Poetry/Prose

Great Glass Walls

Image credit: Mine, Beijing 2010

Image credit: Mine, Beijing 2010

Dear Anonymous,

I tried to write a note to you today but when I was about to send it, I thought of all the synapses that would fire in your brain and cause you to respond in the way that you would, because you think the things that you naturally do.

And I wondered in that moment, how many people I have loved had wanted to write to me but couldn’t because they knew the same …

… that some strange volition within me would take the purity of their words and feed an ego that just couldn’t know better at that time.

How many?

I wanted to tell you so many details. Things that would get lost on the way to your deeper wisdom. I have tried this before. I know. They will.

So now I will send you nothing at all–something more pure than the ego can touch. Something so subtle it overwhelms the world. Something that will never be said but somehow be known until the moment before we die or almost do–what is real, what is true.

There is no me. And there is no you.

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Poetry/Prose

We Always Find Out

girlwithblackgoggleswithtesttube

I am

Amused

Beyond a PhD in

This thing

Boys

Wishing to be men

Do

Even as

I prepare to retire

I still research

Now and then

Behind goggles

Sometimes surprised

Always amused

And it’s funny

The chemical

Physical

Biological

Types

That we draw

To this lab

To watch

A few words

Some body language

A hypothesis

You think

That we think

It’s real

That we’ll cry

We think different

And we prefer to laugh

We are scientists

We always find out

Read up on things

Exchange research

We all study

We all share

We all talk

We. all. talk.

Observe

Divide

Mimics from real

The tapestry

The venoms

Potent

Impotent

Of wildest dreams

Woven

Specimen after specimen

Slide after slide

Microscopes

Beakers

Bell jars

Tattered radios

In corners of labs

Play music

Sometimes our favorite songs

As we spank our hands together

Wink at each other

Slough off our lab coats

Call it a day

Go out for a drink

Celebrate results

We are scientists

We always find out

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Poetry/Prose

Heart + Soul

Me, giving myself a hug, like I do every day.

People practice yoga for many reasons. I am starting to think that mine was so I could give myself a really strong hug, every day.

A draft/scrapped stream of consciousness submission to a love book, which runs from grounded factual almost-narrative to ethereal, philosophical mumbo-jambalaya (I submitted another piece so just share this one in case anyone likes it–it’s a “true” story).

I guess if I were to sum up what I have learned in one sentence, I’d say this: love—I mean really loving—is inherently risky when you think of yourself as separate from its bounds (but my point with this piece is to argue with great gusto that you are NOT). There are so many other things you can say like “yeah, but there’s always another chance at love,” etc. But I want to focus on the perception of risk.

I want to drill deeply into the idea of risk, because it is by doing this that I feel I have learned to love more deeply than I ever thought possible. I have learned to move–or rather dig, like one would try to dig a tunnel through the Earth herself and emerge on the other side to, surrender, lie down and look up at the stars–through the risky stage into the more mature stage of embodying love more fully than ever.

These days, love, to me is not even a contract. It is a purpose and an impulse that is a highest birthright, a deepest refuge and an unlimited source of courage and power.

(One quick aside: meditation has been the key to me discovering and focusing on the concept of risk as a critical key to loving more freely and deeply. Sitting still on a regular basis kinda makes you brave like that.)

My story is grounded in the fact that about 12 years ago I left the comforts of my own culture to date, marry, divorce and again continuously date and have relationships with men from countries and customs quite different than my own. People ask why I have trouble going back to American men and I will say this: once a man from another culture stretches your perception of the way love can be, you have trouble going back to a more predictable pattern.

After my first breakup with a Turkish man, I was completely devastated. The idea of finding something like that seemed preposterous. So I lost hope. I met another Turkish man after that who showed a tendency to commit so, in one unconscious, default, fearful-foul swoop, I married him when he asked.

I loved him, but not in a way that was risky.

Not in a way where I felt I had something really to lose. He’d never leave me. Not because I was me, but because he was dogmatically locked in somehow. Marriage was more important as a container than as an experience and a daily stream of choices toward intimacy, organic behavior and interpersonal evolution vs. guarantees and automatic behavior.

I have not married since.

There was something so settling yet uninspiring about that marriage. We were together three years—two of which were minus any sense of physical passion given that there was only a modicum to begin with.

When I began practicing more yoga and moved us to another country, as a leading spouse with an overseas job, the shifts within me were too great. I realized I was stronger than I ever knew before and gained a sense of the fact that I could survive alone. I broke out of the marriage and into an international scene of men, many of whom were Arabs.

My first experience after divorce was with a Pakistani man, then an Egyptian, then a South African, then an Indian and then, for a year and a half, I settled down with an Iranian professor who specialized in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. We seemingly had a very nice run, but then one day, out of the blue, an expert at studying and testing the real vs. the artificial, he said he couldn’t be with me because I wasn’t Iranian. So many messages we humans make up to say a simple thing: my soul doesn’t run in parallel with yours anymore.

Needless to say the last five years of my life, post marriage and in the thick of dating, have been a character-building exercise. The breakup with the Iranian was especially disillusioning and yet profoundly sobering because he was a) the first person to ever break off a relationship with me and b) he retracted his love–confirming several times that he never meant the words he said every day until that point. The words “I love you,” suddenly became somewhat obsolete in their subjectivity.

Someone could get really jaded by all this–but I found it an opportunity. A chance. To get real.

When I look back, this was a massive turning point in my process to learn how to love more closely to what my ideals of the feeling truly are. The key word being: feeling. Countless memes, books and self-help guides circle back around the concept of loving yourself. But to really get down to this at the experiential level, for some of us, takes going through pain and loss.

These are the only types of experiences that we engage in to understand ever more deeply our ability to survive them. Some people may not engage so fully as try to medicate these sentiments. But when you engage them, when you burrow deeper and deeper into the pitch-black caverns of pain and loss, you start to notice a pattern that the more deeply you loved, the greater the depth inside you reached when these sentiments call you with them.

This is where risk comes in. When it’s real, when it’s deep, you know it can—and will, by death, breakup, circumstance, eventually—be taken from you yet you must proceed. Through the pain, this fact becomes matter, and the experience of your deepest levels come in so handy as anchor points for you moving forward.

Because you know, it’s going to get really dark sometimes, but you also know something more important—you will and do survive. This is the other side of the coin of loving. It’s a coin that is constantly rotating in the air if you can only keep your heart open.

Closing the heart–by either nailing down a relationship that may not be based in love or by avoiding the pain that love promises–will freeze that coin in mid-air. A dullness will take over your life. You will be an observer of love rather than a subject to its whims.

By nature, when you are separate from it, love is totally risky. Deep, true, honest, passionate and vulnerable love carries risk. Yet the fear of losing it is far greater a risk in the end. And even fighting that risk and defeating that fear cannot protect you from the pain of someone leaving your life. Still, what if you could see these situations from a different kind of dimension. A dimension where you are all one in the same and just moving in and out of these mirrored rooms and experiencing all these experiences and losing but gaining before losing again but one is related to the other?

In the end, diving in, pushing against all of your fears, against all the perception of what is gambled, means diving deep. And the deeper you go the closer you are to the wellspring’s source inside–yourself.

Once you get a load of that, it’s like you see this massive light on the ocean bed. Nobody else can see it. Nobody else can reach it. You know it’s your secret. You know it’s inside you. This light. And you just kind of shift.

Voila! Risk no longer applies.

Instead of tightly fisting the good and loving times, obsessing and over-analyzing how you can make them last, you open your hand and let them come and go. You are enough. You are love itself. As is everything else that makes that inspires that love to grow and expand. And as it expands you realize something—that everyone that ever loved you, every love you ever shared, EVERY EXPERIENCE WAS AND IS FROM THE SAME SOURCE. YOU.

This drops your shoulders if you let it. It introduces fear to its dead end, when you remember. If you return to this thought, really let it sink in, you begin to feel the futility of being anything but fear’s opposite: loving.

You are not threatened. You are suddenly operating from a center instead of reacting to external realities. You are highly mobile, never stuck, never trapped, never abandoned. YOU ARE LOVE. And you know how and where to move when you admit this–flow away from what is pain and toward what is joy.

If nobody is around to share it with, you are bathing in it–you find you have so much of it inside. You just do.

It’s time to stop getting so confused and distracted about the source of love–right behind, under, above your nose, 24 hours a day, every day of your life.

Acknowledge and fuse love as it is: the gift of life itself, coursing through you, offering you constantly a breath, a view, a sound, a taste of it. Poised and held surely at the very breast of life itself, you are life’s baby: alive, tended to, and if you should be open to it, loved.

Sometimes I drink my smoothie in the morning and imagine I am at the breast of the universe. Isn’t that weird? Well. It’s true and it makes me happy.

You woke up, you can read this, you have food to eat, you can interpret this with electric intelligence–when did you forget this meant that you are always, always, so, well, loved!

And from this place, the love you extend from yourself is like honey from a bee of your mind, flying flower to flower, processing experiences, self assured in its flight, landing, natural, purposeful. Being alive is a calling, and it’s enough.

Stop struggling against it by creating things you want that you don’t have. Just be … just buzz. Love is its own reward, a luxury, a risk, a gain, a loss, until you realize it is actually you. And the fibers of your being begin to insist on this. You start to realize you are gold.

You are pure gold and you deserve to be protected, cared for, respected, alive. Boundaries start forming around this, naturally and cognitively. You start to study, how to care for this love that is yours. You discover things that cause you to move toward or away from others, effortlessly, without a second thought … it doesn’t matter because you are and have enough: love.

And you don’t need to be around people who promise to be the source of that love and can’t. In fact, you just won’t.

Again, risk starts to reduce as a consideration, in a practical sense this time.

Finally, I will say it hurts sometimes. It does. Because, as the adage proclaims, change is the only constant in life. But that feeling you keep trying to avoid happens whether you engage in loving or not. You suffer less to understand how it works–that it is you at its source, that it is inspired and mirrored by others in a magical mix of ways, but to begin with, it’s YOURS.

Today, I have a lot going on in my private life and nothing at all. Depends on the day. Bottom line: I love myself, I integrate everything every lover, every friend, every family member, every ONE gives me that is good for me and throw the rest in the burning garbage can labeled “past tense.”

Risk is an invention of the mind. Love is natural, organic, resourceful–nothing experienced could ever be a net loss.

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Poetry/Prose, Yoga & Spiritual

A Deeper Love

blue-labradoriteYesterday, a colleague asked me:

“How did you come to love yourself?”

I sat for a second and then said something almost exactly like this:

Well, that’s something that I’m still working on, but it’s an interesting question and forces me to think.

I guess what I know for certain is that I didn’t start loving myself or even know how until a couple of years ago when somebody I loved dumped me.

And I stopped eating. And I stopped sleeping. And I was completely lost.

And then one day–as bizarre as this might sound–I was in Yoga practice, and I was on my stomach, with my forehead on my mat. And I was getting ready to do a pose in a series, and I closed my eyes, and I knew at that point in time that I was at the lowest point in the deepest part of the ocean.

This was a place that I didn’t know how to get to in my imagination previously–didn’t even know I could go there. So the pain forced me into that place, and I saw a light there.

I saw a really, beautiful, white, opalescent light. Something soft–not glaring or beating you over the head–just inviting and bright.

And I knew that was me. That light.

This light.

And I knew two practical things as well in that moment. I knew that from that point I could only go up. And I also knew that I was, I am, I always will be fundamentally alone.

So those two things really catalyzed me loving myself, because I started to work my way back up, alone. Rebuilding, gradually, my emotional life, from almost a scratch-point, but a deep point.

Because that deep place was mine and mine alone, I realized that it doesn’t matter if someone despises me, says mean things or nice things; it doesn’t matter if anyone praises me.

While those things do affect me somewhat, they’re never going to be deeply hurtful or satisfying because they can’t touch that deep point–i.e., I tend to operate out of that point now, so those things don’t really have as much of an impact.

So I started building out from that point, what I have come to define love as.

Love is a matter of staying.

In times of big stress, and even in the smallest instances, I have learned to stay with myself. This is instead of how I used to operate: every time I was ashamed, embarrassed, anything, I’d just assume myself unworthy of even my own support and love. I would beat myself up and abandon myself in a way.

Now, I’ve worked my way up to staying with myself about 85 percent of the time, and that number is growing. I have a new self talk, and through being awake in a bunch of situations, my system is improving–the holes in it, that used to let my love out to people I put above me for whatever imaginary reasons–mostly repaired.

Sure, I listen to people, because that’s good for me, and I can make my own decisions about what they say.

The point is, I come first. It starts with me. Everything, since that day two years ago, became more and more for me. And it’s not as if I’m acting selfishly at all. I love to serve people and do things for people because delighting others makes me feel happy and joyful and connected and satisfied. But honestly, I don’t do those things for them as much as for me–because if I did these things for them, I’d always be disappointed and misappropriating expectations.

Everything over the last two years has been part of a construction project, resulting in increasingly loving myself.

 

 

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Poetry/Prose

Shut Up, Sit Down and Feel the Pain (stream of consciousness)

This is a cat that graced my life for a year, named Mooncake. He was deaf and pure gentleness. I think of him and feel the sweetest pain in missing him.

This is a cat named Mooncake. He was in my life for a year. He was deaf and pure gentleness. I feel the sweetest pain in missing him.

For this to make sense, you have to get to a point where pain is not some taboo part of your thought process or a step child you blow off. Pain is not “bad.” Pain just is. And it’s here to stay. So why not ponder it, shed light on it, stop being so dang scared of it.

Automatic pilot

Massive waves

Predictability

 

You’re supposed to be fine

Everything is functional

Why not you?

 

Because in all this ease of use

You are no longer friends

With pain

And it scares you

Deep inside

It does

 

 

Give me the 2nd or 3rd world

Forcing life upon me:

Flexibility

Innovation

Execution

The ground

 

It’s nerve wracking

Ego fraying

Relative

Good times

 

What was life

A hundred years ago

Infections

Lost limbs

Childbirth

No anesthesia

 

No matter

 

It doesn’t matter

When you live

Where you live

How you live

Whoever you are

You will know pain

 

As everything becomes “easier”

Pain’s roots defy logic

But pain itself, never

If it’s not beside you

It’s around the corner

You see?

 

A society with its share of grit

But without that

Pain rebrands itself

 

Neurosis

Paranoia

Anxiety

Alienation

Autoimmunity

 

It niggles, constantly

A water torture

But where is the tap?

 

We’re fine

Pain

In the flow

Pain

On top of the world

Pain

 

Like a fly you can’t swat

 

Everything works well

So …

… what am I doing?

 

At the gross level

Making plans

Shaking hands

Getting stuff done

Spinning wheels

Flying high

 

But everyone has to land

Sometimes

 

At the subtle level

The bigger project

 

As it all gets louder outside

We gotta sit down, shut up

 

Or we’ll never trace it

Explore it

Set it free

This pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry/Prose

Phalaenopsis’ Song

 

photo (3) (1)

Photo/art credit–mine

Sometimes

I know what you feel

More than you

Sometimes

The crushing weight

Of watching you fly

In denial’s wind

Nothing to hold

Here in “me”

In another life

I was once a bee

Smelling perfection

In lover’s projection

Intense grief

The Earth turned her face

Smiled at me

I bowed to witness

Her holy game

Driving each one of us, deeper

Oh nature

When you fall for me

We both die

To who we once were

Six feet under

Reaching roots

My heart

My deepest love

All that I am

From the deep I beg:

Turn away from me

Rule the air around you

These man’s world winds

Only gust more

Never caring

As much as you

Find a flower

Feed

Find a shelter

Feel

The validity

Earth’s fruits

Your banquet since birth

Dearest one

Projections never nourish

Embrace the one

Feeding you

Laughing at your doubts

Easing your mind

Here

We are together

Here

Needing what we know

Knowing what we feel

But sometimes

I can feel what you feel

More than you

When I am the orchid

And you are the bee

Now disappearing

To your confused flight

Only from a distance

You will see who I was

A projection

Your deepest longings

Alive in a mirror

Never one to love

More than yourself

I hold anyone truly

Openly

On sacred command

Silent

Trapped in their longing

Camouflaged pain

Fertilizes my life

Now, now

If anything were spoken

From the deepest Earth

All the root-feeding death

I tell you surely

Be

The self

I’ve known so many times

Through such sacred deception

That lured my deepest love

Back to my own heart

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I want so badly to tell you

With your mustard stains

Awkward eyes

Bootstrapped breath

It’s okay

It never wasn’t

Unmatched socks

And the more you try to hide it

The more everyone sees

Did you hear me now?

Sidewalk tripper

It’s okay

Somewhere inside you know

Disheveled

Inside

Nonsensical

What you know

What you don’t

What you wish for

What you can’t have

You can drink

You can smoke

You can lie

You can cheat

You can run in circles

Jump Jacks and Jills

But you don’t fool me

You don’t

You know

It’s okay

One day

You will

Lonely groupie

One life

You will

Watch checker

Let life

Take off your clothes

Save you from shame

Kiss your chest

Wrap its arms around your waste

Run its hands down your sides

And slap your ass

Awake

One day

You’ll know

You know