The skin I wear has not always been comfortable. I wore it crooked and inside out, wrinkled and sometimes backward. Every morning, I stepped into whatever integumentary armor I needed to walk through the valley of shadows. Forging the path of personal truth, I found myself in a seemingly perpetual purgatory. Limbo was a game to taunt and tantalize the better parts of me. There in the gray, I wistfully lingered albeit not without indomitability. Almost as if in an instant, like a flash, I became aroused by the sensual nature of existing in this space and this time. This skin, this guise of my soul, houses bones of valor, an essence of love, and these celestial cells which are teeming with life. It is ridiculously inconceivable to embrace the heart of darkness without acknowledging its dichotomous nature. Where there is darkness there has been a light removed. The skin is the external vessel to contain our souler spectrometer—the innate instrument by which we can discover and measure our luminosity. Life is a dance with light. This body—your body—no matter how big or small or short or tall or wild, is the cosmos’ way of exploring itself. All melts away in the radiance of pure light. All that remains is you, undisguised.
Art by DELA
Do all my writings start with a cup of coffee, emotional complexity and a low-laying blanket of clouds and mist from the sea? Very well then. There is a half moon rising somewhere among the clouds. The half moon always leaves me feeling dazed and confused. I feel the polarity of fullness and emptiness, and I'm moved to tell a story.
I woke up with a man this morning in a treehouse perched in a friendly, old cedar tree high above a small, green, quirky village. He had sap in his hair. I giggled as I wiped the sleep from my eyes, and I smiled to be near him. I had sap on my pants. I felt a quickening in his presence, and my mind could scarcely keep up with the concepts and topics of our late-night conversation. I pushed pause on my scattered mind, and I silently thanked the cedar for its contribution to this day. Smile. Then breath. I love the way Earth always brings me back to center.
I believe in Divinity, like that in the cedar tree or in him, that draws all things into Oneness of being, but it's hard not to feel pulled toward one thing over another when we live in a material expression of Truth. From the quaint, little Hobbit window of the treehouse I looked down in the yard and saw a large deer—a buck with four points and scraggly fur. He was majestic. As he took a step across the lawn, I noticed he had a limp. It looked excruciating, and I was almost drawn out of the treehouse to help him in some way. Instead, I watched him pass through the village green and into the dahlia fields in the next yard over. I wondered if he would survive the impending winter.
I set out to write a metaphor—I am the wounded deer—or something incredibly prosaic. I feel like the deer at times, tired and weak even in my pertinacious resistance to giving up. This story isn't about me, though. It is simply in honor and reverence to the Spirit of the deer. He, like all sentient things, deserves attention. Let this be his memorial, and may you be reminded of your place in the family of things. As the naturalist John Muir observes, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
The gray of October in this small, Pacific Northwest town envelops me. I wake up on the wrong side of the bed that I spent my whole life making. I rollover and wipe the sleep from my eyes, and I check last night's incoming messages on my iPhone, my oracle, the thing that I wish I could live without. My dad has messaged me—a lengthy bit of pensive prose. He writes of time, and rebuilding bridges, and the communication that draws us near, even though I now live far away. In the early fog of the morning I, too, tumble into rumination.
Time is not a thing to torque and twist and tempt off course.
Forcing fate to fit as I discourse.
Fancy footwork, flowing freely
Dance the spiral never ending.
A ticket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my dad
Perhaps I've almost lost it.
Expression, redirection, reflection, and couth–
My secrets, my heart
The skeletons of my youth.
Take this, don't break this
It is not yours to convolute.
You are hearing my words,
But don't tizzy to fright.
The rhymes that I spit
Declare I'm alright.
Nonsensical, whimsical, erratic and free
This is see now and my artistry.
Come find me.
She looks over his shoulder as he fingers the contents of his wallet. He sets his United Airlines MasterCard on the tray and waits for the stewardess. The ecstatic, traveling lovers kiss passionately— cheap, red wine coloring her lips and a German beer on his. I wonder where they will go with all the points he's racking up.
Everyone and everything affect me. I am moved and inspired by the faintest hint of vulnerability. The human condition is on display in technicolor depiction—a five dimensional reality. I am rapt in it and overjoyed.
Where will love take me today? What will I do with all the points I'm racking up?
Raindrops are rhythmic poetry the sky speaks
to the sublunary world.
Micro-messengers, containing memories from infinite time.
Each word, each drop falling down offers unwavering devotion
to the nourishment of all sentient things.
Every being whispers prayers of gratitude,
a molecular mantra of mirth and magic to the Mother.
The joyous testimony rings upward to the empyrean beyond
The verse begins once more.
Drip drip drop...the rain speaks
To quench this thirsty land with its poem.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and -- in spite of True Romance magazines -- we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely -- at least, not all the time -- but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” --Hunter S. Thompson
I enjoy being acutely aware of my emotions, but I also like to have the liberty to dissolve pesky thoughts in a neat glass of bourbon if I so choose. I feel everything all the time. Ecstasy. Bliss. Reservation. Hope and sadness. And loneliness. Always from the root, loneliness emerges. I believe the plague of our time is the lack of daring and stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured. Loneliness drives millions to self-medication, meaningless sex, ridiculously high bar tabs, and sometimes suicide. The great and troubled minds of our time--Hunter S. Thompson, Robin Williams, Sylvia Path, Neil Cassady, and the like--were so much rapt in their own inner turmoil that no one, except maybe an occasional lover, could access the deepest parts of them. Loneliness is usually perpetuated by feelings of fear... fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of vulnerability, fear of inadequacy. Self-judgement severs our chance to be two things: present in our wholeness, content with who we are when not with the other and also our relationship to the other.
Self-judgement is an unnecessary war. How much time and energy do you invest in heavy ammunition against an imaginary enemy? In the trenches of becoming, the front lines of self-discovery and belly-up to the bar, lies a warrior in hiding. Strategy, tenacity, resilience, and self-acceptance. These are the traits of a fighter. Guard your heart, but remain open. Fear nothing. Watch out for shrapnel, and lice and rats--those unwanted vermin thoughts spreading unwanted dis-ease. Develop a treaty for peaceful disarmament and fortify your heart. You are wonderful company, and your whole world awaits.
No expectations—is that any way to move through life? I don't think so. I say have loose expectations! Expect miracles. Expect that the fruits of your labor will be compensated, and the fruits of your Spirit will be matched with abundant return. Exacting expectations are the source of disappointment and frustration. Expectations are an obstacle to the unfolding power of now. How can you truly be present—and rapt in the whimsical moment—when you already have preconceived notions of how the cards "should" fall? Remove should from your vocabulary. Be here now—in love, in business, in your personal development. Trust the process. The now moment is what your heart and soul need to quantify, qualify, or rectify your experience. Judgements impede the soul's progress. Expectations, when thoughtfully and intentionally established, will only facilitate a deeper and more meaningful experience. Relinquish control and surrender to the flow. Let magic have its way with you.
"We keep slaying our small dragons as the big one waits." - Charles Bukowski
I come to this clean, well-lighted pub for three addictions: writing, reading Charles Bukowski, Kesey, Walt Whitman and the like, and the anticipation of who might sit down next to me.
Maybe it will be him. It never is.
Last week the guy that sat down next to me was a larger, old man, who sat a bit hunched over in his oversized quilted flannel. He grumbled a bit when he talked and had a big nose and whiskers where his beard used to be. He was the product of the sixties you'd imagine if you read Ram Dass, Kesey, or Timothy Leary. He told me of a daughter he thought he may have and said she was conceived during a mescaline trip in the summer before the summer of love. His stories remind me of my anachronous existence in this post-beat and post-1960s world. Fueled by coffee and whiskey, I was attentive to his fascinating stories. This guy had actually kicked it with Allen Ginsberg outside the donut shop on Banyan Street just off Haight and Ashbury. I should probably spend more time in San Francisco.
My virtual wine buddy and soul journey confidant lives there--somewhere above a bustling street in a cozy nook I imagine. We've never met. If there's anyone who could match my openness, it is Her. She has an edge and wanderlust to match Kerouac--she might even be a bit more beatnik than me. Maybe she and Alan Watts would sit in the park all Zen-like, talking about how fascinating and frustrating the difficulty of knowing oneself is. Eventually they would make out in the grass.
Just this evening, as I slump into the comfort of my pen and solitude at the shiny, maple bar, I am also carrying on a deep, meaningful conversation with Her on Facebook chat. Coffee. Whiskey. Weed. And Her. Four things that blow my heart wide open and elicit self-disclosure. Through our streams of wordy babbling consciousness, we realize She and I are beatniks living in a post-apocalyptic era. Everything we need to know about becoming has been revealed and we are just helping each other trust the painful and fascinating, as Alan Watts had put it, process of self-expression and living slightly outside the mores of conventional society. Over our wine and poetic discourse, we go on and on about romantic relationships, drug experiences, things we are trying hard not to regret and how the day's been. Like always, today we come to the same realization:
We are okay.
...and I always feel a bit more sane.
Wherever two or more gather to discuss matters of the heart, Spirit shows up. –Matthew 18:20
I met the most wonderful new friend tonight–through Facebook–but she lives in my hometown of Bellingham Washington. We basically had Church, meditation, wisdom sharing, whatever you wanna call it. I'll meet her when I stop in for a hug downtown where she works later on this week. Our conversation was so tangible. I felt her so close to me. It was as though we were in small group, just the two of us, coming together, meeting for the first time, and laying our faith stories on the table. I felt no judgement, only love and encouragement. I know she felt the same. Such a warm feeling so unfamiliar to many of us.
After a thirty minute back and forth and an exchange of meditation material (she shared some words from Jesus and I shared some poetic Hafiz) I solidified my belief system–my "faith"–in a single swoop without even trying. I grew up in scary fundamental Christian churches that drove home ideas like guilt, shame, and fear of an impending apocalypse. I have taken the sacred parts, what I feel are truth, and I incorporate them into my daily spirituality. My daily spiritual practice is based on my faith statement. Here it is:
I find God in my dance, ceremony with community, by honoring and communing playfully with earth. I am mindful of the Divine expression of all things. I trust my intuition, and I practice love daily.
In difficult, lonely or uncertain times I hope that you might find someone with which you can have an open dialogue with what is on your heart and mind, for the goodness and the Godness that is you resides there. I would also encourage you to write a faith statement just to see what emerges. For many of my friends it might include words like "snowboarding" or "outdoors" or maybe "goddess" "forest" or "spirit". The journey is long; I am glad we are on it together. We are always learning. Always new. Always keeping heart to something bigger than who we are in this moment, yet keeping our feet firmly planted on terra firma.
"THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."
Hunter S. Thompson
Eight days before the anniversary of poet Sylvia Plath's tragic suicide, five days after my friend Brett's heartbreaking hara-kiri (his samurai sword) and one day after Academy-award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found with a syringe in his best heroin arm, and I am perpetually sad. The sadness is paralyzing. I am not particularly tormented by the missing of a physical presence, so much as I am deeply empathetic. I know the EDGE. There is a great precipice. We stand, often teetering, on the brink of reason and insanity, and it seems to be perpetuated by a certain sort of genius; and if not genius, then the madness stems from an ability of the inquisitive brain which ferociously and relentlessly tries to process external stimuli. Over time, these external factors we tirelessly process inevitably embed themselves in the soul and turn to a thick, black, tenacious sludge.
We see more, we know more, and we are of the generation and among the most spiritually adept to hold onto it all. Brett was this way. Sylvia, dear Sylvia, she had so much on her mind and heart, as many of the tragedies that came after her did. I'm sure all who chose to end the pain were in a similar mind space. Whether we check our pain in as over-sized emotional baggage, keep it stored under the bed as crumpled up yellow legal pads of written shattered dreams, or we spew unprocessed verbal vomit all over an unsuspecting subject who turns his ear for a moment of compassionate listening, we all can share our deepest discomfort and our greatest mission. Share your reality. Share your truth. Embrace the pain for a moment.
Can we learn to sit with the discomfort? My therapist would ask this of me after a day of agonizing emotional turmoil. Can you sit with the discomfort in non-judgement and gentle compassion with yourself? Can you remain just on the edge of reason and insanity without falling into the abyss of no tomorrow? It's a scary place, and it is important for anyone who feels deeply in these ways to find their center point and fight like fuck to get back to it. See more, do more, and love more. It is the prescription to rich life experience and acceptance of what is. In this seeing and doing, though, there is risk. Your heart may break.
Your mind may contain a chemical composition not quite built to withstand the intensity of truth, love, and the like. You may come to a breaking point. There is always refuge. There is always hope. There is always a way through the thick, tenacious sludge, the swamp of sadness, that we may have to walk through. Travel to the edge of reason, and don't be afraid to feel. Someone near you feels the same. Find solace in peace. Keep your head in the game. This too shall pass.