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

Keep Moving, Mapmaker

PS: Did you ever notice how  phallic the NYC metro map is?

PS: Did you ever notice how phallic the NYC metro map is?

You are a cartographer
Your life is a map
There are ways to get places
And there are experiments that result in dead ends
No shortcuts
No guarantees, except:
Every day life gives you a chance to improve your resolution

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Poetry/Prose

Just Be Fame

fame1And I think you know it’s rare.

For someone to see.

You.

Facing insecurities.

Out of control.

In control.

In between.

Waiting in lines.

Wondering.

Crying in secret.

Chewing cheap gum.

Fumbling with your iPad.

Like everyone else.

How could you not?

When I saw you, I saw a person.

Not a picture.

Not a title.

Not a name.

I looked at you.

Heard your voice.

Answered your questions.

Wondered what you were hiding.

Because you had to.

Heard what you were hiding.

Despite you.

What you assumed about me.

It wasn’t.

Projected–it could only be you.

And I loved it.

The mysterious gap.

That revealed everything.

You thought you hid.

I spoke with you.

Measured.

Sincere.

As if you were a merchant.

And I tended to you.

As if you were my fleeting customer.

And I think you know it’s rare.

For someone not to care too much.

But just enough for you to know.

I do.

For someone to trust nature.

More than temptation.

To put you higher.

Than human.

There is no fame in a moment.

Unless I am famous too.

And when I turn around.

I see all the layers.

That separate you.

From everyone else.

And I wonder why.

Anyone would want this.

Fame.

And I sense.

You’re the kind who never wanted it.

As much as it wanted you.

Like a mother wants her child.

To come in and wash his hands.

And sit at his place at the table.

As much as it challenges you still.

To believe something it tempts you not to.

That you have nothing to prove.

Don’t worry; I see, and your secret is safe with me.

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Poetry/Prose

Older Than Time (another workshop soul sketch)

spanish-restaurant-waiter-small-80469

Image credit: coloribus.com “waiter”/light editing: me

Here is another soul sketch, of a perfect stranger I chose in Barcelona during a recent creativity workshop. He was a busboy/waiter at our hotel.

I am of service, and so I am invisible.

I am of service, and so I can fly.

I am of service, and so I am private.

Few people see me beyond what I do.

Anyone is invited.

No one is expected.

Continuous presence.

Checked self importance.

A dance among the collective.

I am a monk in common disguise.

*His age so young (maybe 16), his soul so old and his energy so selfless, I dared not take a picture and degrade the honor of such a rare human! Thus, the photo is not mine but it seems my subject would age into someone like the man pictured–and bullfighting is now banned in Catalunya (yaaay!) so this is how that graceful DNA might be channeled.

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Poetry/Prose

Assignments

Image and editing credit: mine

Image and editing credit: mine

Rolling over

He found her face

Asked without a word:

Did you want me to change you darling?

Because I’m afraid I will

When we say a thing

When we do a thing

We set it free

Why does it matter what it means, to you, to me?

Isn’t it such a pleasure, to know there is so much more, to anything, than what we say it means?

After kindergarten

We got all these assignments

Until we learned

To make everything

An assignment

Tell me

Love

Tell me

When do we graduate?

From yesterday’s meaning

Tomorrow’s fantasy

Listen here

What does any of it mean?

What did it mean, when it was not me?

When it was not you?

When everyone thought it was so damn good?

When people scorned and whispered that it wasn’t right

Just get under it

Immerse yourself in it

It’s everything

So why does it have to mean something?

To you, to me, to anyone

If it is

It is alive

Self evident

Waiting shamelessly

To overrule our little minds

Do you wrap the sacred in words?

In thoughts that struggle to be words?

In feelings that want to find patterns?

Do you wrap it in a pretty present?

Throw it in the garbage?

What do you do with it?

What CAN you really do with it?

Do you see now?

Nothing

And that’s what it means

Because it is

And we are, too

Beyond, beyond, so beyond

Assignments

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Movie Reviews

Review: Senna

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.04.34 AMThis one is hard for me because it’s in my top five. I mean, so much of it can’t be touched with words. But I’ll try … at least I’ll try to get you to watch it if you haven’t.

Just as a note, whenever this film beckons me, I watch it again because I know it’s for a deep reason and I’ll be balanced somehow by it–it has a power I can’t explain, to ground me into myself and feel understood. I think this man made a lot of people feel this way just by existing.

You go into this one thinking you’re going to watch 1.5 hours or so of cars along ribbons of tarmac, announcers, some hot Brazilian race car driver spouting off about fame. At least I did, kind of. And I love race cars, and fast cars, and just … cars, so I wasn’t so turned off but wasn’t so eager, either.

But then, people were saying it’s a “spiritual” experience. So I was like “huh, let’s do this then.”

I rented it through Apple, sat down, watched, cried my eyes out, hit menu and play, and watched it again. I watched it as a single double feature the first time folks. And every time I watch it, it’s like the first time.

First of all, logistically, the soundtrack, by Antonio Pinto–who also infused the movie City of God–is impeccable for the purpose. And the footage they dug up is unbelievable. The way it’s all directed and edited (I like to say choreographed because this implies elegance) just baffles. The director, Asif Kapadia, and writer, Manish Pandey, deserve so much credit. Pandey is an orthopedic surgeon for crying out loud!

This film starts out as a sketch around the politics of racing yet, through some swift yet subtle turns, plunges you into the heart and soul of a man who is old beyond his years. A man who was born to appear a hot-shot yet is really anything but.

As I watched, as the music calmed me deeper and deeper into the message, I couldn’t move. I just froze and observed a person so in touch with their soul that it squeezed my throat.

We see him misunderstood, praised, winning, sharing, being his hot self. But underneath there is something so profound going on. And above it all there is a sense of mysticism around his very being that, in the end, draws the largest funeral to that date in human history around his passage out of his body.

A few things that strike me the most about this man’s life (and the way it’s framed by this film) follow:

•We all have moments where we see something nobody else does, where we must suck it up and continue. His life is a reflection on this part of our experience that we all need once in a while.

•He never took credit–he always surrendered it up, to God, to spirit.

•He lived in spirit and it was HIS business. It wasn’t a show. It was his mode of operation that, if noticed, was insanely difficult to keep up through the illusions that fame throws at a human being.

•He sublimated his anger and ego–while you could see the struggle, which is part of the magic because you can relate to it–he was an incredible alchemist given the circumstances.

•He always knew he would die young. Even though he didn’t want to know. The struggle of him not wanting to know is what this film lifts out with genius. You observe him throughout the film, wrestling with an ego that was growing despite his constant efforts to check it. An ego that wanted to win, that couldn’t stop even though his soul knew better, that wanted to live longer without changing–that wanted to have what it eventually ate.

•Ego fought but lost the match right before he died–in those last nerve-wracked hours. Over the film you witnessed it growing, yet something in him, something of spirit, didn’t want that ego–knew it was headed for its own destruction. And as a viewer, I gasp and clutch my chest each time to witness destiny rise up on such a situation and plunge a sword straight through a human’s struggle with duality.

I watched this again last night and, although I should have expected it, was shocked at how much I cried all over again, like I hadn’t seen it before. There is an arc to this film that just sucks you in. It’s a total experience–an attempt to capture what watching his life must have been like for his fans, in real time.

If you like racing, you will love this movie. If you are on a spiritual path, you will love this movie. If you like hot Brazilian men who drive fast cars, you will love this movie.

It’s a value-add folks, and I bow humbly and gratefully to those who put it together.

 

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