July - Christopher Luna

posted Jul 29, 2011, 10:03 AM by Rob Pollock
Urban Abundance:

What does abundance mean to you?
What does an urban landscape filled with abundance look like?

Christopher Luna says:

Things do not always go as planned. It can be frustrating, not knowing where the path will lead, and I confess to an occasional desire to see the script ahead of time. One can stew for years, blaming his misfortune on everyone, refusing to take responsibility for one’s own shortcomings and missteps. One can hold a grudge forever, waiting for an apology that may never come. Decades whoosh past, and opportunities are missed as the self righteous and self-pitying fool waits for vindication.

Fortunately, there is another choice. Open your eyes and acknowledge the beauty that surrounds you. Appreciate what you have, and express your gratitude to those whose mere presence improves your life. Begin to see that it is what you contribute rather than what you receive that matters.

When you’re stuck in a place that you did not choose, and forced to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation, you have two choices: give up or imagine abundance. This is where I found myself when I first landed in the ‘Couve: broke, thousands of miles from family and friends, unable to gain any traction with an unprofessional and passive-aggressive journalism culture, homesick, and seriously pissed that I had agreed to move to what I saw as the wrong side of the country.

I had a great life in New York. I was working as an editor, in a job that had the potential to lead to bigger and better things. I had many connections who could help me succeed. Then the bottom dropped out. My wife informed me that she was moving to Washington State with our infant son, and that she would be going with or without me. I knew that this was a bad idea, but I loved her, and still saw us as a unit. Even though I was undermined and disrespected daily, I did not yet realize that she did not have my best interests at heart.

So I made the journey, and it was indeed disastrous. I was out of work for nearly five years, my marriage ended, and I found myself all alone in a strange place where people are averse to saying what they feel. What was I to do?

I focused on my son, whose laughter and wide eyed openness made my moping seem foolish. I needed to emerge from the fog of seeing my Plan laid waste in order to be a father, and in order to reclaim my agency. I needed to stop being angry and live my life. My son Angelo’s love saved me.

I also began doing my part to create a poetry scene in town. Over time this chauvinistic New Yorker came to see that Vancouver is a vibrant and exciting community of artists who do not need validation from the hipper city across the river. When I first arrived in 2003, Vancouver seemed boring. Over time the artists in town began talking to each other, and engaging in interdisciplinary collaboration, and this has made a huge difference. Vancouver residents no longer rely on Portland for their culture and entertainment. We have made a name for ourselves.

So many people have given me the strength to carry on, and inspired me to create: Leah Jackson, for her fierce aesthetic, and her tireless support for the arts; Mel Sanders, for providing poets with a venue, and devoting significant shelf space to local writers; Lori Loranger, for demonstrating that when one is brave enough to imagine an alternative to mainstream attitudes and behaviors, one’s children are better off for it; Anni Becker, for her desire to help others, and her singular photographic vision which so gorgeously documents the Vancouver scene; Jim Martin, for his gentle lessons on life and biology, and for showing us that it is never too late to give poetry a try; and finally, my life partner, Toni Partington, whose work bears witness to sociopolitical disaster and gives voice to the voiceless, and whose love, thoughtfulness, and selflessness have shown me that my dream of true partnership with a woman who willingly supports who I am and what I do was possible. I could go on.

After nearly a decade in Vancouver, how could I continue to believe that it’s all over for me, that there is nothing here for me? The town is like a perpetually blossoming flower, and I am fortunate to be among its residents, who are truly beautiful and unique individuals.

If you feel stuck, visualize the world as you would like it to be. Think of all those who love you and inspire you. Realize that if they believe in you, you could at least try believing in yourself. Express your appreciation to those who mean something to you. Turn away from naysayers and gossips. Resolve to walk away from the computer screen and go outside. Get hip to the beauty that surrounds you. Walk the streets of your sleepy little ghost town, and if you happen to see another human being, open your shy lips to address them.

Christopher Luna

Poet, Editor, Teacher