No Place Like Home
Well, most of you have probably given up on this blog. I've been so busy with work that I haven't had a minute to spare.
I went home for Thanksgiving for the first time in years. I always considered it my "private" holiday--usually spent with friends or eating out or traveling. But this year, because of my mom's surgery, I went home. (She's recovering well, by the way). It was really lovely--relaxing and invigorating. I read a couple of books, cooked some "roots and weeds", and ate way too many desserts.
There is something very wholesome about Thanksgiving. As if nothing bad could ever happen (as long as you don't watch the news). Eat yourself sick and then sit down and watch football until your eyes can't stay open another minute. Then, waking to yet another game, a little snack, and your niece and nephews saying goodnight (they have lives of their own now). I had a thoroughly delicious time.
The only thing that could have made it perfect was an afternoon at the movies. Oh well, next year.
Walk the Line
Well, it's been quite a while since I've had time to update this blog. And I don't have the time now, but thought I should drop a line and tell you to go see Walk the Line. Joaquin Phoenix's depiction of Johnny Cash is mesmerizing. I've always been a fan of Phoenix, but he owns this role--with subtlety and intensity he brings alive the early John Cash. Reese Witherspoon is delightful as June Carter. They both sang their own parts! You've got to respect that.
On other things:
My mother's knee surgery went well and I'm going home tomorrow to be with family for a few days. My first Thanksgiving at home in years. I always called it my personal holiday; but if feels good to be going home for it this year. My sister's birthday is today! And, in honor of that, I've called in a bunch of old friends to come for dinner on Saturday. Should be fun. Maybe I'll get some pictures to show you all.
We had a beautiful circle of women last evening to send healing prayers to my father. We sang and meditated and then someone told a witness story of their own healing after such a circle was done for them. This stuff really works!
I wish I had pictures. The gurdwara in my home was lovely with soft lights and candles. We had a perfect circle of 12 and a little one, Narayan Singh, to keep it real: "I'm hungry!" "When are we going to eat?" I really felt the love and concern of everyone here for me and my family.
So Dad, Happy Birthday today and may you be Healthy, Happy, and Holy for many more years to come!
We retired to the living room to eat my family's signature meal. Curry! I make a sweet potato variation but still serve it with all the condiments: cheese, tomatoes, bananas, coconut, peanuts, raisins, apples, mango, green peppers, green onions, and we included some fresh ginger as well. It was delicious and in many ways, probaby the best way to honor my father and my family--we all love good food!
On Saturday, I went on a one-day retreat with some of my women friends from Santa Fe. This, too, was a very healing event. We had a meeting where several people got to say things they'd never said before--just in that is a healing. But I witnessed these older women go to them and put their arms around them and it awakened something in me that I can hardly describe. I witnessed myself and my inability to accept that kind of care from other people. I witnessed my own withdrawal. I witnessed my own reservation to be loved. It was very powerful to see that so much of what I don't receive--that I believe I want or need--is because I don't accept it when it is offered. It's a very old pattern. So, perhaps as in so many things, my praying for others is the beginning of a new level of healing for myself.
May all beings everywhere be healthy.
May all beings everywhere be at peace and ease.
May all beings everywhere be happy.
This one comes from my teacher in Vancouver, B.C.
The title is Yoga Masters: Below you see a familiar face to all you yogins and yoginis, the second picture is a new face on the scene who's making real headway into alternative approaches to supported Bridge Pose. ha!
You don't even have to know me well to know that I love to laugh. When someone goes to the movies with me, I quickly find out if they will be a true friend or not. Why you ask? Because you either find my hysterical laughter charming or it drives you nuts!
Here are a few chuckles from the good old days. Anybody remember Paul Lynd?
If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when game show responses were spontaneous and clever, not scripted and (often) dull as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.
Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.
Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.
Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.
Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.
Q. According to Cosmo, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A Rose Marie: No, wait until morning.
Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.
Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I Love You"?
A. Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.
Q. What are "Do It," "I Can Help," and "I Can't Get Enough"?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.
Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.
Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.
Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.
Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.
Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.
Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.
Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.
Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?
Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.
Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.
Q. While visiting China, your tour guide starts shouting "Poo! Poo! Poo!" What does this mean?
A. George Gobel: Cattle crossing.
Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused but it certainly isn't neglected.
Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.
Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?
Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.
Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.
Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and Laugh.
Every week here in Espanola we do an akand path--the unbroken reading of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Having the sound current as a continuous presence in our community is a great healing, not only for us, but for the world. This week I have asked the community to dedicate the reading of the SGGS to the complete healing of my father. Christ said, if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains. My life has been one of doubt, betrayal, and mistrust. I am my own Judas. My life has also been one of faith, loyalty and grace. And in this, I have already been given a miracle. As we participate in the Akand Path this week, I wait in readiness for another miracle. May the healing hand of Guru Ram Das be with us all. May the love of the Divine Mother heal us all. And may the lord of my father's heart, Christ Jesus, uplift him to a complete healing, and a new life.
I saw two really great movies this weekend. The first, Good Night and Good Luck about the McCarthy era and Edward R. Murrow/CBS News. It was a perfect mirror to the FOX news generation and the extremism of the Right and the vilification of even the most mildly liberal opinions and perspectives in the public forum. George Clooney directed this seemless black and white film using vintage newsreels and footage with the contemporary actors and story. The movie opens with a monologue from Murrow--it was prophetic--and we are living in the times that he spoke of: Entertainment is valued more than education, spectacle more than perspective, and zealots more than true zeal.
A must see!
The other movie was called Touch the Sound--about a deaf percussionist. Fabulous. For those of you who have been to my sound healing treatments, you'll understand my enthusiasm. The way she spoke about sound being embodied and they way she moved in relationship to the sound was so compelling. Her strength and integrity as an artist were inspiring. It woke up the child in me that heard everything--"big ears"--was my nickname, derogatory yes, but true. I was so awake to sound. This movie was a call to wake-up.
When you're 37, things begin to get a little touch and go, if you know what I mean. Things that used to work perfectly--so perfectly you never even knew they were happening--begin to slow down, breakdown, or otherwise give you cause for grief. This morning, I woke up and put my glasses on and had a really warped, strange sensation in the vision of my right eye. I've been having headaches for the past week, so of course, I immediately jump to the conclusion that I'm dying or having a stroke or some other catastrophe. The interesting part is not that I'm dying (which we all are, just not necessarily today) but my reaction. First, panic, then a more generalized fear reaction, then a quick review of my life, then denial. It made me realize that we are the judges of our lives--so many scriptures across all cultures speak of the day of judgment--and I realized in that split second where I moved from reviewing my life to denying that anything was wrong that I couldn't face the truth of my existence. I couldn't forgive myself. I couldn't simply be, in the quiet of the moment, in the face of my impending mortality--I couldn't accept who I am. Our teacher, Yogi Bhajan, said repeatedly that the only difference between himself and us was that he accepted himself completely--exactly as he was. There was no struggle within himself to be something other than himself. This morning's mini-crisis along with some other things that have arisen this week have made me take a step back and recognize that I can no longer live in fear. That I must be gentle with myself, yet not go "gently into that good night". And not be afraid to fully live.
So, for all of you, my friends, who are over 35. Take a moment to step back and relax. Recognize and remember who you are. And forgive yourself in each moment, so when the moment of truth comes, you've had a lot of practice and can smile and move forward in grace.
Capote. This was a stunning film about the period of time just after the Kansas murders when Capote showed up with Harper Lee to write an investigative journal piece for the New Yorker. Four years later he changed the face of nonfiction genre with In Cold Blood. In the interim, Harper Lee writes and publishes To Kill a Mockingbird and the face of the Great American Novel changed as well.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is his usual brilliant self. His performance as Capote which could have easily gone too far was subtle and understated yet still gave you the flavor of the social man about town and the interior life of a determined genius: genuine, manipulative, self-centered, flawed, alcoholic.
The supporting role played by Catherine Keener was equally brilliant. She reminds me of some of my mother's favorite actresses from the 40s: the tough, independent woman in the midst of a man's world.
If you are looking for a court drama you will be disappointed. The court scenes take up all of 5 minutes in this film. It's about Capote and his obsession with this particular story. It's about Capote and his obsession with himself. In the end, this book makes him a more celebrated star of the literati than he already was, yet it also took something from him that he never recovered from.
Go see it.
Ribbons of gold snake their way
along familiar watery paths.
Bursts of brilliant yellow
dot the landscape, shimmering
against blue sky
and black branches.
the lowly cottonwood--
makes its grand exit
from the stage
retiring in a fiery blaze
only to return--meek and mild--
when the seasons change
& the arroyo
springs to life
in a grand spectacle
of roaring flood
where there was only
The lowly cottonwood
begins to bud.
-Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa, 1 November 2005
(Photo credit: Prabhu Singh Khalsa)
The cottonwood is a much maligned tree here in the SW. When I was growing up in Texas, they were not-so-affectionately known as "trash trees." People took the first opportunity they could to chop them down & clear them from their property. Here, they serve as a beacon in the night sky--a literal oasis in the desert. Wherever there are cottonwoods, there is water. So as reviled as they may continue to be, they serve a valuable purpose here in New Mexico.
The bonus is that they, along with the Aspens, provide a spectacular show for us in the fall.