How does the chain of connections start? Well, Connections.Media picks someone we feel drawn to hold space for. Like anything, it is a feeling in your gut, something you just have to reach out and begin. Then we follow the journey from there, as one person picks the next, based on the conversation that took place on that day, in that moment. After 5 conversations a theme reveals itself, and a chain is complete.
Follow this theme of "FREEDOM"
Town of Birth: Charleston, SC
Occupation/Job/Life Purpose Work: I write because I feel compelled to, not to earn a living.
“There's no identity competition in nature. You can APPRECIATE cardinals and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of blue jays. I feel like I'm only one sort of aperture, just one flower in a field and that field is a real living thing.
There is a collective unconscious that is as big and important as my own, and I am just one expression of that. If I allow myself to be HUMBLED by it and open to it, there's no fear there. The best thing you can do to reassure its own instinct for survival is to just be as honest as you can.”
I met Danielle at one of her shows. I thought her music, and her glasses, were very honest. She spent her set break reading one of my poems. She is a genius. Why she thinks so highly of me, I may never know.
“If you start from the belief that you’re flawed, whether it’s because there’s something physically or psychologically wrong with you or because you’re not living up to some imagined POTENTIAL, there’s no known drugs or romantic relationships or food or any damn thing that’s going to change that. You see yourself as sort of tragically unique and you close yourself off from everything that would help.
I spent most of my life believing that I wasn’t okay. It manifested as depression, addiction, isolation, anger, and violence as a younger teenager. BUT there was this constant attempt to figure out what was broken and to fix it.
I had an experience recently where I felt a rare sort of sense of okay-ness. I asked the universe that it could PERSIST, and I got an answer back. The answer was that I was okay, that most of my problems up to that point had stemmed from the belief that I wasn’t okay.”
Spending time with Jason Chambers feels like being in nature. He is a soothing, calm presence, the kind of person who defies the awkwardness of silence. He has a willingness to dig deep in conversation, and a talent for making strangers feel comfortable taking the plunge into the philosophical and metaphysical with him.
Jason’s life was not always so peaceful. He struggled with depression, substance abuse, and violence for many years, but after a transcendental, reflective experience watching the sunrise one morning, he found solace in the natural world and the mindset he feels there.
Jason expresses this sentiment through his poetry. He shares the settled feeling of deep inner security and acceptance, and encourages others to engage in reading and writing poetry, spending time in nature, and thinking beyond oneself as a means for finding peace.
“I was walking up Center Street on Folly and a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in years happened to call me. Right away, he said, ‘You sound funny, are you okay?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I'm great.’ He asked me what was going on, and I said, ‘I'm not really sure, but I’m done doing drugs and I think I want to watch the SUN RISE every day for the rest of my life.’ And he said ‘okay.’
And so far that’s what I’m doing. I watch it if it’s cold, if it's rainy, if it’s pretty or if it’s not. It's a RESETTING of the human system for me, an orientation in the natural world.”
If you were an actor, what kind of roles do you think you’d be good at?
The only choice I’d have would be playing myself. I tried pretending to be other people. I was terrible at it, and it wasn’t any damn fun.
What’s one thing you learned this week?
56/42 reduces to 1 1/3. (I am doing homework with my friend while I answer these questions. She’s in the fifth grade.)
What rules do you make for yourself?
I don’t really do rules. The closest I’d get would be to say that I try to remember I wouldn’t be here but for the help and love of others besides myself. And I try to be that person for other people when I can.
What are the titles of your poems that mean the most to you?
Most of my poems are untitled. Two that are really meaningful to me begin with the lines, “I bear the mark of the Mother of Small Birds” and “My constellation’s got stars…”
“There's an idea that there is a sort of unseen world, a ‘behind the VEIL’ sort of existence. A lot of the way we tend to see the world is an illusory construction, where we see ourselves as separate from other people, where we see our bodies as being this great finite thing moving in the world. The more time I spend alone in nature, the more I find that that has fallen away, and it becomes easier to think about. With plants and sometimes with animals, it's easier for us to see that they have a beginning prior to the beginning we see, and an ending that EXTENDS after.”
Willis Tant. Willis is such an amazing person. I believe in the power of nature to save and redeem us. Willis works every day to expose children to that power, as well as to try and provide those same opportunities for future generations.
“Forgive yourself, and be there for yourself, and know that that means you can also be there for everyone else. I say all the time that I don't know what took me so LONG to get here. There's a lot of pain that I had to work through. None of it was necessary, but all of it informs me, and I think it puts me in a better place to hear people, whatever they have to say or whatever position they're in to say it. And if that's all I ever did, I’d be OKAY with that.”
Editor in Chief: Becca Finley
Article: Caralie Byrnes
Photos: Becca Finley
Stay tuned for the ‘Connections’ book coming out January 22, complete with all 55 Connections, and how they fit into the Charleston community. Brand new pics + quotes.