There’s so much I want to say. So much I could say about friendship, and belonging, and how care (or the absence of it) feels deep in the center of my being. About feeling dehumanized so often. Objectified. Plunked into the fantasies and projections of men who said they loved me but didn’t show me care.
I could talk about how my ache for belonging has led me to saying yes when I knew it should be a “no”. About how finding the courage to finally say “no” meant being cast out. Shut out. (Or worse.)
About how that makes me not trust anyone, especially myself.
I will write about those things and more. I know there are others who need to these stories but today, just for today, I’ll linger on the sweet sustenance of this poem by Hafiz and just let my heart rest deep inside my animal body.
“All the Hemispheres
Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
Update: After I wrote this, I went to yoga with one of my favorite teachers, Ashley. At the end of class, she put my head in her hands and gently said, “I’ve got you girl.” Quiet tears rolled down my cheeks.
Trust is earned but we have to remember to open to it. Opening…
Today’s randomly-chosen word is be and comes from The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard & Trinh Xuan Thuan. It’s a fascinating exploration of the intersection of Western science and Buddhist philosophy. I cannot more highly recommend this book. Turns out, I’m in good company:
The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Conversations on the nature of life and what it means to be–to exist–are keenly interesting to me. I personally often find that the world around me shifts somewhat dramatically depending on what I’m focusing on which enhances studies of this type. The Bricolage Project, with its ephemeral nature, has led me to a greater awareness of my state of being on any given day. Not surprisingly, when I was out with my friend the other night, he began telling me about his meditation practice, Vipassana. The word means to “see things as they really are” and the practice is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. My friend recounted his time of going on a ten-day silent meditation retreat at a local meditation center and told me I would “rock Vipassana” because I have a way of seeing and experiencing things as they are that seems to align with the practice. As he described spending several days focusing on his nose and upper lip, I found myself thinking of my upper lip and how I love it kissed or sucked on. Then I looked at my friend’s lip and noticed that he has a kind of beard/soul patch thing but not a mustache. Then I would switch back to just being aware of the surface area of the lip and noticing my awareness there rather than a vision of it in mind.
Then I took a sip of my Manhattan.
Here’s the thing: I am a very embodied creature. I like sex. I am lusty. I love the smell of dirt. I’ve had two babies. I am a creature of the earth. Yes, I am certainly the awareness that is poured into this form but they are one, not separate. I find many spiritual traditions problematic in their rejection of the immanent aspect of life in favor of the transcendent. To be is to live the embodied life, to feel, to play, to express, not just to notice. I learned that as a new mother trying to learn how to meditate and walk a spiritual path as a householder. I was a nursing mother who had to tend to my baby’s needs. Such is the way of living the embodied life. Even now, taking ten days off to go on a retreat is not something I can do as a single mother. My child needs me to be here caring for her. Motherhood taught me a lot about surrender. To be is to surrender to the flow of the river of life. It’s uncontainable and will pull you under and have its way with you. As Laozi says:
Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.
Listening is an essential aspect of the feminine. It refers to a dynamic receptivity to the life going on around us, an awareness of our own interconnectedness, and our responsibility to be open to what comes to us.
Feeling into, being with, listening in to the whispers of the world and not trying to make sense of it as much as just allowing it to unfold and flow–that’s what that kind of listening means to me. Ms. Hart bluntly told me, “It isn’t your job to save the world. It’s your job to be the power you are in the world.”
I think I’m finally getting a sense of what that means, of what it means to be. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.
Note: The poem I’m reading on the video up there is Darest Thou Now O Soul from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. It’s the poem from the joy! post the other day. I wasn’t done with it.
I went biking around Greenlake with my daughter this afternoon so I decided to make my bricolage there with whatever I found. The graffiti was already on the table and I love it. Love the color and the form. My rule was that everything had to come from the ground. You will see that the date is made up from the objects in the piece. I loved doing this. It took a long time to get it just right and I found it very meditative. As we biked home at twilight after biking for about ten miles, I felt so renewed.
Today’s word(s) “waking-life”, comes from Michael Meade‘s book Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul. This book is so good. So devourable. If you’ve never seen Meade speak or been to one of his workshops, I highly recommend it. You will come away altered. I count him as one of my most beloved and revered teachers. Today’s quote comes from the book I mentioned:
When we ignore the limits of fate and thehints of destiny we tighten the unconscious web of our lives. Eventually, we make our lives fixed, settled, and intractable. Thus, we seal our own fate and ignore our hidden destinies…Shifting fate and finding the destiny within is part of the art of truly living and of living truly.
I heard it’s National Poetry Day today so I’ll share one of my very favorite poems:
I Ask for Silence, Pablo Neruda (trans. Alastair Reid)
Now they can leave me in peace.
Now they grow used to my absence.
I am going to close my eyes.
I want only five things,
five chosen roots.
One is an endless love.
Two is to see the autumn.
I cannot exist without leaves
flying and falling to the earth.
The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire in the rough cold.
Fourth, the summer,
plump as a watermelon.
And fifthly, your eyes,
Matilde, my dear love,
I won’t sleep without your eyes,
I won’t exist without your gaze,
I adjust the spring
for you to follow me with your eyes.
That, friends, is all I want.
Next to nothing, close to everything.
Now they can go if they wish.
I have lived so much that some day
they will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard.
My heart was inexhaustible.
But because I ask for silence,
don’t think I’m going to die.
The opposite is true;
it happens I am going to live.
To be, and to go on being.
I will not be, however, if inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves behind stars
and goes on alone across fields.
It’s a question of having lived so much
that I want to live a bit more.
I never felt my voice so clear,
never have been so rich in kisses.
Now, as always, it is early.
The light is a swarm of bees.
Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.
Today’s randomly-chosen word is finding from Awakening the Heroes Within by Carol S. Pearson. I continue to be intrigued with the words that are coming each day. I open the book to a random page and point to a word without looking. Twice, I’ve pointed to a blank page but otherwise, these are the words I’m getting. The words thus far have been nameless, girlhood, alone, perceived, whimsical, beginnings, and now finding. Fascinating bits of randomness given the nature of my art and life.
Today’s rule for the art piece is: No frame. The frame has been dissolved by the rain falling in my lovely city today and has been replaced by openness, possibility, and poetry.
rain falling softly
like a lover whispering
“stay right here with me”
Today’s quote is actually a stanza from a poem that I was reading this morning. The poem is “Ocean Lady” from The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. I chose it because it stopped me. Each word is like a little found treasure at the beach that I keep turning over in my heart to see the way time has etched itself on the surface.
Remember: you carry the bird’s heart
in its cage: the debate of wings and song,
so many violins, soaring and flashing.
Gather, gather for me, the sounds and jewels,
until wrapped in air and fire, we voyage
accompanied by the congress of pure harmonies
to morning’s waterfall of shimmering ingots.
And may our love palpitate like a fish in the cold.
Perhaps this catches in my heart because it speaks to the tension I feel related to domestication and my heart’s deep longing for freedom and an embrace of the wild. The way we have been domesticated doesn’t work for me. I don’t have tidy hair or any sort of desire to appear respectable or professional to others. I embrace authenticity and admire it in others. I don’t aspire to live in the woods but I do have Neruda’s “debate of wings and song” happening at present.
Yesterday, I was introduced to the writing of Jeriah Bowser and his Wildist perspective. I found his piece Weeds in the Holy Garden: A Wildest Review of the Laudato Si’ to echo many of my own current thoughts about the very real problems we face on this planet and the way that transcendent belief systems are serving to calcify these problems. My desire to find harmony with life is often thwarted by the degree to which our world becomes increasingly controlled and carved up. As Mr. Bowser says, “…there is the daily reality of resistance to domestication.”
There’s a teaching story about how a mouse in a cage can wiggle through the bars if it stops eating the cheese. The question is: What will it find on the other side of the bars?
This morning, I led my second writing workshop at a local homeless shelter. Before I arrived, I chose the following prompt:
In the silence I understand…
We do 20 minutes of free writing and then share. I found it interesting that one of the women I was working with could hear but didn’t speak. I found myself communicating with someone who was silent. She carried a great deal of peace and her writing reflected that.
My own free writing was rambling, as always:
In the silence I understand that I can access serenity when I choose it but it’s okay to just be in the place of wild cacophony. I understand that the howling wind holds a silence I cannot always understand but must feel.
In the silence I understand that my heart is weary but also strong with the tensile strength of steel but the softness of a baby’s cheek. I understand that the world contains vile behavior from people we are supposed to trust but also the opportunity for forgiveness.
In the silence I understand that we are here to love and that love is often simpler in the silence. The quiet heart lets me understand and know what is needed.
In the silence I understand that I am those restful, quiet spaces as well as the loud, sonic booms. Every day brings the choice to explore which voice to use. I understand that there is mystery but also answers. In the silence I understand to wait long enough to hear.
I later went back through and found words and phrases to pull out for poems or stories. I also found little messages that my heart left for me. This was the primary one.
Tonight, a friend of my posted this on Facebook and I realized how much synchronicity is happening in my life.
“Silence is a great source of strength.” ~Lao Tzu
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