Practice in the Shadows: Bringing YOGA Into the Criminal Justice System
Leave Us Without a Voice - Speaking for My Brother, Who Can't
Facing the Truth
We're All Gonna Die
Ritual and Activism
Lying Like Hell and Other Fictions
Praying for the Apocalypse
Jewel Center of Interest is The Eye Within the Eye
I thank Jack Kerouac for his Belief & Technique for Modern Prose, a “list of essentials” as Jack called it, written in a letter to his poet friend Allen Ginsberg back in the ’50s. My dad gave it to me when I was 15 and going crazy with the chaos that comes with adolescence. Kerouac’s list became the muse for my very first tattoo that I just got on my 18th birthday. It’s #24 on the list, and says, “No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience”.
Three key words in there are ‘fear’ and ‘shame’ and ‘experience’. I have fear because I have secrets, and shame for fearing them. If someday I should let go and be cured of fear and shame, I think I could recover a bitbut I’m not there yet. Some experiences have run so deep down that I cannot even look at them straight on. The pushing, the screamingat my father, my mother, my heartbreaker“forget me, leave me, nothing matters, let me go ... die … but still love me…”. Some experiences, though useful and life-changing, are unpleasant company to keep in conscious memory. So they play in the background, like a skipping record or dream, and I see all the places I fell still and rigid, or where I would change itif only I could go back. But I can’t go back. I have kept things so stored, so buried, boxed away for so long that they have eaten holes in my memory ... blank spots.
How incredible these human emotionsfear, shameand all because of previous experience. It consumes a lot of my time, every day. I’ve done some mean things in the past I’m not proud of, and I know it holds me back emotionally.
Rationally, I ask, why should I fear or feel any shame about actions that seemed right at the timebut turned out completely fucked up because I was completely fucked up at the time? But when my emotions kick in, they kick the ass of my rationality.
It’s hard living with fear and shame. I envy those light-hearted creatures who share this world with me, but I’m not one of them. And won’t be any time soon.
In high school I had a teacher who told me that the definition of crazy was doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I think she’s right. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) And so now, trying to not be crazy, I am doing a few things differently, and hoping for a different result.
Which leads to the fourth key word in my tattoo. ‘Dignity’. No fear or shame in the dignity of my own experience. It’s tattooed in my own handwriting across my shoulders so I will forever keep that message close to me.
Here’s Jack Kerouac’s list of essentials, see if any of these crazy ideas sticks to your mind, or ends up tattooed on your body.
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
Asia Kindred Moore lives in Salem, Oregon, where she works as a barista at the Coffee House Cafe downtown. Asia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Site Updated Fall '07