Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a broad topic we’ll call originality*.
*Known to my monsters as “you’re a giant copycat.”
There are so many facets, from the sociological to the spiritual, but right now I’m focusing on one small part of the personal.
Learning so much from one personSpecifically, what does it mean to me to have one teacher (Havi Brooks) who has completely transformed so much of my thinking, doing and being?
It’s kind of overwhelming, really, the way being in her orbit is just so much more interesting (not to mention less painful, more exciting, and just downright better) than almost anything else that’s ever happened to me.
Sometimes in wanting to dive into the beauty and depth of it, I grasp the wrong things, the superficial concepts or the packages they come in. I start to ask “what would Havi do?” instead of “what would Rhiannon do?”
And then my monsters get scared and project crazy distortions about the extent to which that is happening. “You have to get rid of your entire blog because it’s a rip off of Havi’s!” “You can’t talk to anyone again unless you think of something to say that hasn’t been influenced by your experiences on Rally!”
I have always been this person. She was waiting to come out of me. Being at Rally or Stompopolis is exciting because it’s about meeting me. It’s about finding these things in me. Havi provided a doorway, and for that I have so much heart-bursting gratitude. But it was a doorway for me from me to me. It was not a doorway to her. She has her own doors.
Wanting to be Havi comes from fear. The cycle of “is it kosher to use this word? Can I borrow this concept? Is this too much like her?” is just fear. The details don’t matter. What matters is dealing with the fear. The rest falls into place.
What if I took all that heart-bursting interest in her and the things she does, says, thinks, experiences, (interest I am always trying to squelch, by the way) and I turned it in on me? Where are the stories, thoughts, and experiences of Rhiannon?
Why, they’re at the Rhiannonmoot
Because there is sparkle and magic here. My sparkle and magic.
If we congregate the many Rhiannons, past, present and future, and the many aspects of Rhiannon and possible Rhiannons, and we gather together in some mysterious dark forest under the light of the full moon to tell the stories of Rhiannon, the loves and pains and potentials of her…
Well, here’s the first part that comes up:
2004. The Dominican Republic. Sitting on Sarah’s bed in her first host family’s house, hiding from curious eyes and Spanish words for just a second.
Though the Spanish is there, of course. Rhiannon’s whole being is on fire with words and connections. New grammar, connections, delineations…
She’d have learned a foreign language long ago if she’d know that it wasn’t simply a matter of learning the words one to the other mesa=table. Oh no. A table is subtly different than a mesa. The verb “to get” doesn’t exist at all. Try translating “que lo que?” into English (Hint: it doesn’t mean “what’s up?”). She is swimming in subtle differences, mysteries, new sounds…
Sarah is surrounded by an aura of cool, and Rhiannon is slowly, reverently sifting through her things, soaking up this difference too. A postcard from Italy, a beautiful journal with all Sarah’s favorite quotes, an illustrated picture of a bird (though maybe a leaf).
On the dresser is a book: Lolita. Sarah hasn’t read it, mentions offhand that Rhiannon could borrow it. As Rhiannon has already read and reread all the 10 books in English she brought, she slips it into her bag. Was there a hum of excitement? She couldn’t have known.
Later that evening, idly scratching mosquito bites under the light sheet, too hot to sleep, Rhiannon slips into the world of Nabokov. The words of Nabokov. Oh the words.
Such power and sensitivity. Where every other author she’s read (and there are many) crawls upon the ground, Nabokov is a bird in flight. Whoever knew the English language could be twisted so delightfully, could evince so much sheer pleasure in the sounds alone?
But it’s not just the sounds! Twisting meanings. Sneaky subtext. Playful, wicked, poetic, and tragic. Rhiannon has been swept up and danced around and set down again topsy-turvy, gasping for breath.
This. This! THIS!
She dove headfirst
This was how Rhiannon met Nabokov. How she dove headfirst into all his writing. Years and years reading, rereading, underlining and analyzing the words of Nabokov. She memorized entire passages. She learned Russian to get closer to him.
And then quietly, he slipped away. No more late-night trysts. No more diving into words together. A box on a shelf of memories, filled with magic, but rarely opened. Does she even own a copy of Lolita these days? She might have given it away.
And thus concludes the story of Rhiannon and Nabokov. For now, anyway.
Holding Your Own Moot
(Though it may be a colloquium, symposium, assembly, audience, hearing, meeting, presentation, or something else entirely, of course. I spent a lot of time with a thesaurus today.)
Whether or not you have one particular teacher, there are a lot of bright shiny people out there. And there is always the choice to use their light to spark your own, or to chase their light as if it’s the only one in the world.
Where are your stories? Where is your light? A celebration for, of, and about you! You!
I am not receiving: Comparisons between me and Havi, including reassurance that I am not like her.
I would love to receive: Yays, reflections/echoes, celebrations of you!, and things you are experiencing having read this.
So Much Love,