KAIROS and the way of the warrior February 11, 2012

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” 
― Pema ChödrönThe Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Our ocean is a "bed" with much plastic hiding within it. Much more, everyday.


Recently, I have been feeling that my life is out of my control, or more specifically, whatever I do, no matter how closely I do or do not pay attention to the details of my life, I am just not in control.  Not Ever.  Stuff happens all of the time. A friend’s brother gets a cancer diagnosis, I lose my wallet, I forget the most important thing I needed at the grocery store.  Some stuff, I might have prevented by being more mindful–losing  and forgetting are certainly reminders to slow down.  Other things, like the serious illnesses of those we love, bring us deeply into the vulnerable places in our souls.  And in the middle of all this, we work and love  and get our bills paid as best we can.

A few days ago,within 15 minutes of each other, friends sent me 2 powerful images about all the plastic flowing into our oceans.

The first, pictured above and sent by  Mary Hark, is heartbreakingly beautiful.  The second, of sushi made from ocean plastics sent by Rachael Derello, would be funny, if it just wasn’t true.  But true it is.  True true true.

Because of the similar messages of what our overuse of plastics is doing to us, these images tell me that many people see the plight of our oceans — and the effects it is having on us — and are talking about it, working to educate us in the very best way they can.

Before Christmas while in a book store looking at the “staff picks” I found a wonderful book entitled CROW PLANET: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I have been watching and making crows for over 4 years now, and this book jumped into my hands.  Crows and the way they are adapting to our rapidly changing world are harbingers of the environmental changes around us.  Many of us have crow stories.  In fact, keep your ears open the next time you are outdoors, wherever you are, if you listen closely, chances are you might hear their call.

Here is what Lynn says in her introductory chapter, Crows and Kairos.

“There are two Greek words for time.  One is chronos, which refers to the usual, quantifiable sequential version of time by which we monitor and measure our days.  The other word is kairos, which denotes an unusual period in human history when eternal time breaks in upon chronological time.  Kairosis “the appointed time,” an opportune moment, even a time of crisis, that creates an opportunity for, and in fact demands, a human response.  It is a time brimming with meaning, a time more potent than “normal” time.  We live in such a time now, when our collective actions over the next several years will decide whether earthly life will continue its descent into ecological ruin and death or flourish in beauty and diversity.”

Recycled crow made by a student in my "Crow" workshop last week at Appalachain State University. All of the crows will be a part of my upcoming show there entitled: "Stuff: Where Does It Come From and Where Does It Go."

I do not want the part of me that feels “out of control”  whether it is off my daily life or the environmental distress I see around me, I do not want this part of me to be the part that takes over my world.  Where I live the daffodils are blooming–maybe early, but abloom they are and they are gorgeous.  Their yellow heads are bobbing on the edges of parking lots where I see plastic trash in the form of to-go lids and straws and candy wrappers abandoned  and ignored.

To be a “warrior” as Pema Chodrun describes above, to love the beauty I see around me is a gift of living fully.  To balance this joy of  the ordinary beauty of every day life, with the environmental waste and denial I also see is a job I set my mind to daily.  I pick up what I can and make art out of it.  I continue to use as little “single-use” plastic as I possibly can.

Ultimately, This is what I know. It is not about what “I” do, but what “we” do as a culture and as the people of this earth.  And I know this as well.   Somedays I am a “warrior” and somedays I am overwhelmed by the monumental task of paying attention and  knowing that so much more needs to be done.


Amy Kellum February 12th, 2012

Thank you, Bryant. Balance – working for our environment AND enjoying its beauty.

It’s always about balance, isn’t it?

Thank you.

John Morrison February 18th, 2012

Chronos, this is the ordinary progress of things. It is occasionally disrupted by Kairosis, the revolutionary progress of things. This is when we cashier the stale models of the world we hold, and re-evaluate them in the light of reality which continuously reveals itself to us in new ways.

Over these, we have no control. Recognizing this gives us power over our worlds.

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