Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheese breath

Blue cheesers,

Last night the moon was a dark and empty circle. What happens in you when I speak of darkness, emptiness?

I feel space, freedom. A place from where new things can be born. New breaths.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, one of my favoritest holidays. We're in Singapore, with access to a real live oven. Denali made a pumpkin pie from his grandmother's recipe. And for the first time in my life on November 5th I was wholeheartedly undividedly genuinely glad to be American. As American as pumpkin pie.

I give thanks for all of you.
For all the messages that came in with suggestions on where to find the spirit of water, a few cheeses ago. She is with me now as I write.
For your sweet love after my cheese about the blues, messages I've kept away to reply to with care.

Some of you have told me I should write more, for more people, maybe a book or something. I'm grateful for that too, but until recently I've been resisting it for various reasons.

I'm still trying to escape from a world consumed by reading and writing. I've grown up with it, I'm grateful to it, but eventually I felt trapped by it, stuck in my head, unable to reach my heart. As many of us are, yes? I tried to wean myself off email, then off computers, and I've been fighting to wean myself off writing altogether. Obviously, by the medium in which you're receiving this, I'm fighting a losing battle on all accounts. So here's a thought, maybe I don't need to fight at all.

Which is what led me to say, before Denali and I left Kerala to move to Ahmedabad a couple months ago, that one of the employment options I was open to, even excited about, was writing. And the universe answered by giving us a job writing for the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited. As many misgivings I have about it, not the least of which is that by working for TCGL we're effectively working for right-wing Hindutva maniac Narendra Modi, it has been (and still is. Deadlines are hovering.) an excellent experience, mediated by our angel friend Nirali. And I'm open to more like it. I'm now enjoying opening up to the writer in me.

But you know what? I'm not a writer. I'm a dancer. I sometimes correct that to say performer, or performing artist, to include theatre, but the spirit of me is conveyed best by dancer, plain and simple.

Yesterday I went back to my first blog entry, almost 5 years ago, when I began recording random thoughts, and it says, "I'd like to be a dancer. No. I mean. Really, a dancer. What say the universe about that?" I had forgotten, but I guess that's when I started articulating this to myself. And you, what say you about it?

It seems to me that now is the time to dance, not to write. Maybe when I'm 70 and slowing down (I used to think I didn't want to live past 30, now I'm quite looking forward to being grey and crinkly), then I'll write. Or maybe one of these days I'll finally ground myself enough to get in the way of the machine good and proper without doing harm to myself or others, and then I'll get put away for a while, and then I'll write. Because I know I'm a dancer, but I also want to know that I'm a shanti sainik, I just don't fully trust it fully yet.

And another reason I didn't want to write a book or something was because there's simply too many products in this world already. If I sat down and just read every decent insightful thing that was out there I wouldn't finish in this lifetime. It feels like we're obsessed with productivity and plagued by information overload, frying both our minds and the planet. I don't feel like adding blindly to that.

I don't feel that way about my live dance, but I do about recorded. Which is why I needed convincing to make the Navashwaasam DVD. And as much as I learned from and appreciate this product that my parents and I created together, the 250 or so copies that are now gathering dust in Singapore, Kerala, and Ahmedabad are weighing on me. I'm troubled that our effort and resources have been wasted. It's getting in the way, or, I've let it get in the way of the darkness and emptiness from which my breaths are born.

While I know that some of the 500 copies printed are gathering dust in homes of family and friends (which is fine, they were given with love, not with expectations), and while I've moved so far beyond the DVD that I've put the project to rest and no longer want it to represent my work, I still believe there are people out there who would want and use Navashwaasam, the recording. I want to get those copies out of the dust and into the hands of these people. If, in the process, they can contribute to the costs of making the DVDs, awesome, but at this point that's secondary. But this is an overwhelmingly complex task for people like my parents and me.

Brother Ankur suggested kindly that his mom in Washington could store the DVDs to send to people who requested it, but I don't want to even ask her without knowing where it's going to need to be sent, and if there is even the need at all.

So now, for the umpty third time, I'm asking for your help. Any ideas? Is this even worth it, or should I resign myself to using the DVDs as coasters and get on with my life?

Today is Buy Nothing Day (or tomorrow, depending on where you are. Check out Adbusters or, an effort to resist and balance out our earth-crashing consumerism, represented by day-after-Thanksgiving sales. We're celebrating it, no doubt. So it feels weird to be almost trying to sell something, but I want to believe that the spirit of my effort in fact fits perfectly with the spirit of what we're celebrating today. Again, what say you to that? All of it?

(On a funny sidenote (as if my cheeses don't consist entirely of sidenotes) my dad just walked in, as I was typing the last paragraph, with a bag of groceries. I had told him this morning that today was Buy Nothing Day, but he had forgotten and decided we needed yoghurt, and other stuff came along with it. Denali said food items were allowed. And my dad said that anyway he didn't actually buy anything, because he had forgotten his wallet so he would just pay them tomorrow. He very rarely forgets his wallet, only once in three blue moons, so it's very odd. We decided the gods of Buying Nothing had punished him for trying to buy something, or maybe they were helping him worship them properly. Then he went into the kitchen to put stuff away, and dropped the yoghurt on the floor. It was a big white thick mess. The gods smote him good, it seems. We laughed uproariously, of course.)

Happy Thanksgiving,
Malavika Ammu Mali Emu Tara Mohanan


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