Thursday, December 7, 2017

India: Lookout

It is unreasonable that my trip home took only a bit more than a day, but the date never changed. That there is so much more to do, and yet nothing to be done, now that the lesson is clear. Mother India speaks in tricks and pixies. Hitchhikers who board you like pirates and drive you home, monkeys who steal your offerings from the mouths of stone gods. Land that knows nothing of time, whose people shake their heads in such a way to mean, "anything is possible."

Chai is a sacrament with an ancient promise of bringing people together, for appreciating friendship with no common language other than wrinkles and eyelashes and a shared devotion to the cow, the sage who wanders the back steps and rests in the road.

Nothing tangible is practical in the physical world, the higher value is spirit, a sense that everyone else shares - nothing you do will matter. Your body will grow roots or wings, and the pixies in your eyes will fly off to the next world, constellations of your spirit. And India will keep on clicking her heels, spinning around the same sun, but in her own manifestation of time which refuses to be measured by Gregorians or Mayans or anything a man could conceive.

The layers of irony in the Indira Gandhi airport - solar panels in a region that has lost sight of the sun through impossible pollution. Seventeen layers of security to access the hotel juxtaposed to immigration officers who couldn't care less about where you've been or what you've been up to. 

All flights depart at midnight.

I saw the Himalayas at dawn, after a silent screaming match in my head... the driver conspiring with India to make me puke one way or another. We chanted to them, from the edge of the roof, a temple to someone's left breast. And then, as the sun took the sky, they faded behind the haze, their jagged skeletons too temperamental to be bothered with daytime hours. India is all smoke and veils, and the mountains play, too.

I had found a certain peace before I left, and settled into it until everyone pulled me aside to deliver the same message.

Are you sure?

I'd like to be. I'd like to be certain about a few things, put others to bed. But I'm not in charge of fate - mine or yours or ours.

The yogis say to do your work, or sing, or stretch, or learn. Or really all of the above. And more than that, surrender.



Can you? Can I? 


Sunday, December 3, 2017

India: Before

I've been packing for weeks – five weeks – to be exact. The decision wasn't easy this time, as it may have been in other moments, as it has been, because I'm timid with self-trust in these days. Instead of the steady intuition I've had in the past, the unwavering trust of my own gut, I've had to relearn how to read the signs – how to diversify my trust, by gathering small pieces from people who seem to have nothing other than my best interest in mind.

Two days ago my suitcase was still only a third filled, and I couldn't think of what else to put in it. Full of snack bars and medications, disposable supplies and just-in-case contingency plans, the suitcase felt very much like my life.

Temporary.

Mostly empty.

Spacious.

The space has been crushing at times, so I've amped up the pace to try and fill it – untethered, I've simply kept moving to create the illusion of a full life.

And so the day before I left, a flurry of requests for things – herbs, vitamins, chocolate, batteries. Offerings for each of the people who has had a hand in this decision to go – the men who have answered my tearful calls in the past year, who have helped me recalibrate the experience of trust and not needed to consume me.

But soon my suitcase will be empty again, as these gifts fall into the hands of those who have lifted me up, as the supplies are used or gifted or abandoned, and I'll be left with all of that space.

Mother India follows the timeline and plan of no man, or so I've heard. She has her own wild ways, her own gifts. A lifetime is insufficient to explore her, as I suppose is true of any woman.


This trip is for me – a symbol, if nothing else – of what gifts I'm ready to receive, having unpacked so much of my own baggage in the past year. Having cleared emotional cobwebs and closets.

 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Proper Nouns

Oh, Fall.

We meet again. Proper nouns and verbs us both. Or at least, you're proper to me.

Carry.

Fall.
For a dozen years now, we've locked eyes in the windstorm, as summer leaves us both in the dust.

And leaves.

We had a romance, once. The fall and I. A magical day on a mountain, unseasonal sunshine, rainstorms of aspen goldness and long shadows. Cool nights and frosty mornings in the arms of various men, clinging to the sparks of summer and hoping it would be enough to light us through the winter.

It's lonely to imagine all of the ways life did not follow my instructions – did not consult my wish list. Lost my letters to Santa. The carefree and careless ways she led me down wrong paths, tempting me to find myself again.

And again.

So here I am, on the precipice of the darkness, in full understanding of the game. Maybe for the first time.

The darkness comes, and goes.

Let it?

Lie down. Surrender. Listen. Magic will come dance with you, mystery will whisper – maybe even destiny – if you shut up and stop looking for a meme or a gif that represents the way you feel (except for all of the yucky bits). Stop trying to bear burdens you can simply set down for awhile – if only for the winter. See how the snow falls and the thaw treats it, and decide in the light of the spring.

You fall, I carry.

Have carried. Maybe this time I'll fall, too?

The beauty of getting lost lies in finding yourself again.

Ten years ago today I got married. Three years ago today I got divorced.

Twelve I got engaged. Two I had surgery.

Last year I waited in vain for someone to rescue me from my circumstances, lost in the sea, clinging to a smoldering, sinking ship.

He left me hanging.

All of these ways I've tried to find myself in the reflection or salvation of another. Excision of the undesirable qualities of me, in an increasingly frantic effort to be exactly right. To do more work, my namesake, carry.

My current season, fall.

Maybe I'll take the hint, and find myself in the spring?

I wrote a book about all of the ways I've fallen in love. Carried myself. It isn't finished yet.

And neither am I.

Happy anniversary, My Ben. This day is yours.

This life is mine.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hungry

I lost ten pounds recently.

But I didn't post about it here. I didn't share a before and after, because I'm starting to disappear.

That's embarrassing.

I grew up in a household that was well-resourced, with three squares a day, perfectly portioned. It was all pre-determined, sectioned, prepared. No one ever asked me if I wanted seconds.

If I was hungry.

My grandmother would give me a worried look - force feed me homemade chocolate chip cookies until I cried to my mother and she made her stop.

I get the same worried look now from strangers. Or a jealous look from the woman who watches me pick up my breakfast order

"Well you can afford it, you barely exist."

Yes.

I barely exist.

But this waffle is me trying.

I have tried not to exist. To apologize for existing. To fade into the background. To ask myself what
I'm really hungry for.

If only I could figure out what it feels like to be hungry.

Or nourished.

My body has not broken to my will, the trickery of me coaxing it to do the things I had wished it would do. My mind has pushed and fed, then punished and starved the poor vehicle that carries me around.

Yes. I'm starving.

But am I hungry?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Graduation

I have always said that if you seek to teach, buckle up, because life will give you a lesson to learn.
Yoga agrees on this point – that if you don't learn it the first time, that's ok. You'll get the lesson again. And again.

And again.

I have shied away from teaching yoga, in part because I did not feel worthy. For years I attributed this to the Hero's Journey, my reticence to stepping into that role. Who am I? What do I have to offer? A refusal of the call, followed by heeding the call, followed by a return home, changed, lesson learned.

It was not until cambio opened that I decided to step publicly into the role of teacher.

And for years I don't think I had much to teach, because I had not been open to learning. I was operating from a high place, a pedestal, a seat of accomplishment, having done all of the things just right. I was pompous and overconfident, while simultaneously feeling (secretly) unworthy.

Classic imposter syndrome.

I measured my success by counting pats on the back, likes on Facebook, repeat students fawning over me. I was the person in the tight pants, the self-righteous vegan diet, the green smoothies in jars, the mala bead jewelry. And then, I fell from grace. I lost friends and respect – yours and my own.

I burned my life down.

Infertility taught me many things (including and most importantly that I am not, in fact, infertile). My body is not broken – it is on my team – most days it is the captain of my team. It is telling me important information, trying at self-preservation when my mind and spirit run into their self-destructive tendencies.

And so I'm writing to tell you what I have learned on this hero's journey, awash in the sea of the reality of life.

Addiction is no fucking joke, and it is not welcome in the life raft of my joy room. It is not welcome in my body. Only good things are allowed in.

And good things must be let in.

External validation is no substitute for the nutrition that can only come from self-worth.

My starving body has told me this – maybe yours has told you, too?

I have spent so much time apologizing for existing, for not meeting your expectations, for needing anything at all from you. For running on your validation, with which I have sustained myself rather than seeking true sustenance.

I have found my voice, and know my truth. I used to apologize for it.

I am a writer - an anthropologist.

I am ready to graduate.

On Wednesday, I will lead my final class at cambio., and I like to think of this moment as a graduation – a diploma I have earned, having learned so many lessons.

Join me, if you can.

Om bolo satguru bhagavan ki.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rhizomes

Ben is getting ready to go to India for the next five months, to study Tibetan in an immersion school.

I feel so good about this.

Yes. I thought. This is your path. THIS is part of why we separated – so you could go, and I could love you for it rather than resenting you for it.

I got to see him for a few hours, and chat about the important things. Share feelings in a way I haven't been able to share with anyone else, because he knows me in a certain way that no one else does.
I find it interesting that we describe separation as part of divorce – it is what you do before you divorce, and then the judge and the notary are supposed to shove their gavels and stamps between the sides and create a clear separation.

But I don't feel that separation.

I feel roots.

When we got married, I carried a bouquet of golden aspen leaves. Our people wore aspen pendants and corsages, and we ate aspen-shaped chocolates. It's weird, I suppose, because the leaves aren't flowers, and it wasn't traditional. But it was authentic, and it has deeper meaning for me now.

Aspen trees are rhizomes – one root system lives for thousands of years, sending up various trees whose individual life spans are short, among the chorus of their neighbors.

Each tree contributes to the colony, investing it's life into the roots.

What we see as independent trees is simply an illusion.

How's that for poetry?

As I once wrote, some marriages fail without ending, and I believe ours ended without failing. I believe we poured our life-force into the roots, and we are each better for it. And while we may not be walking hand-in-hand in this life, tethered by rings and Official Documents, our connection persists.

The separation you see, is simply an illusion.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dig

I am so tired these days - as though I have never slept.

I think it is the weight - or maybe the gravity - of the world.

We appear to have lost our collective minds, I think. Too much anonymous sharing, too much hopping into our respective silos and avoiding the reality we find ourselves in. Too many virtual masks and mud flinging. Too many post-apocalyptic fantasies that get us riled up for all of the imagined injustice.

As I teenager I spent most summer days ashamed of my skin. I am so pale, with so many freckles, and god knows no one in the fashion magazines ever wanted to see something so hideous as my french vanilla skin. Meanwhile, I benefited from all of the invisible privileges that came with it.

It has taken me a long time to embrace my outer shell, so I'm not about to say that I'm ashamed of being white. I've done that. And I can't help it. But I CAN use my unearned privilege wisely. I CAN use my voice to say - if you are spewing hate, you're doing it wrong. Hate has no place in this world - it is a distraction (and, the yogis would say, the highest form of devotion, but that's for another day).

When you have a feeling, as you are bound to do, particularly if you are sober or having a sober moment, it is your duty to unravel it and channel that energy into something more constructive. 

Passion, say, or digging holes. Digging is a spiritual practice, I do believe. My teacher, my dear sweet Hunter said so.

It was, in fact, the only word he ever said.

Dig, dig, dig.

If you're too afraid to do the inner work, then pick up a shovel. Call the electrical company or drive out into the desert, and have a moment with god. Dig. Stomp your feet. Yell into the ethers. Step away from pitchforks and tiki torches, away from other people who are also angry.

If you are afraid, as I am, as so many of us have been for the past nine months, then this is the place to gather. Look for the person who is more afraid than you are, and hold their hand. Get them water.
Let your eyes be soft on them - tell them you are a digger.

That maybe you don't understand how they feel, or what their experience is, but that your eyes and ears are open.