Friday, September 07, 2007



you sound so happy. so energized. even in your fucking text messages you seemed alive (all those exclamation points!!!!) I'd like to take advantage of your state and ask you some questions regarding your last post and some things on my mind.

is change really always good? what if I wake up one day and find that despite my commitment to growth, I have grown into something despicable? what if I become one of Les Grandes Personnes? what if I so accustom myself to change that I cannot settle in and enjoy the depths of mastery? and if there's a line, what does it look like? where do I find it? how do I find it?

and then there's the goldfish, who either jumped out of the water onto the floor and suffocated, or jumped out into the air and then fell back into the water. can we actually ever change? it seems the older I get the more I realize that I don't change that much. it's mostly my willingness and/or ability to express myself that changes. what is fresh and exciting after 28 years might not be after 35 or 42 or (oh god) 82 years. will the eccentricities slowly institutionalize themselves in my character and become impediments to deepening knowledge of self?

please advise. (missing you)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


hey loves,

there are not words to tell you what i have experienced in the last two months. maybe it was my first taste of human potential realized? maybe it was the reek of failure? maybe the feeling of dust that doesn't wash off, of faces breaking into square pixels before my eyes, or willie nelson cooing from inside silver scales piled 25 feet high and meandering down a dirty road, or the smell of beer baked by the sun into hundreds of thousands of hard wood panels spanning 11,000 miles? incidentally, i'm experiencing something like culture shock sitting here at work.

i can't even talk about the tour right now. after a week of hibernation, i went to burning man and had my mind blown out the back of my head. if you haven't experienced it - and i know none of you have - it is impossible to to describe. at least one of you would hate at least part of it. it's a week of not showering, and being covered in playa dust (a playa is an ancient lake bed that is completely dry now, on which absolutely nothing grows or lives). it is also a week of radical self-acceptance, of giving for the sake of giving, of extraordinary works of art and artistry, of relaxing into an effortless flow of time. for me it also meant a whole lot of experimenting, wandering, touching, feeling, retreating from thought, crying and more smiling than even i have ever done in one week.

at one point i was riding my bike on the playa and a little voice popped up in my head saying "start thinking, start digging, there's got to be some struggle, some conflict, something you're doing wrong that you have to right." but there wasn't. i had peace in my mind, and it wasn't because i was ignoring anything, it wasn't because i was intoxicated. i was just peaceful. happy even. it felt so foreign and yet so sweet.

the purpose of this blog is to describe the peculiar state of exile we are all in. it's different for each of us. at burning man i felt involved in human kind. i also felt a palpable absence of something i can't name - a face, a numbness, a stranger, maybe my own limits? i felt like burning man was a refugee camp at the edge of imagination. except that we had all willingly travelled there - we were not longing for a distant homeland, this was our home. maybe that's it. coming home, i long for that place. not the hot sun and pervasive dust, but the place where my absolute self is free to play on its own schedule and where what i give and what i take cannot be quantified on a value scale.

it wasn't perfect. and to be honest, there are whole days i hardly remember, having hardly slept all week. and it's got its own bureaucracy and controversies; it's an imperfect species' attempt at creating a perfect utopia. it is limited by the fact that we have come so far down the road of hatred, greed, loneliness and suspicion that we forget that we are not bound by them or to them.

it seems futile to try to describe this all from the peculiar state i am in - strungout, tired, sad to be back to a path i am ready to passing beyond, and simultaneously eager to do whatever i am doing right now as best as i can. futile. but everything is futile really. so that's no excuse.

i miss you all, oh and Sonal, i can't believe you're getting married. i carried you and Chirag in my heart all week, to bless and protect you on the road ahead. i love you dearly.

love, anne.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In pursuit of astonishment

Disparate Comrades,

"nowadays we are on a course of steady desensitization"

I've been very happy recently. So happy, actually, that I've not even noticed that my mood has changed. (Here I pause to affirm the fact that happiness is not the same as elation and the two should never be construed.) Right now--and I might still be reeling from all this--everything is simply new, different, and uncertain. The specific reason for this is that I've just quit my job and started graduate school full time. I have no paycheck and am totally uncertain how I will pay next month's rent. Nevertheless, I am meeting new people and having totally different experiences and I've already gained the following bit of perspective that I feel I really want to share with you.

You will notice that you feel really good about yourself when you have the emotional time to feel really good about someone else. Now that I'm not mopping up my own self-inflicted grief inside, I have time to say this: I have two friends who just started teaching today. I was so glad to hear that they were embarking on something today. I was happy for them that they had started something new. And part of it was because I was too, but it really would be different if all my friends were miserable right now. I want very much that my friends are happy.

I was also very happy to have all of you in one room (bar) not long ago. It was important that we all met together once. I think it's still important to meet in person, even if we are scattered here and there by chance and this country being absolutely enormous.

My sister has a little niece, who's a neat little lady. I'm super glad that she'll grow up with good parents. I don't think I said that last I was visiting.

Anyway, people are really awesome. And people from everywhere are awesome. And I wish that more people really understood that.

The second thing is about learning. In order to learn well, you have to be engaged in what you're learning. If you aren't engaged, you won't put energy into learning and you will, of course, not learn much or only what you have to learn. That's much worse than making a mistake and no way to learn anything at all. In order to be engaged, however, you must have some sort of reaction. It doesn't have to be a positive reaction: you could learn from frustration and being challenged. It's a bit of a chore that way, but it can lead to serious motivation. It could be excitement, or a more visceral reaction, a physical reaction. It feels good to learn this thing. It feels good to exercise this part of my mind, or my being. But it's not easy to be in a state like this--it's easier to be sarcastic and bitter, to turn your nose up because you already know that, to show off or develop a parallel agenda. Sometimes it takes nothing short of astonishment to snap out of that way of being. I've noticed this kind of process has taken place recently, making me suddenly realize how I've been for so long. It's like, Anne, when Naeem talked about that one moment when the goldfish jumps up into the air and realizes that she's been in the water all this time. So, I've promised to let myself be astonished as often as possible. (This one has great side effects.)

The last one I kind of already mentioned--in fact it's been a thread all the way through this. Change is essential for growth. Everything mentioned above is predicated on change. Every change is like a miniature version of the goldfish scenario. The Goldfish Principle states that "You can't fully understand where you are until you're somewhere else." There are many layers of meaning to this, which layers require more space and time than is currently available to explain. Suffice it to say here that, along any semantic trajectory you may chose on or through said layers of meaning, the concept is that it is simply not possible to give full context to your present position while you occupy it (whether or not it's possible to give full context at all is debatable, but irrelevant). You must change in order for context to be lent to your previous position. This gives rise to such poetic paradoxes as "you don't know yourself until you change" and is related to "you can't listen if you're talking (or thinking about what to say)."

I won't get into all the ways you can change your routine without throwing in the towel, I'm assuming we're above a pep-talk here. These are still things worth consideration and serious questions like, "what makes me happy for my friends?" and "when was the last time I was astonished by something?" If the answers to those sorts of questions yield little, CHANGE SOMETHING. It could be anything; talk to someone new, start playing the tuba, whatever.

This is probably my first really positive post, but I hope it won't be my last. There's tons to be concerned about, but we shouldn't forget this kind of stuff. I wish for all of you the following things: good sleep, laughs, and lovely dreams.