Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Beloved--a poem

In the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, God, the great unnameable mystery is often referred to as the beloved. It's an epic love story between man and god. Here's my contribution to the saga:

My Beloved

There are no absolutes & yet
my mind does not stray
in doubt

You, my beloved, are ever seated
on the throne
of my heart

For years I have wandered, searching,
but more often that not,

When I stopped looking
you found me, here,
in my own skin

Now every moment is alive
to your presence
your touch, your movement,
your breath
and I?

I am I am
because you are....

Seen at the Cinema

Deja Vu

I'm a fan of Denzel Washington, but it's been a while since he's been in something REALLY good. This edge-of-your-seat thriller is part sci-fi, part thriller and partly good. I was definately on the edge of my seat--through the entire thing. And yet, about 2/3 of the way through, I realized I had lost my ability to suspend my disbelief. I just didn't buy it....entirely.

The interesting thing about the movie is that it brings up, once again, the idea of time travel and alterating history because of it. We are endlessly fascinated with this scenario because so many of us wish we could change the past so that our present would somehow magically be better, or maybe just different. Regret's a big thing; it's what makes us moral animals. However, beyond it's managing role in our behavioral consciousness, it's pretty much a waste of time.

In the film, you see Washington go back in time to change the outcome of a devastating act of terror; but it's done as an act of love, or what we imagine will be love. The interesting factor is that the idea that he's done it before is introduced and it teases you. The philosopher in me said to myself, we've all done this before. Our lives just a play, over and over, again until we get the outcome we "want". Desire is a powerful thing.

What I've discovered over time and experience is that even though I'm not a time traveller and I've no desire to take off my clothes and crawl into a tiny time-space collapsing tube, I do have the capacity, the innate ability to change the past and the future. How you ask? By changing how I think today. How I remember the past and write that story can be changed...and if I change the story, then the past is different is it not? Tragedy becomes challenge; anger becomes understanding. IN addition, what I do today affects my tomorrow in almost exact proportions. So the past and the future are essential to our psyche--memory is in many ways who we are, whether we like it or not. And our sense of the future is paramount in motivating our actions and interpreting our past. But it is the present moment, the all-powerful now, which really matters. It's the key to the time traveller's quest--changing the past and the future--for the better.

Good Morning Snowshine

Well what began as a powdered sugar coating became a blanket and a drift by the end of the day. Lots and Lots of Snow!

Out in the arroyo, the dry river bed was now a blanket of glittery white powder. Beautiful.

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow. Puts one in the mood for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First Snow in the Valley

It's been snowing all day here today. THis morning it was just a light frost--like powdered sugar all over the land. Now there's drifts against walls and the quiet of that first blanket of snow (with the exception of a few snowball fights with the boss, ha!).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Silence & the Secret

I followed the typical gluttonous affair of Thanksgiving with two days (didn't quite make it to the third day, smile) of fasting and silence. It was a really profound experience to just be with myself. I still went for long walks everyday with my dog, but the rest of the time I was in my yoga & meditation room. I was able to do 6 40-minute formal sits a day plus two kriyas plus read some of my banis. I took naps everyday--because looking at your mind is exhausting! When I decided to break silence, I called a friend and we went to have yogi soup (green chile and lettuce) at JOanne's, a local restaurant.

She asked me what experiences I'd had, but it's not so easy to speak to. I will say this: One of my favorite songs is by Frank Black called Where is my mind? The answer I found was nowhere; it is not limited by time and space. And to the question, What is my mind? A relationship of hormones, sensations, intuition, memory, and fantasy which responds primarily from memory unless a state of neutrality is reached. To the question, Is the observer the observed? (I've been reading Krishnamurti again) I recognized that there is always an observer beyond the observer--so the split between observer and observed is artificial. It is all one experience--which is God in the flow of life. I guess you had to have been there.

The most profound experience I had--outside the conversation with my mind--was in shuniya--emptiness. Here is one of those profound paradoxes we find in the world of spirit: only in emptiness could I contain the entire world. Again, you had to be there, but when I emptied myself to a state of zero, there was enough space for the entire universe; it was as if the vacuum of my mind became a black hole and swallowed up everything: people, their conversations, stars, cars, everything.

The summation of the entire experience was in the practice of dzogchen, metta and blessing. In Tibetan practice it is dzogchen: breathing in all the disease, all the tragedy, every dark and ugly thing, and then exhaling light, health and healing. I began this simple but profound practice and then transitioned to metta, calling up particular people in my life and wishing them happiness and healing, then finally moved to a blessing mudra within our own Kundalini Yoga practice and here, I found the truth which is the foundation of all faiths: service to others is the quickest route to liberation. This simple practice of praying for others and blessing others was the sweetest of them all and the most fulfilling.

Silence was a struggle and so I continue to deepen my understanding of the gift of shabd guru. Within the sound current of praise, the mind relaxes and rests even as it is uplifted by the sound. We have been given such a great gift and the practice of nam simran--meditating on the identity and experience of God through the name--is a profound way to silence the mind. I now know that I need to make a deeper commitment to this practice in my daily life.

The weekend ended with a viewing of the new buzz movie: The Secret. This is typically the kind of "positive thinking" that drives me crazy. This frantic grasping for the things we want...however, after this weekend, I recognize the power of the mind and the power of the word. I have seen the shift in myself over the years. And more profoundly since coming here. I am opening up to a new awareness of myself as co-creator. There is a greater accountability but also a greater freedom in this. And worse comes to worse, I still bow, ever and always bow to what is.

Sat Nam.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow will be a big day of eating and festing with friends here in the community. There's a talent show and a big community meal plus I've been invited to friends for an evening dinner--and they're the best chefs in town! Thanksgiving used to be a big event for me when I lived in Seattle. I lived in an old converted mansion and we would often have up to 36 people over for dinner--seated at two long antique tables pushed together in the entry way. Amazing. We cooked all day! Some of the most amazing food I've ever had--to this day. Sigh.

I'm following this tradition of indulgence with a silent retreat--3 days of solitude and silence and fasting. I've been meditating since my birthday about doing another vision quest. I did one back in Ojai, California in my 20s and it's been a long time. I've been feeling like I need it. Here, though, it's a bit colder and not quite as safe. So, I'm just doing a silent retreat in my home. Hafiz writes: If you really want to do something for yourself, lock yourself in a closet for three I'm taking his advice. It's not quite a closet, but I am going to confine myself to the gurdwara in my home, with only two exceptions: bathroom breaks and taking care of my animals. Otherwise, I'm going in and under. Off the radar. Off the map. I'll let you know what I find in the deep woods of my own mind and the oftimes desert of my heart.

Have a great weekend. May you too find a way to refresh yourself this holiday weekend. And may no one know hunger on this day of all days. May everyone be safe and have a home to return to. May all be happy and free from suffering--including the turkeys!

many blessings and many thanks. Sat Nam.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Seen at the Cinema

Casino Royale

The New Bond--Wow! I love Daniel Craig's work and in this newly re-engineered Bond, he is fantastic! They've really taken a new direction from 'rico suave' to 'raw and gritty' and I like it. Granted, my favorite action flick is The Bourne Identity, so with this in mind, Casino Royale really matches that energy and intensity. It begins with one of the most acrobatic chase scenes I've ever seen. The actor/stunt man who played that role was amazing! It's worth seeing just for the opening scene. The adventures continue from the Bahamas to Montenegro. Judi Dench is her usual extraordinary self; she brings a wit and an integrity to the role of M that no other actor has ever managed to capture.

The one torture scene was a little much; I don't know how it got a PG-13 rating with that included. But other than that it had everything the old Bond had, but more!


Friday, November 17, 2006

Books that have changed my life

They announced the National Book Award winners yesterday and it got me thinking about all the books that have changed my life. I was trying to come up with a nice round 10 but here's what I've thought of so far, in no particular order:

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
Lalita Sahasranama: The Thousand Names of the Divine Mother
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Waiting for God by Simone Weil
Body & Soul by Frank Conroy
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
Ghost Dance by Carole Maso
Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Language Older than Words by Derrick Jensen
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
The Turning Point by Fritjof Capra
Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
Short History of a Prince by Jane Hamilton
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron
All About Love by Bell Hooks
A House by the Sea by May Sarton
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
No Boundary by Ken Wilber
Total Freedom by J. Krishnamurti
Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Come to Me by Amy Bloom
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Well, maybe the list will continue but that's what I could come up with so far. It's a mix of fiction and nonfiction, so it's not your traditional top ten list, but these books have either steered me in new directions or so profoundly seared into my consciousness that I cannot forget them.

Although I can't begin to have a complete list of the poets who've changed my life, here are the top three: Rainer Maria Rilke, Mary Oliver, and Pablo Neruda.

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Art of the Broken Heart

There are certain skills that we all want to master in our lifetimes; they may vary from person to person, but nevertheless there is a drive for mastery, for perfection. For some it is public speaking, for others musicianship, and still others, the mind and meditation. Most of us don't set out to be bad at things. Neither do we leap headlong into mediocrity. Instead, it creeps up on us. For some it comes from such strong desire that we overlook or deny the truth--everyone knows someone who longs to be a singer, but can't actually stay in tune; or someone who longs to be a comedian but there timing is never quite right.

Well, I have inadvertantly become an expert at the broken heart. I have it down to a science--so much so, that I've reached a mastery in which the object no longer even needs to be present. It all takes place within my own mind-body, emotiona-body, etc. I have successfully fallen in love and broken my own heart without anyone even showing up to play the admittedly common, but evidently unnecessary, role of paramour. Now, please don't take this as bragging on my part; because who would brag about this, right? Instead this is simply a self-reflection on the power of the mind and the power of story and how it makes us prey to ourselves. Amazing.

The only hopeful thing about this entire scenario is that perhaps, just perhaps, if the mythic paramour actually appears, I'll already have been through the ups and downs--the drama--and will simply be able to be present to the moment and relax and take it one breath at a time. No guarantees though!

I'll close with my favorite musician's thoughts on the subject--Michael Franti:
"I let go of my broken heart
I let go of my broken dreams
I let go to the mystery
I believe in the spiritual
I believe in the miracle
I believe in the one above
I believe in the one I love
so I take one step closer to you
one step closer to you...."

May we all be free of fear
May we all be safe from harm
May we all know love
May we all simply be.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my father's 70th birthday. Here is a tribute of sorts to the man he was and is: He was the kind of man who always filled up the car for my mom if he knew she was driving somewhere the next day. He was the kind of dad that would let us punch holes in the doors to learn to skateboard, or rip the wallpaper to learn to ride the unicycle. He always said to my mom, Maxine, we can replace anything in this house but we can't replace these kids....which was always a great out when we had broken the plate glass window or backed the car into the basketball pole.

He worked extraordinarly hard his entire life--wore himself out, quite literally. By the time he was 13 he was farming his own 60 acres and to prepare for the first year of his marriage he raised 100 chickens and traded fifty of them to his mother for 50 cans of green beans and that's what they ate for an entire year--with a few of my mom's famous pies thrown in. He put himself through college and medical school taking full loads and working almost full time.

When he was younger he was a rebel of sorts--nothing too radical because he was first and foremost a man devoted to duty--but enough to shake things up wherever he went. Asking hard questions. Giving unexpected answers. Took his family off to East Africa for 3 1/2 years--and almost died because of it (malaria). Then came back to Texas and settled in.

When I was in Junior High he was the informant. Everything anybody wanted to know about sex, I asked him and he'd answer, in his very dry, medical way and I would report back to my friends. Finally, one day he asked, Why are you asking so many questions? So the inquiry ceased, but it was fun while it lasted. We learned more in those two weeks than we learned in an entire semester of Sex Education.

When I was in college things got more challenging. He questioned my decisions. Our bond was cracked a bit by my bad choices. But time heals things and as I entered my twenties and began one of the darkest periods of my life, he too struggled. In journeying through clinical depression together, we understood one another in ways that the rest of the family could not.

When the love of my life broke my heart, he and my mother came out to take care of me. His sage advice about men has always been: It's better not to marry than to marry a bum. If only I had learned not to date bums either! When my first love broke my heart, he said, I always thought you couldn't trust a man who would leave his woman and his dog. Ha!

My dad, much to a lot of people's surprise, is very funny. He's so quiet and sometimes stern, so unless you listen carefully, you'll miss it. But when he's telling a story, you can't. He leans forward, goes into the story telling mode and then laughs so loud that it almost shocks you, then he sits back and may not say another word all evening. He's still got it. When he came out to visit me here in New Mexico, my roommate's name was Suraj. He replied very dryly, I hope I don't call you sewage. Suraj reminded the other day how funny she thought he was.

He and my mom now live on the lake that we went skiing on every summer. They built their fantasy house for more than 20 years in their minds, and now they're living in it. Time and illness have slowed him down some, but the man he is remains: good, kind, generous, loving, strong, devoted, with a little bit of the trickster still in him.

He's getting a new lounger for his birthday--Hope you enjoy your new cozy chair! Keep me updated on Monday Night Football. And have the best day ever Dad!

Seen at the Cinema--4-Star Review

Hey--you out there! Go see the film Stranger than Fiction!

This is the most charming movie I've seen since this summer's Little Miss Sunshine. This movie is so well crafted. And the truly amazing thing is that I can't stand Will Farrel--don't like any of his movies except Elf--but here he has done what great comedians can do--play the straight man with such poignance, so moving. Like Bill Murray and Jim Carrey, Farrel has taken himself to a new level. Or maybe it's just the story.

Emma Thompson plays an eccentric, reclusive writer; Dustin Hoffman plays a wonderfully toned and timed Literary Professor; Queen Latifah is way underused in her role; Maggie Gyllanhaal is luminous--as usual; and then there's Will. He plays a US Tax Auditor who lives a very prescripted, boring life. The sets are amazing. Everything is utilitarian beige.

With foreshadowing and an interesting twist in plot, we begin to understand the power of the narrator. Can we be outside our life and witness it as my friend Tamara always encourages me to do--especially when I'm discouraged? Can the role of the witness challenge us to change? Do we recognize that one small change opens up an entirely different universe? We begin to see the power of death as a motivator. We begin to see how linked we are to people and things we don't even see. We begin to see destiny.

I don't want to give the entire story away, so let me just say that I walked out with a smile on my face. This movie is so well told; it's uplifting; it's funny; it's smart; and even though it's chock full of stars, it doesn't lose it's momemtum in personality. It's beautiful and it helps me to believe that we live in a beautiful world.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seen and Unseen at the Cinema

Well, I was supposed to go see Sasha Cohen's new movie Borat on Saturday night with friends, but I kept getting this intuitive thought that I shouldn't go. Then I muscle tested myself and it was a consistent no! So, my review of Borat is that my body literally wouldn't let me go. Maybe I'm just not hip enough anymore? Or maybe I'm growing more sensitive with age, but the idea of sitting in a theatre watching someone openly make-fun of people seemed hard--even though he's making fun of people who ostensibly deserve it. I've never been good at being my playground sense of fairness just wouldn't allow me to see it. Sorry. You'll have to see it and write a review for me.

I did see The Queen; everyone around me was raving about it. Mirren performance is very skilled--amazing actually, given her propensity for sassy, outspoken roles much of the time. But she plays the reserved Elizabeth with a light touch and even makes her seem human. Overall I wouldn't say it was an outstanding movie, though. Or maybe it's just not my thing.


I saw an amazing singer this weekend, Claudia Villela, from Brazil. She had an incredible range and, like Bobby McFerrin, a way with skat! She could sustain a melodic note and still make these rhythmic sounds on top of it! AMazing. She and Bruce Dunlap were recording a life performance at my favorite little place to see a show--Gig. I recommend it!

The next day I went to her workshop; so now I know all the rudiment rhythms of Samba, which are four very distinct sounds and patterns which overlay one another. They will be a great foundation for the third piece of my trilogy: Transformation. The third piece of my trilogy is called Carnival and getting a chance to study with her was a boon because now I'll have some actual source information for that style of music and movement.

She's so alive--she moves her body so fluidly and easily. THere is not an ounce of pretense in her. Refreshing, especially from one with such formidable skill.

Highly recommend if you ever see her name in print to go, see it, buy it, whatever you have to do to experience this woman's aliveness.....It's better than a shot of b-12.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Good Day Sunshine II

I stepped out my front door to a flash of gold. The sun coming over the hill, the turning leaves on the cottonwood in the yard, the golden coat of my dog.....brilliant. But then on my walk, instead of enjoying the crisp fall air (it's still sooo mild here, it's wonderful)I argued in my head the entire time. There's been an unpleasant exchange with someone I work with--and it's not the first--and since then I've been running scenarios in my head. SHould I have said this? What if I wrote that instead? Can I approach it again or leave it alone? Finally I said to myself--drop it! Then luckily, my friend Devi Dyal came around the corner and I got a chance to get out of my head a bit and listen to her stories.

It's been an intense fall--lots of changes both internally and externally. But I'm coming out on the other side feeling good, getting healthier, and living a bit more each day. I know I have these periods of what I call 'yin'--the gathering--in which I do very little, read a lot, watch movies, basically, shut down. And I know they are necessary. But I also know that I allow them to linger out of laziness or lethary or pure law of physics--once something slows down it continues slowing down unless there is an outside force to change it's momentum. So, becoming one's own outside force is essential. Discipline. Regimine. Sadhana. Whatever the name, it's ultimately a decision.

Amazing how powerful a decision can be amidst all the mind's thousands of thoughts.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Do you want to be a star?

I sometimes do...check out my friend Sat Darshan's Blog...he's put my performance at Summer Solstice on-line. Good friends are gems. or you can clink the link at the right....Wahe Guru!

Ardas Bhaiee

This is the prayer that is always answered....enjoy! Again, thanks to Sat Darshan Singh--the next Don Was.

Ardas Bhaiee


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Revolution to Evolution

1994 was supposedly the Gingrich Revolution and we've been living under it for 12 years...despite lies, corruption, and war. Will 2006 be the evolution? I hope so.

My mother often argues that I hold such radical opinions because I only listen to liberal voices (the few that remain in journalism); but as I read a report about the Fox coverage of last night's election, I had to laugh. Who's listening to slanted news now? From the article I read, they couldn't seem to pull it together to even cover the election--interviews with winners, statements from the party, etc. because they were all democrats and FOX only allows a 20% representation of democratic or independent party guests on its programming. I wish I could say I'm sorry but I'm not. Maybe people will begin to see it for what it is--propaganda--along with many of the other mainstream media outlets.

As for Evolution? I'm skeptical. The democratic party hasn't been able to hold it's own in over 50 years. There have been a few bright moments in-between, but for the most part, this country is conservative. I tend to agree with a letter writer on Salon yesterday, if the Bill of Rights were put up to public opinion it would probably be ousted. So, the democratic party has a moment to shine. I hope they shine brightly enough to reveal a renewed vision of our country and its principles. Liberty and justice for all--will that really mean 'for all': the prisoners in Guantanamo being held for years without even a charge, much less evidence; the people of Afghanistan and Iraq; the poor and homeless who weren't allowed to vote yesterday because of 'machine failure'. Will we actually redefine liberty so that it means more than just survival? Will we understand that healthcare is really about healing? Will we understand the costs of economic growth and begin to actually count them: environmental, social, international? Will we deliver the promise that the United States has always been to people around the world? A place of prosperity, individual excellence, and governmental accountability....we shall see.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wild Things

This morning I was out in the 'badlands' again with Vinnie and I saw a wild thing. The first thing I thought was, "A Dingo ate my baby"; it had bat like ears and a grey mottled coat, but it sprang like a small antelope. Who knows? Yesterday I saw a hawk. Maybe each morning I'll get to have wild encounter; it's good for the soul.

Another thing that is good for the soul is soaking in hot water. I had another lovely evening with friends at Ojo Caliente. It was Prabhu Jot's birthday and Japa and I were hoping to run into her, but we got a late start so she had already gone to her room by the time we got there--but luck was with us and she came out to soak again about a half an hour before we left. So, we were blessed to visit our friend and have girl time. It's been a while. Ojo Caliente has been a saving grace for me since moving here. I used to go every week without fail; it's been more off and on since taking dance and traveling and other things. So it was good to get back into the routine. It's so beautifult here and with the full moon, it was even more delightful.

Japa drove because my back has been bothering me, plus I don't see very well at night....that was an adventure in itself. She hadn't driven a stick in a while...let's just say that I'm glad Subaru's are sturdy little cars!

Good morning!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good Day Sunshine

I was out in the BLM lands this morning with my dog, Vinnie. He loves it out there. I love it, too. Watching him run with such abandon! The full moon was setting as the sun was rising and as we continued our walk through the arroyo, there was a moment when the sun rose and hit the sandbed formations--magical. The light created so much depth and shadow yet at the same time a sense of illumination from within. The rock came alive, along with the wild bunch grass that has turned a honey gold and the leaves on the one cottonwood tree there in the wilderness.

I look forward to the day that I live right on the edge of the BLM so that I can just walk out my back door! Until then, Vinnie has trained himself to the routine of jumping in the car and heading out.

My friend and I celebrated her birthday yesterday at 10,000 Waves, this beautiful Japanese spa in Santa Fe. Very relaxing and tranquil setting. I like it there almost more than Ojo, but it's a bit more expensive. They serve cucumber water! Delicious.

Speaking of cucumbers; here's a lassi recipe for you:

Juice of one cucumber
3-5 tablespoons of greek yogurt
salt and pepper
dash of rose water

Blend and enjoy!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts on love and other deep oceans

We just received the video clip from this summer's Authentic Relationships process called "Healing the Wounds of Love". It's so powerful! After a few minutes I couldn't even type or speak...had to turn it off for awhile. This process uses the first four letters of Shabd Hazare, otherwise known as Mere Man lochai, but it includes Aad such, Jugaad Such, Hai bhai such, Naanak hosee bhai such between each of the verses, plus a few at the end. There's a whole process....

Anyway, as the course approached this summer, I began doing it in the evening 11 times in a row. It took about 55 minutes and I had the most powerful opening-- a return of myself. I've written about it before here, so I won't repeat myself, but as a continuation of that same opening, I've recently had an experience that may not seem as powerful, but in its outcome has been equally transformative.

I was at a wedding reception a few weeks ago; and I will confess here that I was a skeptic. They were introduced by other 3HO people -- and it seemed in a blink of an eye they were 'in love' and getting married. Well, here I am at this wedding--and they did seem sooo radiant and happy--and she's about to throw the bouquet. Well, I'm not about to get up there. Hello. But my friend Har Pal insisted. As I'm on my way up to the circle of eager women, I laughingly say to my friend, Remember that episode of Sex and the City when the three of them just let it drop at their feet? I'm standing there minding my own business and this thing arcs it's way right at me--if I hadn't lifted my hands it would have hit me smack between the eyes. Everyone was howling with laughter because my face was the picture of shock and horror. The horror!

Needless to say, wth the intensity of my reaction I had to play it off a bit. Jokingly I tried to give it away to someone I knew really wanted it....sigh. But it got me thinking about polarity. If my reaction was so intensely antagonistic, then what was I reacting against? I took this all as a sign to make a few inquiries. A name had been in my head for weeks--and I didn't know why. So, innocently enough, I ask.

Well, the story goes on, or I hope it does anyway; but the point is that my heart had opened to something I didn't even understand or know. There was no 'reason'--no 'cause'. Just this gust of wind and I was in a completely different space. Call it what you want: love, grace, or God's will. But one day I was someone I thought I knew--had pegged down, ya know? And the next, I was this entirely different kind of fish in an entirely different ocean.

The moral of the story is that love really is a force of nature and it comes from within--not from anywhere else. Although it's always nice to have an object to spill it out onto (smile).

May we all be blessed with grace
May we all know the power of love
May we all merge into the ocean as a drop of rain
falls from the sky

Grace & Grit: A Book Report, plus other thoughts on dying and living

I finally finished Grace & Grit last evening, the moving account of a woman's death. The woman was married to one of the finest philosophers of our generation, Ken Wilber, and the struggle that they go through and ultimately, the merger they attain is astonishing to witness--almost 20 years later.

Wilber is renowned for his work in integrating religious philosophies into a singular philsophy of man and god. I love his work but to witness his transformation as he cares for his wife and to witness her transformation as she prepares for deatth, well, it's hard to speak to how moving it was.

For many years, my only philosophy for how to live was that I wanted a good death. I tried on the mantle of "it is a good day to die" but it never really rang as true. I've lost touch with that over the past couple of years. However, we do grow older as does our family and our friends. The other night I had a dream where George Jones appeared as 'the grim reaper', the 'angel of death' what have you...but I immediately knew why he was there.

Death was never hidden in my family. I sang in funerals from the time I was 10 and when it was spoken of, it was never in hushed tones, but rather in hallelujahs--I'm going home, type rhetoric. Nevertheless, when my grandmother died (my mother's mother), I believe she was afraid. My grandfather wasn't very lucid his last few months and then he fell over dead in the kitchen, so I imagine he didn't have time to experience much fear. (I still have a t-shirt we found of his that my grandmother had used as a dusting cloth and it smells like him--even today.) My other grandmother, my father's mother, was always an ornery thing and was a tough nut to crack. I wasn't around her very much in that final year when her cancer spread so quickly that by the time they diagnosed it, she was given only 6 months or so to live. But I remember hearing that my father was with her every evening until she succombed. I know she wasn't in pain--my father made sure of that. But fear? I'm not sure. I'm sure she went stoicly and quietly into that good night.

As to my own mortality, I still want a good death. But now I also want a good life. I no longer want to live in the kind of fear that keeps me from fully experiencing each moment. Fear of the other side--that constant play of polarity--never going on vacation because I fear the downside of coming home; never really trying anything because I'm afraid I'll fail; and other such nonsense. Because I know in my bones that if you live that way, you'll die that way--and I don't want that kind of death, or that kind of life. I actually want to go snorkeling every year if I can; I want to play tennis even though I'm not very good; I want to record some music so that people can finally stop saying, when are you going to record? I want all those things and more. As much as I believe that Taoist saying, May my wheels will rot off my wagon before I desire to know what's in greener pastures, I also want to no longer be afraid of life.

Ultimately it comes down to this breath, can I be with my Self with this breath, and this one, and this one. Ang Sang Wahe Guru--may every cell of my body vibrate with the Naam--the oneness with God.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Moving right along...and now on video

Well I've had an interesting few days. Did some recording with friends which only served to remind me why I don't record; You have to be a professional! You have to be able to play like a machine; I definately can't. I'm at my best as an improvisational artist. They keep saying it will come, but I have my doubts. So as much as I'd like you, my readers and listeners, to have higher quality recordings, I may be too unskilled to provide them for you. Oh for the chance at studio musicians--ha!

My back has been out for a few days for no apparent reason, which has brought up a lot of "stuff". There's always that one (or two if you're from a 'new agey' community like this one) person who says--well, are you feeling unsupported? What are you not dealing with? Was it your visit with your family? Always looking for a reason. I used to be that person, so I don't have any hard feelings; but I also don't necessarily think that way anymore. I've been reading Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber. He's one of my favorite philosophers and No Boundary was a really pivotal book for me several years ago. This one is about his wife's death. And she speaks really eloquently to this whole 'new age' conspiracy of meaning: because everything has to have a meaning, ergo sum, it must be your fault you're sick. Like her, I quit buying it a long time ago. Because if everything has to have some meaning (within this lifetime) then it's my fault I'm single; it's my fault I'm an addict; it's my fault I'm this or that. This doesn't mean I'm not accountable for some of these things in my life, but to place blame serves no one, least of all myself. Yes, there are reasons I'm not married and yes there are reasons I became an addict, but sometimes, life is just suffering and living through it and transcending them may be the entire point--not the actual events themselves or the search for meaning associated with them.

With being flat on my back for the past few days, I of course watched a few movies. Here are my recommendations for "now on video":

Thank You For Smoking. What's to say? It's funny, ironic, sardonic, narcissistic, lots of -ics. Definately recommend if you like the darker side of humor.

Mrs. Henderson Presents. Charming. Lovely film (kids be warned, though, several scenes with frontal nudity)with a moving soliloquy toward the end about war. My favorite line goes something like this, When you lose a son to war, you understand that they are all wasted deaths. There is no good war. (I'm paraphrasing.)

Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Great fun....if you love cars and high speed chases that is.

Art School Confidential. Painfully funny. And evidently it's even funnier if you've actually been to art school.

Nacho Libre. I about lost my nachos watching this one! My friend and I laughed so hard, I seriously thought I was going to have to do a Heimlich on her....she was choking on her popcorn. Definately over the top, but funny nonetheless.

I feel like I could keep writing but I should probably be transcribing instead....don't forget to vote! This will be my first year as an adult to not be able to--I didn't register in time here in New Mexico.....oh well. If there is to be a sea change, it will have to be without me. Bring the boys home, as they used to say.

all love in the divine.