Image from Orphan Wisdom website

00:03:00 Mistakes driven learning

00:07:00 Awe and mystery

00:11:00 Crisis and choice

00:15:00 Giving away your best stuff, wisdom and dying

00:19:00 Leaving room for others

00:22:00 Suffering and being a burden

00:28:00 Grief, practice and love

00:36:00 Regrets and beliefs



Stephen Jenkinson:



Nights of Grief & Mystery Tour:

Nights of Grief & Mystery


Link to 1st Interview with Stephen: Understanding How Things Have Become as They Are



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Transcript (please excuse all errors)

Olivia Clementine: I’m so grateful to have you here and your new year begins today.

Stephen Jenkinson: That’s right. I’m launched into the 70th year. Well, it’s not till 10 something tonight, I think, but we’ll call it close.

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. And I heard that prior to coming here, prior to coming to England, you were harvesting garlic.

How has agriculture influenced your way of viewing reality?

Stephen Jenkinson: I think the, the language of influence is a bit ephemeral, to be honest. I mean, I would call these things presence, or presences. Not influences per se, you know. The word influence suggests something like a, a smudge or a stain on the clothing that can come out. But a presence can’t really come out. Right?

So it’s more like that. I’ve been on the farm for twenty five years, so I wasn’t born to it. And so I had to continue to learn in a desperate fashion, of course, which means mistake driven learning. Which tends to be the one that stays with you. You know, the, the accomplishment based learning is a joke, really.

It just doesn’t have staying power at all. The first taste of adversity, and it doesn’t really hold, you know. But as to the quality of the presence well, the ground really doesn’t care about your opinions. It’s not influenced by them, it’s, it can be on the receiving end of them, sadly. But I, I suppose to choose amongst all the possibilities, that’s the one, that the, the ground is not hearkening after my take on things, yeah. So then, that, those, those views, they just, take their minor, scaled.

role in things when you’re at the, at the farm. Mostly what you’re doing is you’re watching. And the ground doesn’t mind being watched. Being learned after, you could say. So that’s what we call it there. We call it watching the farm channel. Just to make a joke of it. But it’s mostly, it’s not all kinds of intervention, you know.

It’s mostly paying attention to the outcome of your intervention. Of your grand plan, of your happenstance, move. And if you are quiet enough, and you’re still enough, then most of the consequences are available to you. But you have to have a certain, you don’t have to have willingness, but you have to have the kind of backbite of defeat, that you’re not prevailing, that you’re not the master of the proceedings. If you have that, you know, these are livable defeats I’m talking about. They’re, there’s a few which we could get to, which are palpably on the edge of, not livable. Those are not the ones I’m talking about, but the, the you know, the hard, the daily hardness of things.

They belong on a farm. And the ground reinstates these things for you. So it’s a beautiful defeat. Because you may swell, you know, you may be interviewed one too many times. And you, you start listening. Honestly, I was about to say something self effacing. I can’t in good conscience say it because I’ve never done that.

I’ve never listened to myself. And been, and swelled accordingly. Really, I haven’t. I work a lot at the, in the interview situation. I have pride in doing so. It is a privilege of a sort. It marks time. You know, you don’t, you don’t get it back.

It can be an extremely bad wait in an airport. That’s what an interview could be. You don’t want to do that to yourself. You know, turning it into a generic thing where you’re just crossing your legs, one and then the other and then the other and then the other. But you’re doing that with your opinions instead.

But I prefer the idea that this is a one and only time that you’ll never recover. So you want to try to plant yourself in it. So all of these are ground based understandings, I think. That’s what I got at the moment, given I’ve just come off the road. I had a show last night. I’m a little ill. And we got food poisoning.

Ten or so days ago.

Olivia Clementine: Oh, I’m so sorry. Yeah. I should say that. You’re on tour here in the UK. You’ve so kindly squeezed me into the one moment, and then you continue on tour. And so we’re here in Devon.

Stephen Jenkinson: We do, yeah. Actually, we have to go from here to a, to a cemetery.

Olivia Clementine: Oh, okay.

Stephen Jenkinson: A local cemetery where a young lad I know, knew and know, was interred this spring, I think.

Late in the fall, early in the spring. I’ve forgotten. I wasn’t here for it. That’s why I’m not sure of the season. But I wrote something for his for his funeral, which they… Which they enacted here at the river side. Not, I don’t mean literally here, but by this river. And then the green funeral zone is just up this way. 20 minutes or so. Then a rendezvous with somebody I haven’t seen in a long time. And then crash landing. Try to find the bed somehow. And then tomorrow another show. And teaching all day the following day. And so on. It’s hard. But it’s not a hardship. They have the quality of annoyances, which if you let them flare, can become catastrophic.

But this is your discipline, this is why this works.

Olivia Clementine: None of us are all the time feeling 100 percent and life is going accordingly, and you’re such a teacher of that. I’m curious about these two words I’ve heard you use often in this context of awe and mystery and they are so underused in a full way.

And I’m wondering how those come into play of us truly engaging in the awe and mystery in this kind of ordinary, everyday kind of experience.

Stephen Jenkinson: You don’t engage with awe. Awe wins every time. Right? So what you’re really is, you’re, you’re engaged in a kind of overwhelmingness. See, so you can choose to

You can choose the, the, the moment of the encounter, but thereafter, you don’t have many choices. It’s like meeting somebody for the first time. You can choose to meet them, but thereafter, there’s an alchemy that’s set up as a consequence of the choice, and you don’t get to keep choosing. You know, you’re off and running, so to speak.

That’s what awe is, I think. Awe is a kind of you’re on the receiving end of something that you can’t elect the end of. You have to obey it too. You can be odd by the end of something, not just the onset, right? All manner of rupture in the plan. They’re all, they all can be awe-inspiring, but you know, oftentimes the word awe-inspired seems to suggest something of a, that there’s pleasure involved, invariably. Or some kind of satisfaction involved. Or a great fascination that you’re proud of. That’s, I don’t think so. No, the awe of the kind that we’re talking about now is not interested in your, it’s like the ground, you could say. Not that interested in your impressions about the awe.

You know, it moves, it moves on past those things. So what was the other word? Mystery. Well, mystery is not a gap in your understanding. I mean, that’s the best, you know, fridge magnet way to say it. It’s not a gap in your understanding. It’s the rest of your understanding. The part that doesn’t feel like it is understanding.

Because you, you’re trafficking the notion that if you understand something, then there’s positive upside that manifests immediately. That’s like thinking that if you work on yourself, you’ll be pleased. That’s, that’s hilarious. You know, you get to know yourself better. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to like what you find.

You know, or, I mean, reassured, be reassured that the reason you haven’t worked on yourself until now might be a good reason. You maybe should have some caution about proceeding. In other words, you can be a mystery to yourself without, without there being a terrific and grotesque downside to it. But there’s a certain element, I think, in being alive that remains mysterious the longer you’re engaged in it.

It deepens in mystery. So it is a kind of understanding that’s not full of content. And, and certainties and things of that kind. It’s very thin on that stuff, but it’s not clueless. You know, being, being apprised of the mystery doesn’t leave you clueless. But it doesn’t, it doesn’t geld the mystery either.

Olivia Clementine: Is it a choice to have those experiences? To be overwhelmed in awe?

Stephen Jenkinson: Well, you can go through the motions of choosing, but it’s much more in the, in the spirit of a crisis, I think. So the word crisis, etymologically, is very helpful in a moment like this. Literally it refers to a place where two things cross that were previously held in some kind of contradistinction or separateness or whatever.

And certain things have transpired now where they overlap crossroads being the obvious example. And it simply means, well, there were, there were tendencies that up until now you could maintain at a distance and not have to choose from among them. But the crisis is on means the time of choosing is upon you and the choices are fewer than you thought they were.

So you get the sense of deep inconvenience in the matter of why we attribute so much grim portent to crisis, like climate crisis, for example. But it just, I shouldn’t say just. Principally, the climate crisis now is not so much a condition of climate. It’s a condition of our paralysis around choosing.

To stop contributing to it. I think if you put the emphasis there, it doesn’t make us the center of anything. Except, we are the engineer in the machinery of catastrophe. So, I don’t know if, you know, where things stand. I’m not that guy, but I have a fairly clear idea that our continued failure To emphatically choose against the current regime is the principal attribute that allows the regime to continue.

Yeah, and that’s a mystery too. Like, how bad does it have to get? So that’s what I mean. Mysteries, having come, come to them, don’t just give way. They’re not like an easy time in the back seat, not in the least. They’re, you know, you come up against this, what does it take thing. How much information does there have to be?

How much alertness, how much anxiety? The answer is, it’s not a question of degree. It’s a question of, are you still married to the notion that you get to choose these things? Or do you not recognize there’s only one choice? You have to make it better. Everything else is failure. That sounds intolerant. It is intolerant.

That’s where we are.

Olivia Clementine: Thank you. And, and… A couple other words I just want to mention. I feel… It’s in some way related to this. Is gratitude.

Stephen Jenkinson: Oh yeah.

Olivia Clementine: And… I’ve also heard you talk around the topic of becoming, less self important. And tied to that, wisdom. Like… The two areas you, you know, you specialize in often are being real about our connection with our most prized possession, our body, through dying.

And then also this releasing our wisdom before we die. And I feel like both of those feel very connected to committing to being a part of. the crisis. And, and I’m wondering from you where wisdom stands right now. Like, what, when you think of wisdom, how do you perceive it in our world right now?

Stephen Jenkinson: When I was in the death trade, I had to get hip on this question very quickly. I didn’t have a lot of allies in doing so, I have to say. So it was a kind of self initiated project. And I realized that this, the concentration of specialization, technological and technique specialization.

In other words, all the medical traits. It was very understandable, and I’m, I am the beneficiary of this. I wouldn’t be alive were it not for certain interventions when I was four years old, for example. So I’m not talking about both sides of my mouth here. But I can tell you this. Every place that has a specialty called end of life care has death phobia too.

Hmm. I wonder why. Well, because the notion of specialization is one of the principal problems we have. You know. You shouldn’t have a circumstance in which certain people are… Not skilled. Skilled is not a problem. But the concentration of skill beggars the notion that it’s supposed to be democratically distributed.

Not evenly distributed necessarily, but at least dispensed. And then the people are responsible for what they do with that. But I never heard anybody opine in this fashion when I was in the death trade. Not one time. So I realized it was my personal responsibility to democratize the wisdom that was available to me.

And the way I did it was to oblige dying people to die. Not encourage them. Not make it easier for them. Oblige them. Make them die. This sounds quite ominous when you put a little oomph into the idea. Until you realize that left to their own devices, most of them wouldn’t have done so. And didn’t. You see.

So, the notion of wisdom was entirely unavailable to most people who were dying. The dispensation of wisdom, in a generic sense, not to talk about death related things now, to my mind is the working definition of what tradition is. A working culture principally is dispensing its wisdom. It’s spending it.

It’s not preserving and laying it up somewhere. You know, it’s forever watching it walk out the door. And so I would say that often to people who are dying. I’d say, yeah. So you’re waiting, right? For the lawyer to come in. You got the will thing, yeah. So what, you’re going around with your masking tape and your sharpie.

And so and so gets this and so and so gets that. And you’re just kind of relishing the, the vision. of them all, either deeply pleased or a little bit kind of stymied as to why you give them that thing or only this much money, or whatever it is. You want a real thrill, do it now. There’s your thrill. And not just for you.

Watch all your stuff walk out that door. That’s the dispensation of wisdom. Your best stuff, is gone. That’s what makes it your best stuff. You still hold on to it? It’s probably not your best stuff. Oh, you overly value it. But that doesn’t mean it’s your best.

Olivia Clementine: What is that turning point for a person in their life when they have something worthwhile to give away?

Stephen Jenkinson: Well, you always have something worthwhile to give away. It’s not related entirely, the worthwhile quality is not related entirely to your valuing of it. So there might be things exceedingly useful to other people, which are mundane and generic to you. This is not just a question, you know, it’s somebody’s, what’s this thing?

One person’s ceiling is another person’s floor. It’s not that. It’s not what I mean. I mean, certain things come your way in that sense you’re entrusted with them. But whether you understand the valence and the consequence of these things is something else. So you might be the kind of inadvertent janitor for a particular, or a custodian for a particular skill or okay, better I can give you an example that just occurs to me.

So I had an indigenous friend of mine and he brought his, his daughter’s boyfriend, that’s, that’s the relationship, over to visit because he knew that we were doing all kinds of so called traditional things. Crafts not indigenous traditional. Oh, sorry, I lost track. I almost said North America and went like this.

But indigenous to places I’ve lived and, and come from and so on. Hide tanning and, you know, these basic kind of hand destroying work. And he brought the kid over because the kid was, quote, interested. He wasn’t interested. He was. If you listen to him, and it was impossible not to, he was he was, he was masterful in all these things.

He’s about 20. So the likelihood is that this is probably overstated. But I just watched my friend who brought him, watch him tolerate this self, self possession, self absorption and so on. Then I realized, ah, he’s brought him over here so that I might have a word with him. that he won’t have with him because of the relationship.

So I took a chance, that might be it. I said to the kid, You know, you know one thing that happens when you’re great at everything? He kind of looked at me like, Yeah, it’s something you don’t intend. When you’re great at everything, there’s no room for anybody else. Because you’re doing it all. So, if you want to talk about tradition, and traditional stuff and wisdom and everything, Even if you’re good at stuff, don’t do all the stuff you’re good at.

Leave some of it on the shelf. And, some of it will have to fill in. And that’s how it moves around. It doesn’t move around because, because you’re so brilliant. Like that.

Olivia Clementine: Yeah, it’s really powerful. I’m thinking too of suffering. We’re just gonna go do all of the

Stephen Jenkinson: Yeah. The big ones.

Olivia Clementine: Yeah, I guess I’m curious about suffering. ’cause obviously it’s, it’s also another area that’s woven into all of these things and, and that’s a part of our lives, whether we want it to be or not.

Living and dying.

And are you

Stephen Jenkinson: in fact not wanting it to be? It is part of it, isn’t it?

Olivia Clementine: Well, tell me, so this is what I wanna hear about. Like, do you personally feel like you have a certain invitation to suffering in your life? Like you? Is there something like, it’s important for us to invite it?

And if that’s the case, how do you propose that invitation be?

Stephen Jenkinson: Yeah, I think I know the sensibility that you’re after by using the word invite.

The notion that you just get to, you let your, your life, some aspect of your life is a swinging door. And you just get to decide whether it swings in or whether it swings out. And you’re just that person. That’s who you are. And you have these, these, God given or self administered capacities, you know.

So, suffering is coming. Suffering came.

Do what you want with your door, but splinters will be the first consequence of holding on too strong to keep it out, or being too goofball on the notion of letting it in. You don’t let in suffering. The question that this question refers to is how shall you be given that suffering is now here?

That’s a different quality. That’s not a question of you’re the proprietor, you know. You’re kind of, I don’t think you’re an innkeeper and suffering is a visitor. I think suffering fundamentally is, is an understanding. That you know that the whole works is bigger than you wish it was. Until it’s smaller than you wish it was.

There. There’s a line in the show that we’re using right now. It’s a meditation on stillness. And three doors away through I say something like, So you pray for clarity. That’s all. And you get it, and it’s too much, oh God. So you pray for mercy instead, that’s all. And you get it, and it’s not enough, oh God.

So you pray for clarity instead, and on it goes. And I’m dollying back from the microphone so the voice is falling away, but the incantation remains. And the last words in that little part of the thing is, and so you pray. But you’ve got to be very alert to the, the end game of your particular petition. Is it that there be no sorrow?

Is that it? Is that where sorrow comes from? The fact that there is some? Or could it be that sorrow finds no place, and so in a, in a kind of, feral fashion. When I’ll change the word to suffering here. In a pharaoh fashion, suffering takes over the whole house, because it didn’t get a chair.

It’s not, it’s not in the cards that it be that way, but it more often than not seems to be. So, you need a lot of training, a lot of education, not a lot of insurance policy against it, but a genuine capacity to recognize its place. You know, a very good example from the death trade. People would say fairly routinely, towards the end, that they wanted to die now.

Why do you want to die now? Well, because I don’t want to be a burden. Bingo. And that’s the single most manifest plea around euthanasia, was that one. I don’t want to be a burden. And I would say, too late. Too late not to want to be a burden. It’s already happened. What do you mean by being sick? No way before that.

You know, you’ve been burdensome. You know, most of the times you didn’t even know it. So, it’s a rough ride. When you realize you’ve completely miscalculated. You’re picturing somebody wiping your ass. That’s what you’re picturing as, like, burdensome beyond endurance. And it turns out it’s much less spectacular, not that that’s a great spectacle, but it’s much less eventful, your burden, that you vector out inadvertently.

So if you have a body, you know, suffering’s inevitable, isn’t it? And if you agree to be cognizant of another human being in close proximity, suffering will ensue. Other things too. It’s not a grim thing, it’s just inclusive. It’s part of the deal, you know. So the question is, how good shall you be at accommodating yourself to the deal?

Not suffering or no suffering. That’s not, you don’t get that choice. But clinging to that choice tips the scales, eventfully, in a certain direction.

Olivia Clementine: And, and, speaking of your band name, The Nights of Grief and Mystery. The Nights of Grief and Mystery.

I’ve heard you speak of the necessity of having a continual experience of grief, this continuous wail during this time.

What are your thoughts in terms of grief and suffering and how do we, how do we meet that force, meet the force of grief?

Stephen Jenkinson: Well, grief is a practice, I think.

I don’t think it’s an experience. If it were, it would be kind of predictable. For example, think of the famous law firm called Grief and Loss. You hear that referred to all the time. As if they’re joined at the hip. As if one invariably induces the other. But I was there. That’s not what happens. There’s nothing inevitable about grief spinning out of a grief soaked circumstance.

Nothing. If you’re disinclined to grief, if you’re illiterate where grief is concerned, it ain’t happening. You could be miserable, you could be certainly depressed. All the despair, the cap, you know, kind of industrial strength D words can all come up. But, but grief, grief is I think finally an understanding.

We’ve kind of alluded to it a little bit here already. Grief is an understanding. That life entrusts you with. It could be that entrustment. That’s not a word. That entrusting. That could very much look like affliction. It could. You have to decide. It could be affliction. It could be assignment. You have to decide.

Well, you do decide. Your failure to decide is a decision too. But, I mean, I, I think grief is not, you know, at the risk of sounding formulaic, which is, I’m not a fan, but there are some recognizable points on the compass. What’s grief’s relationship, let’s say, to love? A lot of people would think love is the antidote to grief. It’s the pushback for grief. It’s the Cancelling out, or the evening up, where grief is concerned.

So you know I’m probably going to say, no. It’s not. They’re not opposites. They’re unidentical, twin ish beings. And the best way I’ve been able to figure it out, again at the risk of sounding clever, is this.

Grief is a kind of love. I don’t think anybody would really contend with that. Grief. You’d have a hard time imagining grieving over a circumstance that you didn’t have a rather powerful investment in, in some way or other, right? Romantic, or familial, or existential, or whatever it is.

Yeah. Grief is a love you have for that which is passed from view, let’s call it. But love, love is the grief that you have for that which is not yet done so.

Grief is a kind of love, sure, but love is grieving, because in the act of doing so, you have, willingly or otherwise, glimpsed the end of what you would propose to be ennobled by. See, very counterintuitive. And so the notion is that the more you… The stronger, the harder they’ll choose your adjective, you, you love, the more grief will be thwarted, in actual fact, the more you double down on what we’re talking about, the more likely it is that grief will be an early and permanent resident in your granny suite, in your heart, you see.

Yeah. So that’s the way I describe it’s belonging. But none of these things happen because I say some clever things like this and people go, Oh, okay, great. And then the next time it comes around, because you don’t recognize it by doing that, you recognize it by the fight, you know, by the refusal, by the collapse, by the, you know, and these are not all catastrophically born things.

Grief doesn’t always come with catastrophe. It can ride the waves of very subtle. Realizations. Like, oh here’s a, this is going to seem picky oon compared to some of the other ones. But some, not that many years ago. Oh, maybe it is now. But anyway, I’ll pretend it’s not that long ago. That I was, you know, I was trying to read something.

And kept doing this. I think it was one of those godforsaken shower things in the yeah, sorry. Shampoo things in a container, right? And the printing is like insanely small on those things, right? So I’m in the thing and the water and all that, the steam, and I’m going, Jesus Christ, is this shampoo? Is this conditioner?

What the fuck is this? And I can’t make it out, you know. And so I finally, I give up whatever I was. I try to go by viscosity, what was more likely to be what was in the thing. And anyway, you know, crawl out of the whole circumstance. And somewhere in there I realized, son, you couldn’t read that because the writing was so insanely small, though it was.

You couldn’t read that because there’s vapor in the air and therefore. You couldn’t read that because you’re not as young as you were. And that shit’s not coming back. And this is, this is the news. And it’s been there for a little while. Or more than a little while. You see? It’s not the end of the world.

But it’s the end of something. And grief comes that way too. And if you’re wise, you practice with all of the unspectacular, you know, trumpet, trumpetless, angel free encounters with limit and frailty and ending. You practice it. You don’t just collapse in a heap, say, you know, pretend you’re grateful. I mean, if you want to use the word grateful, but I mean, you know you’re pretending.

But watch yourself in the act of faking it. That wouldn’t be bad. Then you realize, ah, you see, gratitude for that, which doesn’t help. You see, you didn’t have much time in with that one. But maybe, maybe now. So all those things congeal, you know. So that when the sequence of big ones comes around, like your parents, or A friend or a suicide or all those in a year or whatever it is you are, you’re, of course, you’re completely and utterly undone, but you’re, but there’s a part of you that’s, that didn’t rise above all this, that knew this was oncoming.

And so part of the reaction is, huh? That. A recognition, you know, a stilling recognition, to go along with all the other things that pull the pins out from under you.

Olivia Clementine: You know, you hear about the thing that people regret most when they are dying is that they lament something in relationships.

They have some sense of regret, and of course, we all have regret in certain ways. But I’m wondering for you, in your life thus far, do you feel like there’s certain tenets to live by in terms of relationship? Doing relationship in a way where you can at least have less regret. And I’d also love to know if that’s even true, since you’ve actually been on the ground of grief and dying.

Stephen Jenkinson: I don’t know if you’re in the position to be able to reduce the number of regrets you have. I think the position might be not necessarily having to add to that list. Maybe that’s the difference. In other words, certain things are, they’re there. You might have feelings about them that come and go, but they’re there.

Here’s a very good example. The way we do things now. So the so called criminal justice system. Make sure that you know how guilty you are. Now you’ve paid your so called debts to society. Now you’re out again. Did you do that any less as a consequence, that act, as a consequence of paying your debt? No.

Still there, isn’t it? Yeah. Will always be there, won’t it? Yep, that would be you, wouldn’t it? Well, it’s not all of me. I didn’t say it was. But that’d be you too, wouldn’t it? For all time. That’s our identity politics, you see, that nobody’s talking about. That’s what happens when you focus maniacally on identity like this is happening now.

That it becomes a fixed thing, you see. Nobody needs an identity of that kind. Nope. The last piece in the show that we’re doing is called Regrets. And it begins, With all of this, Of course there are regrets.

Of course. In other words, I’ve just spent two hours Imagining out loud on your behalf The otherwiseness of certain things. And I end by saying, given all of that, there’s regrets. Not because what are you going to do? But because if you don’t know that, you didn’t hear the first two hours. And now you’re missing this one too.

Because you want a happy ending. And a happy ending means what? These things didn’t happen. Or they did happen, but everything’s okay? What would everything okay look like? How would it be different from this? Do you even get that? Should you? Is that part of the thing?

So down along the fence line in the back 40 of your life, there’s a pile of stones there. Those would be your regrets. And if you don’t go down and visit them often, and I don’t know who does, that’s how it begins. So it’s a kind of cautionary tale. Say, look man, Here’s the thing about regrets. Go there. Not so they can be, they can be gone.

Because that’s a little bit of, you’re just bullshitting yourself. You’re going to your regrets to dissolve them. Like that’s you. That’s your job and that’s, like you have the chops to do that, like you should. Like you’re some kind of divine being where your own regrets are concerned. And in New Age people are hellish on this matter.

You know, lousy with conflict and lousy with regret. Like it just doesn’t belong. No, that doesn’t belong, but the regret belongs more than your belief about it does. That’s clear. So regrets are mostly memories. They’re not transgressions. And the amazing thing about them is, it turns out not all of them are bad.

You know. Your, the, the, the hue that you attach to them come from Doesn’t come from the thing that happened. It comes from your associations with it and your sense of what kind of person you are. Whether you’re the preacher’s kid and you’re not allowed to transgress. You know, whatever the craziness is.

So, but I think you’re asking personally. Yeah, there’s things that I have an ongoing wish weren’t so.

Yeah. And contrition doesn’t make them not so. It adds to the complexity. The contrition. But it doesn’t fix. The beautiful thing about the Catholic form of confession, I mean what they’re doing with it is another thing, but the actual

architecture of it is really compelling to me. You have two elements, right? One is, you have to say it out loud. You can’t feel it. The other one is, you have to say it to somebody. That’s magic. That’s spell breaking, to do those two things together. Like I said, it’s fallen on hard times, right, as the Catholic Church has, and so on.

But the matrix of confession is alchemically -. Powerful business. And we could employ a lot more of it. Right? So how do you, how do you ever go there without a regret to get you there? Yeah? It’s a little different than guilt. It’s not really guilt. It’s not, it’s not a character assassination of you by you.

That’s not what conscience is. You know, conscience doesn’t require guilt. It requires an understanding of inadvertent and

Deliberate transgression. That’s what it requires. It doesn’t require you to be a sinner. To use that kind of language. So, so it’s mostly memory, I think. That’s where regrets properly live. Not in the, not in the hell hole of your your accidental life. You know, it’s just the rest. There’s a lot of things.

You know, from sheer fatigue, you let it ride, and you shouldn’t have. And you let that thing, that relationship last too long, and it shouldn’t have. You know it, and you knew it then, but you didn’t know what to do. You know the old adage, you know, if you’re gonna get cut, make sure it’s a sharp knife. So, will you be forgiven?

Not likely. Okay, so is that the magic, is that determines whether it’s a regret or not? I don’t know. I don’t know. You can only do one part of this action. You know, you can’t get forgiven by forgiving yourself. I don’t even understand the phrase, forgive yourself, honestly. I mean, who’s the bad guy here in the forgiving yourself thing?

So if you forgive yourself, who’s doing the forgiving? Same bad guy. So then where’s the merit of the, it’s just, so anyway, I don’t have that problem personally, but for self forgiveness thing, it’s not something I’m pining after, but, but, you know, being honest in a, in a fierce way about things, I mean, without that.

You’re sleepwalking and imagining that that’s what a conscience is.

Olivia Clementine: And what’s current in your mind these days? Are there certain thoughts moving through your mind that are, that you’re, you’re dwelling on a lot these days? Ideas? Something, you know, even on this tour that’s been present for you?

Stephen Jenkinson: I guess the first one that comes to mind, it may not be the, the… The most accurate description of the last little while is so I’m in Athens not that long ago and presiding over a Q& A session after a screening of Grief Walker, which has never happened in the country before. And nobody would leave. And so I realized I’m going to have to leave to make this thing stop. And I left and they just sort of came with me. Out into the courtyard, and then, and then into the end of the parking lot, and then it was getting kind of crazy, like, what are we doing? And there’s just like bubble wrap around me, you know.

But in this group was a young woman, maybe 20. Very, very slight person, physically. And, but she, she had a look on her face that she wanted to say something. And she wanted it to be heard by me. Anyway, eliminate most of the story, and, and she finally spoke, and she said, You know, I don’t I’m not afraid to die.

I hear this a lot. And mostly it’s malarkey. It’s just, you, yeah, you can afford to say that now. Sure. Nobody’s afraid to die when they’re not. I mean, not really. You can play with it. But anyway, anyway, but there was something about her face that it wasn’t braggadocious. There was something else going on. I just waited.

And then it came. She said, I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to live.

So, me, at all but 70, thinking about who I might yet be to people one third my age. That’s very much on my mind. The act of translating. Watching the stuff walk out the door that we said earlier. Touring grief and mystery in the world. When really, I don’t need the wear and tear. But there’s this, and so, I wear and I tear.