My friend Gemma Benton, a powerful healer and amazing artist, has been using her love for art and cool old junk. I love her artwork and it has re-ignited the multi-media artist in me. Gemma is a deep person, so her artwork reflects her communication through art. She creates an experience that is old and earthy, that makes the person taking in her artwork reconnect and think.
She was describing to me new online social media that is being used these days to help us get up to speed and express ourselves… like the difference between Tweets, Instagram and textagram. All I have to say is “wow, people are so creative!”
Gemma’s mission had me reflecting too. Yesterday I taught a full-day graduate class on facilitating conversations about the gross inequities in our society, the impact of classism, racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, monolinguality, etc. I shared with my class about my deep concern about the long-term consequences of public schooling. Specifically, the lack of long-term relationships that occur because of the organization of public schooling.
Young people in today’s public schools do not make quality relationships when they are not supposed to talk, when they are shuffled and re-organized into another class of 30+ students, a few times a day in elementary school and around 8 times in middle school if you count the shuffling that happens in bus lines, the cafeteria, at recess and in the gym. When are interpersonal problems addressed? When is amazing conflict resolution skills demonstrated, practiced and reflected upon? When do the sub-groups formed in diverse schools begin? Why does the experience in schools seem to make that problem worse rather than dealing with it when it begins dividing youth in the cafeteria? The context of bullying and hazing so prevalent in American schools, plays out into social unrest, approaching each other with the concern of predatory potentials, rather than as a welcome relative.
In the context of such human insanity, especially in forms of media that depict socio-pathology, like Batman, StarWars, and the Golden Compass, being outdoors helps us reconnect to the spirit that is our own nature. “Nature” means “at its essence” and it also means “our natural environment, Mother Nature.” She is the Mother of “the essence” played out in all the diversity of species of jellyfish, flowers, bugs, trees, cacti, lizards, bears, and bacteria. We reconnect to ourselves when paying attention to Mother Nature because, the essence is each and everyone, it IS our essence. When surrounded by even a low dose of human insanity, which includes the structure of this society, many of us seek a cure.
At this moment, this beautiful girl between 15 and 20 something years old–I am too old to tell now–has quickly stepped into my driveway and grabbed a few of the most gorgeous pink tulips to grow in my garden. She isn’t smiling either. I sensed she doesn’t feel good stealing them. Why is it worth that feeling? This beautiful woman seeking those beautiful tulips… I think “How so many young people feel wounded/changed by a constant evaluation of their beauty. Media teaches us to seek an exterior standard of perfection.
Real beauty, like those tulips, is an awakening force of the heart, because beauty is known in the heart, not the skin. I hope for the girl that stole my tulips, that she feels beautiful today like that. That beauty you see in those tulips is in you. May you know that you can only see the beauty because it is in you. Then the fight can be over. Keep the tulips.
•••• Thank you Gemma and your ancestors who inspire me to these kinds of places.