“But I was in a hurry” isn’t gonna fly in Heaven, dude

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It was all those cars in 1998 who didn’t stop for Julia’s stroller that opened my eyes to the fallacy of religion and made me look down this snowy road the other morning towards the accelerating car and wonder to myself:  “But a system by which a book and a pastor evaluate who you are is too little, too late” because if you don’t instinctively know that it’s wrong to barrel down on a lady walking a Golden Retriever in the middle of the slushy road (explanation: the street had been plowed and the sidewalks were still at six inches) then you need feedback now–immediately–on whether you’re a decent person and not after your life is over when you die and hope Gods all like high-fives and “Yo!  Welcome to Heaven, bitches!”

Because having faith isn’t supposed to be an event; it’s a way of life, and damn people:  chill out and slow down for the nice lady and the dog who shuffle and slip their way to the sidewalk because you’ve totally freaked them out. Continue reading

Shelob

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And of course spiders aren’t evil but the thickness of the web and the death all around and the way that the hole at the top was a lair from which It at first wasn’t present but then from which It suddenly and silently appeared when I wasn’t looking,

made me think of Shelob,

Tolkien’s evil sideshow that killed for the sake of death, and served “none but herself…weaving webs of shadow, for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness.”

“Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world.”

And scattered around THIS spiders web were what was left after the feast.  Remnants of physical forms that once walked of their own power towards their own purpose for their own satisfaction,

And the scene begged the question:

“If the main thing you have to do in life is stay alive, how could you so easily walk into your death?”

for the evidence of wanton death was clearly visible to them in their sentience, and yet they still carried themselves towards the web, willingly wandering into their deaths, seemingly relegating themselves by choice into dust and nothingness.

And it is a curious circumstance, and I pause to think of Shelob.

For Tolkien knew how to disguise the riddle. And while Shelob was great evil,

there are struggles that are bigger than Darkness.

And so….

the dead that lie around this web in this Churchill Drive basement maybe wandered into their deaths with what amounts to grateful oblivion, not knowing the danger, and maybe not caring,

and, as Frodo warily followed Gollum, we see the imminent distractibility that occurs when fear grabs our minds,

And as we walk to our own death, advancing through a world which preys on insecurities (where even religion christens us “God’s Unhappy little sinful children”), echoing self-talk so damaging we need therapy and medication to survive it,

the struggle isn’t between us and Darkness,

or between us and great evil.

The struggle is between us and our own selves, navigating this world with impossible vulnerability,

from which wise Tolkien knew, there was no escape.

 

Asleep

Blessings to my beautiful child,

may you dream of worlds of high magic,

with feelings light and dark that pierce your heart,  A world of duality that before your eyes collapses upon itself into exquisite balance and loving acceptance, and you grasp The feeble hands of those still in fear and embrace them until the confusion dissipates, and they learn to love themselves completely.

And you race forward to stand with me and looking into my soul contemplate the fallacy of separation, For I carried you in my body. I made you. And even as it seems we exist as separate, we are still one. For where would I be without you? I would not be me.

And, standing here, watching you in the waking dream,

the force of my love exists as its own gravity, and you are there and I am here and we are Apart

and yet One,

because my dream was unable to be dreamt without you and therefore time recedes and in noble empathy

you grasp my own feeble hand as I realize in this very second, tears so grateful,

that I didn’t make you.
We made each other.

Luna

And I know that moon is for love,
so I sob as I sit with her.  
For Love has changed, and the past knows nothing of this moment, leaving me unprepared and burdened by uncertainty. 
Because bland is the past 

yet comfort exists in even 

mediocre expectations, 

the predictability of words, holding hands, well-managed couplings where feelings are expressed and it’s all giddy and floral and safe and box of chocolates and tangible and expressed and 3D with a real ness that seems totally expected and entirely probable.
And THIS is none of that,
and my ingrained programming resists because there is a part of me that doubts
that something could exist that would make me grieve for even a moment of its absence;
because I’m not Disney princessed and don’t believe a man (or woman) exists to complete me and am comfortable with my aloneness and intolerable of bullshit, and devoid of dreaminess, and don’t even understand how it is that I could be writing these romanticized words.
But
My God,
she is so beautiful, 
Full and glowing, placidly glancing down as witness to evolution, as smiling Mother and Father in doting acceptance of our struggles and elations, 
And when I am with him, the sun pours love and lust, and sage trembles, 
and I create peace on earth and joy within all creatures, 
And breathe In the moment of Now,  
and fall in love with myself,
Then
sob at the moon, 
and accept the improbable. 
  

And the whole point is that Lint Rollers don’t work on Velcro

[A day late because of my Coffee Garden “refugees…” distraction yesterday].
This morning I rose at 4:51 to a chorus of frantic meowing, which translated to “we are kittens; we demand freedom” and my older cats scrambled when the door opened because they eye this new batch with fresh suspicion, and they had just trained the old batch not to come near them, godammit, and now these new little assholes are using their litter box and scampering about the house like happy little fucking morons. It’s bullshit, they think, and I secretly wonder what would happen if cats had access to weapons and Internet forums. #wmd
The kittens climb over the laundry that is indelicately piled in the hallway and contains all the clothes that need washing as well as all the clothes that could even be worn which basically means I have no clean clothes.  
True: I’m not a fancy person. Fancy requires commitment and it’s my belief that if you go to work with an ironed shirt even one time–bam!–the pressure to perform becomes totally out of control; usually when I leave the house I may or may not be covered in cat hair or cat crap or dog crap (or both), and there have been moments during my work day when I’ve said “oh my god! What’s that smell?!” and wasn’t even that surprised to find out that it was me.
Because I’m busy. I have two jobs, both of which require me to spend a large portion of the day peeling off sections of lint rollers and frantically washing my hands. Yesterday, I had six animals and two kindergarteners climb onto my lap; I scooped five litter boxes and walked three dogs; helped one girl with lice pull back her hair, reminded one boy to stop picking his nose, one not to hysterically laugh when he passed gas, and washed a thirds accidentally-flicked applesauce off my bottom lip with what i’m sure was–to him–surrealistic zeal. And today, by 8:10 a.m., I had Baby Man rub against me with a suspiciously wet tail and gave two kittens a bath because they fell into the toilet.  
The remnants of my life are always visible upon me and while I’m not proud to look down and say “holy shit; have I looked this bad all day?” I have accepted that your heart tells you who you are and if you don’t listen, you end up clogged and pissed off, 
And not everyone is here to be like that lady last night with the black and cream patent Kate Spade, coiffed hair, tailored coat, and slight air of frigidity who was beautiful and orderly and a veritable wonder to me.  
So I’m out of pants. Yesterday I wore what amounts to a fashion “concoction”. Sweater over dress, dress over yoga pants (yes Carlo: again) with my Nepalese boots cleverly(?) disguising the fact that I ran out of socks a full week ago; and, today, my pants are my “Velcro” pants, size 6 miracles that energetically manifest lint and fuzz and dirt and copious quantities of cat hair up and down their length even when no animals are even present which is not a joke and not at all funny. It’s like being a walking advertisement for witchcraft.
But whatever. 

Life is short. Be real. Everyone has a place in this world. 

  

Refugees…

The older gentleman next to me says “fucking” this and “fucked” that and perked my ears up but didn’t offend because well, you know, my whole life is one big “Fuck it!”, and he says what I feel too and I look over and smile at him and tell him I agree 
Because really what kind of life is living in fear?   

So we tell them they can’t join our exquisite little national experiment here to what end? We are afraid they are terrorists and that they will bring violence and devastation with them yet are challenging our citizenry to conceal or open carry because we are already afraid of the shit that could go down the next time we buy a car or grab a burger?
What kind of life is that? I ask of you who protest their entry.  
You are fighting for the right to live in fear. You are fighting for a life that may not even be worth living. And saving yourself to what end?  
For we are all going to die, and it is the worst kind of betrayal of God to succumb to the barrenness of fear, and the self-imposed limitations of using all the gifts that God gave us to THIS end.   
What kind of life is that? Why would you even want to save yourself for that world?   
Be present in your challenges, and noble in your actions, and don’t isolate your goodness only to those whose experience you can directly understand. You are not a Muslim but God created a whole shit load of them so deal with it and stop acting like a whiny little bitch.   
It isn’t up to God to fix the problems that WE created, and when we cower from a death that will happen eventually anyways, we bow down to those who prey on our fear, turn our backs on the chance to die with courage and slap God right in the face.  

The Cheetos of Recalibration

The mom at the shelter yelling at her excited kid, “Don’t you dare touch those! Those are my chips!” And the little girl had told me she was hungry so my heart cracked before mending itself first with emotional silly putty then with resolve, because the mom was heavy from the ever-present hungry looks in her kids’ eyes–for food and warmth and tenderness and freedom from the burden of reality, and all the things she isn’t providing–and “Failure” loomed like earthquakes and hurricanes and tornados. And dynamite.
And, at work, the boy from the shelter with the drug-addicted mom kicks the teacher and bites at her hand as she grabs the half-empty bag of Cheetos he brought from “home”, and the teacher is angry and confides that the shelter kids “Live like animals”, making me walk away because they are not animals, they are human beings who have nothing except a deeply ingrained advertisement for the American Dream playing in their heads amid the swarm and plague of an uneven playing field and a lifetime of collective disappointments.  
And I am unplugging from the Dream and my friend recoils when I tell her my red plaid skinny jeans were bought at the thrift store because it is the most offensive thing in this world to be poor; And I have more money than her but don’t correct her because in this new life, awake and compassionate, I desire to neutralize the fallacy that external resources create happiness, and it is an honor to stand in spirit beside the mother who can’t feed her kids and the boy who panics at the thought of not being able to hold his half-eaten bag of Cheetos.
And the teacher, her house and her car and her food are unquestioned expectations that keep her programming intact, but the world flinches at the mismatched Realities of the well-fed professional angry at the traumatized boy whose 5 years of life has already come to the point where leftover food is something he feels he has to fight for 
because we do not want to see it, even as we know that the umbrella of the American capitalistic dream sold in stores and on TV is broken (as are all umbrellas eventually!), and find ourselves the happiest we’ve ever been not in new cars or luxury hotel rooms but during small moments with those we love when we unknowingly celebrate the miracle of human connection. Yet to pity the under-served is false, and implies hopelessness; and to stand in solidarity we need to be the reminder that if there’s one thing this country loves more than this fucked up dream of “having it all” it’s the story of the Underdog who kicks ass and overcomes all the unfair bullshit thrown in their path.  
Because when we remove our programming, we realize that the external reality says nothing about the quality of a person. 
We just have to recalibrate to Cheetos to see it. 

The Blessing of the Fosters 

The first group in the rental were the first to receive “The Blessing of the Fosters”.    

Chihiro, Nausicaa, Ponyo and Kiki, four kittens with digestive problems–diarrhea, five piles, six, on the floor each time we’d enter the room–our first Best Friends Animal Society foster kittens in a new house, in a new room, in our new neighborhood, after their dads divorce and the goodbye to the beloved step-siblings; the first group, heralding the new chapter, and the fresh air, and the unmooring, after the rainy day when we said goodbye to our 15 year stint at 1531 Garfield, putting “Thank You” cards in that hole in the wall of the storeroom because Life is such an incredibly delicate balance of goodbyes. 

 And again it became true with this new group in this new place that these kittens were unintentional therapy animals, bringing happiness and comfort, existing as its own dimension of time, holding space for tenderness and kindness and love.  

 Because we loved them. As it is ever so possible to love from within the warmth and safety of carefully-controlled sweetness.  

 So The Blessing was that last day–foster bio written, pictures printed, running late for drop-off–thirty minutes before permanent Goodbye, before putting our trust into a Universe we know firsthand can manifest the worst possible hardship; thirty minutes before releasing these babies we loved to the unknown, when “they” well up and we promise ourselves that if they haven’t gotten adopted within 2 weeks, we will come bring them back to the only home they’ve ever known. 

Because there are goodbyes that sneak up on you. That mark you. Goodbyes where something has been experienced so deeply that its absence grabs you and won’t let go.  
And it was bliss to give love so unconditionally, and it is the rarest of cases that anyone ever willingly says goodbye to something they love.  Is THIS the goodbye that we won’t return from? Will this become part of our Infinite Sadness?  

And of course–on that day, in the kitchen of the rental–the answers are evasive (because the tears are distracting), and holding little Chihiro in my arms, I panic at my grief and flash on the fear “What if no one loves her more than we do?!”  

 But desperation is an interesting place.  

 And so began the Blessing of the Fosters–that day I felt as if Love was being lost—when strong-minded, perceptive Chihiro looked me in the eyes, and born of pure desperation (like most of the best things in life), I put her forehead to mine and whispered “Go forth, be strong, and put love into this world.”  

 And on the way to the Adoption Center—the seven of us together for the last time—I felt big and small, powerful and reverent.  

For there is power and comfort in loving other things, and Love is bigger than goodbye and separation. It is bigger than my grief and my worry.
And in Loving these kittens, I acknowledge my responsibility to Love. And bear witness to the temporary sacrifice required to show Her my commitment. 
Because Love is what we all want. 
But it is not possible to nurture her existence without first being willing to give her Shelter within my own heart.

 

   

White Noise

This morning, I felt it.  As I sometimes do.  I had risen before I wanted—in the service of a dog across town whom I adore–and walked out my front door to a life that loved me.

Because there was a quiet peace in the world.  And a cool stillness.  And I paused on my porch while my soul connected to the place of it’s true home, devoid of the white noise of people and air conditioners and cars and flurry and chaos.  And I stood there as the sun rested in self-assured imminence behind mountains which stand guard like new parents, and remind me at every turn that nature—that The Earth—will impassively stand in non-judgment of our human drama and flaws until we either save ourselves or perish.

And the indifference of it didn’t make me feel small; it made me feel reverent.

And some call the feeling “Source.”  Because to use “God” has become, at once, generic and engorged, and laden with anthropomorphic religious fervor that keeps our appreciation of such tethered to the limitations of the five senses.  And “source” is such a fine word, holding the potential to rewind our consciousness to a now misted-over time of impeccable oneness, where—like string theory—we have known ourselves to be part of an invisible network of connections–ten dimensions of space—even though our conscious mind can only really understand and perceive three.

It is the feeling of “Other,” or “All That Is” or, simply, the acknowledgment of a higher intelligence, and the understanding of the still, quiet steady-state of our soul’s origin in which all events make cosmic sense.  Or will, given enough time.  In which we can pause and remember in a light, evening breeze–as the invisible Earthly force blows gently across our face and body–that unseen doesn’t mean non-existent.

And I stood on my porch this morning–this lovely, exquisite morning which I can never re-live and can never get back–and felt as one with Source, and thanked the world with authentic joy for letting me be part of it.

Because there is such hardship in this life.  Just two weeks ago, I was laying on the couch, exhausted, and unable to process thoughts, and feeling certain of impending doom. I was sick. And frightened.  And unsure why this hardship had befallen me and whether I would ever feel better.

And this morning I was healthy, and happy and filled with gratitude.  And in love with this world and my experience within it.

And it isn’t a miracle.  Not in the proper sense.  Not when set within the white noise of our lives.  The common, the rush, and the constant distractions from ourselves and our experience in the current moment.

But in the quiet of the world and of the mind; where definitions expand and “God” becomes “Source” and 3 dimensions become 10, and the evolution of what’s possible changes when our ideas become experience, it rests inside me amid gratitude, and mountains, that–in a life of hardship–there are threads of invisible harmony ready to embrace a quiet mind.

And, for that, it felt like a miracle.

For, this morning, even the clouds reflected back my inner peace.   And, in the shadow of hardship, my own consciousness had stilled to a point where I could feel—in the quiet coolness, awaiting that imminent sun—that there will always be peace to be had.

Yellowstoned

And it was a shapeless voyage.  Underplanned; underfunded.  Like that time in my twenties when my boyfriend and I camped up and down the California coast.  Freezing; complaining.  Our next step always unknown, and our misery purposeful and a small price to pay to feel free and unencumbered.

And the original Yellowstone plan had been scrapped because of that June blizzard, but somehow we’re there and it’s morning when we’re stopped at the side of the road watching the grizzly bear eat the baby elk.  Gray fur blowing in imperceptible breeze, floating and aloft then at rest as gravity and kinetics sooth their differences, the bear hunching over the carcass that was certainly still warm and Livy’s sobbing—“I bet the mommy elk is looking for her baby right now!”—lamenting the cruelty of Nature, and truths that need not be said about how unfair this world is and how little hope there could ever possibly be for the vulnerable.

Because on that day—June 15, 2008, Father’s Day—my daughters and I were the mother elk, living still in a haze of unresolved grief where daddy had left and emotional abandonment stirred archetypal pain, and life had stagnated and become rooted to trauma, continually guiding us to revisit the same point in time as if walking beside the ghost shadow of ourselves.

And I briefly joined Livy in wondering, “How will she find the strength to go on?”

Because as the baby’s blood and muscle and sinew nourished a guiltless beast’s continued domination, we stood together in timeless solidarity with that mother elk who was now tasked with carrying on in spite of the extreme emotional burdens of the living.

And I just didn’t know how it was possible that she could avoid the temptation to give up.   Why doesn’t she just lay down and stop trying?

How do we all find the strength to survive this world?

Then 7 years passes.

And the question is not answered but asked, instead, over and over, during a million little deaths and an excess of losses, and I say “I can’t do this.  It’s too much” and mean it, and the edge is so close until hardship is the new normal and there was that night—that random nothing night–when Livy was still in danger and mom called to say I wasn’t a good daughter and I’m on the stairs in the dark and it just wasn’t possible to feel more alone and something happened in the deep inner knowing of the atoms I share with that mother elk (and the entire Universe) and somehow I knew that beauty and pain must coexist, and in fact we can’t have one without the other, because daddy left but came back, and Livy’s depression fuels social activism, and her self-inflicted scars are counterbalance to her limitless empathy, and I look at her, alive and wonderful with scars and pain, and I have joy—and it’s a miracle, with love enough for the whole world’s pain—that makes me weep in thanks for the misery that made it all possible, and for the pain that taught me how to let all the unimportant things fall away.  That emptied me out only to be refilled again, replaced with a boundless joy and happiness that wells up and bubbles forth simply from seeing her sitting next to me on the stupid fucking couch.

And Time, standing still on one point, pivots and catches.  Like the earth with the sun; in a state of perfect be-ing and dynamic balance.  Wherein every second, Earth avoids annihilation by the Sun’s gravitational pull because of an equivalent counterforce, forever balancing and afloat, in a constant state of falling and missing.

And on that day in Yellowstone—Father’s Day 2008—with the grief and the bear and the mother and the baby, standing within earshot of strangers, and languages, and motor homes, and tripods, and park rangers directing traffic, and an art project of a world masquerading as a tree-filled meadow of green under our effortlessly-generous sun, Nature showed me the patience we all must have to feel that joy.

Because not every second will reveal the logic of hardship.   But Nature erases a lifetime of forgetting, anchoring us to Earth, as it eternally balances, falling into the sun but forever missing.