Please enjoy a piece I wrote published today on Rebelle Society.
My mother is dying. And in just her way…(read the rest here).
I’m leaving you soon, a matter of hours,
And before I do, I want you to know that I don’t leave without trepidation.
I’m not one to walk out.
Stand and face–even when the blackest eyes pierce my throat–
That’s been my method, fearless.
No doubt I’m getting older, less reliant on speed and jaw.
Yet, my resolve stands taller, wider, less compromised
By shaky passion and toppling ardor.
I know what’s right for me and mine.
Perhaps the children have made it so, the will,
The mighty outrage and outpour of righteous indignation,
It’s no mere whim or fashion.
I have roots, here in this land, on the soil of my mother.
But they grow wherever my feet touch down,
When blossom and wither beach.
My return, though certain, may not be.
I once traveled far, jungled inside, canopied under
The emergent layer that cocooned and cut me, culled flight.
And I never returned, even as surely as my sandals scraped sand,
The water’s edge of me, the tidal flow of drifting ear deep in water,
Listening to Gods and men groan secrets unheard.
I left then, returned, leaving my image behind me, left to howlers,
Lemurs, quetzals and Monteverde capuchin, who held my breath
In their seams, and still do.
I never came back, and now it’s winter, the summer of then passed,
To retrieve the lost faces, shed skin, the chameleon dreamed,
I’ll need to travel far from you, leave your bigotry and bile.
And when my body drifts inside again, your walls, your fever,
Only vespers’ dusk and smokey dawn, crust of the ague, remains
That travel torn, release us from hate’s grip, my form and fold united.
I will be new, and you will too, when I slip once more inside your border,
Hear the errant’s disbelieving, horrified roar, the be-trodden masses.
I’ll be ready then, to stand erect, balanced, both arms ready.
I hope to say farewell to closed palms, only to be welcomed
In a week or lifetime or two, to open gates, walkways to settle-in wicker
Chairs to my rest, porch to our swings, quieted storms’ memory.
I want you, my beloved, healed and hallowed, churched Christly,
Only the love, only the forgiveness, only the compassion, only the humble,
To fight, to triumph’s return, you, my lover, once more mi patria–free.
Please read the rest here.
Observing the world through the wrong end of the telescope
again jitters me anxious.
Everything appears near and far
all at once, and yet,
the horror bursts under my skin–like inverted leeches
and the loud clown faces stretched wide
like reflections in a round, polished door knob,
gold, red, bleeding before my mind.
Their insane grins rattle the dendrite bones .
The shouting matches pervasive from Twitter to the barroom
to the soccer field to my inner universe, debating
whether to sit or lie, kick or run, vote or march, rail or listen…
all at the same mad, ear-splitting volume, nerve-splintering.
And yet, the glass distorts the all of everything–
the faces, voices, coughing, snarling and sweat–
keeps them remote though their breath cooks my calm,
no matter whether in ear shot or scope range,
targeting me and mine.
I witness the movie screen from miles away,
despite the price of dislocation—death,
a deadness like numb itchiness in sleeping limbs.
It’s no good at all is all I’m trying to say.
Nothing good can come from so far away, distance
that does not create peace,
does not create…
Distance invited, procured and deliberate,
not fortresses defended.
July 21, 2016
The fan blares suffocating sound and empties the room’s edges. A constant hum drowns out noise that wedges its way into my ears by its decibel variability, vying for my attention–a shrill bark here, a chair across floor scrape there muffled by a closed door and small child shrieks outside. Sunk in the river of a whirring fan, these bumpy sounds don’t bother me, no more than a buoy on a staid sea sways for the rippling wavelets. Not much.
Wouldn’t the world taste better, more palatable, if I could carry the whirring fan with me wherever I went? If not the fan itself, its hum inside my head? And then add some cool shades that mediate bright and low light into that roseate dusk sky, so that every one walked, ran, drove or sat showered in a mauve and amber mood. I’d like that.
No, I have no conclusion, no point to make here–just ongoing sense, words, a keyboard and ten minutes.
Image: 1967 Cooley’s Gardens (wikimedia)
Coffee with a friend results in too much coffee for the day, making my bones jitter. My usual monkey mind races through the chatter jungles even faster and wilder than usual, turning and grabbing each vine-thought as it drops in sight–rapid fire. This compared to yesterday’s thirty-minute meditation miracle contrasts like peace and chaos. Amazing how days vary so much, even while seeming the same while we experience them.
The yoga center free meditation session, which I have been meaning to attend for months, turned out deeply pleasant, a nice piggy back to the quality quiet and sitting in the monastery meditation room just two days before. Quiet makes all the difference. And not just any quiet. The infinite soundless quiet, soaked in all the meditations breathed before in unspoken time, en-layers the ease of slipping under the mind. My home has too much rackety noise and pending obligation to set me free.
Finding the depth of solitude to get underneath the mind’s skin needs place and moment. A quest to find just that place piques ticklish wonder. Maybe what we here call the dungeon aka the sound-proof music room/man cave beckons me.
Please enjoy a little shared yoga after glow in today’s The Mindful Word.
In a mind-drifting moment during Yoga practice this morning, I flashed on a childhood fantasy about leaping in zero gravity like the astronauts. How fun it would be to float freely without burden, without weight forcing me down to the earthbound reality that I could never fly…read more.
The world swims along–get up, get dressed, get on the road, get to work–in a toneless hum.
My work entails a thousand unpatterned steps and hundreds of mindless arm movements a day.
But flashes hit, halting the me-machine, sudden quiet in chaotic movement that feels like a foot’s firm landing on the ladder’s higher rung–the one I climb ’round the clock.
Something short of an ephiphany but more than a realization. Like an incremental lift culminating from hours-a-day stuttering repetitive mantras: stay focused, present and observe.
Today motion and mind melded in the dance called machine washing at the shop, otherwise known as surrender to the method.
When thrust into each step of the process from disassembly to reassembly, acknowledged, full-felt respected, pleasant peace befalls the me-participant in the giving way to–
no resistance, no rushing and no disrespect for time and space yields a tiny nitrous oxide blast-like high in awareness of all is well and right and good–peace in the core, litheness in the limbs–and
confirmed in the machine’s smile.
I am not going to say I hate the holidays because that would admit to a greater investment in the whole sketchy affair of good cheer and “gratitude” the holidays purportedly promote. I do prize genuine good cheer and gratitude, but enforced holiday spirit not so much.
It is common to hear this complaint–about the obligatory holiday gift buying and cookie baking and niceties that go with. Just look how thrilled most people look in the overcrowded parking lots to impossibly busy malls, stores and roadways. And yes, that seasonal depression thing is real.
Fortunately, I do not get depressed so much as annoyed, fatigued, exasperated and grumpy. And it is much better now that I have grown old and beaten up enough to have far fewer fucks to give (so happy for that current expression). My stress over getting everything done–shopping, baking, wrapping, shopping, cooking, tree-decorating, candle lighting, card-writing (yeah, who am I kidding there?), and shopping–is half of what it used to be when the kids were younger and I had more fuel to burn.
But there is still a lot of shit to do, much more than should be done in a two-week period, one of very few, during which the nation slows down to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of life granted us by a benevolent God or universe or both. We get an entire day off–all together.
But I do not need to mention the obvious–that the consumerist hypocrisy of the holidays exhausts a very noble idea, one of good will and graciousness toward other human beings. The lost message is as much of a shame as the squandered opportunity to wind down and rest, lost to self-induced comatose gift buying and giving many of us can neither afford nor truly relish for the sacrifice of sanity the activity steals.
I am neither a shopper nor a craft maker. Though I am a gracious gift receiver, I want for nothing that can be bought in a store or online. I am a lousy gift buyer, no imagination for it. And perhaps the traditions I have grown up with and created are far too consumer-centric.
I regret not changing the habit in my children, who I did enjoy baking cookies for and eventually with, as well as decorating trees and lighting menorah candles, when those activities were as wondrous as the gifts wrapped in expectation. Then the holidays eked out some cheer, some joy and love, despite the heightened stress of teachers’ gifts and Christmas cards and too many gifts purchased with too little money spent in far too distant and varied places among the too stressed and sick throngs.
So, as I sit here in a momentarily near vacant store two days before Christmas Eve, watching the rain, thinking about the gifts I still have to buy (have not started actually) and the dinner I have to cook in a couple of days that I have not planned yet, and the entertaining I have to do the following day and the day after, I audibly sigh the sound drowned out by the “Happy holidays!” a customer chirps as he walks out the door. Ugh!
I truly want everyone around me near and far, known and unknown, to have a happy holiday and new year, to find peace and love and happiness, but I just have to figure out another way to express it.
Pleasant read in Elephant Journal yesterday about the meaning of this iconic song that may surprise few but helps to remind us of something important in yet another age of crusades.
Like Heaven and Hell, countries exist only in our minds, yet we kill or die for them. Religion too is made up (imagined) by us—yet another institution that serves only to divide humans and prevent them from living life in peace. Neither are possessions real, except as a shared idea of ownership projected onto things, in turn producing yet more suffering as greed begets hunger.
When enough of us finally awaken to the fact that all of these things—religion, country, possessions—are nothing more than ideas in our minds, a world of unity, a brotherhood of man, with all the people sharing all the world, becomes possible. This may look like a dream, yet what is our current social reality but a collective delusion—a “reality” that only exists because enough people believe it? When enough “dreamers” actually see through the dream, a critical mass (what today we would call a “tipping point”) is reached “and the world live be as one.”
A simple Buddhist message to live within the reality we have, hard as it may be for many, this song also confirms the power of the imagination, whether for the highest of all achievements (Lennon’s song) or the most terrible (killing in the name of the deity of your choice). Imagine understanding and accepting the terrible beauty and destruction we create–as us. Simple and direct, less being more, the song is masterfully reiterating an ancient theme.