Monday, December 20, 2010

Dating 101

I'm pretty clear about who I am in most aspects of life, but in terms of relationship, intimate, emotionally connected, committed relationship, that same clarity has been elusive.  I've not been sure where the center of me is in relation to a man I could take seriously, and this uncertainty has been unnerving and disorienting.

I'm sure I'm not the only person struggling this way, but I take these sorts of things very seriously, and was acutely bothered by the internal discomfort, so much so, that I pushed people far enough away to not feel it.  I have only ever fallen in love with men who could never be mine, and then pine over the distance, though in subtle and quiet ways.  It is safe and predictable sorrow to love someone from a vast distance, and safe and predictable to make such a choice.

But it occurs to me now, at this somewhat unusually late stage in life for these kinds of revelations, that intimacy isn't some sort of awkward test of worthiness, and that not only am I equally entitled to my share of it, but that I can actually bring something of benefit and value with me.  It occurs to me that I might be a great partner to some lucky man if we shared our lives with each other.  Perhaps my years of working on and refining my character make me a wonderful match for a spiritually mature man, and him for me.

I have only previously considered this as some sort of fantasy, but from where I sit now, it looks like a very do-able reality.  Not all rose petals and romance, but interesting, engaging, juicy real life.  And I'm up for it.  Which I didn't know before, but I know now, and am delighted to see in myself.

Monday, November 15, 2010


It's not nearly so complicated as it has seemed for a while now.  You just have to take it out of the box and get it in the air and light and give it some breathing space, and the complication falls away just like dust.

What seemed like complication was simply what happens trying to stuff it all away in that little box you made for it, hiding and protecting it, and thinking that it needed hiding and protecting.  That's complicated.

The heart functions so much better wide open and free, holding onto nothing, letting love pump through it with every beat, bringing in and sending out nourishment and life.  Try to hold on for even a second, try to stop the beat even once, and you've got complication all over the place.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Didn't Read the Book; I Saw the Movie

I occasionally participate in a a film discussion group, and the film topic of one of the meetings was the movie "The Reader".  My response to this Academy award winning film, starring Kate Winslet & Ralph Fiennes?  I just hated it.  I found the stories and characters underdeveloped and unformed in any way that made the movie engaging for me.

When I voiced my opinion, another woman in the group said that if I had just read the book first, everything would have made sense.  If I had just read the book, I would have understood the characters' motivation, their emotional lives, the nuances of the story historically, and so on and so on, and then I would have liked the movie.  Or at least understood it.

But here's the thing.  In the film discussion group, what we do is watch movies and talk about them.  I didn't read the book; I saw the movie.  And from a critical perspective, the movie needs to be able to stand alone.  If it's a good movie, I don't need the book first to make it so.  The book is not the movie.  I didn't read the book; I saw the movie. 

And now this is my catch phrase for so many things in life that are incomprehensible on their own, and can only be understood if you get the back story.  All the ways that people and situations are confusing or unpleasant or difficult, and how we convince ourselves that if we just try harder to understand, everything will sort itself out.

And women especially work hard on understanding, supporting, accommodating, and trying again and again to make 'it' work.  We talk to our friends, consult experts, and think too hard and too long to get ourselves comfortable with what we know makes us uncomfortable.

We read books and magazines and watch talk shows, trying to figure out how to adjust ourselves just so to make the things that don't work work better, certain that if we can just get to a place of deeper knowledge, that the discomfort will disappear and the disappointment will ease and the anger will turn to love.

But in reality, what's in front of us is just exactly what's in front of us.  And knowledge and understanding can change how we feel, and can soothe the mind and heart, but we can't simply discount what's there.  No matter how good 'The Reader' might have been as a book, as a movie it didn't speak to me, it didn't touch me, and it took up a lot of time I could have spent better elsewhere.

And no matter how deeply we can love, how hooked into the drama of difficult people and situations we can get, how truly sincere we are in wanting to help, we also need the clarity to recognize when we are doing that to our own detriment, when we are sustaining the problem instead of solving it.

For me, the hardest part of change is breaking old habits.  Change takes place at the exact speed at which old habits are broken, and new ones created. The little things you stop doing ~ the small details you have sculpted your interior landscape around that no one else even knows exist ~ this is where real change starts.  Big dramatic flourishes aren't so hard.  Sustaining that change in the midst of ordinary, every day life is the real test.  

I don't think the right answer after seeing a movie I don't like is to go read the book to find out why.  And the right answer in the face of confusion, disappointment, chaos, and discomfort might be just that simple too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This is a good time for me.  A very good time.  But in the middle of all of the good stuff, lurks the ghost of disappointment.  A deep and old habit of disappointment and anger.  I'm not sure I brought it into this life with me, but it's been swirling around for years and years, filling up any empty space, warning away anyone who tries to get too close, who tries to push past the mistrust it feeds off of and survives on.

It jumps in between me and any man who who could maybe get close to me, this ghost of the habit of anger and disappointment.  It can be cold and ferocious, so protective and capable, sharp and quick and hard working.

But the ghost is fading, the energy that created it losing focus and strength.  And that's a very good thing.  I don't need that ghost as my protector.  I have character and virtue and G*d and a good mind and heart for that.  But there's some sorrow at watching it dissolve, some feeling that I have been trying to hard to make things work a certain way, that I have completely betrayed myself, and in doing so, lost my center, lost myself, lost the chance for real intimacy along the way.

That chance is still there, and nothing is lost forever, but there have been losses.  Wonderful opportunities have also opened up in that same space, but the opportunities now don't require a choice between me or others, me or men, intimacy or G*d.

I know there is a place for me in the world of human relationships, and this ghost won't scare me off or anyone else now either.  But when there's loss, even the loss of a haunting ghost, there's some emptiness, some hesitation, some sadness, some feeling that nothing will be the same, even if what's next will be better and already is.

Forcing myself onto people and into places I don't belong, hiding away from the people and places I do, and being indifferent to where I already am, isn't a very good reflection of anything true about me.  And while I gain this new sense of balance, I'm a little wobbly, missing the constant company of my ghost, feeling a little lonely in its absence, but optimistic nonetheless.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I have been drawn to the spiritual from the time I can remember anything.  I wanted to know the Truth with a capital "T", never content with the answers or lack thereof that permeated religious conversation.  I found inconsistencies and illogical conclusions and ideas about faith that fell apart with even the slightest bit of examination.

And then I found a place to rest my weary soul, a philosophy and practice that gave me a context and framework for every one of my questions, that talked openly and clearly about G*d and sin and virtue and the nature of time and space, all of it anchored as firmly in the ancient past as the distant future.  It came to me from India, and a culture and tradition shaped by all the greatness of Eastern thought.

It was a study and practice that gave me such solace, if for the simple fact that I could end the endless struggle against human ideas about G*d and their terrible insufficiencies.  And I could consider G*d as real and personal and belonging completely to me, and me to G*d, and it was a huge relief to not fight against the deep comfort this offered.

And it is still with me - this knowledge, this practice and especially this comfort.  But this summer, I traveled to Israel, and had an experience I never did have when I visited India.  Which was simply this.  Standing at the Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, surrounded by people and politics I'm deeply unsure about, I knew I was standing on Holy ground, that the holiness had been there for thousands of years, and all of was now in our hands.

Not just my hands, but our hands, the hands of all of us who feel this same connection even when we don't know exactly what it is we are connected to.  I do not know what has pulled me toward Judaism and this community and that land, after being so certain of where I belonged before, but I know enough to pay attention and see what comes next.

There is something in all this about compassion - something about taking the best of what we know about G*d and humanity, and sharing it clearly and openly with all the souls who are so in need of comfort and belonging, just exactly as I was and still am.  I'm trying to see my way through to how I can connect my Israel experience to my ordinary day-to-day life here in the Kansas, and what will bridge the gap between the Middle East and the Midwest.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Letting Go

I find that when I search my soul for the things that weigh me down and bring heaviness into my life, they are the things I'm inevitably holding onto myself.  I may not know why they are there or how they came to be, but still I'm clinging to them as if they are some sort of treasure, holding tight when all I really want is to let go.

I have a great gift available to me, and that is the ability to see the very best and truest nature of another soul.  Even when there is darkness and confusion clouding over the light, I can focus in such a way as to be able to see the pure potential that lies beneath. 

What I so often can't see is the very same thing in myself.  I cannot see with the same perspective and clarity, I cannot see with such razor sharp precision or with nearly the certainty that others appear to me.

And so I drag around the habits and fears and concerns that don't need their home in me, confusing what has value with what does not, what has meaning with what has memory, what I've acquired with what is truly mine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We (Jewish people) have so many rich and deep traditions, as you might expect from a religion that is thousands of years old.  And these traditions come from holy scripture as much as they come from culture and and all the other ways we human beings come to make meaning of our lives.  They are a combination of all the things we have collectively seen and done and known, and they have brought us to this point of organized liturgy - religious habits and practices that symbolize what it means to be Jewish in these times.

We have scripted prayer and ancient ritual and modern interpretation and biblical Hebrew and contemporary philosophy alongside the enduring words of divine inspiration.  And all of it works in its own way, for its own purpose, giving us a strong but often elusive identity of what it means to be Jewish.  And we agree almost as much as we disagree on what it means and what G*d intends.

And there is always so much to learn and know and see, ways into being Jewish that are religious or cultural or political or geographical or spiritual or philosophical or intellectual, and there isn't a single place in life where Jewish identity doesn't have some say, some pull, some sway. 

But for me, in the midst of all of this, the one thing I miss again and again and again, is the pure silence of union with G*d.  Before I even turned 20, I took a wonderful detour from Jewish experience and immersed myself in an Eastern practice of open-eyed meditative yoga, where I stayed for over 25 years.  And went deep, deep, deep into the practice of silent connection, silent union with G*d, a practice of profound and transformative power.

And while meditation was always accompanied by the rigorous work of refining the intellect through study, the power and purity attained in silent meditation, sitting intentionally with G*d, transcends anything the human mind can reach on its own through conscious effort. 

Daily disciplines guided every moment - every second of thinking and speaking and doing - creating an unending laboratory of spiritual experimentation.  We examined and tended every inch of the internal landscape of the mind and heart looking for the obstacles standing in our way of getting ever closer and closer to G*d, and in the process, getting ever closer and closer to the very best of who we could be.

The relentless pursuit of spiritual perfection is a daunting task for us mere mortals and ordinary human beings, but it opens space in the soul that sparkles with possibility in ways we can otherwise miss in our busy lives.  And for me, the polish on the sparkle came through diving deep into the powerful silence of G*d's presence. 

Communal meditation, a few or hundreds or even thousands of us, sitting together in that same silence, invoking the presence of G*d, created an atmosphere, a tangible 3-dimensional experience, of pure peace.  And you didn't have to meditate or even believe in G*d yourself to feel it.  Anyone could walk into this space and feel something wonderful and warm and comforting reaching back to embrace them.  And that something was just the simple beauty of spiritual power brought alive in silence.

So now, when I sit in synagogue, and listen to the prayers and the readings and the sermons, I appreciate the words and the work it took to put all of this together.  And I appreciate that this comes to me having been handed down from generation-to-generation, and I'm just the latest recipient of it all.  And I love that we continue to come together in community and am so grateful to count myself a part of the community.

But no matter what, I miss the silence.  I miss the space and time and intention of all of us sitting together in recognition of G*d's meaningful presence in each of our lives, opening our hearts to Him in silence, offering up everything we are and listening to hear what He has to say, our own thoughts quieter and slower and deeper than usual, and doing all this together.

Because Jewish community is as much about community as it is about G*d, and it's not enough to sit on a mountain top by yourself.  And it's also not enough to fill your head with so much law and learning that there's not room for anything else.  And it's not good to leave your heart empty especially when your head is too full.

I'm not sure where the place and space is for us to come together in silence in Jewish life right now.  But I imagine that Jewish history is filled with such moments, when it was clear that all our thinking and talking was not a tall enough elevator to get us to G*d, and perhaps we've arrived at such a moment again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham

I wish my thoughts were as poetic and rhythmic as Green Eggs and Ham, but mostly what I do not like is just that I do not like the way I am feeling these days.  I am completely unsettled, working on the stuff that has lain dormant mostly, erupting only sometimes, causing deep discomfort whenever it has.

I am reminded, minute-by-minute, of the work needing to be done in the second chakra - this energy center which I have forced into uncomfortable submission for my own purposes eons ago.

"The Sacral chakra is about feeling and sexuality. When it is open, your feelings flow freely, and are expressed without you being over-emotional. You are open to intimacy and you can be passionate and lively. If...the Sacral chakra is under-active, you're not very open to people."
All the people and things that made me shut down so completely, all that I needed protection from, are long gone.  But the deep, deep habit of shutting myself off from others lingers awkwardly and pointlessly and insidiously, assaulting me without warming, bathing me in anxiety that exists no where else in my entire life.

I am fully grown-up in so many ways, able to be effective and useful and purposeful, but when it comes to intimacy, the merest hint takes my breath away.  This isn't just about sexuality here.  This is about the places people connect.  And when I say it takes my breath away, I mean literally.  I've suffered from asthma since I was very young, my breath having been taken away by another, and never returned.

There is nothing scary hiding away other than the ghosts of my own fears, memories I don't even have, having been banished before they could fully form.  But they swirl around me from time-to-time, keeping me from seeing the people right in front of me, keeping me from listening and paying attention to anything but them, so distracting that I might as well be alone.

My crown chakra, the place of spiritual connection, is wide open and glowing.  It is the place through which I have received all my sustenance, through which G*d speaks to me and I listen.  It is a place of glory and power and whatever grace I manage, I manage through here.

But it is not nearly enough.  And trying to make it sufficient means forcing every person, every relationship in my life, into a very narrow spiritual interaction, which is only a little satisfying on both ends.  Even when it's a lot satisfying, it's not complete. 

I've worked very hard for a long time to make it complete, finally overcome by my own inability to make it so.  And I willingly gave it up, this Sisyphean attempt to make something so that never could be.  But this has never translated into some easy way into being more open, more connected, more comfortable with others.

In fact, without the clear boundaries of a spiritual connection, I'm less certain than ever before what my relationships are about.  Hence this incredible discomfort, the need for some solitude until I stop feeling so sick all the time from the intensity.

I do not know of a resolution other than to simply keep working on myself, warming up and slowing down and feeling more and judging less.  But it's hard and I do it badly.  At least for now. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Coming Out of the Closet

I think it is time for me to come out of the closet.  I did once before, when I went to college.  I figured I must be gay since I didn't want to get married or have kids or date all the jerky guys I met.  I told my mom, and best friends, and joined groups.  Only trouble?  I'm not gay, so the whole lesbian thing was a total bust.  But at least I had the courage of my convictions, for as long as I had those convictions.

So I think it's time to emerge from the shadows again, and lay claim to what I know is true about myself ~ that I am, as the dictionary defines it, clairvoyant.


1 : the power or faculty of discerning objects not present to the senses
2 : ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception

I want to speak from the truest sort of knowing that I can, from the truth of my perception and understanding, and whatever wisdom comes with it.  I want to be honest about what I know and how.  I want to be able to say that what I know and remember and care about is the energy of the soul, and the rest just sort of floats around, sometimes attaching itself to memory, and often not at all, and that it doesn't really matter.

I want to tell about the transformative nature of G*d's love, and how sitting with Him in deep and sweet and powerful silence is better than anything any human being can offer me, though I do also appreciate the company of human beings in their own right.  I want to share the experience of meditation/raja yoga, without having to teach someone else's dogma and disciplines and institutionalized spirituality.

And maybe writing this down, thinking it aloud, will bring it to fruition.  Maybe G*d's been waiting on me to say 'yes'.  He usually does.  He's so patient that way - waiting for me to say yes, waiting for me to notice that He's waiting.  And then He's right there, ready whenever I am.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've struggled my whole life with being bored - being bored with whoever and whatever was around me, and feeling that everything seemed so and pointless and meaningless.

There were moments of finding a spark in someone or something that pulled me in, engaged me for at least a short time, making me feel alive and full of possibility.  But it never lasted - I had no idea how to sustain it, no idea how to stay engaged.

I like variety and anything that goes on for too terribly long feels tedious, but this isn't about being unable to pay attention or keep my focus.  It's about not having my heart fully engaged.  I was bored because I was just visiting someone else's playground, someone else's idea of fun or interesting or exciting.

I can see that now.  I can see that when I get bored, it's cause I need deeper engagement.  I'm not a good spectator.  I rarely want to be the person simply sitting and watching, and I know what I need to be engaged.

I need to know that I can make a difference.  And not in some abstract, send in your money or serve on a committee kind of way of making a difference.  I need to know I can make a difference in a way that changes the energy of a situation, that opens up possibilities that otherwise wouldn't exist, that shows people what otherwise is invisible. 

What does it mean to see the invisible?  It means I have the gift of insight, or clairvoyance.  I can't see what's ahead, and we can all see what's behind, but to see what's within?  That was entrusted to me long ago.  And I've waffled about what to do with it, hesitating, holding back, waiting for an invitation to join in.  But no one else knows what this gift is, let alone how I should be using it.

So of course I've been bored.  Of course I've been distracted and uninterested.  No one knows what invitation to extend, let alone that I've been waiting for an invitation at all.  And lots of people have sensed that I can help, but I've floundered when it comes to bringing what's within out into the world.

I've lived with this, inside out, for this lifetime at least, cultivating the healing power of silence to listen and transform, developing the space between thoughts where originality and creativity emerge.  It's my responsibility, to use this, and use it well.

Maybe this second half of life is about inviting myself into the game, sharing the gift where it's needed instead of waiting for someone else having to extend an invitation.  Maybe it's about trusting that the gift belongs not just to me, but to anyone it can help, and not being so shy, not simply waiting, but offering it generously and wholeheartedly.

Maybe it's about being willing to remind others that there's a rich, nurturing space within each soul that responds to pure spiritual energy, and I know some useful things about recovering the vibrancy and power that belongs to us - each of us.

'Cause it's the thing I love to do, and otherwise I'm not such good company anyway.  It can only be more interesting, more fun, more engaging, and more useful, which is all I've ever wanted.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Biggest Stress

The biggest stress in Israel, aside from never knowing where or when you will again find bathroom facilities, even though you need to stay HYDRATED, is that everyone tells you to negotiate prices.  Negotiate taxi fares, negotiate goods at the market, never settle for a price if you can get a better one.

But, of course, this is a land I've never been to before, and I have no idea what a fair price is.  How do I negotiate for a taxi ride to a place I've never ridden?  How do I know if 20 NIS is the right price and if the driver should really charge for extra passengers?  How do I know if he's driving out of his way to jack up the price, when I have no idea where we're going to begin with?

Reminds me of all the cautions your friends give you about relationships, all the things to look out for and be aware of even though you have no idea who you're really with just yet or how you feel or where things could possibly go.

It would be great to think that your past experience could guide you, but just like taking a taxi in Israel, all my other cab experiences didn't exactly apply.  When one cab driver told me how to spot a Jewish driver vs. an Arab driver, and to never go with an Arab driver, I thought this is really information I just can't use.  I can't interview cab drivers who stop on a street corner, and I'm not willing to divide the world up this way, especially when I'm already late for where I'm going...wherever that is.

My sister said at one point, her mother-in-law was mistakenly just hailing white cars driving by, not realizing that taxis have the little yellow "taxi" bubble on the top of the car.  When you don't know what you're doing, it's easy to mistake the real thing for what looks like it. 

So, in Israel, I negotiated where I could, where I understood the value of what I was negotiating for, and left the rest for those more experienced.  Everyone is trying to help you avoid being a sucker, being humiliated by your lack of knowledge, being played for a fool.  But sometimes you're just on your own, just having to figure it out as best you can - in Israel, in love, in life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Eternal Optomist

People who seem to know, say that it's all about people - specifically, that it's all about the people you love.

I've built a life around a particular notion of spiritual service, of helping and making a difference, but never getting stuck on any one person in particular, never connecting more with the person you're helping than connecting with G*d, which is how you're able to help people to begin with.

Which means that for me, I have kept a good distance from people, never allowing any kind of real intimacy or trust to form, always waiting for any connection to reach its end, to break and not be bothered by it.  No tears, no regrets, no long good-byes. 

I don't really know how to move from that distant perspective to up close and personal, from detached to engaged, from objective to caring, from helpful to loving. 

I have considered my cool detachment one of my greatest virtues, a talent honed and crafted over many years, letting others be fully themselves with no need for me or them to shape our lives around each other. 

And maybe there is virtue in it.  Attachment causes endless sorrow as well, so it's not that I aspire to it instead.

But I can be cruel without meaning to be so.  I have little tolerance for human weakness, for human anything really, and I'm always hoping that people will live up to my highest expectations, even when I'm completely incapable of doing the same.

I cannot bear the ordinary failures of daily life, even when I'm the one doing the failing.  And I'm not really sure how to get beyond that.  I feel like someone needs to show me light and easy and fun, but I don't think I've been all that receptive. 

Get too close, and I violate every rule of improv, with tons of "no's" and "buts" and everything else that stops communication and connection.  "Yes, and" requires so much trust and openness, so this is what I'm working on. 

Not nearly as gracefully as I would hope, and with little of the same confidence that I do most anything else.  But I am working on it.  Even if it doesn't look like it.  I promise.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Happens Now?

I knew when I left Chicago I was leaving behind everything. I just didn't know what that everything actually was. I didn't realize that along with the job, the meditation center and spiritual family, the wonderful friends, the amazing city, the great restaurants, etc., I was also leaving behind my entire identity.

I didn't realize how deeply and completely I had given my life over to the certainty that I was chosen by G*d Himself to help repair this planet, help wounded souls heal, and give comfort in the form of rich, deep and powerful silence. And I worked with others who shared the same certainty, that G*d was working through our hands and hearts and minds. And I'm still certain He was.

But there were other pulls, reminding me daily that for all my aspirations of being an angel, there were other energies screaming for release and expression. And they were interfering mightily with the silence, reminding me of everything I sacrificed to become the angel I tried to be. And it wasn't a joyous sacrifice, but rather an angry sacrifice, mixed with plenty of doubt. Not the sort of stuff that's so easy for even G*d to work with.

And the moment where the doubt and anger overwhelmed the peaceful silence was the beginning of the end of this wonderfully hopeful chapter in my life. It was the end of being sustained by my own hopes and the good wishes of others who saw a greatness in me I wanted to believe in.

The sacrifice was worth it, even in the 20/20 clarity of hindsight. I have experienced and learned so much I could not know otherwise, and have met so many amazing people. And now it's time to do something with all these gifts. I did not leave G*d behind in Chicago, and I know there's still plenty of work needing to be done. I know comfort still often comes in the form of rich, deep and powerful silence, and I know how to offer that well.

I'm living in a world now that values silence a little less, preferring to fill it with words and ideas and discussions. But there's also wonderful laughter and real community and caring that comes along with it. I'm touched deeply at how this community aligns and re-aligns itself again and again to offer support and protection. And I'm amazed and deeply humbled that I've been so warmly included.

I haven't figured out yet what the bridge between these two worlds looks like for me. But I'm working on it with some of the loveliest souls you can imagine, who have themselves somehow managed to remain free of the cynical detachment that threatened to kill my spirit for a long time.

I have so much to learn from them, about how to help and what that means. And I'm deeply grateful for the company.

Monday, May 31, 2010

When I Die

I attended a funeral today.  I haven't been much for life cycle events, which means I'm completely unschooled in my society's customs for how to handle these things.  I don't know what people typically do them or how, so I always feel a little like I'm visiting a foreign country when I attend such events.  But I'm committed to being fully human, and understand you can't scrimp on this stuff.

The service was simple and touching, and made me realize what kind of funeral I want.  I think cremation is good for my body, but I'm not sure I care.  For my service though, I want laughter.  Not sad laughing, but real laughing.  I hope my life helped people always connect through laughter, and elevate anything with this most divine experience.

I want a montage of all my favorite movie/tv clips, from Office Space to Best in Show, with a couple powerfully touching scenes thrown in.  And I want people to tell any story they want to share about their time with me.  And I want a sound track, because music is the sound track of my life, and songs evoke more feeling than any spoken word ever does.

And I want people to feel ok being together and talking and hanging out and whatever else happens.  Because what divides us so much is not knowing what to say or what's ok, and that's how I always feel at these events.  I'm fine talking about death and dying and grief and loss - I just don't know what is customary and traditional. 

I think it's wonderful to be able to be with people and not feel like everyone must be comforted or consoled ~ sometimes it's a great show of respect to just let people feel what they are feeling and be present.  Presence can be everything.  Isn't this what the unconditional love we feel from pets is?  Their presence?  Not saying, not helping, just being present. 

So - laughter and truth and music and presence.  That's what I want on the occasion of my passing, and on every day of my life.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

G*d Is Still Talking. Is Anyone Still Listening?

I've sat through many classes taught by thoughtful teachers, exploring why G*d chose Abraham.  Or Noah.  Or Moses.  The instructor asks why G*d chose these particular souls to speak to, and what was special about them?  What can we understand about these men and what can we know about G*d by figuring this out. Which I find a spectacularly uninteresting question.

Our knowledge of these men, or many of the other prophets, is extremely limited.  How much could we ever know about Abraham, and how much do I want to guess about what I can never know?.  And even if I know why G*d chose any one of them, I'm not suddenly going to be able to emulate Abraham and therefore guarantee G*d's voice in my own ear.  I want to be able to hear that voice and be true to myself, not some imitator or impersonator.

No - this is not what I notice about the men in these stories.  What I notice about Abraham, or Noah or Moses, is that one human soul, willing to listen to the voice of G*d, and act on what is heard, can change the world.  I don't know what made them special, but I'm inclined to think it was their willingness to listen to G*d's voice, and act accordingly.

How many of us hear that voice?  Hear it subtlety or loudly, hear it waking us up at night or comforting us in sorrow or confronting us in a moment of challenge?  Hear it through the inspired words of another, the transforming beauty of nature, the poetry of a child's thinking?  And then how many of us ignore it.  We doubt or question or hesitate or wonder or look for confirmation, and in that moment of hesitation, that moment of doubt, the power to move and change and do is lost.

And then we wonder how much greatness it takes for a human soul to hear G*d, or for G*d to choose that soul, because it seems beyond our capacity, beyond our talent or skill or experience or ability.  But I'm not sure it isn't just one person listening, hearing, and then doing.  That simple.  That profound.  That important.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making the (right) Choice

I have made many changes in my life, some small and subtle, some ferocious and forever.  But most of those changes have been about walking away from what didn't work.  Which I am expert at.  Walking away that is.  I have been attached more to G*d and my own personal freedom than just about anything else, and so walking away was always wrapped in the illuminating halo of choosing the spiritual over the mundane.

And I've ended up in some really interesting places with some wonderful folks by leaving where I had been.  I will never think that sticking it out just for the sake of doing so is any kind of virtue.  But recently I ran up against a situation that I didn't like and didn't think could work, and knew I needed to at least remind myself that opportunity is always available, and that change is always out there waiting for me, like a sometimes lover, no expectation, but plenty of encouragement.

And after getting my bearings, I decided to do what I almost never do, and that is to see if there wasn't some way to figure it all out and make it work. Before, I'd either commit to something on the basis of pure faith, certain that it would work because it had to work.  Or I'd head in another direction, certain it wouldn't work because it didn't work.

But this has been completely different.  And I think this is part of what happens maybe when you grow up a bit and stop defending your rightness as your most valuable asset.  What happened was that I explained myself and my concerns and talked the situation through carefully and thoughtfully, and decided that staying might be very interesting.

That staying would require an level of engagement and cooperation and openness that I have never freely offered to anyone or anything here on planet earth, but that would be the perfect kind of challenge and opportunity that I needed.  It would require that I get involved and pay attention and actually listen to others and give value to what they had to say.  And that in doing so, I could make things better for everyone right where I was, instead of making things better for myself by leaving.

This is likely only radical sounding if you are as certain as I have often been that other people are mostly a nuisance.  And it's got me thinking that other people might in fact be important in my life in so many ways, and I might be potentially important in their lives as well.  And while G*d may be first, He's not first last and everything in between.  And I think He's totally cool with that.   I think He's been trying to get me to notice that for a loooooong time.

So I didn't decide to stay because my situation is perfect.  I decided to stay because it's my situation and I'm excited about what I'm learning by staying in the middle of it.  I'm learning how to use my words to say what I mean and mean what I say, and then stop talking and get to back to doing and being.  

Faith has guided my steps in this life at every turn.  This time it's faith in what's real and human and doable, and faith in myself.  I never had such grounded faith before, and I gotta say it feels pretty good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So Much To Learn

I think the most complicated part of contemporary life is that there is just so much to learn. 

You have to learn how to use your computer, learn to drive, learn to use all the electronic devices that run your home/work/life, learn how to eat right, how to exercise right, what insurance you need, how to invest, what to wear, how to put on make-up, what to buy, when to buy it, from who to buy it for the best price, how to program the electronic devices that run your home/work/life, what medicines to take, what medicines to avoid, what to do if you have to mix medicines, what to ask, what you know that you don't know, who to support, who to vote for, which charity you can trust, what bank is safe, what's a good password to use, how to remember your good password without compromising your on-line security, how to use social networking sites, how to protect your identity in cyber-space, how to meet-up, how to hook-up, how to take it to the next level, how to end it, how to RSVP, how to handle an awkward situation, how to handle in-laws, how to handle a boss, how to write a resume, how to interview, how to negotiate a salary, how to negotiate a parking space, how to divine your purpose in life, what positive thinking makes a difference, what positive thinking is pure bullshit, when to change your oil, the right tire pressure is for your car, how to TiVo your favorite show, how to buy and eat organic.

I'm guessing as you read this you're thinking of all the things you need to learn/know/do just to get through it all yourself.

I know that body odor, lice, rotten teeth and no safe place to save money were real and serious problems for peasants in the 1600s, but sometimes I think the simplicity of such a life was worth the trade off.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Illusion and Illusionists

Neptune is still making her stealthy crawl across my chart, dissolving and eroding and revealing.  And I deal with it because there's nothing else to do about it.  I'm just now getting to the point of appreciating that what has dissolved and eroded was like barnacles on a ship's hull - stuff growing and feeding off what's inside, hiding what's beneath and impeding free flowing forward movement.

I can tell when I'm moving in the wrong direction, when things aren't feeling right, and I can even tell what's wrong, but I can't always see why I feel the way I do.  And it hit me today that I've been angry - flat out pissed off - from being disappointed by a situation I thought I had under control.  But it turns out that nothing is like I thought or understood or had tried to secure.

I was expecting good things for myself.  And I was counting on someone else's good nature to make it so.  I didn't realize how deeply I was in over my head with hoping and expecting.  Until 2010 hit, and it's suddenly obvious that none of my hoping, or the plans I built around being hopeful, had any weight in reality.  At least not in any shared reality.

And it's what Neptune has uncovered again and again over the past 4 years.  That hopes and dreams and faith are powerful, but they need grounding in the 3-dimensional time-space continuum  appearing as mutually agreed-upon reality.  And while the good nature of human beings is lovely to behold, it nothing to base your faith on.

If you are lucky, your clear communication is actually clear.  And what you meant is what someone else will understand.  And what they meant is what you will understand.  But since life these days rarely runs so smoothly, Mercury comes along and goes retrograde everyone once in a while to point out the places where the confusion exists, and the meaning has been lost.

And in these 3 blessed weeks of Mercury's apparent backward travel, what has become incredibly, indelibly clear, is that nothing is clear, nothing has been understood, and there is no mutually agreed-upon reality.  There is reality in my mind, in my imagination, and it doesn't resemble a reality that anyone seems even aware of.

I don't have a death wish (as was suggested to me), hoping for a life free from the encumbrances of  pesky humanity.  I have a life wish to have the patience it takes to work with this peculiar species, to understand their use of language and symbols, their grooming habits and social interactions, their office politics and budget priorities.

And I'm sure Neptune will keep dissolving and eroding everything that stands between me and Truth, even if it's the flimsy wall of my own thin skin.