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06/21/2006 Archived Entry: "Midway through the year of silence"

SOLSTICE. EXACTLY HALF WAY THROUGH MY YEAR OF SILENCE. How do I write about this without seeming airy-fairy or without making it "all about Claire" (which it's not meant to be)?

More than once I've spent hours writing blog entries that ended up being too self-revelatory (aka too preoccupied with my life's meaningless-to-anybody-but-me detritus). Into the e-trash they went. Other times, I've groped for words to convey this year's experience and found myself merely sounding as if I'd suffered an overdose of California. E-trash again.

This is new territory for me, although when I look back on the path I embarked upon with 101 Things To Do 'Til the Revolution it now seems inevitable that if I kept going I'd end up here. Inevitability: so clear in hindsight. This is new territory for me, even though others have explored it through thousands of years.

This trip takes place on two levels, distinct but inseparable. One is what I experience and learn. The other is what those experiences and learnings reveal about the Big Questions of freedom, creativity, spirituality, presence, and the quest (whatever the quest may be).

Personally, this has already been an important year. I've begun to rediscover long-lost creativity. I'm re-forging my concept of time, from something to be gotten through to something to flow within. I'm learning to be more inwardly still (tough for somebody born with a lot of nervous energy). I'm understanding, slowly, that even "bad" frustrating days -- when I can't write, can't do art, can't sit still, can't think clearly, have an aching back, and splatter melted butter all over my brand-new tee shirt -- are a valuable part of the journey. Maybe even more valuable than the days everything glows.

The inward journeying has led to important outer changes. Disconnecting the landline phone and home Internet connection were the first. Lord, how much time on the Net is just frenetic diversion! Even though I earn my living via Net, I can get all the connectivity I really need in a few hours a week at the library or an Internet cafe. And I have so much more time for real life. The latest outward change -- a biggie -- was disconnecting from JPFO. JPFO has been a valued client, but its work demands more unpredictable attention than I can give, these days. (Writers: this could be an opportunity for you.)

I'm coming to think of myself not as "a writer" or "an artist." But as a plain, simple, conscious human being who happens to write and who will just naturally relearn to do (and enjoy) art when all else is right. But it's the being human and being aware that's the central reality.

This is one place in which we've really gone out of balance: We define ourselves by what we do but shy away from uncovering what underlies all those hours, years, and decades of doing. (Why is it such a negative thing, around these parts, to stop and just be?)

And yes, I'm also still seeking freedom -- with more than a little help from my friends, thank you. Which leads to those Big Questions.

I mentioned it looked inevitable in hindsight that 101 Things would lead here. That's because 101 Things was a cry of protest against political methods that clearly weren't working, and never would work, to restore individual freedom. Now, to put it glibly, it's time to protest the protest.

101 Things (and successor books like The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook) was about things to do. Yeah, I've also always stressed the fundamental need to have a freedom attitude (a Bad Attitude, in the eyes of our masters in Washington, DC). But I obviously haven't succeeded in conveying that part of the message.

Too many people over the years have continued to assert that they really, really would free themselves. Honestly. If I'd just remove all the risk for them.

And of course some expert must provide complete step-by-step instructions, leaving no unknowns and leaving nothing to chance.

Too many soi-disant freedom lovers, even now, insist "there ought to be a law!" the moment they encounter something that upsets them.

Too many loudly assert their own rights (often completely bogus ones like the right to bray like jackassess on someone else's privately owned discussion forum), but are more than willing to run all over anybody else's rights.

Too many complain that they'd really, truly like to free themselves. But ... um, they just don't have enough money. Or time. Or the powers in DC are just too strong; it's hopeless.

Too many ... just complain.

Well, the yammerheads will always be with us. I know that. If I set myself the task of finding a way to convert yammer into freedompower, I'd need a lot more than a single year of silence. (But if I succeeded, damn, wouldn't we have something?)

Back to that inevitability: If 101 Things was a protest against politics not working, then the territory I'm exploring this year is ... not a protest, but a turning away from mere doing. Don't get me wrong; doing (the right things for freedom) is vital. But doing is not a first cause.

We only do consistently right for freedom when we are free within ourselves. And then -- glory be -- our doing will not only be effective; it will be magnified. It will lead to even greater internal and external being in freedom.

Being and doing -- a great self-powering cycle.

I've become aware, now that I've forced my ownself away from some of that doing and onto the path of being, that all the literature of individual freedom, including my own, lacks vital elements. And so produces flawed results. (The single exception I can think of is Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." But even that is about reaction to government as much as about action and being in freedom).

In my next two Backwoods Home columns I plan to continue "thinking aloud" about freedom questions, and I hope to offer some definitions and premises I believe have been overlooked.

It may be presumptuous of me to imagine that I, the poorly educated product of a hillbilly-haven housing tract, could come up with anything the phuds and philosophers have missed. But something scratches at my consciousness.

The only way that "something" got this far is because I stopped and listened. And waited and listened. I didn't even define what I was listening for -- because that would have limited what I was willing to hear. I just listened. And am listening. Which is ultimately what the year of silence is all about.

To the best of my ability (and FWIW) I'll share what comes. (Absent all that embarrassing stuff I keep pitching into the e-trash. :-) But someday, if I wander out there far enough, I might even toss some of that at you.)


I'm very much afraid I'll leave somebody out here, but for special help on this journey I want to thank: Pyramid Man, DR, JS, CL, KW, KL, LL (and her several aliases), Sandra, The Artist's Way, Raven's Bread, the Cowboy, and all the people who've made this blog, the TCF discussion forums, and my interesting little trip possible with their donations and moral support.

Posted by Claire @ 03:03 PM CST

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