Back in the Fall of 1992, a 35-year-old put on his bright blue windbreaker, wrapped his baby in warm clothes, slid his favourite cassette in his Walkman and went for a walk around the neighbourhood. And he did it on the next day. And the next. And every time, the same thing happened: his baby (finally!) fell asleep. During the same song.
The number of times I fell asleep to that cassette. You’d think it would be special somehow. And it is. It is special. My father loves it, and every time he hears the song, he thinks of the warm feeling he got when he finally managed to make his first child, his four-month-old baby fall asleep, feeling the baby’s head drop close to his chest, and that song played, and the Fall wind blew, and for a few seconds, everything was right. There was hope. He was connected. He had a place. Here was a small, wonderful, beautiful human who’d have a life completely different from his own. And he’d created it.
I’m sure you know this feeling. Even if you’ve never had a baby. Even if you’ve never touched a cassette or a Walkman or a bright blue windbreaker. Even if you’d sooner die than go on the same walk listening to the same songs in the same order every day.
It’s the feeling when the sounds in your ears echo the humming of the blood in your veins. Something out there is the same as something in you, finally. Your mind can’t believe it, but your heart knows it’s real. Everything is exactly where it needs to be. Including you.
Or maybe it’s not music or even sound. Maybe it’s something you see. Maybe it’s something you read. Maybe it’s a smell or a taste. Maybe it’s the heat of the Sun washing over you on a summer day. Whatever it is, you can take comfort in knowing that it’s real. And that weird intangible unnameable thing inside you, that wilderness you can’t explain? It’s real too.
When I was a small child, I was heavily interested in Catholicism, the religion of my grandparents. To a certain extent, I was brought up with this slight Catholic undertone, I think mostly as a way for my parents to appease their own parents after they’d eloped and moved away. But I just knew there was something more to life than what I could see and, not knowing other religions really existed, I tried to study that one. I think I was five or six when I asked for a Bible for Christmas.
I was disappointed when I learned there were other equally as valid religions, or when I started seeing the extent of the pain that existed in the world. It wasn’t long after. It was some time after I’d gotten those two children’s Bibles (children’s Bibles, seriously, how insulting, I want the full stories, I remember thinking with my six-year-old brain), and before I got the actual, full New Testament in Catechesis (I think I was eight then).
I have this vivid memory… It wasn’t too long after I’d gotten that New Testament. I was cross-country skiing in the trails my parents’ friends traced on their land. I was using my mother’s old ski set, the one she’d bought for herself as a teenager with the money she’d made babysitting and giving music classes. I stood on top of a hill, ready to go down. There was a gust of wind. It caressed my face. It blew away the hair that had slipped out of my toque. I stretched my arms out to the side. The wind slipped and slid all around them. I was completely surrounded by this gust, and I felt powerful and high on endorphins and I remember exactly what I thought: “This is God.”
I wouldn’t call it God anymore. I don’t know what I would call it. Life. The Universe. Energy. Synchronicity. Love. Connectedness. I don’t know. But I know there’s something. I know there’s something because of the way I feel when birds sing, when the breeze bristles through the leaves of trees, when the soles of my feet hit scalding hot sand, when I listen to Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity or Postcards from Italy, when I read tarot, when a friend says something that gives me hope, when I see the smile on my father’s face as he tells the story of the baby and the cassette, when I’ve made spaghetti sauce the way my mother does, when a song I’ve written gets stuck in my head…
I know this is coming from a place of privilege in many ways. In fact, it’s coming from appreciating and acknowledging the privileges I have, from my parents to the nature and peace around me, along with the colour of my skin and everything else on the way. Even simply knowing what hot sand feels like.
And I think the real problem is not privilege in itself, but ignoring or diminishing it.
See you in the next one. I’ll write about the Knight of Pentacles.
Until then, I wish you joy at least as big as having your newborn finally fall asleep while listening to your favourite song.
Samuel Levi Jones literally deconstructs history, delegitimizing white supremacist knowledge bases.
Did you know,
Martin Luther King Jr. was not included in the Britanica Encyclopedia until 13 years after his assassination, despite new editions printing annually. Yet then, he was only included under African American.
Jones rips them apart.
Turns them inside out.
Hangs them on the wall.
Find his portfolio here.
Nadine (whatever pronouns; go wild) is changing all the time, yet always the same, and passionate about finding out how that works. Does not give up their search for meaning, ever. Unapologetically dramatic and wholly uninterested in lukewarm living. Can be found overthinking, asking uncomfortable questions, writing, or misusing the glitter emoji.
I’m Nadine and I will be posting on this blog (!!!!!!). I figured it might be a good idea to write a bit more about myself first. I feel like I’m dropping in with no explanation.
I could start by telling you about all the people I’ve been, but that would take a long time, and besides, am I not always the same? Right. I am. Technically.
People who meet me say I’m calm, but I don’t think they mean it as in “chill” – more like soft, probably. In a vague sort of way. Because they also say I’m the worst drama queen ever, and can’t you stop exaggerating everything? What they don’t understand is that I’m not exaggerating. Things are huge for me. I have a sensitive barometer that swings either way quickly. My reactions are contained and reserved compared to the intensity of what I perceive, believe me.
I understand that in our society, when you’re introducing yourself, you’re not supposed to lead with “I’m overly dramatic, but that’s because I’m sensitive, and I refuse to see that as a hindrance.” So, here are a few more conventional pieces of information about me:
My name is Nadine. That’s the name I was given. I didn’t always like it, but I’m starting to see the appeal in being called “Messenger of Hope,” so I’m keeping it (etymologically, my full name goes something like “rebellious messenger of hope and armed warrior” and I think that’s kind of #goals). You may associate this name with pronouns of your choosing. Gender is honestly very fluid, unclear and illusionary to me. I’m Canadian. My first language is French. My formal study of (as well as in) English is limited. I have a B.Sc. I’m still a student and will hopefully be a librarian in no more than a year and a half.
I realize I haven’t uploaded a picture of myself. I’ll be honest here. I think my body’s kind of awesome. Sometimes I wish I could change a few things. Ultimately, I’m ok with it. I just never manage to find a photograph of myself and think: “That’s me.”
But to give you an image of sorts: I’m white with a pinkish undertone; Instagram’s Juno filter makes my selfies look the best. My hair is thick, dark and slightly yet noticeably streaked with grey, the back and sides short, the top longer. My eyes are just as dark, though not streaked with grey that I can tell, and round. I have a witch’s mole on the tip of my nose and several acne scars all over my chin, forehead and temples. I always raise my eyebrows, and when I’m not raising my eyebrows, I’m frowning, so you can imagine the lines on my forehead. My face is round. It’s a good, average, functional face.
I’m passionate about deep thought. I speak in metaphors, comparisons and analogies because that’s the most authentic and honest way to verbalize what’s inside me that I can think of. I read tarot. I love the wind and birds. I’m trying to become better at doing the dishes. I’m also trying to become better at seeing myself as a person who deserves love, whose inner immensity is a gift. Not easy!
I want to end this by telling you a little bit about where I am in my healing/growth process.
There is a certain power within me. A life force. An energy. An urge to create. I prefer to illustrate it as wind. So, there are these huge winds that my brain produces. And, as a child, especially in school, whenever I let these winds roam free, I’d often get disappointing or even hurtful reactions from the people around me. Indifference, reproach, helplessness, jealousy… I learned to keep the winds in. But what happens when you keep winds in a confined space? They bounce against the walls and eventually create a tornado. And tornadoes aren’t very good at things that aren’t destruction.
I was 21 when the tornado became too much. I went to people in positions of authority, powerful people, experts. “Help,” I said. “The inside of me is rubble, wreckage, destruction.”
“I see,” they replied very seriously. “Let me fix that for you.”
It took a long time and a lot of work, but eventually, they shut down the tornado. It stopped hurting quite as much. I wasn’t very happy with the results, but I couldn’t argue with the fact that the wreckage had disappeared.
“I did it!” they announced, smiling. “I fixed you. You’re normal now.”
The problem was that I didn’t feel fixed at all. I felt extinguished, and a part of me couldn’t believe I had to be extinguished to be happy. I was afraid to speak up. I was 24 and I was empty. Empty, empty, empty. And not in a depressed way. I wasn’t depressed anymore. I was just… The inside of me was a cold, dark, very still cavity. I was alive and healthy, so why did I feel so dead?
I finally dared to talk about it. We found a way to start letting the winds back in.
It took me two years after that to realize that I didn’t have to keep the winds inside me. I could learn to wield them. Lots of things I could do with winds like that. Goodbye inner tornado, hello to blowing ships’ sails!
Anyway, that’s where I am. Learning wind-wielding. I’m just starting out.
If you can see yourself in the whole “being made to feel like exteriorizing your own power is bad, keeping it inside and having it destroy you” thing, here are a few resources I’d suggest: an encouraging message from a fellow intense person, the gushing ramblings of a fellow intense person, and a creation that gives me hope and that I could personally gush about for hours right now. It’s not necessarily a matter of who said it; it’s a matter of what is said (in the first link) or how it is said (in the second link).
Next time, I will talk about faith and babies.
Until then, may you find a piece of art you love at least half as much as dodie loves La La Land and I love Jupiter.
my alternative title is "emotional release is good for you, but still kinda sucks!" hah.
i don't know about you, but pisces season seems to be digging deep and asking the hard questions.
on one hand, i'm feeling it and watching others, a collaborative bloom within our creative habitats. artistic partnerships, louder than a bomb, publications, new projects, fixed vintage cars, promotions, and love and love and love... it's here, and i feel it. personally, i am so thankful and inspired, and watching others wear themselves more fully is such a blessing. all the love and power to you. spring is sneaking among us.
yet tuning into intuition and escaping reality has not been easy. whether it's by phone or text, i've been hearing much of the same themes lately: loss, confusion, anxiety, guilt, some of which stemming from the exact thing we're so happy about: coming into ourselves and developing, creatively and personally.
it is strange how absolutely scary it is to become your self, and to befriend who you are. it's the most obvious choice, i think, because we are... who we are. it simply is. disconcerting, yes, especially if mourning a past self. yet at the same time, if paired and intentional, it can be the utmost release... just read jenny slate's tweet above. i can't tell you how many times i have printed and taped it into journals and slipped it into interviews. it's true. the more tender and precious i am to my self, the less i feel fear. i am confident in my identity, and how i am loved by my self, my loved ones, and the divine. i soften.
it's a battle, of course. i remember seeing a t shirt for trans rights several years ago reading "don't hate on my happiness," and i think it changed me. it changed the way i speak about other people, and (thankful) hindered my ability to laugh and grate on others. it made life so much more smooth and gentle and empathetic. remember this: don't hate on others, but also don't hate on your own happiness. if what you want separates from the status quo, detach. find your people elsewhere. your joy is not worth a warped perception of joyful other people might project onto you.
a friend texted me today, having chosen herself over warped and unhealthy expectations: "i'm never going to be a cool person im gonna just accept it." broke my heart a lil bit, because i love this girl, but it sent me back to the first time i walked into a coffeeshop my senior year of university, thinking "you know what, i'm not going to feel guilty for choosing to spend this time alone, in a coffeeshop, doing what i love. this is what brings me joy, and i am the only one who has to experience my self and my life." i was alone, not investing that time in those i couldn't stay authentic with. i'd never felt that at peace, happy, creative, and readiness to be alive.
choose yourself and your happiness and health. it can feel like stagnancy, esp in a world where pushing our own boundaries is considered healthy growth. it is, to a point. but serenity and stagnancy are not the same, even if both are still. it's okay to just be. to stay. to run away, and towards authenticity.
and if they hate on your happiness? they weren't on your side anyway. get out. love your happiness. love others' authentic joy and health. have grace for everyone.
(by the way, "cool" is a subjective descriptor. no one has the same definition. find your own, based on the way it feels.)
obviously, it's not easy. it's a lifelong process. never ending. but our growth, also, is never ending. every changing. it's a good thing, i am trying to decide. staves off the boredom in the most annoying way.
today, writing this, i pulled six of cups, reversed, and six of swords.
unrealistic, ultra-ideal viewpoints might be sticking around, becoming a perceived threat or simply causing disappointment. maybe something's not the way you imagined it would be. maybe it was oversimplified in your head. maybe there's trauma resurfacing. but you're still breathing and moving. six of swords looks heavy, but the figure isn't crushed, or drowning; the blades are beneath the surface. they might feel real, there's your validation, but they aren't necessarily relevant or necessary or here. maybe they're just internal. it's okay to feel them; those feelings are real. but remember this. you're still here, pushing through, breathing okay. maybe it's a matter of reclaiming and turning the six of cups card right side up, rediscovering wonder and curiosity and redirected expectations.
pisces. expression of emotional capacity. empathy. escaping reality. selflessness. intuitive and smart and creative. divine love.
it's who you are, even when it's frightening or challenging, and difficult to live into.
are you making excuses, defending who you are, and the choices you've made, where it is unnecessary to do so? are you just coping with something you haven't accepted yet? i am! dig into it. have grace. it'll be okay.
i want to start this month off reminding you that who you are is important, as is what you want.
the practice of remaining in tune with what we want and need is never-ending and challenging, but i promise you, it shifts your life.
find your truth. hold it close. embody it.
much love. let me know what you're thinking.
ps. we have content waiting for you. i'm smitten. stay tuned.
pps. my poems happened to be published yesterday. i wrote "the nature of nothing" about two years ago, and it's breathing over at rogue agent. feels fitting for this post. be sure to read the rest of the contents of the issue. it's lovely.
ppps. i want to hear about your truth. head on over to the submit page and let me know what you're thinking.
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