Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Word is Life

There are as many ways to God as there are created souls.  —Sufi saying

We are all standing in a different spot on the planet, seeing the world with our individual eyes, relating to God from our own hearts.  We look to creation for connection, scan the horizon for a sign, comb the sand for broken pieces of the truth.

You turn inward, enter into the depths of your soul and (e)merge with the words God whispered to you in the dark still quiet.

You can share with others the wisdom you have gained; you can write it carefully in a Book.  But no matter how much they study, they will only see the shadow of your experience.

I must speak to God myself.

My unfolding will not match yours.  I will not be the same color, the same size, I will not have the same number of petals.  Your Book can keep me company, but it cannot tell me how to unfurl into the flower that I am.

We can walk together, hand in hand, but we cannot enter the water in the exact same spot.  We cannot hear the exact same Word.

Your path is only one path.  Your Book is only one book.

Your hell is only one fantasy.  Your God is only one face of the Divine.

Don’t let your Book trap you within its pages.  Don’t limit God to ink on paper.  Don’t mistake the map for the Way.

Live the Word that breathes and pulses and moves you to joyful Union.

 A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey.  — Sufi saying

Life as Improv

One of my mother’s day presents was Tina Fey’s new book Bossypants, which so far is a funny read.

After studying acting in college, she got into the world of improv.  She describes the method thusly:

Improvisation as a way of working made sense to me.  I love the idea of two actors on stage with nothing – no costumes, no sets, no dialogue – who make up something together that is then completely real to everyone in the room.  The rules of improvisation appealed to me not only as a way of creating comedy, but as a worldview.  Studying improv literally changed my life. (p. 82)

In terms of real life, I find this a wonderful approach.  I have always had a distinct sense of how we are making everything up as we go along.  I’ve always felt the weight of all possibilities hanging behind the curtain of “the way things have always been.”  I have seen through tradition, ritual and custom, which it seems most people think is a given, concrete way of the world, and I’ve acknowledged that everything we do is a choice, moment after moment, and that we could at any second choose to jump outside the box and wing it.

Be Your Character - With a Costume or Without!

I think this parallel between improv and worldview speaks not only to personal choice and creativity but also agency, which I believe is a vital component of living a truly meaningful life.  Not to make a passive choice when forced to or allow a bit of creativity to seep into a predetermined scenario, but to actually step in and shape the course of things.

She calls this agency “YES, AND.”  In other words, in order for improv to work, you have to accept what has already been put forth, but then you have to add something of your own.  She says,

To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute.  It’s your responsibility to contribute.  Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.  Your initiations are worthwhile. (p. 83)

Imagine if we took this to heart! Imagine if every actor on the human stage could genuinely accept what another actor had put forth and then jump in with material (action, dialogue, gestures) which would reflect what they wanted, needed or felt inspired to express.

Props = Whatever's Handy!

Imagine if we saw every line at the bank as a chance for a fascinating exchange with a stranger.  Imagine if we saw problems in our close personal relationships as a challenge to write a new story, to become a new character, to break out of the plot we felt like we’ve both been handed and write our own script from the words in our hearts.

Imagine if we began with the worldview that reality is a malleable substance which we infuse, consciously or not, with meaning.

Imagine if we all became improv artists on our own life’s stage.

Kiss Every Frog!

Relaunch

A couple of years ago I tried to start a little business called Semanturgy Communications Services, then I found out I was pregnant and just decided to give up for the time being.  In fact that was when I gave up blogging, quilting and really doing any sort of project for myself.  Now I need to get back into the world financially, and while I’m also looking for a lateral entry teaching gig, this dream business is my backup plan.

My business offers a lot of services, partly because I figure I can get more business that way, and partly because I have so many interests that are all related (communication) that I figure I may as well put them all out there under one umbrella.  Working in the Spanish and French languages, I can do translation, and I also offer tutoring and classes for all ages and levels.  I already have curriculum developed for a beginning adult (or high school age) class, but I have lots of ideas for homeschool classes, preschool classes as well as classes for business and outreach where folks have a specific goal in mind when working in the other language.

For English, I can help with writing and editing or just freelance an article or newsletter myself.

All of these services are based on my passion for language and communication.  When I am working on developing a class, it feels like playing to me.  When I’m translating, I enjoy it so much that I feel like I’m just having fun with a puzzle, and yet I am completely absorbed and giving it my whole attention.  There are few places in the world I’d rather be than surrounded by dictionaries, thesauri, paper, pen, google for historical references, etc.  It’s a little embarrassing to be a language nerd, but maybe I can make it work to my advantage someday.

Of course, I can also see myself pouring this energy into a high school classroom, working to inspire kids to open up whole new worlds for themselves by being able to speak and read a new language.  I admit I’m pretty scared of the politics and bureaucracy, disgusted by the grades and tests, and disheartened by the lack of vision of many administrators.  If it were all about the words and the kids, I’d be in paradise.

So stay tuned to see if my relaunch crashes and burns, gets interrupted by some other job coming along, or ends up soaring into the stratosphere.  And for heaven’s sake, if you have any advice or experience to share, please do so!