the yarn through and through, right? So I said, I said to people there, if you want to draw the human figure, I recommend starting with something else. And they said, “What?” And I said, maybe cause it’s the season, I said, “Draw mangoes.”‘ –JP
I VIRKELIGHEDEN HANDLER det ikke om at skrive, men om at åbne mig op for andre mennesker. Og for mig selv. For at gøre dette, er jeg nødt til at smide min facade, mit uigennemtrængelige skjold af forsvarsmekanismer, og hvad sker der, hvis modparten ikke kan lide det den ser? Noget af det mest uhyggelige er at gøre sig sårbar, blot for at blive såret.
TODAY, a guest post by Aske Pedersen from Aarhus, Denmark.
(English version here.)
Frygt og Lykke
JEG ER BANGE. Ikke for mørke, højder eller for at dø. Nej, jeg er bange for ikke at slå til, at være utilstrækkelig, og derfor foregår der en konstant kamp indeni mig. En kamp mellem frygt og lykke. Et eksempel er frygten for at udleve mine passioner.
Når folk spørger mig, hvad jeg virkelig godt kan lide, siger jeg næsten altid at skrive. Men hvorfor har jeg så ikke rørt tasteturet i snart et år? Jeg ved, at det gør mig glad, men noget holder mig alligevel tilbage. En del af min identitet og selvforståelse er bygget op omkring forestillingen om, at jeg er god til at skrive. Hvad sker der med mig, hvis forestillingen ikke holder? Hvis jeg virkelig giver det bedste jeg har, men det bare ikke er godt nok. Denne frygt holder mig fanget i en magtesløs og narcisistisk stilstand, hvor jeg gemmer mig for frygten og udskyder konfrontationen. “I dag er jeg træt, jeg skriver i morgen. I morgen har jeg travlt, men der er tid i næste uge.” Næste uge bliver til næste måned, og næste måned bliver til næste år. Frygten vinder kampen, og min selvfølelse bliver baseret på en løgn, som jeg ikke længere tror på. Men der er sket noget i kampen mellem frygt og lykke. Jeg skriver.
I virkeligheden handler det ikke om at skrive, men om at åbne mig op for andre mennesker. Og for mig selv. For at gøre dette, er jeg nødt til at smide min facade, mit uigennemtrængelige skjold af forsvarsmekanismer, og hvad sker der, hvis modparten ikke kan lide det den ser? Noget af det mest uhyggelige er at gøre sig sårbar, blot for at blive såret. Denne frygt holder mig fra de mest spændene samtaler, nye venskaber, kærester og evnen til at kunne elske rigtigt. I mødet med andre mennesker vælger jeg den nemme vej, hvilket for mig, er humoren. Ironi er blevet en så stor del af mig, at grænserne er blevet udhviskede. Jeg ved ikke længere, hvornår jeg er ironisk, og hvornår jeg ikke er. Måske har alt jeg siger en grad af ironi, hvilket betyder, at jeg kan sige stort set alt. Men mister mine ord så ikke betydning?
Det er ikke kun det jeg siger, det er også måden jeg lytter på. Ofte tager jeg mig selv i at udtænke mit næste svar, før modparten er færdig med at tale. På den måde er jeg sikker på at undgå den akavede stilhed, og samtidig kan jeg fremstå mere intellegent. Dog går der noget tabt i processen. Jeg glemmer at lytte, og jeg formår ikke at se mennesket overfor mig. I stedet kommer samtalen til at foregå på mine præmisser og ofte til at handle om mig. Måske er jeg nutidens narkissos, eller måske er jeg bare bange, eller måske er det én og samme ting.
Hvis man koger det ned, handler det om at tage den sikre vej i samværet med andre mennesker. I samtalen kommer vi ind på alle de selvskrevne emner som studievalg, vejret og geografiske placeringer, og så kommer der et par vittige bemærkninger. Bare så det hele ikke bliver for kedeligt. Det er ikke pinligt, ingen er blevet såret og alle har det fint. Fint… Hverken mere eller mindre. Men jeg gider ikke længere have det fint. For når målet er at undgå fiasko, udelukker jeg samtidig muligheden for succes. —AP
Fear and Happiness
I AM AFRAID. Not of darkness, heights or of dying. No, I am afraid of not being enough, of being inadequate. And because of that, there is a constant battle inside of me. A battle between fear and happiness.
An example is the fear to live out my passions. When people ask me what really lights my fire, I almost always say writing. But then why haven´t I touched the keyboard in almost a year? I know that writing makes me happy, but something is still holding me back. A part of my identity and self-understanding is based on the conception that I am good at writing. What happens to me if that conception breaks? If I really give it my best shot, but it´s just not enough. This fear keeps me in a powerless and narcissistic standstill, where I hide from the fear and delay the confrontation. “Today I’m tired, I will write tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m busy, but there should be time next week.” Next week becomes next month and next month becomes next year. Fear is winning the battle, and my self-esteem is based on a lie that I no longer believe in. But something has happened in the battle between fear and happiness. I am writing.
REALLY IT’S NOT AS MUCH about writing, as it is about opening up to other people. And to myself. To do this, I have to throw away my facade, my impervious shield of defense mechanisms, and what happens if the counterpart doesn’t like what it sees? One of the most frightening things is to make yourself vulnerable, only to get hurt. This fear holds me back from the most interesting conversations, new friendships, girlfriends and the ability to really love another person. When meeting other people I choose the easy option, which to me is humor. Irony has become such a big part of me, that the boundaries have become blurry. I no longer know if I’m being ironic or if I’m not. Maybe everything I say has a touch of irony, which means I can say almost everything. But then what significance do my words hold?
It’s not only what I say, it’s also the way I listen. Often I catch myself devising my next answer while the counterpart is still speaking. That way I’m certain to avoid the awkward silence, and at the same time I can appear more intelligent. However something gets lost in the process. I forget to listen and I don’t manage to really see the person in front of me. Instead the conversation happens on my terms and is often centered around me. Maybe I’m the modern day Narcissus or maybe I’m just afraid, or maybe they are one and the same.
IF YOU BOIL IT DOWN, it’s about taking the road of comfort in the companionship with other human beings. In the conversations we go through the even written topics such as education, the weather and geographical locations, and then a couple of jokes are thrown in just so it doesn’t get too boring. Nothing is embarrassing, no one has been hurt and everybody is fine. Fine… No more, no less. But I don’t want to be fine anymore. Cause when the goal is to avoid failure, I exclude the opportunity of success. —AP