I Yam What I Yam

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credit: walkingwith.net

I have to say, I wish I had written this article What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say by Michele Combs in the Huffington Post sent to me yesterday by someone who truly cares–the same one who sent me the original article this one counters.

Google ‘what not to wear after age 50’ and you will have your pick of thousands of articles telling you what looks terrible on your old ass body.

It’s not just Combs’ tell it like it is humor and irreverence that amuses me or the supportive message of the sender of the article that entertains me with a big ole “right on!” in reaction to this writing. It’s that it is truth, not just defensiveness disguised as truth or solely my truth.

Just as there are rites of passage for 13 year olds becoming men or women like Bar or Bat Mitzvah’s, symbols of acknowledged or expected responsibility for being part of the community of adulthood and baptisms by fire with the drunken night out or at the porcelain pedestal on a 21st birthday, signifying responsibility to the community’s recreating populace, so too there is a rite of passage for older adults, women over 50, in particular: becoming themselves.

50+ women who dress for themselves, to their own comfort and feel-good production, are totems to younger women, a signpost of what’s ahead for them, and encouragement to keep up the good fight of daring to say, “but this is me.”

So much struggling and striving and settling in the 20s, 30s and 40s, in living for others–parents, children, friends, lovers, employers and parents again–I have to believe there is some culminating prize for the effort, and I’m not talking about retirement. Retirement is an illusory carrot invented to keep people from walking off into the night or out to the desert to leave society just when (American) society wishes their less “productive” asses to leave.

Wearing the I don’t give a flying fuck because I’m comfortable style is the reward for a life too long lived giving a shit about things that don’t matter–like how we look to others, the messages our clothing and makeup (or lack thereof) send to others so that they can properly label us and act accordingly. We figure this out when the physical and mental wanes just as the emotional waxes.

You are over 50 for fuck’s sake. Wear whatever you want

Trending with or against the current style dictates for age appropriateness is a choice for the 50 something that she has earned–real choice. She has only one message to send if she has paid her dues to harvest the fruits of her life long burns and labors: I yam what I yam. And perhaps her legacy is in planting seeds in her progeny to do the same.

If I could beam one insight into my daughters’ beings it would be: Stop curtailing yourself to satisfy others. The sooner you allow yourself to be yourself, the longer your happiness will be.

Ring of Fire

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credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/

Now that the pressure’s gone, I wake up,
reach for my phone and push pause
before my eyes open.
Can’t be sure what time or day it is.
I’m in between worlds.
Vaguely, there is a sense of somewhere to go
but not urgently.
I fall back in the wispy strands of the dream:
You and Carmen and Rick stood in a circle
at the end of the street
breathing in the thick of the night.
The air around you was smoke
dotted with tiny red flares,
a mixture of fog and tobacco fumes.
I thought you quit years ago.
You did.
I remember the sound of the scraped butt
smashed to the ground
under your cowboy booted heels,
sizzle to a stop.
“I’m finished,” you said.
And then it was as if you had never smoked
those last fifteen years.
I never could keep a forever mind like that.
Everything is conditional and environmental
like a chameleon, something I called you.
But when Carmen, who smoked a pack a day then,
stole your glances and eventually your heart,
you never resumed the habit.
And there you were standing with them
at the corner of my block.
Maybe you weren’t smoking.
It was hard to tell in the nighttime mist.
I wanted to say something to you,
Something about how it has been
since you left,
not a complaint,
just to make you understand something,
a notion about passing time
and diminished threats.
But the block was too long
and it kept getting longer
each step bringing me farther from the circle,
closed circle you made in a ring of fire.

Happy Anniversary! Now Let’s Break Up.

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Today is the first anniversary of this blog. I embarked on the WordPress train a year ago on a whim, an undeveloped plan and foggy urge to write in hopes of something undefined. Having never blogged or even read blogs much before, I plunged in, posted a few portraits, a poem or two, and left it for six months, life having ramped up ridiculously like a nightmare on steroids. Some of the hardship of the last year–my world upturned in too many ways to list–inspirited and compelled me to pick up the strand I left six months prior for this endeavor, consciously choosing to capitalize on the lessons learned and the beauty that is born from horror sometimes.

Like anything, even getting up each day, it takes faith and courage to believe all will be all right, so long as I conduct myself with open heart and mind sprinkled with a little savvy. To illustrate more concretely, I was approached by a woman at the gas station adjacent to a Motel 6 today. She was a fairly well dressed young woman who asked me with polite but firm insistence for a ride to a mall 20 minutes from there. I knee-jerk declined, pretending to another appointment destination in the opposite direction, but she persisted–not with tears or sympathy, as she gave no reason for her request, but with sheer calm insistence.

She forced me to that place of challenging my beliefs. She needed help, I had time and means to provide it, but I had an in-built reaction of mistrust. After a quick assessment of my motives and her size (I thought I could take her in a fight), I leapt in faith that helping another human being in need (or even no need) was worth the assessed small risk of harm befalling me, and that my instinct was correct in her sincerity.

The choices we make tell our story to ourselves and others. Some might tell the story of picking up a stranger as a lucky escape from potential danger, one that would be terribly lopsided in risk to benefit. My children could have been orphaned over something terribly easy to avoid, had she robbed or killed me. Others might tell the story of picking up a stranger as a good deed, one performed in calculated risk, which is contributive to the larger world–mine and others’.

If I live in mistrust, my world is less free. If I help others when I am able, those I help may teeter over the edge of consideration, airing on the side of helping too, expanding rather than contracting connection. My choice reflects who I am, and knowing who I am determines the choices I make.

Reflecting on yesterday’s question of befriending an ex lover, the adage of knowing self, having faith in and love for the self, is requisite to loving another. Sometimes the same gut instinct, knowledge of a sort, that agrees to chauffeur a stranger in faith chooses to end a relationship in faith. Breakups are called breakups and not pauses or hiatuses when it is time for a relationship to end. Whether amicable or not, breakups are painful, making friendship nearly impossible.

How many people are strong, logical, self-aware, honest and forthright about their own shortcomings and strengths as well as others’? How many know the difference between self-delusion and following true desire, loving the self like no other? How many would live lonely rather than enjoy the comfort of the familiar company and intimacy regardless of the potential for danger, justifying it as compassion?

I read an article about breaking up first thing this morning on my daily journey through the Internet.

Rebekah McClaskey, an intuitive relationship counselor specializing in breakups, according to her bio on elephantjournal.com says breakups are hard in The Laws of Breaking Up & Getting Over It. No shit.

She says more, however, offering intuitive advice, which appears to be a combination of homegrown knowledge, common lore, and researched Internet offerings. Of 29 points, 14 interest me, in particular:

1. The grief you now feel due to the separation has less to do with the past and more to do with grieving over what could have been, which makes moving forward seem near impossible. Also known as: Break-ups kill the future dead.

Fantasy is a powerful motivator and critical component to our pleasure and pain, and I don’t mean just sexually. To make things work, whether we are poring over in our mind the prospect of a new job or a new lover, we imagine ourselves happily or at least contentedly in that imaginary place in order to choose that position or partner. And once we choose, we continue to construct the relationship by filling in what’s not there, pushing some things to the shadows and others to the forefront. In other words, we craft our world to fit our needs. That makes for prettier pictures but hard letdowns when the painting turns out to be a poor imitation of reality.

We try to make things work especially if we see shiny objects that attract our attention and desire. I have loved men who read poetry or debated philosophy, deeply affecting my heart and desire, while I sublimated those other traits I saw but didn’t measure as highly, like their propensity to fuck other people, or their lack of ambition or care for my safety. I closed my eyes until they were forced open, and the relationships eventually ended.

2. You did your best. No, really you did and continue to do your best. Your personal best can also look way different than choosing wisely.

This speaks to forgiving the self for being human. Yes, we do fool ourselves often despite our best effort to make the best choice with as much information possible. I have stayed with partners who could not give me what I needed by rationalizing that there were so many other good things the person brought to my life, have allowed myself to be fooled into believing I could overlook another’s crucial incompatibilities, even as I knew better, and had suffered hurt because of the selective blindness. It’s easy to self-flagellate for the sins of loving the wrong people, but accepting our own imperfection, that we are all just trying to make things work the best way we can, is much more difficult.

3. ….we are all just faking it.

Yep. We think we have the answers, got it together, but in braver moments, sit down and face that we are all frauds to a large extent. We don’t know shit. All we do is try to figure things out as we go along to get what we need.

6. Unconditional love is just letting go of what could be or could have been by appreciating what you have now.

Acceptance is hard–not just word dedication, real acceptance. This is self-love. It alleviates the crazy making of she will change or I will change or learn to live with this or that because it is a worthwhile trade off to something else. We bargain when we should just open our eyes and see, to accept.

7. There is no cure for pain. It is just a part of living.

Enough said.

10. He is not coming back. She is not coming back. And if they do it is just part of a cycle and not actually a new beginning. (That is a hard one to admit out loud.)

AKA the extended breakup. The scales tip for or against staying with someone, and at some point the liabilities outweigh the benefits. When it’s time, the breakup should be fast but is too often prolonged for that most evil of betrayers–hope. And some people love to pick scabs until they bleed. At least they can control the pain, as opposed to one that overtakes and overwhelms uncontrollably, like loneliness.

12. A friendship that occurs within the first year after separation is not going to be functional. It just won’t be. I’m not joking about this. What I am saying is that a full year must go by before a healthy friendship can take place.

I have known this to be true and untrue. Some people just didn’t bring me anything more than they already had and so had to disappear from my life.

15. There is no replacement for sex or intimacy or intimate sex. It is okay to miss these things.

It can be borne. Hold out for more than a quick fix.

16. We learn by being in relationship (even after it ends).

Yes, we do. So long as we keep our eyes and ears open.

18. Having sex with your ex is like sticking a fully loaded heroin needle in your arm. It will kill your soul.

Ahhhhh, yes, it will kill you slowly but surely. Only, heroin is a real physical need, sex with an ex is imagined. But the analogy hits home hard.

20. At some point, everyone is immature; not just your ex.

It’s not true (stomping my feet)!!!! 😉

25. It could take your whole life to learn to love yourself. The best time to do it is now.

To repeat, knowing the self is foundational to knowing what to expect in others. Since life is lived in our heads telling ourselves lies we believe, knowing the self takes work, a tremendous vigilance and attentiveness that is exhausting for its subtlety and dividends paid in agonizingly barely perceptible increments. It takes a life-long practice to unfold yourself from what has been socially constructed to find the real you, your voice. You are your relationships.

27. Contrast is our greatest teacher and similarities are what bond us together. Everyone is both all the time to different degrees (brain warp!). A.K.A Right person + wrong time = wrong person.

But what’s logic got to do with it? We’re talking love.

To Be or Not To Be…Friends with Your Ex

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credit: cnsnews.com

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The question of whether ex lovers can ever be ‘just friends’ seems to be a non-unanimous ‘maybe.’ Researching the mags and rags a bit, I surmise that befriending an ex successfully is highly improbable but not impossible. Not surprising, it depends on the two people attempting the feat. Essentially, if the two had a good relationship while lovers, were mature, responsible and communicative, they probably could succeed in being just friends.

Several factors come into play, however. How was the breakup? If acrimonious and one sided, the likelihood of morphing into friendship is slim to none, especially if the ex is a cheating ex. Too many hard feelings carry over into the attempted new relationship that do not get resolved unless the one feeling victimized moves on and gets over the hurt likely to be re-inflamed by the person who caused it in the first place, regardless of time passage.

The one who breaks up with the other, always thinks that the other feels the same way. The “erasure of sincerity”, feeling as though you never meant anything to the other, is not something that we can control and makes us slightly hysterical. It is hard to believe that the one who just broke your heart honestly meant it when they said, “I love you,” and now they cannot even say hello to you. friendsandlovers

All articles I perused suggest giving any attempt at friendship the benefit of time. One article suggested no less than a month should pass before exes see each other as friends. I would think more time than that to let the feelings of resentment, regret, anger, love and familiarity dissipate. Familiarity is the most difficult one to completely dissolve, I imagine, as each meeting with the ex will bring up habits, sayings, tics and patterns both recognize and perhaps once found endearing or annoying. Those don’t go away just because the love does. And does the love go away completely? The comfort of knowing someone is available emotionally and physically–or so you thought–to hear your woes and worries, joys and successes, is a powerful bond hard to completely break. We need connection more than anything else from others.

All advisors agree that time is necessary to let feelings fade, mutual breakup is more likely to lead to a more successful attempt at friendship and confirmed open expectations or ground rules must be articulated and adhered to for any promise of friendship. When one has hope for rekindling the fire or the other coming around while that other is already moving on, there will be no friendship, just an extension of what was and worse–an extended breakup. Also, if the same habits and patterns in the relationship exist, for example, the confidential confessions, continual flirting, sex discussions, the friendship will not work, too confusing.

All agree too that the new mate poses problems of jealousy and the true test of friendship: Can you talk to your friend about your new excitement or disappointments or great sex with someone else without jealousy arousal or memories evoked of being naked with your ex? Unlikely, which brings back an earlier point of mutuality of intentions. If you don’t really intend on being friends but are just hanging on or hoping, then the best you can ever hope for eventually is a mere acquaintance. A good friend wants you to be happy and offers support with genuine motivations of giving, not self-interest. If it’s too painful to hear others taking your place or imagining yourself as the stepping stone to someone else’s growth, move on, forget about friendship and better luck next time.

With some, it will take more time than others to develop a friendship. It took ten years to eliminate all traces of emotion infused with memory for one of my exes, but now we are old time-tested friends. Though it rarely occurs, I could drink a beer with him any day and have a laugh without getting caught up in a web of what if’s and when we were’s. But when we have, the reference to some fun time is almost always with a warm wink and a twinkle in the eye–for both of us.

With others, the possibility ended with the ending of the relationship–the good riddance kinds. Some relationships you just know are toxic but are too stubborn or stupid to give up on them in time. They get frothy filthy lowdown with cheats and insults. By the time they peak in brutality sufficient to kill a nation let alone a relationship, one or both are craving the bullet, so that moving on has already occurred. These will never be friendships despite the cold, cold corpse of the relationship. There were too many hard feelings in the first place. Even in time, those will have you questioning what sort of atonement you thought you had to pay to suffer yourself such pain and humiliation.

And with others, regardless of the mutuality of intellectual knowing that “this is the best for both of us,” there will always be a lingering–the one that got away kind. That is the one friend you would love to have because friendship was such a strong basis of the relationship in the first place, but that friendship sat smack dab in the middle of great love making, lots of laughs, a little bit of chemistry and just the right amount of romance. The breakup may have been crushing or calm, but just how close you got to the right thing at the wrong time, or so you thought, is what will linger and prevent the curiosity of what could have been or should have been done. Even when the smell of him or her is long gone, you can still evoke at least the idea of having once had that scent drive you mad with desire, though the pulse of it is now missing.

You know what friendship is and you know what love is by the feel, smell, taste, sound and look of it. The gut knows the difference, but if your stomach doesn’t let you in on the secret, then lose your mind that leads you astray–in meditation. Don’t think long and hard about it, but simply be with it–your true desires and motivations–before you make any agreements to “just be friends” at the breakup, something tossed out by and for the benefit of the breaker, to make him or her feel better by making the breakee feel less abandoned.

It’s always best to clarify what you want before entering relationships, which is not easy and takes time and devotion. But in the end, that knowledge makes you less susceptible to capitulating to another’s needs in neglect of your own, one thing that was probably wrong with the relationship in the first place.

Should ex lovers be friends? Weigh in. Who has had the experience of trying?

References:

Can You Ever Be Friends with Your Ex? askmen.com

Sorry but this is why you can’t be friends with your ex psychologytoday.com

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex? bodyandsoul.com

5 Things to Know About Befriending Your Ex
huffingtonpost.com

Should You Really “Stay Friends” After the Relationship is Over? eharmony.com

Friends or Lovers friendsandlovers.com

Valentine’s Day for the Mistress

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I don’t know how to write a love poem.
Overwhelmed by the subject’s ubiquity
the words shutter up tight inside of me
What can be said has often been bled
in quills to pens to one-zero roses red.
Silly tries at gallant sighs’ leapt rhyme
cry exalted emotion in schmaltzy lines
stain greasy tears of the intended eye
betrothal splaying bony legged signs.
A love poem says love like you might
by washing dishes in bone tired quiet
rubbing fingertip slight atop knuckles
barely notice my hand amid chuckles
elicited by stories through eye sparks
waving white long fingers flying larks
across meadow flap furiously in form
appears to my observing notice long.
Love wordlessly fills rhymes unheard
in flit glances, amused co-agreement
where two lives’ knowing nod is silent
an inner smile that never creases lips
like brewing heat stirring deep in hips
or scent infused of twin desires’ pours
room-filled chew open olfactory doors
body skins bleed beads of love drops
drying while our expulsive airing stops
leaving imaginary atomic pieces afloat
drifting like the sleep shared alone two
covered invisible love’s image we drew.
The portrait of a love poem fast asleep
rests in legs’ and arms’ entwined keep
in vision dream-scapes painted alone.

A Pre-Valentine Meditation on the Language of Love: Advice to ‘S’

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credit: api.ning.com

Today I ponder the sentence, “I have your back.” Depending on the source, that sentence can be quite comforting, most probably intended to be so by the speaker. It’s a sentence offered, usually with a wink, a click of the tongue and an assuring smile, as support, shorthand for “I will be your backup in a fight, your second to celebrate the win or console the loss.” Spoken by a tried and true friend, you know the invaluable purchase of the sentiment despite the cliche’d expression. By a lover, the comfort may be dubious.

On the one hand, a lover’s deeper connection and care should inform that assertion with commensurate depth and caliber of worthy comfort. However, given the heart’s investment and volatility of passion, the motivation to employ machinations to keep someone, avoid loss, manipulation being integral to human coveting, is high. As such, a lover’s declaration is far more unstable and somewhat suspect counterintuitively because most would believe the opposite. Of course he has my back. He loves me.

Clichés are dead metaphors, most English teachers and long-suffering students know, but it is astounding to think that the expression, “I have your back” or less grammatically sound, “I got your back”, was once a vivid metaphor that caused a grand éclat at its crispness, a concept derived from an odd literal body position vis a vis another human being. I mean, how does someone actually have your back? My lover is a psychopath, cut me to pieces, saving only my back, maybe just the lower third of my torso in his refrigerator. Seems anatomically impossible, or at least unimaginable.

More likely, and I am probably remembering this from some forgotten space in my vast and sundry tidbit collection eating up all my brain RAM (just don’t want to interrupt the flow to look it up), it is a war reference to protect soldiers while they “go for it” from behind the trenches or the thicket of trees: protective, life preserving–or the attempt–in dangerous situations. The speaker intends to warn you and be your second pair of eyes to ensure your odds against getting picked off by a sniper, a guy with a gun or anyone who is prepared to do physical, emotional or psychological harm (or any combination thereof).

War metaphors seem apt in matters of the heart. The struggle with desire to surrender and need to protect the heart, a part of every love story long or short, feels like goose stepping on a mine field. We want to believe in the truth of words, especially those that contain the universally cherished missive “I love you.” Even as we fear the risk of injury, we want the message and will find it hidden in so many other words, so much so that we miss important cues and clues that language emits to the brain to shape behavior.

When language is abused, words divorced from their communally consensual meaning–an irrevocable breach, is when the battle ensues and treachery flies, innocent lives lost. Children spend many years forming the world through their initiation into language. Accessing the portal to ideas and things is granted only upon the trust in the safety of the vehicle that brings them to that door: words. They learn trust in the great unspoken agreement of humanity that words will mean what they were taught to mean by parents, schools and community. The ensuing savvy acquired through rubbing against other humans in the journey of days is the slipperiness of words and the deviousness of people.

But not all is lies and deception, not all words suspect. A lover, friend or business partner may mean he has your back when he says it but change his mind later. Though true when he said it, even if he said it over a dozen times, repeated it like a lullaby’s refrain, his mind or heart changed and so stopped saying it because he no longer wished to protect.

Or maybe the last time he said it, “I have your back,” the meaning of the expression–so broad and vague, practically incomprehensible–changed imperceptibly (unconsciously, to give him the benefit of the doubt) to reflect a different, newly emerging intention, a slightly different slant or even a total inversion. Maybe his subconscious drew the invisible target on your back for the bullseye knife throw:

Love is war. War is hell. I’ve got your back. It’s in my scope and my finger is on the trigger.

The language of love (and war) exposed in innumerable metaphors and clichés (think: love is blind) is a special case of the general, meaning it partakes of the attributes of language, generally, while nuanced with its own subject-specific idiosyncrasies. Love engenders both lies and truth motivated by intentions and causes distinct from commerce, for instance: lying to spare my husband’s feelings rather than for profit.

To be imperfectly reductive or hopelessly expansive, however, the nature of all language (written, spoken and body) is twofold: communicative and formative. It gets the job done, sends the message, and delivers the goods. At the same time, it gave us the job, the message and the goods in the first place. A cat becomes a four legged furry creature that mews for the child who learns its name. Before that, it is something unknown and out of focus.

Like its inhabitants, language–messenger or maker–is cagey, illusive, illustrative, beautiful, crafted, elusive and mutable. Many more thoughtful and capable before me have doubted the possibility of getting outside of it. But so too, many have escaped its clutches, unthought wordless language in meditation. It takes being both within and without the self to achieve that place that words fail to describe–a place without desire for anyone at your back.

Happy Mistress Day

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credit: rlv.zcache.com.au/

Tomorrow is February 13th, unofficially titled “Mistress Day,” the day ‘the other woman’ gets her recognition since Valentine’s Day is obviously off limits.

Infidelity Examiner, Ruth Houston, reports that “Cheating Valentines” are planning their Mistress Day events with purchases of flowers, romantic lunches or dinners, expensive gifts and hotel rooms. The beneficiary industries to this “holiday” could not be happier, except for Hallmark, whose marketing teams, I would imagine, are still struggling to figure out how to navigate around the delicate nature of a card for such an occasion: “Happy Mistress Day–hope your wife doesn’t find out…Love, you know who…” I don’t see a cheerful poem for this card, but it does not surprise me that there are sites that offer such a ‘holiday’ greeting.

Apparently Houston, an “infidelity expert,” intends this article as a warning for married women, who she refers to as “unsuspecting victims,” to beware on February 13th of their husbands’ long absences or significant dip in finances. In preparation for the 12th Annual Valentine’s Day Infidelity Awareness Campaign, she provides a link to this event in her February 10th article “Cheating Valentines already making plans for Mistress Day.

Happy (or Unhappy, as the case may be) Mistress Day! Shhhh..

The Other Fox and Turtle Tale

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Credit: 4.bp.blogspot.com

A fox came upon a turtle who lived in a yard on the edge of the woods.
“Tell me, friend, why you seek my company,” the dusty, ancient turtle inquired with slow, suppressed suspicion.
It was late afternoon, tea time, and the sun, having given its all, began its climb down the other side of the arc.
Ingratiatingly, the reptile continued: “I admire your beautiful coat of rust and white, your distinctive inky markings that do outshine my own, and so am flattered by your attention and affection. But what can a turtle, slow and plodding, offer a field sprinter such as you?”
The fox replied with penetrating black eyes moist with the effort of sincerity and focus, deciphering the turtle from the browns and greens of the grassy earth:
“Your steadiness and deliberate consideration captivates me and calms my restless spirit. In truth, I have no use for you. I feed myself in game sprier and more tender, a daring and delight to hunt and digest. Your sloth and shell provide no sustenance, no amusement at all.”
“Then how is it you come here day by day and ask me about the climate on this side of the fence and where my keepers go? The master keeps no hens and the cats chase the rats, so no such offerings reside here for your devise,” the turtle in heartfelt curiosity prodded.
“It is a mystery. I cannot comprehend what you are and how you continue to be. Your design and reason for being in the grand scheme of the sun makes no sense to me. Who do you sustain? Why do your keepers find pleasure in your dwelling day to day in the grass, in the dirt, lying in the shade, at the pond or in the ground? And you, you have no mate. How shall you procreate? The sense of it escapes me, and so I come to ask and watch to see if I might understand what in this world you might be. Until the satisfaction of right reason comes, I am compelled to include you in my daily rounds.”
With that, the turtle was satisfied on each piquing point, and so withdrew a poking, bobbing head and four feebly clawed feet inside a sturdy shell, breathed one last long sigh before settling in for a long afternoon nap.
Signaled by this deliberate retraction to such a quaint retreat, the fox also withdrew to the green of the woods, disappearing into the rust of leaves and bark of the redwood sea–until the next late afternoon most assuredly would bring their acquaintance once again..

Sketching Six Faces of Love

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Credit: textnovel.com

She liked to flirt. Facebook was a deep well of satisfaction to her; there were so many “friends” to engage with from the superficial to the delicious. Friends from the past to the present, all over the country, were potential intrigues. She loved the game of it. Her charm and wit, the salacious comments kept men interested in her, especially with the weekly updated profile photos that boasted her tight jeans and sweater, smart blazers and slacks, or formal dresses and flashy make up, all with her best angle to delight and lure.

It was all a showcase, all for fun, mostly. It gave her options. Some of her friends lived in the neighborhood, or relatively so, shifting the flirting game to a goal. She could land a date, and sometimes she did, though mostly dates did not work out for one reason or another. Reality is always less photogenic than the portrayal in pictures and emoticons, pithy remarks and funny cat videos to express true emotions. Face to face, something is missing. Besides, the thrill of the chase is gone.

One time, she did hook up with someone who kept her interest longer than a month. He was obviously into her, wanted to do things, go places, and he filled a void of too much time to spend on Facebook. She got out in the world with him to movies and cafes, a show or two at the playhouse. They talked a lot and things appeared to get close and firm. When they slept together, it was passably good for a first time, which is always awkward until familiarity sets in and comfort and daring are permitted, the kinks worked in or out, as the case may be. It looked promising–for him. He was getting his heart settled in after those first adrenaline thumping real life meets when he did not know how the fun cyber banter would translate to flesh and blood. But he was falling–some. She was having fun–with him and her facebook admirers, always keeping her options open.

She was an answer to a call. He had been married for decades to the same woman, a kind woman of great heart and spirit, the mother of his children. M was still his best friend, but intimacy was never their connection. She came out soon after the kids were born, and they came to an agreement to keep it together for the kids. Each pursued interests outside of the marriage, the catchword being discretion. He never thought to engage fully with anyone, only looking for casual sex and some fun. After all, his primary responsibility was to his family and his work. But a man must live while taking care of business.

He always thought he had the best and worst of all worlds, and being the optimist, always looked at how much worse it could be. Sure, he yearned for intimacy at home, to live with someone to lie with and embrace each morning in the warmth of the blankets after a good night’s sleep or awaken in the middle of the night and reach over to find comfort in the presence of another warm body–a touch of romance. But they had stopped sleeping together long ago. Still, stability stemmed from the solidity of his friendship and cooperative care for their children, which went a long way in his mind.

She, on the other hand, was addicted to highs and lows. Her most memorable relationships were those with huge passion and jealousy, wild nights and raging fights. Longing to be possessed and desired beyond comprehension, she daydreamed of consumption, her lover’s devour. For the cold in her fingertips could only be warmed by the heat of romance and hungry sex. It had always been this way. The picture of longing, a gaping hole to fill, she was addicted to beginnings, the newness of things, like relationships and shopping sprees, the smell of a new car. How to prolong the thrill was the quest, string it out into the longest possible moment of days and weeks. Some sizzlers did last some months. But all the while, she kept feeding the fire with sparks from other heat.

And he knew that he was attracted to her heat, her fascination with fire and its sparks: the liveliness of her darting, wide-open eyes and the broad toothy smile that beamed joy. The curves dressed up in conscious care to cry out to him worked notice. Taken by colors she radiated and the music she invoked, he knew the draw. It was the antidote to boredom, the missing passion. He felt the trap and wanted to surrender nevertheless. If he could maintain the consciousness that this was fun, he thought, to keep his heart open and protected at the same time, he could extract what he needed from her, fuel the engine. He wanted more than sex. He wanted time and connection, but just enough.

He wasn’t a fool and treated himself well for the most part. Yes, life was a series of compromises. Life is such. But he had a healthy amount of gratitude and a talent for compartmentalization. His philosophy: everything in its time and place. No one gets everything from one person, he often told others. Instead, he takes what he needs where he finds it, and the rest is all him. He knew that his fulfillment was his own work, making himself happy–with himself.

And in all, he was indeed a contented man, treated himself well enough and was unafraid of risking temporarily his equanimity, or even his happiness, seeking connection from others when necessary. Recovery would be assured: he meditated, exercised, slept well, and ate wisely though not unrelentingly healthy, splurging on a chocolate eclair or a decadent meal with an outstanding bottle of wine from time to time. Good to himself, he was good to others. Life was all about balance.

They were both searching but approached the search from opposite ends of the spectrum of comportment. Their common ground: need, pleasure, sharing, excitement, connection, and release. Both were looking for validation, confirmation that they existed for someone else beyond utility and the facticity (or delusion) of moving meat sacks. They sought to change the imagery they were caught up in, alter the lighting to project a more enticing angle.

They needed their egos fed as well as their libidos, lost in the sigh-ful faces of pleasure’s remove on the screen of each other’s fantasies. Touch, with its healing electricity, could bring them back to their humanity, their presence before another being with breath and pulse, warmth and light. Recognition of commonality, acknowledgement of existence, loss of time, surrender to another, all in momentary amnesia of who, where, how and why they were is what each sought. This was all they had in common, and yet, it wasn’t enough.

YogiTimes article: “Yoga and Compassion in Prison”

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A predecessor article to the others recently showcased on this blog in elephant journal and rebelle society, this YogiTimes article published yesterday is the version I submitted before revisions requested by editors of those other journals. It is significantly a different story.

The evolution of the publishing process has been illuminating to say the least, but more interestingly, is how many ways a story can be told.


Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts
. —Salman Rushdie