This I Believe
A friend suggested I submit something to this ongoing NPR project: This I Believe. Here's what I wrote:
I believe in failure. Every mistake I’ve ever made has informed my life. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without my many mistakes. Who would I be if I hadn’t become an alcoholic? What would my life look like now without my friends in recovery? Without the relationship with a God of my understanding that I’ve only gotten through struggling with addiction? What if I had married that guy at age 20 and had that perfect, curly headed child? Would we be divorced by now? (I can almost guarantee a Yes to that question.) Who would I be as a woman if I hadn’t loved and lost and loved and lost? Would I be more whole or less? Who would I be if I hadn’t taken a risk and left my career to try something new? Would I be more successful as a human being or less?
I observe those whose lives seem to clip along at an even and steady pace--graduated on schedule, married on schedule, 2.5 perfect children on schedule, promoted on schedule, and so on—and I wonder how they do it. Members of my own family fall in this category. I am the lone ‘loser’. But it’s all the many losses in my life that have defined me, have cultivated all my better qualities—and a few of my more negative ones, I’ll admit. My faith, my strength, my vulnerability, my openness, my trust, my acceptance, my willingness, my honesty—all are a result of stepping forward in the face of fear, continuing to hope in the face of doubt, and always believing in the good—despite all the bad.
I was told once that there is no right or wrong decision in our lives—there’s only spiritual growth. So, I believe in failing; because if you’ve never failed, you’ve probably never tried. If you’ve never lost love, then maybe you’ve never really taken the risk to love in the first place. If you’ve never lost your footing, then how can you be sure you’ve found the right path after all?
Magic Carpet Ride
It's amazing what you can find in Northern New Mexico. Last night I was invited to a zikhr (sp?)--an evening of Sufi music. It was held in a yurt up in Abiquiu. There is a small Sufi--Muslim community there and they are amazing musicians. They had a guest cellist visiting from Boulder who was astounding.
Entering the yurt, you really feel like you're entering another time and space. Almost like tipi ceremonies I've been in before. It could be 300 years ago--timeless.
It was a warm cozy evening with tea and cookies and smiles and deeply meditating and singing the names of God. Beautiful.
I know I've written about this before, but I continue to be shocked by my weight loss. I told a friend the other day, "well, it's not too strange. I used to be this weight before I moved here." But now I've moved beyond even that former set point. It's kind of frightening to realize how much I've lost--what I must have looked like before--wow!
Anyway, it's interesting in a more philosophical way because when I was younger, I couldn't handle being this weight--looking like this. I was so uncomfortable in my skin. Now I feel rather unselfconscious about it all. As if this is what I've always looked like, I just didn't know it yet. As if all the weight I carried for all those years was just a shell that's broken now. And I've stepped out of it and resumed life as if nothing were different. And yet I do feel different. I feel lighter--obviously. But not just physically. . . I feel lighter in every sense of the word. As if whatever those pounds were protecting was now open to the light and the sky and free to be whatever is wishes to be. . . .no longer hiding the me within me.
I won't deny there's a certain vulnerability that has accompanied this new body, this new me. But it's a good vulnerability. I used to be full of so much bravado that when my tender side revealed itself, it was often met with contempt. Now, my openness allows people to see my strength without rejecting the soft spots. I guess when it comes down to it--I just feel more like me. And it feels good.
So even as I disappear, I reappear more true. More me. Here's to you being more you!
what we think we know
When we're angry, it's so easy to be blind to our own part. When we have an agenda, it's so easy to lose sight of what's actually happening. When we want what we want when we want it, it's too easy to lose sight of the other person in the equation.
I had the rug pulled out from under me this weekend by two close friends. They called me on my story. And despite how painful it was to see myself, it was exactly what I needed. So much of the time, when we're convinced that something is true about another person--more often that not, it's really about us--about me. This is a spiritual axiom I'm very familiar with and yet, in day-to-day life, I still seem to lose sight of it.
I was called to the carpet on a lot of things this weekend and as I recognized myself and my behaviors, it was as if the air was taken out of my tires. How I operate in the world, what I thought worked and negotiated me and my ego through the traffic of everyday interactions, especially intimate relationships, was completely wrecked. What's the phrase? Totaled. My way of doing things was totaled. I was completely unmasked.
I was naked under a blinding light. There was no where to hide anymore. I saw why I'm not trusted, how my constant questioning, doubt, and insecurity undermines the other person's faith in me and in themselves; I saw how I make the other person into the bad guy in order to run away and not feel what I feel; I saw how I set the other person up to fail rather than using my intuition to take care of myself and give the other person a break; I saw how I manipulate and manage things to try to get my way; I saw that I still--after all this time--have an exchange based idea of relationship; I saw that I don't forgive and forget, instead I overlook and expect; I saw that I have no idea how to do this thing called love.
And yet, some of my instincts are correct--I simply don't listen to them. They make me feel to vulnerable, too soft, too open, too everything. I know now that relationships are not about getting anything. They are only about serving.
Now to meditate on this new understanding and discover whether I can actually live to it--or not.
Cry on the way to the airport because that's just what I do. Arrive in short sleeves to a cold, grey LA. Note to self: look at the weather report before packing. After an hour and a half of transit time, I find myself at the doorstep of Yoga West. They send me down the street for dinner. A charming guy named Peter keeps me company for awhile. Run into Siri Gian and we head to Siri Ved Kaur's birthday party and healing meditation. Meet a lot of the women from the LA Sangat, which was fun. They told stories of the Siri Singh Sahib, read poetry, told stories from their own lives--Seva Kaur told the funniest story I've ever heard--and we did a healing meditation for a woman who recently discovered she had breast cancer. Meanwhile I contract either food poisoning or the stomach flu and beg a ride to where I'm staying.
Today is White Tantric Day. I didn't sleep through the night at all and finally got rid of whatever was in my system, but feel like a truck has rolled over me. We get into the car of my perfectly nice host family and what had been a charming, funny guy turns into Mr. Hyde. This guy drives like a f------- maniac! And people tease me for having 'good driver' as my number one quality I look for in a man. This experience is EXACTLY why. Make it to UCLA alive and I get out of the car and practically kiss the ground, meanwhile silently swearing to never get in a vehicle with this person again--ever. It's a beautiful, lush, Southern California Day. UCLA is an amazing place. I'm sick. Sick as a dog. Shakti Parwha offers me a ride home--and she thankfully drives VERY slowly. We both take naps and say we'll call each other later for a movie, which we do. We saw Dan in Real Life and thank goodness she'd seen it before; because in my usual fashion, I laughed pretty raucously. She described it as 'outstanding'. ha! They have assigned seating now in theatres. The woman on the plane behind me said, "yup, Southern California is making every effort to eliminate any human contact whatsoever." I come back home and sleep some more before I have to perform. Still can't hold any food down.
Abinashi picks me up for the show. It's a scene. You definitely know you're in LA. I perform fairly early and open the show with a couple of Didgeridoo players--very nice. I think if I ever form a band I'm definitely going to have a didge in it. I made it through--schwitzing the entire time--and then got an amazing sound healing treatment from the Didgeridoo player, Evan. Very healing, but not in the way my body needed it--ha!
Oh--and only sold a handful of CDs. Definitely not a money making trip.
Walk up to gurdwara and Shakti Parwha is playing with a guy who's doing Mere Man Loche on an accordian--I took a picture! Very cool. The paintings on the ceiling in the gurdwara were done by the woman I'm staying with, Siri Kartar Kaur, and they're amazing! She's a wonderful painter. In fact, she has a show coming up soon. Go to www.sirikartar.com for more information. She has an amazing painting of Durga that is way out of my price range, but very alive. Durga's my archetype as you know....anyway. Someday I'll be able to afford to buy art again.
Ran into Ram Rattan and Amrit; it's her birthday so she's dressed like a princess, literally. Very sweet.
Meet my friend Siri Gopal Singh and we're off to Murakami. I would describe the show to you but it would be too pornographic--at least the opening sculptures. Much of the painting and other mediums (film, etc.) were very interesting and overall I enjoyed the entire show. He has an interesting take on pop culture. He infuses the silly, the charming, the entirely-too-happy with a little bit of the sinister and he infuses the dark and the grim with the silly. I found it to be a compelling statement on contemporary culture. All these shiny, happy people (as Michael Stipe would say) and inside is only death. And in turn, all this death, and still this innate, ever arising joy.
Almost get sick in the Geffen bathroom, but don't! It's a good day so far.
Finally on to meet an old friend from college and her new baby, Henri. Great fun to see her again--she looks exactly the same! Also good to touch base with someone who's had a baby late in life and lives on to tell the tale. She seems very happy. And very tired. I really appreciate a friend like Regan, because even in the middle of her own life, she can step outside of it and say, well, it's a challenge, without criticizing anything but just being honest. She's not steeped in that 'motherhood is soooooo great you just haaaaaaave to do it' thing that happens to alot of women. She's honest about the experience. It's hard but it's worth it. Very pragmatic--a lot like me.
Make it back to where I'm staying and crash. I am soooo sick.
Wake up and the stomach flu has migrated down. Definitely not something to have on a traveling day. sigh. Cry on the way home from the airport because that's just what I do.
Made it home but missed my friends' birthday that I'd been looking forward to and that's the end of my LA story.
Well, everything that could go wrong this weekend did. I got food poisoning/stomach flu the first night and have been sick the remainder of the weekend--even this morning, whatever this thing is has migrated down and will create havoc for me on the trip today!
A lot of things went well. I was able to perform even though I didn't feel well. So that was good. I got an amazing sound healing treatment from a didgeridoo player from Pt. Zuma. I got to see a movie with Shakti Parwha, which was a real treat. I went to the Murakami exhibit with my friend Siri Gopal Singh and it had his favorite sculpture there--My lonely cowboy--quite the vision (wow!). I enjoyed the show and kept myself from purchasing an expensive souvenir--thank god. Saw an old friend from college and got to meet her new baby--who's adorable. Gives me hope and caution--it is still possible but you'll be exhausted all the time!
More on the trip later. . . home again, home again, jiggety jig.
In my office, we have a set of Angel Cards. They're an interesting temperature reading of the interior life. Each day for weeks now, when I ask in my heart of hearts about my beloved, I draw Trust. Which is interesting in light of everything or despite everything--I'm not quite sure which.
Does it mean trust my own feelings? Does it mean trust him? Does it mean trust is an issue, which of course it is? Myriad questions arise--and yet, every day, there it is--trust. My mother has always said about relationships, "if you trust, then don't question; if you don't--run!" But I have so many questions!
And why, in the face of everything in my past, do I still trust? Me--who has been consistently lied to and cheated on in almost every single relationship I've ever been in! Me--who has been consistently hurt by every man I've ever loved. Me--who flies forward, longing to merge, even in the face of heartbreak. How is it possible? Masochism has been suggested (ha!).
To tell you the truth, I have no idea. Love is never rational. And yet, as I get older, I often wonder if reason will someday step in and temper my often overly spontaneous and open heart. Hasn't happened yet...sigh. However, there is a small inner voice that says, wait. Just wait.
I woke up after my post-sadhana nap last week and was hit with such a tremendous sense of grief--true mourning. I was filled with the sense that whatever had transpired between my beloved and I would somehow never be made whole again--that whatever had been was gone and that to forgive one another would prove to be an unbridgeable gap. Everything is possible by guru's grace and yet, my heart wonders. . . .will it be possible? I can't know.
The hukam continually reminds me to simply sing the praises of God and everything else will come into place. In fact, a recent hukam said "sing the praises of the Lord and the heart lotus will be opened." An interesting turn of phrase given my beloved's name. So, I sing. And, I wait. And I keep myself from 'rushing forward where angels fear to tread.' Because if forgiveness is possible and if trust is true, then it must come from the guru, not from any of my own machinations, or self-will, or desire, or even my own prayer.
It's either the hukam or it's not. So I live in the flow of the days and try to align myself with what is.
May we all know happiness
May we all know peace
May we all live and breathe
and trust the hukam,
the lord's command.
And may we love
because of everything
and despite everything
may we love--everything
The Golden Anniversary
My sister just sent m
from my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was good fun; but since then things have been a struggle. My mom broke her hip; my dad still has his ups-and-downs. But these photos remind me of how beautiful this particular day was--and how be
autiful their marriage continues to be. They've been married 50 years this year; my brother and sister both celebrate 25 years in the next few months. Amazing.
My brother isn't in this photo because he was off saving a child who'd had an allergic reaction to one of the cookes!
Oh to Be a Cowboys Fan
One of my favorite photographs of me is when I was about 4 years old. . . . I'm in my brother's room in my underwear with a cowboys' helmet on. Growing up in Texas, it's all about football. Growing up in my family, it's all about sports (with some religion, medicine, politics, literature, and cards thrown in for good measure). I grew up in right field of our local high school baseball stadium. Friday Night Lights really happens in small town Texas and if you weren't at the game Friday Night people noticed. Along with winter basketball and the annual donkey game, sports were a year-round enterprise. In my particular family, summer time was softball and water skiing. Pretty rare combination but fun nevertheless.
Since that photo of me in the Cowboys hat, it's been hard to be a Cowboys' fan. After the late 70s early 80s Disco years when the Cowboys were 'America's team', things haven't been quite the same. I became a Steelers fan, then a Packers fan, then a Giants fan, then a Raiders fan .... and so on and so on. But if last night's game is any indication, the Romo years are upon us and things might be looking up.
I may become a Cowboys fan after all. My roots are calling me--after all these years.
Laugh until it hurts
I've been known for my laugh for a long time now. In some ways it is a measure of friendship--you either love it or hate it--in that it can determine whether you want to hang with me or not. Over the years I've come to accept and love it about myself. I no longer try to stifle it or make it more 'socially acceptable'--much to my father's chagrin. Nevertheless, it can make for a good time if you're willing to come along for the ride.
I was having dinner with friends last night and I haven't laughed so hard in what feels like weeks! My friend was telling me the story of her first encounter with Match.com. Now, I've mixed it up with online dating services in the past, so she had an understanding listener. To say the least, it's brutal out there....but you've got to 'kiss that frog' as they say. She reported that he began the conversation by saying, well, let me say up front that I've had cancer--and she said that her reply was, well, I have an eleven-year-old son. I started howling. Cancer-Son. Cancer-Son. Once she got it, she started howling laughing, too. Of course, she doesn't consider her son a cancer, but in the misadventures of dating, we sometimes get the signals crossed.
I think it was a healing for both of us. I needed to laugh and she needed to cry--and laughing is always the easier, softer way.