Note from Jen: Peter Tóth has been following me for a while on social media so it was a huge honor to have him schlep all the way to London to attend my workshop. He wrote this beautiful post after the workshop. The honor was all mine, I can assure you. I was simply blown away by this, and by him. I will be back in London at Lumi Power Yoga in Hammersmith for another workshop October 10th!
By Peter Tóth.
A re-view of a journey there and back
16-17. February 2015
Last three days (from 13th till 15th February) have been really interesting for me and I am unsure how to describe their magic in words. I feel like I can only miserably fail in attempting to do so, but I will try anyway. Although I’m not a fan of cheesy motivational quotes, I will use one now, it’s from Bob Proctor and it’s actually a good one (and not too cheesy either):
“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.”
So, here’s to attempting the impossible…
On Friday, the 13th, on the way home from work, I mind-travelled back to the moment I learned about Zina Nicole Lahr as it would have been her 25th birthday that day and after reading her essay Contrast And Catalyst (Click to download pdf. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and as far as I know it has disappeared from internet ) for about tenth time I felt the same connection to her as I felt back then (The only difference was, that this time I had a conscious knowledge of who she was and I was desperately trying to figure out why do I feel connected to her and why she occasionally comes to haunt my day dreams with her fragile, aetheric, otherworldly beauty.)
I wanted to celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t know how. (Not long ago I met a girl who told me to fucking forget about Zina and to concentrate on the real life instead. In a way it felt like an insult, like if she didn’t understand that every thought we think is real and that a person can be dead and still be a catalyst, an agent that provokes changes and actions and we should not be judged if we somehow found ourselves attracted to such being. Because what if each life silently continues after it disappears from this world, where we can witness and measure it? It might go unnoticed, unobserved, unsung, but so what? It might as well be, that it is simply us who don’t pay enough attention to what goes around us, after all who knows? … )
In a painful moment of realization that I will never meet her, I sort of promised myself to remember her through creativity. Through manifestation of myself via any act of creating, whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, or a paper modelling. And it was shortly after all this happened that I found another beautiful American, Jennifer Pastiloff. Once again, my moth like personality felt attracted to her flame immediately. It too happened through her writing. But this time it wasn’t as much about what she has written, or how (although its beauty and power is undisputed and I loved everything she has written). It was the courage with which she has written it. The rawness of her essays. The willingness to look the pain in the eye and the humility which shone through her after she came victorious from what must have been exhaustively tiring staring contest. I just love female warriors. I decided I must meet her. And talk to her, like one human being to another. I wanted to see her, not visually, I wanted to witness the poetry of her being.
And soon she pulled a workshop in London and although the yoga bit and the seemingly feminine character of it all scared me, I booked it immediately. That was in November 2014.
“No agenda, no conspiracy, no manipulation. Just work, work, work. The Great Work. It is not a safe place. But it is the safest place that has left for us on Mirrodin.”
~ Shaan, Mirran refugee on The Quiet Furnace
During that time I created this blog, The Quiet Furnace. Finally, after years of trying to come up with the idea of the virtual world, where I could create and manifest myself, I got the name for my domain. A name I loved and that I felt describes my deepest beliefs. Once again I had a reason to write.
So I followed Jen and I began to wonder what it tells about me. It appeared that no one from my friends understood what I felt to her and I started to doubt myself in my silent, almost obsessive, observation of her activities. Although I always believed in trying to tell others about the way we see the world and sharing each other’s stories, it seemed that no one listens. But that is when we have to keep going and believing. When we lose the reason to go further. It is then when we discover the truth behind ourselves. And who we are. The motive behind what we do.
During Christmas I got lost. Totally lost. I suffered from insomnia and everything seemed dark. It was then when I felt like a Void Stalker (if I will ever form a band, it will be called The Void Stalkers). But I was reminded, that not all who wander are lost. So I accepted, that I am just a wanderer.
There were hundreds of quotes I read during January and early February, but they didn’t resonate as much as their creators intended to. I got fed up with them, with all the attempts to tell me to be happy. I, as everyone else, want to be happy. We deserve that, sure. But I don’t believe in some sort of switch that you just turn on and voilà, you’re happy. Although it was said in the workshop I attended and I am going to describe it later on, there’s one thing I would like to tell you right now, it is human and perfectly fine to feel sad for a while every day. Even every single day. It is the contrast between the happiness and sadness that moves us forward. It felt so refreshingly liberating to hear this. That the moment of sadness, each and every day is ok, because it fucking is.
“I was there when they asked him about the refugees. I have seen his hesitation and the pain the question have caused him. But what he said after three days of thinking about it, didn’t surprise me at all. I believe he already knew his fate and that even if he decided the opposite, it would make no difference. It was then when I witnessed his truest leadership and majesty.”
~ Hezrig, The Furnace Chief Designer on Urabrask’s Decree
The day of the workshop finally arrived. Since I am an anti-Valentine and I hate the stereotype that is associated with February the 14th, it felt wonderful to be able to do something random and unrelated on this day. I left Nottingham at 8:50 and the journey to London was nice and peaceful. The event page on Facebook started to fill up with comments from those who were attending and I felt I am becoming a part of the tribe. This might be slightly against me, but I have to confess that I always adored the tribes led by females. Even in Magic The Gathering (the card game I love playing), the only male character I was really able to connect with was Urabrask. It was always the angels and elvish female warriors I felt strongest about. Is that wrong? Well, judge me if you want, I don’t feel bad about it. It seems that when a woman decides to stand up against something with a weapon in her hand, it is a not because she wants to conquer, or enslave, but it is because she wants to protect and preserve. That’s the only fight I believe in. Men and weapons, that’s completely different story if you ask me… And that’s why I love Urabrask, despite his monstrous appearance and terrifying, deadly power he is not an ultimate killing machine. His true task is not to fight and kill, but to work, work, work. Tirelessly and efficiently. I can connect with that.
I arrived to London at 12 o’clock and I managed to find the studio where the workshop was to be held at shortly after 1pm. I decided to spend the time until it starts in a near pub, Hammersmith Ram. Sitting in the comfy leather chair, drinking local ale, I began to feel really alive and on a journey. I forgot how good does that feel! To go out of the door and into the unknown.
This started to feel like a journal entry, rather then an essay (but I am not going to apologize for that dear reader), which is what I was going to write, but I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless. It’s pretty simple story and you might find it boring, but maybe, maybe when you look deep into your own soul you will, same as I did, decide to go somewhere, meet someone and let the life lead you out of your comfort zone. Because it seems, that that’s where the best things are happening.
When I heard Jennifer’s voice walking upstairs into the studio, I had a moment of hesitation. I didn’t want to turn back, but it was then when the reality hit me.
I’m here. It is happening.
And the I saw her and she was every inch as beautiful and charming as she was in her Don’t be an asshole posts. (For those who don’t know me, I have a history of following celebrities and I sort of travel to see them. I think of it as my own little social experiment to prove that underneath all that gold and glitter is the same human fragility as in the rest of us. And when I see that the person, who I admire, or respect, already knows this and shows no superiority over the others, I feel connected and I move on knowing I met a beautiful human being. I guess in a way this is how I train my sense of feeling connected, exposing myself to a situation where I either realize I was following a total idiot, or someone who is truly worth my attention. There seems to be no middle ground.)
It felt good to be able to greet Jennifer as an old friend. I am not saying that that’s what we are, we are friends, at the time of writing this, I feel like I can say we are very good friends, but I fully understand that our lives are different and we won’t be hanging out together frequently. But that’s not the only thing that friends do. They inspire, encourage and motivate each other. Then there’s trust, openness, freedom. And work, work, work. On improving what is. Especially one’s self.
After the greeting with Jen I changed into my shorts and went into the room where whatever it was that we came there for, was going to happen.
It was one thing to greet Jennifer and another thing to meet another forty other women. I surprisingly didn’t panic at all. Although, I was a bit nervous. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. But it felt good. I felt accepted. Although I couldn’t help to feel like a visitor, an observer, rather than the true part of the tribe. I felt like an explorer who discovered a new species of birds and had a rare opportunity to watch them closely, very closely. They danced, they sang, they laughed, they cried. But most of all, they manifested the nature’s strongest message – be who you are and be proud of it.
We all know what the F word is, right? But in this workshop I learned that it actually isn’t Fuck, if that’s what you thought. It is…
F E A R…
We all realized that it is fear that is stopping us from being who we truly are. We also discovered, that fear is not going to go away. It is imprinted onto our hearts and souls. The trick isn’t to fight with fear, the trick is in accepting it and doing things despite being afraid. So the fight I was getting ready for all this time isn’t necessary. It’s consuming, tiring and futile. We cannot conquer our fears. (If someone thinks he, or she can, that’s fine. I don’t think I can, or want to.)
I think giving up fighting the fear will give us more power and energy to focus on life and its beauty instead.
I believe in beauty hunting. I truly and passionately do. Beauty will not come to to you and disclose itself. You have to hunt it. Imagine if a game came to a hunter and lied down solemnly to be shot. That’s bullshit, right? It is the l hunter who must go and find it. In this sense, I am a beauty hunter. It is a tribe I am proud to belong to.
So what else happened in the workshop?
Well, I guess we were telling stories. We were listening to each other and oh, happy birthday was sang to me with Jennifer sitting right next to me, whole room sang me the happy birthday song. That was pretty awesome. Thank you.
I have seen the beauty in everyone around me. Each one of us trusted the rest. When we were to told to write a letter to ourselves from someone who loves us, Jennifer told us, that it will be intense and we might cry. Fuck that, I thought. Boy, I couldn’t be more wrong…
I chose to write this letter as if it was my daughter Anneke who was writing it. Two minutes after my pen touched the paper I was sobbing. So was more than half of the room. I tried do fight it and then gave up. So I cried in front of, or better, amongst forty-fifty other human beings. It felt good. Strange, but good. Relieving.
After the workshop, there was wine. It was all so unconventional. I think Jen’s only rule she politely gave us at the beginning of the workshop was:
“Do what you want, just be human.”
We ended up in the restaurant right next to the studio and we had a little bit of food and some drinks. I made some new friends and with one of them I left and wandered the night streets of London. She accompanied me all the way to the Victoria Coach Station (we managed to get lost, thanks to my ridiculously poor navigation skills and we had to be saved by a Spanish girl to which I am eternally grateful for not missing my coach) and we had a quick beer in the near pub.
I haven’t been capable of understanding the importance of what I have been to, but even in my mildly intoxicated mind I knew I have witnessed beauty. An extraordinary beauty. I normally reserve the word beautiful for children and the fascinating manifestations of nature’s creativity, but I feel like I could actually use it to describe everyone who came to the workshop. It would feel right. Oh yes it would…
“Never let your child come this close to me again Mirran! I have no intention of killing any of you, but I also won’t let any of you to halt even the smallest of my works. We work, we don’t fight. But that doesn’t mean we can’t kill.”
~ Urabrask to unknown Mirran refugee
PS: Thank you to all who turned up. I am glad I could have been part of it. Jennifer, I am not sure if I deserved to be called an angel of this tribe by you, but I will resist my urge to prove you wrong. If that’s what you think and feel, I might as well try to live up to your high expectations of me.
Here’s to attempting the impossible…