Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Making Meaning

I've tired of the great need to make meaning, the endless search for meaning, the compulsive urge to create meaning. The need for meaning is measured by sorrow. No sorrow, no search for meaning.

No one ever asks why or why me in the middle of happiness... No "why did we have a wonderful, beautiful baby?" No "why did I meet the perfect partner whom I love endlessly?" No "why are my finances so strong?" No "why am I so healthy and well?"

The "why" always shows up as sorrow's shadow. The need for meaning, for answers, always accompanies the tragic, the flawed, the grief-stricken, the fallen, the wounded, the injured. I understand the desire to know answers that make sense out of the senseless, and have invested every ounce of who I am in tracking down meaning.

But I'm at a different point now somehow. I don't want answers to questions. Now, I want to live as freely and fully as I can, fearless both because of and beyond any answers I've gotten so far.

Instead of chasing after meaning, I'm letting it come to me. And it's showing up in the most ordinary, wonderful places and people. It's rarely accompanied by angels singing or bright, white lights, and it doesn't take me out of myself nearly as much as it resonates with the best of who I am.

Feels good not to be seeking, searching, struggling, begging the universe to reveal its secrets. I'm making friends with the universe and I'm not so sure it's been keeping secrets anyway....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not Good Enough


Guilt and shame, awful secrets, destroy the soul from the inside out, toxic and corrosive, eating away at self-respect and self-worth. But there is something equally soul-destroying: undervaluing yourself. Settling for what you think you can get, instead of what you truly want, erodes you self-esteem as badly.

Whatever you've convinced yourself is "not good enough" about you, is the weakness that then defines your decisions. If you don't value yourself professionally, maybe you settle for a job you hate, doesn't pay enough, doesn't honor your talents. If you don't value yourself personally, maybe you settle for relationships that are painful, dishonest, empty.

And when weakness is stronger than any other feeling, when your own bad feelings about yourself are stronger than everything else you know about who you are, you accept people and circumstances into your life that are a practical reflection of that negativity. They are then a constant reminder of your weaknesses made real.

Their presence is painful on their own because of what they are, but even more so because of what they say about you. The awful feeling that you think you aren't good/smart/ special/thin/talented/interesting...enough to live the life you really want, to be the person you really want, to have the relationships you really want.

But acknowledging who you know yourself to be at your best, and admitting that you want a life that reflects that, is an act of courage that is step one toward creating/restoring the life of your dreams. However scary it is to put yourself out there honestly, being clear and simple and straightforward, where others can see and judge you, is actually the freedom you've longed for.

And all the stuff that falls away when you stop hiding yourself is stuff you never wanted anyway.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spiritual Expert

So many people are looking for the answer. They ask for answers of certitude from spiritual experts, hoping that someone else's experience will point the way for them, a guiding star to lead them toward enlightenment, understanding, transcendent truth. It's natural to see someone with what you want, and want to know how to get it for yourself ~ like peace of mind or an ability to be easy when circumstances are difficult.

The endless marketing in books, magazine, tv shows and the internet features experts on every possible topic. And we are encouraged to become our own experts by consuming the advice and experience of these folks in every field, from real estate to cancer treatment to perfect marriages to diets. It's a tempting notion - to think that since we have access to information that we can/should know the 'right' answer to every question. Of course, you want an expert guiding you if, say, you need tax advice or are having heart surgery.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, what does it mean to be expert? Does it mean that you've read so much scripture that you can literally cite chapter and verse? Does it mean that you've immersed yourself deeply in your spiritual practice? Does it mean someone who teaches others well? Does it mean someone who is articulate and convincing in winning converts to their beliefs? Does it mean someone who puts their principles into practice?

There is only one thing that a spiritual expert can actually be expert about, and that is themselves. A real spiritual expert is someone who has made the choice to live each minute with the careful intention of improving their character, circumstances and relationships using spiritual knowledge, practice and principles. It's as easy to do in India as in Indiana, and it's also as hard.

And when you focus so intently on yourself, you begin to understand how you think, what generates your feelings, how habitual you are, and what it takes to enable you to transform, to become more the person you want to be, and less the person you have ended-up. Your study will be about what you need to know, what is helpful for you, what is true and real in your life.

And if you're successful at making the changes you want in your life, folks will start asking you questions, hoping your experience and expertise can give them the insight and inspiration needed to make similar changes in their own lives. But what you will have really become is an expert on your own transformation. It may or may not work for anyone else.

Even the great prophets learned most what they needed to learn. They become experts on their own journey into perfection. Buddha's journey didn't satisfy Christ, whose journey didn't satisfy Muhammad, whose journey didn't satisfy Joesph Smith, whose journey didn't satisfy.... And on and on it goes.

Certainly, if your prophet, guru, teacher, guide, leader, is the embodiment of spiritual attainment, it is natural to want to follow in their footsteps. It's so much easier than forging the pathway anew, having no idea where to go on your own. And that is the admonition for all followers - to follow well.

But even if you put your foot step-by-step into the footsteps taken before you, there's a good chance that your footstep is a different size, that you stride is a different length, that your gait has a different rhythm. And so all your following will inevitably pull you out of yourself.

Now, that's what so many people are looking for: The One to follow and pull you out of yourself, since heading in your own direction is what got you in trouble to begin with. I have to think though, that each expert, each spiritual leader, each 'steps-worth-following' prophet, wants you to become your own expert as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Years

It's been two years. Two years since Neptune decided to park herself on my Descendant, turning my T-square into an unavoidable Grand Cross. It left me impaled indelicately at the center of it, twisting and turning and finding no relief from Neptune's relentless dissolving. Every structure, every discipline, every firm boundary previously welded into place turned flimsy.

So much has disappeared in that time. So much has come and even more has gone: jobs and roles and living spaces and friends and associates and addresses and phone numbers and the essential meaning I had assigned to my life. I miss some of it, and others of it I am relieved to be free of. But the underlying truth to all of that is that whatever has faded away from my life, or whatever has been yanked out of it, left because that energy couldn't be sustained.

I have no space for complication, confusion or chaos or the accompanying excitement and drama that are their inevitable companions. I don't need the distraction or the hopefulness of illusion.

I have a couple of movies that seem to bookend this experience, one a story of loneliness and loss, and one a story of connectedness and family. And both end with tragic death, which is the essential human reminder to PAY ATTENTION while you still can. They nicely reflect my own journey, my own waking up to how meaning truly gets made.

It seems a great gift to live long enough to realize that truth and wisdom aren't about the answers nearly so much as the questions. I am deeply suspicious of anyone claiming to have the answers. I was that person for too long, and it carries with it the kind of arrogance that instantly separates you from everyone else. I know some answers, and some that are exactly right for me. But all the answers? To all the important questions? That's got to be reflected in the quality of love you have for everyone else in our very crazy, deeply injured family of humanity.

I don't want to read more books or listen to more lectures right now. I don't want to consult more experts. First, before you say a single word, show me your heart, and how well it works. Then I'll know how true your answers are.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Being Important


I had an idea when I was much younger about living 'an important life.' I wanted to make a difference and be someone who counted, someone who mattered. I didn't want to get stuck in ordinary life, doing ordinary things and being ordinary myself.

Perhaps it's maturity, or experience, or tiredness, or just the realization that 'being important' is a completely artificial construct, but this notion now seems so arrogant.

What is important? And to whom? The important people in my life aren't global movers and shakers, decision-makers and the rich and famous. The important people in my life are the ones who love well, offer caring and support, value what I have to offer, and have time to share a laugh or conversation or even silence.

It is said that "G*d is pleased with an honest heart." Probably 'cause He, along with everyone else, is pleased with the simple, the pure, the real, the truly important. G*d is smart to be pleased with an honest heart; that's important stuff.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I Have a Dream (too)

I know MLK, Jr. had a dream, and I had one too. It just doesn't work for me anymore. It wasn't as universal as MLK's perhaps, or uplifting or inspiring. It was about helping others and making a difference, and that part of the dream still exists.

But the part about how that's going to look, how it will happen, what it requires, has evaporated into smoke. It's gone, and the little that's left is fading quickly, and I can't remember the details of it anymore, like the faint remnants of a dream that you awaken from too quickly.

This awake-dream is fading just as fast, finding no firm footing for it in my life. And I'm moving into my life more and more, leaving some dreams behind, dreaming new dreams whose details are crisp and clear, and whose relevance I can understand.

Journey (Not the Band)

I embarked on this new journey many months ago now. And it has been absolute upheaval since then, but of the most necessary kind. I've given up almost everything but my kitty, who has kept me good company on every part of this journey. Her furry blackness is always a comfort.

I am waiting to sail into the place in my self and in the world where everything finally makes sense. Where I finally feel at home. Where I finally understand my place and where I belong. Where I finally feel fully connected.

I have striven to be an expert, offering my experience and understanding to help others with those very same questions and issues, but I have so little to really offer. I know a lot. I've experimented with a lot. But I don't know the answers for myself - how can I really offer this stuff up from the deepest kind of knowing.

I can't. I can ask questions, offer insights, free up someone's thinking, but I'm not an expert. There's so much I don't know, and so many answers I don't have. And there's no relief greater than admitting to that.

I don't know what folks should be doing with their lives. We can never go wrong being kinder, more loving, more curious, more genuine. But I don't have answers to problems or solutions to issues. I just know how to dig and dig and dig to get to something more true within myself.

It's only one skill, but a fairly useful one. Requires a lot of stamina. A LOT!

Not So Easy

The hardest thing about not knowing where you're going or what you're doing is the not knowing part. Especially if you're someone who likes to have a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, a sense of control.

Because when you don't know, you don't have much of a sense of anything other than some interior compass pushing or pulling you in some or another direction. Which is, at best, difficult to describe or explain to others. And, at worst, you wonder if it's just your imagination at work, pulling you in the wrong direction.

The fear of the unknown is a powerful deterrent against new choices.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Human Need

The raw face of human need is tragic to behold. At its worst, a potential reminder of who we ourselves might be at our lowest. The loss, the loneliness, the lack of... as corrosive as acid, eating away at the soul.

It's heartbreaking to live in a world where human need exists, where basic requirements like love, belonging, understanding, kindness and caring are missing. Heartbreaking even more still to be the one in need.

Isn't this stuff as essential as food and water and shelter? Isn't this the stuff that makes keeping the physical alive worth doing?

In the Fullness of Time

Everything happens in the fullness of time. No matter how strong the temptation to rush and push and force, things have to unfold in their own way. And it usually turns out to be for the best.

There are things about yourself you need to know and learn and discover before you are ready for the dream to come true. It is those moments of waiting, having the luxury of time to think things through, that unlock keys to magical places within.

So often, the dream comes complete with every detail ironed out, every nuance crafted, every subtlety manufactured. But reality leaves plenty of possibility unformed so that all the stuff you never imagined, but will actually enjoy more, can find its way to you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Requirements

My emotional life is requiring the kind of attention its been denied for this entire lifetime. I have so little fluency in speaking this particular language. I can write, but to express feeling, especially in the form of feeling instead of words, is so foreign.

I am practiced at speaking the language of thoughts and ideas, of spirit and philosophy. Emotion overwhelms and confuses me, hitting too close to home to comfortably share.

This too, I suppose, is part of this new journey....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Flood of Relief

Relief floods over me, having left behind the constant humming energy of the city. I always thought I loved the never-ending movement of life there, but freedom from it is softly exciting. I can breathe all the way in and out, not bothered by the feeling that I have to be somewhere, that I have to do something, that I have to be someone.

I am just here, learning what it feels like to relax and let every part of myself open, inhaling and exhaling fully, no pressure, no stress, no requirement.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Letting Go...Letting It Go

How do you let it go? How do you let go of the thing that keeps gnawing away at you, feeling wrong and on some level just awful? How do you move forward when the hook of someone or something is buried in your emotional flesh, the pull of that sharp edge ripping deeper into you every time to try to move away from it?

How do you stop feeling the pain of the injury? How do you alleviate the constant pressure of something foreign making a home in you? How do you free yourself from this thing without creating even more injury, without deepening the wound?

Maybe you move back a little, easing the tension, creating some slack. Maybe the constant trying to "move on", "move forward", "get over it" is just moving too fast, and that speed is the very thing that's causing that hook to dig deeper and rip further. Maybe you can't actually move forward safely until you let yourself off the hook...

Uncomfortable Lessons

What I learned from that one was that I needed to say "yes" to stuff that I simply refused to acknowledge as possibilities, fancying myself beyond the world of human beings. I was lost in the world of spirit, certain that the company of invisible angels was enough to ally any loneliness.

And what I'm learning from this one is that I need to say a deeper "yes", not getting stuck at halfway solutions, accepting both the humans and the angels, and that part of me that's both as well.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Standing in Judgment

I don't much care if people like me or not. That's their choice, based on who they are, much more so than who I am. But I cannot stand being judged by others. I cannot stand the look of dismissal, condemnation, rejection or disgust that appears once judgment has been passed and I have been found lacking.

It's not because I'm so sensitive to what others think of me. I'm a bit indifferent to other's opinions in a personal way. But what I cannot bear is the hubris of another human being stepping into the space between me and G*d, inserting themselves with an authority completely of their own making, deciding somehow that they have the right to pronounce judgment on me.

It is the ultimate arrogance to assume that you are separate from humanity yourself, and that that separation confers special powers and privileges on you. I think G*d Himself doesn't judge, but simply lets the laws of action and reaction play out, each of us harvesting the fruits, bitter or sweet, of our own choices and decisions.

Why would G*d judge us? He is love. His role is not to judge, but to purify, transform, salvage, uplift and sustain the grievously injured souls of the world. Like any good emergency room doctor, He isn't standing around trying to decide if the patient is worth saving. He knows the value of human life better than we do, and takes immediate action to help the wounded.

Taking on the role of judge happens when you are so disturbed by your own human weakness that seeing it in others threatens you, and so you need some clear way to separate yourself from others. Thinking that they are wrong or defective, and that you are different or better, makes you feel safe and protected. Needing some insurance that you are not the things you reject is quite understandable. Deciding what you want and need to feel safe is fine.

But harshly and coldly judging the content of another's character to ensure your own safety and security is never fine. Anyone who judges another that way doesn't have the kind of love, concern and generosity in their own heart to truly understand anyone else. Human judgment is destructive on every level. It destroys self esteem, it destroys relationships, it destroys societies, with its haughty assumptions and inherent limitations.

If G*d Himself does ever actually judge us, it is with so much love, so much compassion, such deep desire for healing, that His concern itself feels like a blessing.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain XV

The thing about abuse is that you are always wondering. Every new person who comes into your life makes you wonder, "are you the one?" Are you the one who's going to hurt me? Are you the one who's going to destroy all I've worked so hard to fix? Are you the one who's going to turn everything upside down?

Because no matter how good things are, no matter how wonderful they feel, that question is always lurking, defining all your interactions more than you know. It is a constant companion, this question waiting to be asked.

You watch too much, too carefully, too intensely, trying to answer it without having to ask. Trying to know if this really is ok, but realizing you can't know. That the very nature of intimacy is vulnerability, and it's the one things you can just never know about. Because no one ever does.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Every Minute

Every minute is a choice, a chance to move in a different direction. No matter how little breath is left in your lungs, no matter how heavy the weight on your chest, no matter how strong the churning in your stomach, every minute is a choice. Every minute is a chance.

And no matter what the consequence, it's better to move forward, to move ahead, and make the choice you really want to make, no matter how much fear, terror, dread and emotion you feel. 'Cause you know the choice you want to make. You know the choice you always wanted to make. You just never did. Until now.

Now you are making that choice. And, for as scary as it is, it's also the exact thing you really want. And in that is freedom. In that is truth and reality and liberation.

Confusing Pleasure and Pain XIV

The thing about abuse is that the secrets you carry are toxic sludge. And you have become the vessel for this toxic waste, its corrosive nature eating away at the inside of you, from the inside of you.

And as you lose strength from the Herculean effort of merely surviving, you think that the sickness you feel is coming from you. That you are the source of this disease. But it's the toxins that swirl around inside that have made you sick, and will make you sicker still the longer you hold onto them.

There is no safe way to keep this much disease housed within you. There is no emotional or mental or even spiritual strength that will overcome such sickness when it has made its home in you.

The secrets must be evicted. However that needs to happen, whatever method, you have to free yourself from the sickness, from the secrets, before real healing can begin.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: X

The thing about abuse is that you believe their lies for your truth. You adopt terrible lies as your truth and start to forget that these actually are lies. You get used to thinking that lies are the way things work, that if someone wants something they shouldn't want or can't otherwise have, that it's ok to use a lie to get around the obstacles.

Because that's what happened to you. Someone wanted something from you and took it, convinced you of the biggest lie ~ that it was ok, that they had a right or reason to do that. And you were asked to believe that lie and repeat it and internalize it and protect it. And so you did. Because you couldn't do anything else at the time. And after a while you couldn't tell the difference between their lies and the truth.

And that spills over into everything. It makes you a sucker for a good line, not because you believe it exactly, but because you want to believe something that sounds good, even if it still feels bad. 'Cause there's so little to actual feel good about. And you don't really believe words of any kind anymore anyway.

So their lies become your truth again and again and again. Maybe it started with one specific person, one specific event, but it confuses everything. And no matter how good your radar is, no matter how much you can see through the falseness of what's being presented, there's still a tsunami of internal confusion keeping you from knowing what to do about it or how to change it.

Thankfully, you don't have to stop being confused to know that something feels wrong. You don't have to understand it all. Not yet. You just have to know that you don't have to keep feeling bad. You don't deserve it, you don't owe it to anyone, and it really can stop.

Once the emotional assault of all the confusion ends, you begin to get your bearings back, and you begin to recognize the difference between their lies and your truth. And you can see how far apart those two things are. And you can't believe you couldn't see it before since it's suddenly so obvious.

The liberation of that moment is the weight of all the sorrows in the world falling from your shoulders, in its place the wings of freedom.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: VII

The thing about abuse is that sometimes you meet someone who is intriguing for all the wrong reasons. Maybe that person feels dangerous, exciting, scary, secretive, different, or unusual, and all that is very attractive to you. Not because this is the beginning of a good relationship, but because they remind you of something very familiar about how you understand relationships to work.

And the very qualities that make you feel instantly at home with this person make you also uneasy and unable to trust them. Because you know that the magnet that pulled you together really can be dangerous, just like it has been for you before.

But the lure of the familiar, no matter how potentially destructive, is incredibly powerful. And safe, secure, wholesome, and nurturing somehow seem too boring. And you consider that your ability to withstand so much turmoil and emotional discomfort to be an indication of some mature experience.

It isn't though. Your ability to withstand so much discomfort is just a sign that you've learned to ignore your own feelings, even at great peril to your well-being. It's nothing to be proud of. Just one more indicator that things have gotten mightily messed-up along the way.

And that it's time to step back from all the stuff that makes you feel so bad until you can learn some new ways of doing and being that won't keep causing so much pain.

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: IX

The thing about abuse is that it distorts your sense of self, making you willing to believe almost anything about yourself.

Your real sense of self, likely still being formed when it was shattered, has been smooshed down, compressed, all the lightness squeezed out of it. And in its place mostly emptiness, your abuser/attacker having sucked the life out of you and taken it for their own.

Not only did they take your sense of self, but the one they reflect back to you cannot be trusted for even a second. Because of their own damage, all they can reflect back to you is damage. Their sickness is your mirror.

They twist everything, turning it upside down, trying to convince you that you were the one who got it wrong. Trying to convince you that you were the one with the problem, that you were the one overreacting, that nothing at all was really wrong except for you. That everything was fine until you ruined it.

They engage you in an emotional fencing game, using the thrust and parry with such messed-up rhythm that the sport becomes torture. And there's no real engagement, just them trying to make you feel bad, to show you that they have the power and control And then they hurt you with it. No doubt the way someone did to them. They pretend at friendship, at closeness, at connection, but they have no idea how to truly be close to anyone, and they make you suffer for it.

They can't handle the reality of relationship, the vulnerability of intimacy, and so they play act, like some child playing doctor. And they substitute melodrama and sentiment for true feeling, and force and coercion for true intimacy. 'Cause they don't actually have any idea what they're doing, and all they know are secrets and lies and fear and suffering.

But you do. You know enough to know you don't want this anymore. That you're not going to be the next person to perpetuate awfulness, destroying another invaluable soul in the process. You know enough to know that all the distortion and lies and confusion don't belong to you. You know it's time to put them down and walk away.

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: VIII

The thing about abuse is that it makes you think secrets are normal. It makes you think that when someone is weird or awful or hurtful that you are responsible for absorbing or fixing or hiding it. You have some very confused sense of loyalty and responsibility, protecting your abuser/attacker more than yourself.

You think that the secrets you share with this person are shameful and by telling them you are telling on yourself, revealing to others your own badness. It doesn't occur to you that you should tell, that you should not have to keep dirty secrets for other people. Because you are so ashamed of yourself, even though it's not your fault at all.

And your abuser/attacker is so damaged that they let you, or maybe even force you, to take the blame, to keep the secret, to hide the truth. They let you become the vessel for their damaged psyche, staying safe and secure in the knowledge that you are as committed to keeping the secret as they are.

And this perverted fidelity somehow binds you together, you and your abuser, sharing a secret, sharing an intimacy, that is dangerous and destructive. It turns the notion of intimacy on its head, making you think that intimacy is a bad, painful, scary connection.

It's impossible for you to conceive of intimacy as life-affirming, supportive and precious. It's impossible for you to conceive of relationships as something good. Which is tragedy on top of tragedy. Because they can be the very best things of all. They can be the very thing that frees you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: VI

The thing about abuse is that it makes you think you are damaged. And, of course, you are. But it's easy to get confused. Thinking that what happened occurred because you are damaged, as opposed to understanding that what happened is the very thing that damaged you.

It's like mixing up feeling bad with being bad with bad things happening. And thinking that bad things happened because you're bad. And getting all that straightened out and sorted through isn't so simple.

Because by the time all this confusion has seeped deep into your sense of self, you've also absorbed so much of what your attacker or abuser felt. By this time you've completely internalized the badness and taken it on as your own. Which means you think that bad things, bad relationships and bad feelings are inevitable.

But nothing is inevitable. There is always a chance for renewal. There is always the power of good, and it shines brighter and cleaner than badness. Badness is a state of desperate need born of excruciating emptiness.

The chance for fullness - for fulfillment - is the hope of empty, wounded souls everywhere. It's the hope for all of us.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Confusing Pleaseure and Pain: V

The thing about abuse is that it leaves you with a simmering rage, hiding just below the surface of every emotion. It's roiling current threatens to break through whatever calm demeanor or acceptable exterior you've created.

One thing is the barrier you've built to keep others out. The other is the barrier you've created to keep all this stuff inside. It's not easy to contain so much feeling, and so much awful feeling at that. It requires constant vigilance, a never-ending attention to yourself.

How much to reveal and how much to conceal? How much to share and how much to keep? What do you give of yourself and what do you hold onto?

And what to do with the sense of outrage, of injustice, of revenge? What to do with the need to set things right, keep yourself from being the same kind of person, and make sure it never happens again? What to do with the constant feeling of threat, of terror, of misunderstanding?

For how long can that rage be contained? And who or what is going to be the catalyst for finally unlocking it? And what will the consequences of that liberation be?

What happens when a dam finally breaks? Eventual calm waters, but the initial destruction can be devastating.

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: IV

The thing about abuse is that it keeps you stuck in the past. It keeps you stuck in an emotional response of fear or disgust or anger or shame or sadness or helplessness long after the moments of awfulness have passed.

It keeps you stuck in a way of thinking and being that get all mixed up with other elements of your personality. It gets mixed up with the stuff that is positive and powerful and amazing, and can just completely eclipse that magic that is you.

Maybe you split into little compartments emotionally and mentally, where the different feelings you have live in different parts of your life, never meeting, never coming together. So that no one else ever sees these aspects of yourself.

Or maybe they do see them, in little drips and drops, surprised at the insecurity of an otherwise confident person, alarmed at the self-destructiveness of someone otherwise life-affirming, shocked at the stupid choices of an otherwise intelligent individual, concerned at the isolation of an otherwise connected soul.

Or maybe all they see are the wounded, injured parts of you. Maybe they are painfully displayed, daring someone, anyone, to reach out and help. Maybe you are just one sad, bleeding mess that no one dares to approach.

The stuck-ness of being defined by the past is that you miss all the other stuff that's happened since. You miss the chance to be shaped in positive and powerful ways, having been so completely defined by negativity. You miss the chance to re-create yourself independent of someone else's damage. You miss yourself. And so does everyone else.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: III

The thing about abuse is that you confuse abuse with attention. It becomes impossible to make the distinction between someone paying attention, noticing you, loving you, and being cruel, abusive, and using you.

And when you can't tell the difference, all sorts of completely unacceptable behaviors begin to seem normal or at least acceptable. And you don't know if the reason they feel so bad is because there's something wrong with what this other person is doing, or because there's something wrong with you.

You don't know if the bad feeling is because you're bad, or because what's happening is bad. And you don't know if something bad is happening because you are bad, or because the other person is bad. And you don't know if what's happening really is bad, or just a different kind of normal that you should feel ok about even though you don't.

And sometimes what feels bad also feels good And you're also getting a special kind of attention that maybe no one else seems to get. And that's the point where it becomes impossible to know the difference between abuse and attention, between good and bad, between pleasure and pain.

So you go through life not being sure how to draw any lines between yourself and others, because feeling bad isn't reason enough to change anything. You let all sorts of bad energy into your relationships 'cause you don't know you have a choice. And you don't know that things can feel more good than bad.

And you don't trust anyone anyway. There's the sense that whatever has happened will keep happening, and it will last forever. And if you at least care about someone, even if there's lots of bad between you, you think that bad is inevitable, so you stick with it.

You stick with discomfort and sorrow and confusion and an awful, empty, aching feeling that love shouldn't be so awful. But because attention and abuse are so mixed-up for you, you really, truly don't know that it can be different. And you find every reason in the world why what is never ok is somehow ok for you.

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: II

The thing about abuse is that it makes it impossible to know the difference between your feelings and someone else's. In order to stay safe and protected, your antenna is always out, feeling around for danger, trying to figure out who you can trust and not, and who is safe or who isn't.

And so instead of knowing what's going on in your own head or heart, you're always paying attention to what's happening around you, who is there, and what they might do. And how you might have to escape or try to protect yourself, or endure more suffering.

So your notion of relationship gets twisted, good and bad, safe and dangerous, appropriate and abusive, all mixed up. And your own feelings mixed up with survival instinct that makes all contact with others stressful and fraught with potential danger.

It's hard to pay attention to much beyond the potential danger. No matter how much there's a pull to reach out, to connect, to engage with another, there's the underlying fear that relationship of any kind will be your downfall.

Experience has proven that fear to be well-founded. It makes perfect sense. But emotionally it means the firmest foundation you have is like quicksand, threatening to swallow you up at any moment.

The never-ending stress of looming threat makes some sort of retreat, some sort of sanctuary a necessity. The pain has to be dulled, averted, number, avoided, re-directed. And the consequence of that can be as destructive as the abuse itself.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain

The thing about abuse is that it makes you confuse pleasure with pain. It makes you confuse feeling good and feeling bad, and sometimes makes it impossible to know the difference. And even when you know the difference, it can destroy your ability to do anything about it.

And if there was a sexual aspect to the abuse, it messes up even more the distinctions between pleasure and pain. If there was any pleasure in the midst of your pain, then not only has your ability to trust others been compromised, but it becomes fairly impossible to trust yourself.

How can you trust yourself when your own body or your own emotions betray you and side with an abuser or an attacker? How can your body feel good when something bad is happening? How can you have feeling for someone who hurts you? How can you trust yourself not to betray your best interests at other times and in other circumstances?

You’ve already been betrayed by someone you expected protection or at least care or respect from, and then you find that you yourself are also not capable of providing protection, care or respect. Being powerless is terrifying; having it used against you is soul destroying.

At which point the likely response is to either disappear so you won’t be noticed so it won’t happen again. Or, to simply admit the inevitable. That pain and pleasure are mixed together, sometimes horribly, awfully and scarily, but that at least you’re going to decide how it happens, and you orchestrate your own abuse.

So you’ve either gone into protective mode to try to take back control over what’s happening to you, and refuse to interact with people in any way that can make you vulnerable. Or you’ve lost your sense of value and worth, and stay in control by choosing to lose control, maybe with promiscuity, exhibitionism or carelessness.

Either way you lose, because either way there’s no real authority or control, just the imitation of it. And either way, pain and pleasure are still mixed together. And either way, there’s no trust. Not of yourself, and certainly not of others.

Coping is not the same as healing. It’s phenomenal all the ways humans have of coping with the completely unacceptable forms of pain and suffering we’ve endured, but it’s not enough. Coping means you’re just holding on, still locked in struggle and defined by pain.

Healing means that the wounds mend, the pain and suffering lessen and end, that the injury is gone except for the scar it leaves behind. Healing means that there’s room to understand and experience yourself in a new way, and to see you own value, your own worth, your own beauty without distortion.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Beautiful Thing

It's a very powerfully beautiful thing to be reduced to something essential within yourself. Maybe there's no greater pain than when everything you were counting on falls away, but seeing what's left - the essence - is a chance to know yourself anew and re-build a life around what's most meaningful.

There is nothing without its gift, however hidden away it may be for a time.

Full Moon

I love looking at the full moon, its light spilling out with the promise of an unending cycle of life. The hope of regeneration in the midst of the rubble of destruction, the moon reminding me that fullness always returns.

And I love especially that it reminds me of the sun. The moon's glow exists as a reflection of the sun, the cool nighttime mirror to the hot intensity that burns during the day.

My favorite gem is moonstone, named that because it has an inner luminosity like the moon itself, a glowing reflection of the light around it. Sitting in a puddle of moon light, walking through the path it shines on our planet, comforted by the same adularescense that has graced our planet eternally, is pure joy.

I must go back to India sometime, to sit on the top of the mountain and be close to the moon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sweet Dreams

I'm giving myself a chance to do something I've never done before, and that's to dream. And to dream big. To give voice and structure to a hope I've had within for so long but left aside.

I thought G*d had a bigger and better dream for me, and that I was simply supposed to empty my head and heart of my own needs and desires and fill myself with His vision for me. But He seems just fine with my dream and how we're going to make it come true together. He's right here with me. Turns out our dreams for me are pretty much the same.

This is the great thing about G*d; what He really wants for each of us is the fulfillment of our own potential, the emergence of our own greatness, the pure perfection of who we are, individually and uniquely, to shine through. This IS His dream for me. No different than my own.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Imaginary Friend

I have an imaginary friend. It's not that he’s an imaginary person. He’s a very real person. He lives and breathes in full Technicolor 3-D, and lots of people know him, so the reality of his existence is beyond question. But what is imaginary is that he is my friend.

For a brief shining moment in time he and I were friends. It was a glorious coming together of two very kindred spirits, two like-minded souls, and whatever other cliché of fated togetherness. There was some twinkle of light that we recognized in each other, drawing us into an almost scary kind of closeness, a clairvoyant sense of the other.

It was intense in a freaky kind of way. And it freaked me out on lots of levels, but mostly that I felt such a strong and instant connection with him. And that it seemed entirely reciprocal, and that along with it came such powerful love. It wasn’t a romantic love. There was never romance or even the possibility of it (or sex) between us. In fact, the lack of that is what enabled me to feel that the immediacy of intimacy between us was ok – wonderful even.

The sexual neutrality of the love was the only thing that kept me from wondering if this sudden infatuation between us wasn’t somehow pathological. It was the perfect marriage of straight woman/gay man platonic but Oh-My-God amazing kind of love. At least for me. I can really only speak for me here. I know what he has told me and said to me and shared with me, so I think it was completely mutual, but I can only know about myself for certain.

So why do I say he’s my imaginary friend? Because the friendship has become a figment of my own imagination. Because the friendship exists now in fond and fuzzy memories, piercing my heart from time-to-time with their poignancy, their hopefulness, their potential. Because we were so close for such a short time and because it was absolute magic. But also because it doesn’t exist that way anymore.

The friendship, the excited conversations exposing our connection at deeper and deeper levels, the sense of some precious gift washing over us, eroding away the barriers that had been a fortress against others for so long, was exquisite. But for such a short time. And then the warmth of every breathless promise turned cool and then cold and then distant.

And whatever requires this oceanic chasm of distance between us now, whatever the need for safety and distance, I still love him. I don’t think that will change. Things change, it’s true. And people change. But my heart remains true to love always. The loyalty, the allegiance, the fidelity that remains is to love itself.

So, for now, he’s my imaginary friend. In my imagination, we’re just a phone call away, just a visit away, just a plane ride or a letter or an e-mail away from remembering and restoring that connection. The friendship exists as true and lovely for me as it ever did. And maybe someday, he’ll be a part of it again.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Chicken or the Egg?

I've had it all backwards. I have been examining every single inch of the chicken, knowing each feather by name, every part of its head and body, investigated the most minute aspects of its being.

But I know nothing about the egg. I forgot about it entirely. Which does come first? The chicken or the egg? In this case, I think it matters. I know how things have emerged in my life, my thoughts and feelings and words and actions. But I was missing a fundamental element about what shaped all of this.

My own mind had completely sealed away a certain kind of knowing. The self-protective mechanism of human beings is astounding. What we admit into our awareness and more importantly, what we don't.

Amazing what we have created to keep ourselves protected, numb, distanced, immunized, quarantined, distracted and generally capable of coping with things we have no real ability to cope with at all.

It's not true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Maybe it doesn't kill you, but it maims and cripples and wounds you in all the softest spots. It's not necessarily fatal, but getting to the place where you're actually stronger? That requires tremendous work and at least some element of grace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Fortress of Safety

I will assume George W. Bush is a bit like me. Which is to say that when I'm feeling insecure or threatened or uncomfortable, my fear shows up in defensiveness. So I'm guessing that's why he seems so unaccountably belligerent all the time - 'cause he's scared and doesn't want anyone to know. I know the feeling. But I hope George can learn the same thing I'm discovering.

That most of us are scared about something at some point, and the perfect antidote is to simply acknowledge it and keep moving. And to whatever degree possible, to keep reaching out beyond the wall of fear that is so tempting to hide behind.

My amazingly unoriginal approach is to breathe deeply, slow down my thoughts, and try to keep communicating and connecting to whatever degree I can. It's not hard to disappear behind a wall of fear. And it feels safe. But it's so isolating and empty. It's a bad trade-off...feeling safe, but in complete isolation.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ordinary People


Most of us are the most ordinary kind of folks. I didn't quite realize that. I think we have some notion that whoever is the object of our affection or desire has some special powers, but they have no special superhuman powers that I can see. We're pretty much all the same.

I was asking a co-worker today if he like the color of my new mustard yellow purse. He said he really couldn't offer an opinion, as purses weren't really something he had strong feelings about. He said jokingly that it wasn't one of his fetishes. So I asked what was, and he said the list of what wasn't a fetish was ever-so-much shorter than the list of what was. And then I said it didn't matter what fetish he had, he's never be alone since there was a website for it - them. Whatever it/they were, there'd be a website for it somewhere.

'Cause these days, no matter how weird or freaky or eccentric you think you are, there's already someone out there whose built a website to cater to it. So the world is bigger and bigger and more and more anonymous, and it means that your most hidden, secret, intimately private personal hunger has been felt and expressed by someone else. Which means that you never have to feel alone. Even if fulfilling your desires on-line isolates you from relationship with the 3D world around you.

Check out the on-line world. Dating sites - where everyone is honest, romantic, sensitive, funny, intelligent... Or porn, where everyone's body parts exist to satisfy someone else's desires. And they all run together pretty soon in their sameness and where the stuff that's supposed to be precious feels like just another commodity, a shopping list of what you can pick and chose from to meet your specific needs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Absolutely Authentic Self

I'm digging the whole exploration of the absolutely authentic self. No more fantasy brightening the shadows, filling in the cracks, making things better than they really are. It's a bit scary actually, not making any excuses or manipulating reality with a philosophical perspective. But it's a necessity for whatever comes next. Whatever that is....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I Feel Bad

I feel bad at the moment ~ very bad. My head feels like it's going to explode, and nothing else feels right either. My heart hurts in every way it can, and I'm exhausted. So I just feel bad. Which is the very understandable accumulation of trying to accommodate feeling bad about so many things in so many ways for so long, and just having no more capacity for it.

I cannot handle any more stress, any more tension, any more confusion. I have reached the end of being able to do it. I have made myself as big as I can, trying to create enough space for everything, but there isn't any space for any of it. I am at absolute zero.

I'm not going to try to think my way through any of this. I'm not going to try to make sense of how I got here and why. I am here, and if there's a next step, and will figure it out as I go. What I know is how I feel, and that's what I've ignored more than anything. So for now, I'm just going to pay attention to how I feel and what I want to do with that, and not another thing else.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In My Dream

In my dream, I'm lying on my back, comfortably nestled in the cool grass, fingers and toes burrowed in nature's carpet beneath me, kissed by the sun, caressed by the gentle breeze. And as I lay there suffused with delight, all the bits of heaviness and worry in my head and heart crawl away from me like the annoying bugs they've been.

Through the few clouds hanging in the sky, I see a big, beautiful bird appear magically overhead, floating down on soft, strong wings, so quietly that I hardly notice it until it's upon me. And with such grace, such elegance, such natural perfection and confidence, it begins to feed on the little bugs, nibbling away at them until every last one is gone.

These annoying little insects, the remnants of all my sorrows, have become food for this glorious creature, and I have been freed from their presence. They have left me and become something useful ~ finally.

With no more worry on my mind, I lie back, relaxing deeply and completely into myself, and the bird does the same next to me. Every cell in our bodies relaxes into quiet contentment, both of us feeling full, complete, sated, and satisfied.

Signs

I spoke with a woman I don't know for over an hour the other day. She is trying to figure out the next step in her life, and someone suggested she talk with me. She is trying to decide what's next - trying to find the right signs to point her in the right direction.

I told her I don't know if I really believe in signs. 'Cause to believe in signs means to believe that there's a "right" answer that G*d or the universe or whatever you think is at work here, has decided for you, and your job then is to put together puzzle pieces to figure it out. That the "right" answer already exists, and you have to suss it out.

But that means the future has been chosen for you. Which I don't believe. We choose our future with every though, word and action we take and make. I think G*d or the universe (or whatever you want to insert here) is unconditionally loving. And will love you no matter what choice you make. And signs are just the things we use to give external credence to a choice we want to make, but need back-up to justify.

You can find a sign to support anything you want to do or not do. But mostly it's just a matter of choice. And sometimes you make choices that look good for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes you make choices that don't, and you have to deal with all of that, and I think that's just fine. Either way.

'Cause signs aren't magical talismans that prevent anything bad from ever happening. You can find 10,000 signs to tell you you're moving in the right direction, and there still might be difficulty in that choice. Magical thinking doesn't protect us. It doesn't change us. And it doesn't change the world to somehow keep us safe from sorrow.

'Cause what we have to confront ultimately is the sorrow that lives inside of us, and there's no sign that protects us from our own creation, from the mistakes and misunderstandings and mixed up way we've come to be. And there's no shortcut around dealing with it, going through it, and facing up to who you've become.

I know this with the authority of experience. Even G*d's protection doesn't protect you against your own creation. Otherwise the world would look like a "My Little Pony" playground, full of rainbows and ponies and fairies and butterflies and happiness all around. But it doesn't look like that. And there's no escape dealing with ourselves, except for whatever temporary distractions we find to escape into, which so often end up entombing us in the very sorrow we were trying to escape to begin with.

And all of this soul searching, sorting through, sorting out, transformation, etc., continues to feel brutally humiliating as I notice ever more subtle nuances about the complication of my own emotional nature. And even worse, how that complication has vomited up the worst of who I am into relationships and choices and left its stink and stain all over my life.

This is what I knew about myself a long time ago, that made me search so desperately for a place of complete purity, peace and safety. I needed a place free of my own sickness, and free of the sickness of others. I was at the point in my many lifetimes where I had no resources left to combat sickness, where I needed quarantine, for my own benefit and the benefit of those around me.

Fortunately, I'm better. I'm so much better. But I don't know if I'm well yet. I don't know if I'm robustly healthy. I know better than to think I suddenly don't need what restored me to at least this much health. The spiritual nourishment, the emotional sustenance, the deeper understanding, the pure love, G*d's arms wrapped around me in unending peace, complete acceptance.

We never stop needing the life-giving, health-giving stuff...not ever. But I don't need the complete isolation of quarantine. It's time to get sun on my face, feel the breeze on my skin. enjoy life and myself again. Not to throw myself out there carelessly, forgetting everything I've discovered, but certainly happily. And a bit more all the time.

Electrifying

I got chills, they're multiplyin', and I'm losin' control
Cause the power you're supplyin', it's electrifyin'


"You're the One That I Want" (Grease soundtrack)


I know that feeling - electrifying. It's the feeling that has always got my attention when nothing else did. It's the feeling that makes me pay attention when I am otherwise completely indifferent. The upside is the powerful, electrifying sense of being completely alive, plugged into an energy so enlivening that you don't want to step away from it for a moment.

The downside is what happens when you've been electrified. The downside is the emotional overload, the confusion, the overwhelmed senses, the emotional chaos, the feeling out of control, the losing yourself, the fast-beating heart, the sleeplessness, the distraction...

The only kind of love that I've noticed is the kind that's been electrifying. It's gotten my attention by spinning my head around and making everything else disappear. But if you've been on the receiving end of anything actually electrifying, you know how uncomfortable, even painful, the shock of it can be.

Electrifying doesn't feel very good. Maybe the initial jolt of energy brings you back to life, but after that? It just doesn't feel very good. I'm finding room inside myself, quite literally, for what feels good. Making room energetically for comfort and belonging and happiness and love and acceptance and easiness. I don't know that electrifying has a place anymore. It's caused too much pain, too much dis-ease, too much chaos, and I don't have room for that anymore.


Cloud Burst

There is some deep sorrow hidden away still inside, underneath and below and mostly invisible except in the way that it still informs my thinking and feeling and decisions. It's a shadow, a dark cloud threatening to burst at any moment. And I spend a lot of time trying to avoid that. So much I don't say, so much I don't talk about, so much no one ever hears 'cause I'm trying to avoid that. But I have to own it, embrace it, hold it close to me and stop keeping it at a far reach.

I don't have to be better. I don't have to be different. I don't have to change. I don't have to prove myself to anyone. I can stay right where I am for just as long as I want and need. I can move forward or backward or not move at all, and all of those are just fine. I can choose to do whatever I want or not make any choices at all.

The force I keep using against myself, no matter how well intentioned, is hurting me. It's undermining my physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being, and there is just no one or nothing that makes pushing so hard worth doing.

I don't need to move ahead. I can. I might. It's absolutely up to me. But this is my story, being written second-by-second, and no one's good intentions or hopes or wishes is more important than my own sense of things, my own timing, my own rhythm, my own narrative.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Doing What I Never Do

Tonight I did what I never do. Charles invited me to an art exhibit, and I accepted! And not only did I go, but I loved it. I thought I was going to see the sculpture of a particular artist, but it turned out to be the 2007 Undergraduate Exhibition of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The original and incredibly diverse works of a couple hundred students filled two huge floors of a loft-style building, and by the time we left, there was a line of people at the door waiting to get in.

I loved some of it, didn't love some of it, and some of it left me indifferent. But the students themselves were captivating ~ I found it impossible to be indifferent to them. Their energy, enthusiasm, and originality swirled through the crowded and overheated space, filling it with some fundamentally funkified vibe. And it got me thinking about what completely excites and entrances me.

First is truthfulness. I love people speaking truth...their truth, the ultimate truth, the final truth, the relative truth, the unexpected truth, my truth, the scary truth, the comforting truth, the whole truth. I do love it most when it surprises me, touches me and makes me laugh.

And second is originality. I love the original expression of energy. I don't particularly care how it emerges - what it looks like - I just love when I see it, hear it, experience it. I love when someone, anyone, brings something new into the world, into my awareness, into my sense of possibility. And it doesn't happen all that often, so it's an especially valuable commodity. I love when some original energy emerges because after that, everything changes.

So it was great to step into a space full of so many varieties of truth and originality. I don't know if this means I'll start going to museums. In museums there so often a sense of how you're supposed to value the art they've already chosen for you. But I think I might give a bit more of this a try. See what being around creative, original energy inspires.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Nostalgia

Amazing how easy it is to get nostalgic the minute it comes time to say good-bye. Even when you've set the ending in motion, even when you know exactly why it's time to move on, even when you know how good and important it is to move forward, it's easy to get nostalgic.

Maybe it's the place deep inside of each of us that knows whatever unfolds in our lives, no matter how it looks, results from our own choices. And so we're saying good-bye to a creation of our own making. Gratitude, appreciation, recognition - all good antidotes to the temptation to hold on when good-bye is inevitable.

I'm Done

I’m done. I’m done being an archaeologist, a paleontologist, sorting through the past looking for meaning. I’ve searched through the recent past, the distant past and the ancient past, sifting through the shards and fragments, the dirt and dust of my own personal history, looking for hidden significance in each memory, each experience, each relationship.

I’ve found invaluable information. Clues and hints about who I am and why. I’ve discovered endless details about what has shaped me into who I am today. But the search through my past ends here. The endless excavation is over.

I’ve understood and explained and uncovered and discovered and investigated and explored everywhere I could think of. I’ve made sense of sorrow and confusion and chaos and tragedy. And it’s all meant something. Which I appreciate deeply and reverently.

But nothing means as much as the meaning I’m making in my life right now, right here, as it unfolds before me. Nothing in the past means more than the present, more than reality as it emerges from within me, taking shape in the real world in new experiences, new relationships and a new me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why I Had to Fall in Love

I had to fall in love. I had to find out what it would feel like, what I would be like, after all this time, in the midst of this emotional sea. I had to find out so many things without there being any real potential for devastating consequences…
  • I had to see if I could open my heart again to something other than G*d
  • I had to know that I could love without making someone pay a terrible price for getting close to me
  • I had to see what had been hidden away that I really wanted to share
  • I had to find out what else I wanted to share along with my heart (open my heart, open my arms, open my mind, open my home…?)
  • I had to know that this was a choice I wanted to make, not simply a compulsion I couldn’t resist
  • I had to find a way to turn to disgust into acceptance into grace
  • I had to leave judgment aside – judging others for the potential harm they might do me and rejecting parts or all of them because of it
  • I had to find out that connection is better than no connection
  • I had to learn that G*d isn’t standing over me with a switch, waiting to punish me for being true to myself
  • I had to accept my own nature without reservation or hesitation
  • I had to remember how much physical touch means to me – how much it soothes my emotional core
  • I had to remember that for all of my spiritual experience, what I love is life and people and it’s where I’m most alive
  • I had to know that everything changes, everything is fluid, and that I am as well. That I don’t need a fixed point of relationship perfection upon which to stop.
  • That I can do this. That I can be part of this world, and that this is where I shine, not in the darkness of some dimly lit meditation room, sending all my energy to a world beyond this one.
  • I had to start enjoying being in this body, accepting that pleasure isn’t just a sinful indulgence that leads to certain downfall.
  • That other people, other human beings, have so much to teach me, so much to share with me, so much of their own beauty, and how to accept the blessing of their love in my life
  • That my life is not in constant conflict with my own values
  • That I can connect with others even before I reach a point of completion within myself and that it’s ok for people to see and know that
  • That I don’t have to wait until I’m fearless to move forward with even just a little bit of courage
  • That it’s not the worst possible thing in the world be emotionally open to someone else; it might be one of the best…
  • That sharing my heart doesn’t require that I give it away wholesale
  • That love – real love – cannot exist where there’s no respect. Self respect and respect for another are the constant companions of the kind of love I value
  • That I have a great appreciation for souls who know their own worth and value and stand firm within it
  • That karma doesn’t override choice
  • To know that I am the holder of the truest part of me and to stop expecting others to reveal it to me
  • That this is where things get really good

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thank You, Australia


Thank you, Australia. Thank you for everything.

For the hot sunny days that warmed me in places I didn't know I had grown cold.

For the cool green grass to dig my toes into, absorbing and soothing my own chaotic energy.

For the woman who visited Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, and was so excited to meet someone who knew where that was.

For the shop owner who thought carrying a 'Banana Guard' was a good idea to help folks protect their...bananas.

For the sweet doggies I turned out not to be very allergic to at all.

For all the strangers I met who were cheery and friendly and curious and helpful and relaxed and didn't feel like strangers at all.

For the birds flying around that seem so exotic in their cages here, and are so free in nature there.

For so much space and not too many people to fill it up.

For the thunderstorms breaking the heat, placating the drought a little, and clearing the air.

For the train system that was so easy to navigate that I never got lost.

For being a world away and still feeling like home.

For your incredible generosity in letting me come and just sit and be and think and feel and not need anything much in return.

For the spectacular memento of my journey there that sits on my bookshelf here.

For the guys out on a 'buck's night' that made me feel like the most touristy of tourists ever.

For the amazing ripe fruit, so juicy and delicious.

For 'Kath & Kim'...noice!

For the friends I have and the friends I made.

For the endless and endlessly gorgeous coastline.

For all the yummy (vegetarian) food.

For so generously returning the part of myself that I left there last time and desperately needed back.

For the great coffee shops where you can just sit and be and no one minds at all.

For all the slang I'm still trying to learn (but will never use, I promise).

For summer when it's winter everywhere else.

For being exactly what I needed but wasn't sure I'd find.

Thank you, Australia. Thank you for everything.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Slip Sliding...

My writing feels too removed...ideas about experience instead of experience itself. Soon though.

Getting words to slide right into the center of me, instead of getting stuck in my mind. Or getting words to slip right out of the center of me.

Uncensored, unedited, unself-conscious. Words reflecting the pure ease of being. Or the ease of pure being. The words keep changing as I do. More raw. More real.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Devotion

I have a very devotional nature, which for some reason I didn’t notice until just now. I guess it’s what motivated me to dedicate my life to G*d, and shows up in various ways in my closer relationships.

Devotion is deep love, commitment to some purpose, maybe the need to serve God and others. I think it got all smushed up, my love for G*d fueling my sense of commitment to being of service, which gave meaning to my life. ‘Cause I genuinely like to help, to make things better, to fix what’s broken, to bring order to chaos, to provide comfort. It makes me feel good – it makes me feel better.

I’m no kind of saint, and there’s plenty of helping to be done that I’m not the right person for. But since I was young and looking for the Truth, I knew that if I found it I would dedicate myself to it completely. Which I did, in my own way. But I’ve gotten sidetracked here and there, mixing up Truth with lots of other good stuff that wasn't Truth at all.

Spiritual devotion is one thing. Add in the more human and emotional aspects, and it begins to look different. But no matter what, I need some constructive outlet for that devotional nature. And now that I understand what it is a little better, I think I can finally do something useful with it that I enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Not Trying; Being

I’ve tried to be so many things at different times in my life, but no more trying – just being at this point. I only have my own story to tell, and I think it’s time to tell it, time to admit the absolute reality of who I am, how I am. They say G*d loves an honest heart, so He’s gotta love me to pieces.

22 years ago, I found myself in a place of pure safety and spirituality, and was happy to do so. I wanted the protection of rules and regulations, of policies and procedures, for every aspect of my life. I wanted to know how to think and speak and act in accordance with the highest spiritual laws in existence, and how to wed my heart completely with G*d’s. I wanted to know exactly how to become free from sorrow here and now, how to transcend the misery of ordinary human existence, and how to elevate the most mundane to the most sacred.

I wanted to know all of that, and I think I learned it actually. I think I learned exactly that, and I’m quite certain I’m better for it in every way. I am better for the years of discipline, obedience, cleanliness, surrender, celibacy, vegetarianism, meditation, study, spiritual retreat, teaching, etc. I am better for every second that I gave over to G*d and spirituality, better for every moment of purity and powerful understanding that I gained. The accumulation of virtues and qualities have served me well again and again and again.

I cannot begin to find fault with the absolute beauty of this way of being, this way of thinking, this way of becoming. I cannot find fault with my spiritual brothers and sisters who have embarked equally sincerely on a journey to their own betterment, their own perfection. I cannot find fault with all those contemplating this journey or those well along the way because I understand the need, the desire, the impetus that makes this journey an absolute necessity. I could have done nothing else at the time, and have no regrets.

I just know my own journey is now moving in a different direction, one I’m more interested in than anything I can ever remember, and one that feels more real and more right than I had hoped.

I’ve been running away from the truth of myself, certain that my spiritual goals and personal goals were so incompatible that I had to give up on the personal goals. And that lasted for a long time, certain that the spiritual sacrifice of overcoming my own ego, my own desire, was more important that making my dreams come true. I was certain that my spiritual effort was enough to overcome any unhappiness I created for myself, and that G*d would make my dreams come true, even the ones I wouldn't admit I had.

But this isn't what G*d does. What He does is purify energy, restoring it to it's original perfect state. So it doesn't make much sense to hand my fantasies over to Him, hoping that He'll pick up where I left off 'cause I don't have the energy to continue. These are my dreams, and pretty nice ones at that. And they need my energy, my direction, my input. And most of all, they need me to live them.


(My) Conversations with G*d

  • There will be no one before You, G*d. I am giving You my heart and soul completely and only, 100%. I will love only You, and it’s Your love that will move through my life.
  • I’ll only love You. But you don’t mind if I have friends and share that love with them, right? Your love is supposed to be shared, right…? I promise this won’t interfere with anything else I’m supposed to be doing. I think.
  • Ummm…I’m not sure how well this is working for me. I absolutely love You, and want to love only You. I have made this promise for a lifetime, and seem to suck at loving other people, but I don’t know that this is really working for me. I feel a little stuck here. But I’m sure this will work out. I just need to try harder and understand deeper.
  • OK. I totally love You. Just You. Really. Maybe I love my family a little too, and the little kids are pretty great. And I kinda love my friends. And this entire on-line community I’ve immersed myself in (but don’t tell anyone). And I’ve met this guy on-line who I think I’ve known for lifetimes who’s also pretty lovable. And I feel a little more lovable myself with him. But all love comes from You anyway, right? This is just Your love moving through me, so I’m sure all these other relationships are just the stuff of spiritual service to humanity. Like I promised. I think.
  • I keep talking to this guy and am soooooo enjoying his company. Probably way too much, actually. But I won’t love him. Or maybe I will, but just a little bit, so You’ll hardly notice. I mean, we’re supposed to love all of humanity, right? And he’s part of that, so I’m sure this is fine. And we’re just friends, so it won’t interfere with any of the other promises I’ve made. Right? Right? Must be right.
  • I think I might be loving this guy a little bit more than I’m loving a lot of other things about my life right now. I’m certainly loving who/how I am in relationship with him, and that can’t be good. I should probably stop talking with him. Except I don’t want to. Shoot. What do I do with that?
  • OK. I’ve got it all figured out. This’ll be really easy. I’ll just love this one guy. I don’t want to break my promises to You, so I’ll just love this one guy and no one else, and You’ll hardly notice, and then I’ll get right back to taking care of my spiritual life. That should be ok, right? Loving him won’t interfere with anything – I can still be celibate and keep all my yogi disciplines. What an elegant solution. Except ~ I don’t think any of this is working anymore actually.
  • I do love You. Really. That’s true. I just seem to be wanting to love a lot more than You. And while I’ve tried to love just this one guy, it’s a bit of a disaster. Our relationship doesn’t really work very well this way, me deciding he’ll be the one person I can safely love without jeopardizing my spiritual commitments. It’s too much pressure, too much focus, too much intensity and too much expectation. And it’s killing the fun. And it’s making me crazy.
  • I’m not enjoying how this is working out. My elegant solution isn’t a solution to anything other than trying to keep a promise to You that I don’t want to keep. My ‘solution’ is just keeping me fundamentally dishonest with myself about who I am. And it’s making the focus of this journey about this guy and our relationship, which isn’t actually what any of this is about. And I think we’re both starting to hate the way things feel between us, which is a shame since somewhere underneath it all there’s so much love.
  • I don't think this is what You ever were asking of me. I don't think this is the promise You needed me to make. I don't think pretending is a spiritual virtue.
  • OK. I’m putting an end to this craziness I started. I can’t do this anymore. I love You. Always and forever, but not the way I was trying so hard to love You. Just naturally, from my heart, however I do. And I love this guy too, but not only, and not the way I was trying so hard to love him. Just naturally, from my heart, however I do. And most importantly, I love myself here too, and not the way I was trying so hard to do. Just naturally, from my heart, however I do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Finally

I feel like I’ve finally gotten rid of an awful parasite. Tapeworms are disgusting intestinal parasites that attach themselves to their hosts, and then proceed to feed off them, diverting nutrients, and depleting energy reserves. Returning from my lovely, lovely, lovely vacation, I feel like I’m free of some energetic parasite that had been robbing me of emotional energy, stability and stamina. It has somehow been eradicated from my system, finding me now as its host inhospitable and incompatible with its endless need. Finally.

All that awful confusion, emptiness, neediness, etc., that has haunted me seems to have been left behind, maybe burned away by the hot Australian sun, or left in the baggage hold during my long journey. However, wherever it went, I don’t care. At least not for the moment. I'll figure that out later. I’m just glad it has left. I feel back to myself again, but a better self and a happier self, and maybe most importantly, a freer self. Finally.

That emotional parasite ate away at my confidence, self-esteem, humor, perspective, joy, understanding, love, generosity, acceptance of me and others. It kept me locked up in a claustrophobic little space of fear and insecurity, too tired and overwhelmed to free myself, and too confused to see my way out. But now it’s gone, cleared out of my system, leaving room for all the better stuff – the more real stuff. Finally.

I actually found myself singing “Zippity-Do-Da” on my walk to work today, and thought this must be the sound of joy; when your heart has a song in it and it just comes out of your mouth just for the sake of wanting expression. I’m so glad to have made it to this side of things. Finally.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Melting

They are falling away, like icicles melting in the sun, my sweet little fantasies (and the big ones too), dripping away into oblivion, their form and structure reduced to nothing more than tears, salty water carrying away a lifetime of fear, disappointment and over-burdened expectation.

And it’s really not this big dramatic scene like I thought it would be. But it still means something – a lot actually. Which is nice, ‘cause I want meaning in my life. Just not manufactured meaning.

There is a lot of lightness and easiness and joy that’s been trying to get out from under all the too-serious concern and the entombed fantasies that took me hostage. All this feeling, this emotion, that seemed so complicated, is pretty simple stuff. It’s just energy and it just needs to flow. No complication at all really until it gets all dammed up, and then the pressure builds. And then it IS complicated, ‘cause then I have to act like some engineer, operating complex mechanics that I don’t begin to understand, regulating far too much that should be natural.

It’s going to take a little bit of time ‘till I get graceful with all of this. I think I’ll give it until 1:00 today. Because things that seem like they need a lot of time often don’t, and it helps me a lot to have an actual deadline that I can get organized around. 1:00 worked pretty well last time.

I think the hard work has already been done anyway. This just the re-organizing, re-adjusting part, the straightening up and setting things right part, and a few hours is more than enough time for that.

It's Up To Me

It's obviously up to me. Clearly my choice. I just have to be willing to make it, which I have avoided at all costs. But ain't no one gonna do it for me. So - ok. Yes. My decision is yes. I keep waiting for lightening to strike or buildings to fall on my head or '666' to magically appear on my forehead, but nothing like that has happened at all. I say "yes'. And the reply back is "ok then. Well done." Was it always this simple?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Amazing Invisible Woman

I have sought invisibility for so long that I almost believed its what I wanted. I have disappeared from so many people and so many situations, even while in the midst of them. Had I been a magician, my disappearing trick would have won rave reviews.

But I don’t want to be invisible; I spent most of that time waiting to be noticed anyhow. I want to be seen and heard and understood and known. And I want to offer the same confirmation of being to others.

What we seem to suffer from most in the Western world is a great invisibility of being. Others can see our cars, our houses, our spouses, our children, our clothes, our bodies, our professional qualifications, our diplomas, our resumes, our possessions, our failings, but don’t see the place of pure being.

Having that acknowledged, accepted and embraced, even once, changes everything. It’s the moment where hope turns into possibility, where experience turns into understanding, and where we come back alive again.

Saying Yes

I can live in someone else's world for a little while, but I always have to come back to myself. Back to the place where things feel right for me. I have been waiting for a long time for someone to step up and make it okay for me to be who I am, but it's not happening. I'm the one who's got to say 'yes' if it's going to happen.

How much better to embrace who I am than to walk around with the constant question mark in my eyes, watching to see if this is finally the person/place/thing that's going to make me being me be ok. Being pulled outside myself so much just to get a reflection back of who I am is crazy-making. And even worse, it doesn't work.

I am surrounded by absolutely wonderful people, and the reflection I get back from each one is slightly different but equally marvelous, and it's still not the answer I'm seeking. I will never believe another person's perception of me more than my own, which is why it's got to come straight from me, and not through the filter of another, no matter how much I crave/enjoy/appreciate what I see.

Cynicism, sarcasm, detachment, indifference, analyzing, intellectualism, judgement and disdain have been great dividers in my life, keeping me from having to admit just how much like the rest of the human family I am. I have kept my distance, believing it to be some talisman with magical powers that would keep me safe from my own or others' weaknesses. But I think it's simply time to give some space in my life - my heart - for others. And without all the rules and restrictions, without all the impositions I've forced on others about who I am and how they must relate to me.

So now it's just a matter of admiting all of this, first to myself...the dreams and hopes and aspirations, and then working on bringing them to life. I don't know how else to live my way into my own potential and truly enjoy seeing others do the same for themselves.