Convicts’ garb is striped pink and white. Though it was at my heart’s bidding that I chose the universe wherein I delight, I at least have the power of finding therein the many meanings I wish to find: there is a close relationship between flowers and convicts. The fragility and delicacy of the former are of the same nature as the brutal insensitivity of the latter. Should I have to portray a convict — or a criminal — I shall so bedeck him with flowers that, as he disappears beneath them, h will himself become a flower, a gigantic and new one. Toward what is known as evil, I lovingly pursued an adventure which led me to prison. Though they may not have always been handsome, men doomed to evil possess the manly virtues. Of their own volition, or owing to an accident which has been chosen for them, they plunge lucidly and without complaining into a reproachful, ignominious element, like that into which love, if it is profound, hurls human beings. Erotic play discloses a nameless world which is revealed by the nocturnal language of lovers. Such language is not written down. It is whispered into the ear at night in a hoarse voice. At dawn it is forgotten. Repudiating the virtues of your world, criminals hopelessly agree to organize a forbidden universe. They agree to live in it. The air there is nauseating: they can breathe it. But — criminals are remote from you — as in love, they turn away and turn me away from the world and its laws. Theirs smells of sweat, sperm, and blood. In short, to my body and my thirsty soul it offers devotion. It was because their world contains these erotic conditions that I was bent on evil. My adventure, never governed by rebellion or a feeling of injustice, will be merely one long mating, burdened and complicated by a heavy, strange, erotic ceremonial (figurative ceremonies leading to jail and anticipating it). Though it be the sanction, in my eyes the justification too, of the foulest crime, it will be the sign of the most utter degradation. That ultimate point to which the censure of men leads was to appear to me the ideal place for the purest, that is, the most turbid amatory harmony, where illustrious ash-weddings are celebrated. Desiring to hymn them, I use what is offered me by the forms of the most exquisite natural sensibility, which is already aroused by the garb of convicts. The material evokes, both by its colors and roughness, certain flowers whose petals are slightly fuzzy, which detail is sufficient for me to associate the idea of strength and shame with what is most naturally precious and fragile. This association, which tells me things about myself, would not suggest itself to another mind; mine cannot avoid it. Thus I offered my tenderness to the convicts; I wanted to call them by charming names, to designate their crimes with, for modesty’s sake, the subtlest metaphor (beneath which veil I would not have been unaware of the murderer’s rich muscularity, of the violence of his sexual organ). It is not by the following image that I prefer to image them in Guiana: the strongest, with a horn, the “hardest,” veiled by mosquito netting? And each flower within me leaves behind so solemn a sadness that all of them must signify sorrow, death.
The Thief’s Journal, Jean Genet, translated by Bernard Frechtman (via commovente)
i’m a person who often wants physical affection but is also very uncomfortable and particular about physical contact
Time spent alone in thought can be positive — a rich environment for personal growth and creativity. Yet, getting “in our heads,” can also be dangerous when we negatively turn against ourselves. There is an important difference between introspection and rumination. Introspection can be a process of healthy self-reflective examination and exploration, all of which are good for our well-being and our brain. Rumination, on the other hand, can lead us to spiral into a vicious cycle of negative thinking that holds us back and hurts us in our lives.
Psychiatrist and mindfulness expert, Dr. Daniel Siegel describes positive time reflecting on yourself as “time in,” a period in which people check in with themselves to see where they’re at emotionally. Dr. Siegel recommends “time in” as one of seven suggested activities on his “Healthy Mind Platter.” This process of self-reflection is important to staying tuned in to our own mind. It helps us to know ourselves, to understand our emotions and to choose how we behave.
The problem, however, is that our mind is not always a safe place. Every person is divided between a healthy attitude toward themselves that is goal-directed and life-affirming and a destructive side of themselves that can be self-critical, self-denying, paranoid and suspicious. This inner critic, also referred to as the “anti-self” or the “critical inner voice” can take over our thinking and lead to rumination. Rumination occurs when we become trapped in a negative cycle of circular thinking. This type of thinking has a strong link to depression and suicide.
When we are in the realistic point of view of our “real self,” we can have positive self-reflection. When we are in the point of view of our anti-self, experiencing thoughts that focus on us as “bad,” we should make a conscious effort to avoid ruminating. There are seven other activities on the Healthy Mind Platter that are far more favorable when in this state, including play time, physical time and connecting time.
Mindfulness meditation is another healthy practice we can adopt that has been proven, not only to improve the quality of our lives, but to possibly extend the length of our lives. It can also reduce ruminative thinking. When we learn to meditate, we learn to choose our thoughts. We are better able to consciously steer away from the directives of our critical inner voice.
At first, this can be quite a challenge, as our critical inner voice has a way of slipping into our thoughts without us even realizing it. We may, for example, be sitting in meditation and start having thoughts toward ourselves like, “You don’t have time for this. You never get anything done. You are so useless. How can you be so lazy? Why can’t you do anything right?” Our critical inner voice might even attack our efforts to meditate or control our thinking. “You’re terrible at this. You can’t even sit still for one minute. You will never be able to relax. You’re such a mess!”
When we learn mindfulness, we gain the power of familiarizing ourselves with our thoughts and our patterns. We can get to know our critical inner voices, and we can start to recognize when these cruel thoughts start to surface. We can then choose to steer our minds away from these thoughts. We can see the thoughts as clouds passing in the sky, yet like a mountain, we can stand solid and allow them to float by without letting them overpower us or influence our behavior.
When we do take time to be mindful and introspective, we must adopt an attitude Dr. Siegel describes as curious, open, accepting and loving (COAL). We can then think about what we want to challenge in ourselves and how we want to differentiate from negative past influences. In this way, we give our lives meaning and direction without falling victim to the inner critic that holds us back and keeps us from achieving our goals.
Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.
Photo by Ashley Driggers.
One cup always ends up being several. One cigarette ends up being a dozen and just as it gets good I’m down to the filter. Before I know it, i’ve made myself sick. Increasingly harder to expand the lungs causing massive discomfort. Hello obsessive nature. The things my mind is doing without permission. The anxiety that leaves a shake and inability to breathe. Keep the hands busy and the mind blank. The gap that seems to widen but I don’t know how to fill. The neverending cycle of pain that I cause others. Subconsciously happening to me. Despair at the thought.