MY MARRIAGE IS THE COUNTRY I return to between all the others; where I rest, recover, reflect, re-live, and rejoice. My husband is my travel journal; that beat up, worn leather thing with all the dried flowers and ticket stubs falling out of it. May a sense of home, enclosed by arms, and a leather-bound love, always be with you.
BY ALL APPEARANCES, my backpack is stiff with stagnancy. But my absence belies. For all the spiritual journeys and cross-road training I imagined myself on in my 20′s – I now get that it’s all training-wheels. Just as my frequent flier miles have incidentally bumped me to first class this year – so have the mantras and world views accumulated from my travels in the East resurfaced with ready rigor now that I find myself on the razor’s edge of experiential understandings of life and death. Friends, do not play off your travels as youthful whims. The mental muscles and spiritual flexibility exercised and earned will prepare you for the inevitable life asanas that no yogi, no matter how recluse, can escape.
To all those that donate blood and platelets – I want you to know that I think about you. I wonder what your motivations were. Did you once spend nights in ER rooms like me? Watching your father wither in delirious discomfort knowing that the only thing keeping all those terrible hospital monitors beeping is that maroon bag of blood seeping another few weeks of life back into his marrow? I think about you. And I thank you. For the bonus birthday party. For the extra egg-hunt. For one more trip to the beach or the Bonneville dam to watch the spring season of salmon swim up riverbed stairs.
All the while, new life in my belly kicks reminders that he is here, and he wants stories; especially those behind my tears. And so I whisper to him about the cycle of death and life – and of the fairness of it all. My words are as much a comfort to myself as to the spirit that chose me, my body and my path, to ride into this world. He understands, as all those closer to the spirit world do. And he knows, just as he starts turning cartwheels like clockwork when his father walks in the door and immediately makes his mother do the one thing she does better than anything else: laugh. Belly laughs, belly babies, and belly-talking dads, go well together. How grateful I am to this 6-month old spirit for the balance he’s already brought to my life. I had my suspicions, and now I get to learn the fact for myself. It’s easier. Putting others before yourself. Putting the exhaust of self-centeredness to rest. My first lesson in motherhood.
China last week. Oregon this week. Costa Rica next week. And Mexico the following. I thought getting married would slow me down. Then I thought, surely, pregnancy would. I could say baby would – but those would be poor odds, now, wouldn’t they?
Writing is healing for me. It’s also composting, seeding and harvesting for me. It’s spring – and my gardens need tilling. Can’t promise you that I’m not talking about my real gardens and not the metaphorical writing one. But I’ll try my best to attend to both.
Past are the afternoons scribbling in journals on wooden docks floating between home and away.
Silenced are the nagging questions of my 20′s as to my exact being, purpose, and fate.
Retreated has the wave of life overwhelm that I used to feel ever sneaking up behind my back.
And taken are the pictures of sunsets, flowers and friends met along the way.
Surprised am I, with the realization that silence, grounding, home and routine are words for which I now have affinity.
The elders snicker. They kept their little joke. As it was kept from them.
Knowing the most lucid in life – comes always by surprise. And not denying me that pleasure.
If there is anything that I have learned from Life, it’s that it has a sophisticated sense of humor.
Only Life can pull off, without mean-spiritedness, the expert use of irony, pun, and satire.
With the effect of leaving me shaking in simultaneous tears and laughter.
After all, those are the moments,
Where I feel my heart beating, in my feet, and in rhythm,
With something greater.
Missing are the sentences of explanation within my paragraphs.
Dissipated is my ambition to be distinguished.
Quelled is my fire to move.
Yesterday I stood on top of a small mountain and cried at the perfect sound of the last golden aspen leaves applauding in the wind.
Today, I stood on top of the same small mountain and grabbed the mulch of the fallen and breathed deeply of its decomposing musk,
Sending me to the profound underworlds of memories unknown.
Alive is my ability to tremble with raw beauty’s stab at my soul.
Engaged is my appreciation for every breath of life I’m awarded.
Curious is my spirit for the sighting of all that moves when one is still.
This month, I quit half my job: the “stressful half” I tell people.
Last night, I recorded six subsequent dreams in my journal.
More than all the dreams I recorded in the entire year prior.
This year I lost two friends, my own age, to cancer.
I feel them close. At the top of the mountain.
I’ve spent 6 of the last 7 months travelling.
But said are all my sentences in summing up my travels.
Uninterested am I in talking about myself.
Please don’t make me. I find myself constantly pleading.
The weather, today, calls for snow.
And I will keep my eye on the horizon. Waiting.
I will hike up the mountain again. And even though it’s cold, I will take off my sweater.
To feel the bitterness of the wind on my skin.
And when the snow comes, I will welcome the blanket of quiet,
Mirroring that of my retired aching.
Three times this week, I’ve sat with time, coffee, and stalled fingers over my keyboard.
But nothing came.
Confused is my instinct on where to begin.
Last night I fell asleep at 9.
This morning I woke at 5.
And clear was the voice that whispered,
Just begin where you are.
Hands down. Cover to cover. My favorite monthly read.
Independent & Ad-free.
“From its idealistic, unlikely inception in 1974 to its current incarnation as a nonprofit magazine with more than 70,000 subscribers, The Sun has attempted to marry the personal and political; to honor the genuine and the spiritual; to see what kind of roommates beauty and truth can be; and to show that powerful teaching can be found in the lives of ordinary people.” - About The Sun
Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it By Douglas Rushkoff, Special to CNN updated 1:09 PM EST, Wed October 5, 2011
“The members of Occupy Wall Street may be as unwieldy, paradoxical, and inconsistent as those of us living in the real world. But that is precisely why their new approach to protest is more applicable, sustainable and actionable than what passes for politics today. They are suggesting that the fiscal operating system on which we are attempting to run our economy is no longer appropriate to the task. They mean to show that there is an inappropriate and correctable disconnect between the abundance America produces and the scarcity its markets manufacture. And in the process, they are pointing the way toward something entirely different than the zero-sum game of artificial scarcity favoring top-down investors and media makers alike.”
Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now By Naomi Klein - October 6th, 2011
“If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over. And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”
Parks and Demonstration
America cannot expect a bunch of disenfranchised park-dwellers to come up with a solution to its economic woes — they have a political ruling class to do that.
Watch Jeffrey Sachs, leading environmentalist and economist, and a respected Professor at Columbia University, speak out at the growing, inspiring Occupy Wall Street movement.
A black cat leads us in kora.
And we follow in dumb curiosity.
Underestimating the confidence in that stride,
The intentionality of that tail,
Not until three rotations does it dawn on us,
That we have been taken for a ride.
The Cat, he now perches himself perfectly.
In a shape that we finally recognize as divine.
By the time we catch up with him, he is feigning interest in his paw.
So as not to embarrass us.
As we are left dizzy.
In the convergence of impossible realities.
A dakini whispers to us from behind a stone,
A foreboding wind blows,
But doesn’t stop us from a typically human and stumbling approach.
The closer we get, the farther we know we should run away,
Yet we ache to hear the song clearer and, instead, inch closer still.
Till the song is a scream in our ear, and the ground begins to shake.
And finally comprehending that it’s a language we don’t understand,
That these are secrets we are not yet ready to hear,
We turn – and unclaimed momentum shoves us away.
The door shuts. The dakinis’ whispers hushed.
And we are left, windblown, in the awe and calm,
Of a story rarely re-told.
Aaron Anderson. Of kora-ing cats and whispering dakinis,
You have always been and will be.
A living witness to the greater mysteries,
Ever pulling on our strings.
On the door of the Mystery, you (always) knock.
On the porch of the Mystery, you pull up a chair with a stranger.
In the trees outside of the Mystery, you identify birds.
In the basement of the Mystery, you search for the rarest records.
On the hardwood living room floor of the Mystery, you breakdance, in spandex.
Face to face with the Mystery, you exchange mantras.
And on the water-bottle of the Mystery, you leave your autograph.
Famous AA, you will always be.
For the birthmark of bravery on your soul,
That ever called to you in this life like a bird from the bardo.
I have never had anything but faith in you.
Or doubt that you would not follow that song in kora,
Around this world, around our hearts.
Once upon a time, in Sierra-tree-stump-sitting dreams,
We laughed together at our fumbles through this fumbling world,
And at our happiness in finding our friendship in this lifetime.
As I have had faith in all your journeys AA,
I have faith in this one.
Bardos have never held you back. (Quite the contrary.)
May we fumble, find, and laugh again.
As I have always signed all my letters to you:
From this life to the last.
Something feels fleeting.
The deaths and beginnings.
Watching the sun set from above.
While samsara cycles below.
Who am I to steal a seat in God’s balcony?
Who am I entitled to so many reincarnations in only one lifetime?
I’m a thief. A hoard of time. A cheater of perspective.
At the same and maybe for these very sins,
I am cursed.
I wake, every single morning and grab the hand of my lover.
Are you really here?
Are you still breathing?
Will this love story play out for one more day?
Or today will I depart?
Will I watch your grow miniscule in the maze mixed with the fog of my breath and own faint reflection?
The strain of ever reaching.
Cursed with the intimacy and familiarity of fleeting experience.
But as always a blessing inherent:
For this jagged appreciation was not the gift of cancer. Not left in loss. Not wept into helpless hands.
But just the rigid discipline of departure after departure after departure.
And the lucky birthmark of place and privilege.
I reach across the shame of this unfairness,
Put my hand on his heart and hear…
Yes. I am here.
Yes. I am still breathing.
Yes. Our love story will play out for, at least,
- and no promises -
one more day.
I used to write exclusively in run-ons.
Adding dashes and dots till my sentences collapsed in exhaust.
My egoism wore life like a garish hat.
I hate the photos.
And the internet’s curse of living eternally in the ether.
If only I could burn.
Instead, I am left with the lesson of self-forgiveness.
And the new directive to cut.
Till it shivers in its nakedness.
But I’m not experienced or skilled.
And in my youth, a sucker still for beauty.
So I will only know when I’m actually old,
When I can shed that which was only ever skin.
To the bones of meaning.
The marrow of feeling.
I’ll practice prose.
WRITING HAS MORE TO DO WITH MATH than luck, talent or training. It’s simple statistics: discipline and exercise make a writer. This MAY be more naïve hope than natural law, for I started writing with no particular education, talents, mentors, or skill inheritance in the realm of literary arts. I was 23 when I for the first time in my life searched a blank page for an internal prompt (a failure on so many social and personal levels, it physically hurts me). Or maybe I just wore a helmet of adolescence cinched so tight that my self-awareness suffocated. We are lucky that “the kids these days” are smarter. I work with them, so I can confirm the fact. My students have internal prompts and thank God they do, for this fact saves me from the hopelessness that would otherwise drown me in the New York Times every morning. As a professional, I work in the field of Experiential Education – which is exactly what a dictionary would suggest. But at the end of the day, quite literally, I want to be a writer. And aside from about seven years of weekly blog posts (before “blog” was awarded the word of the year), I have no training in the field. I’d rather be thrown on a pyre than re-read my first essays: the compound-curse of the dynamic evolution of revising and static nature of web. I am finally old enough to have learned that you have to know the rules to break them. I would like to get back to the math, science, rules and discipline of writing. But my ultimate aim is to write more – and cringe less.