(Written In memoriam to 2020 and All Time)
9/17/19: The dream was that [Someone I greatly respect and admire] and I were sitting at a rectangle outdoor table in a small private garden. A tree was to his left and he was across from me—sitting at the head of the table—and the sun was shining and everything was in bloom.
And as he sat there, he was kind of mumbling (or speaking in a language I couldn’t understand) almost as if talking to himself but I knew the gist of what he was saying and felt respectful but uncomfortable and embarrassed. Because what he was doing was describing—as if in the omniscience of “The Great Other”(God)— the things he knew I’d said and done over my earthly existence and tears were running down his cheeks for the joy and admiration of what he’d seen.
And I said nothing—was mortified/do not like praise at all in waking life—and he was in a zone where it didn’t matter anyways as he was overcome with emotion, red face, tears collecting in eyes and slowly streaming down.
And from either letting him live in the moment of his emotion or perhaps in deflection of/embarrassment of what was happening, I got distracted and looked down at the table to see little bits of light collecting right on the tabletop in front of me.
The lights were moving as in the manner of sun moving through leaves but suddenly I could see that the bits of light were actually teeny fish moving in a school that was part of the surface of the table. They were swimming in the solid surface of this table like the table was becoming water and as I was looking at them swim they began swaying in a collective wave of a school of fish swimming in unison. Moving together in varying patterns and shapes, back and forth and up and down across the table, like showing me with their light-bodies what liquidity can look like. Then suddenly the school of fish darted as one to the right edge of the table, and instead of turning back around to keep swimming on the table, they leapt off the tabletop of “water” and flew like a flock into the sky because each little fish had transformed to become a bird.
And I gasped in wonder. Was so alive in the magic of it all I wasn’t even self-conscious it might be disrespectful not to be actively listening to […….]—for I knew he’d feel the same way as I did—so just watched as out the edge of the table and around my chair, these tiny light birds took flight, twisting in my chair to marvel with body and words what had just occurred.
And in some part of my awareness, I wondered to myself if I’d actually made the fish turn into a flock of light birds. Did I do that? Can I do that?
Then I tilted a bit into wondering whether this magical world I’d just witnessed as observer was something that’s always right “there”, forever waiting for the ideal moment of a human’s soul to reveal the 100% potential of ourselves. Waiting for every condition to be met—waiting for the point where human sight has been appropriately unchained—before pulling off the disguise of normal consciousness to utter aloud the supernatural ways of the profound other world that’s always right here. The other world that acts as observer to one another before swimming in unison and heeding the call to transform and all together take to the air in flight.
On January 5th of this year, I woke up early to meditate.
I’ve been meditating with widely-varying dedication for 30 years and that morning in the predawn—legs crossed, earplugs in, making an event out of breathing—I attempted again to carve from “normalcy” the profound truth of the supernatural ways.
The last few weeks of 2019 into 2020 had ignited the tinder within me—the personalized points of insecurity; the places of archetypal inner gnawing; all the different ways I’ve disappointed myself and my kids; the separation I feel to humanity, who take frivolity very seriously as the world starves and burns—and I wanted to connect with the me who could look at those feelings. It was a slow work day—in a very slow January—and slow work days always bring on my darkness and the Jaws music called “lack.”
And typically in the random selection of thoughts/visions that meet me in such meditations is the sense of the blade. A sense of the events, the eruptions, the causes of my purposeful endeavor at finding calm. But not that morning.
That morning in my minds eye—amid what I assumed was all my worry and feeling—I saw a bird which right in front of my face, hovered as if in the flirtatious delight of its capabilities before suddenly jetting away, wings dramatically tilting as if it was showing off. And I giggled.
The sun was due to come up in Salt Lake City at 7:52 a.m. so at 7:30, I made tea and parked myself in the chair overlooking our backyard bird feeder. The first bird appeared at 8:06—its friends arriving soon after—and as my cat sat nearby and offered her little cackling mix of outrage and derangement, I realized that
the funny thing about life is that the same worry-themes will occur again and again, year upon year—shaking our combustibles—but then one day, one year—somehow, understood clearly during meditation—we’ll have changed. As if the tinder that we thought was still inside us waiting to burn had actually been tiptoeing around flipping lights on, patiently waiting for the sun to rise within ourselves.
And so as the birds stayed aloft—daring gravity to protest—reverberations of self replayed in muscles that just a short time before had giggled from joy. And in the simplicity of quiet, I watched animals not bound to earth flirt with the air as if in deference to my shift in perception.
I’m Walking. East to Canal, south to 5600, west to Redwood, then north and back around to 1601 Paradise—the last place I’d live with both of my girls; where I’ve lost my livelihood yet trying to keep hold of my mind—walking in the bleakness of April 2020 in a modified meditation. Terrain is flat, my hood is up, headphones in but not on; I focus on a point ahead and breathe. Processing the huge changes, wanting to hold on to what I know—not wanting to be destitute, not wanting to move, not wanting Julia to move out—yet also understanding that as an emotional being, this is how humans change. This is how things move us out of position so we can come to see things. For the only reality is growth and that growth is often first and foremost pain so unbearable you don’t want to go on. And Thirty years ago, I didn’t know the self I walked with—and certainly wouldn’t have aspired to the events that created her—yet as I walked, I felt being called to wake and be alive. To breathe into discomfort and unknowing and be okay.
So I walked. Breathing.
Late March, early April, late April. Walking. Observing the teetering. My worries of early January dialed up in decibels.
Walked/walking—every day, sometimes twice—breathing. And later under baseball cap and sunglasses, I’d drink a Bloody Mary sitting in those stadium chairs Laura gave me before she moved back to Chicago, and as classic rock boomed from the neighbors house, I’d sing the songs and cry on the back deck of 1601 Paradise in the afternoon sun of early spring.
I woke at 5:24 to meditate.
I could hear the guy peeing in the upstairs apartment (sounds like a heathy guy) because I moved in July. Again. That makes four moves in five years (all necessary; I didn’t want to) which is a special blend of crazy. Four moves in five years has made my girls and I the singular justification for why you always—ALWAYS. Okay, Julia?—tape the bottom of the goddammed cardboard box. (Don’t just close the flaps on themselves, man. Come on. That’s rookie moves; its all our shit in there).
And this particular move deserves an Oscar. Moving from a large abode to a tiny one in the middle of a pandemic will forever make this move the one where Scarlett O’ Hara is stepping over the bodies in the streets of Atlanta trying to get help only to get to the hospital just in time to hear the screams of a guy getting his leg sawed off. The girls and I Looking around going, “excuse me? I’m pretty and do not want to deal with this shit” while smelly, gangrened soldiers try to grab us and we motion in protest to No One Cares about the audacity of this unbelievable nightmare.
But chaos and I are old friends. We stroll side by side holding hands—as equals—and fall in love while the world goes to shit.
We meditate together in the stillness of an early morning and while the guy puts out a fire in his toilet microphone, she and I breathe as one.
And we’re now in the last few weeks of a year we’ll forever talk about. During which some of us had no choice but to look at our shadow because the only thing we could even afford was “growth.” So we walked—and walked and walked—and breathed, and gave space to what it is we were becoming.
And I’m still breathing, giving space; observing. My oldest bird has now flown; my income’s in half, every little thing is still uncertain; I’m yielding my moments to the Zen of someone’s leg getting sawed off.
Yet in delving into breath, quiet, (time, space, consciousness, love, pain, chaos, gangrene,…), I know I’m the creator of this dream. For one day, I sat down to face my worry and instead saw a covetous bird, as if Time itself had sent it for the longing to hear me giggle.
And from rising each morning solely with the goal to come meet my better self, I open the door to discover the infinity of Life inside me. Where the fish become birds and hover before me, telling me what I am and who I can be. Where I breathlessly ask [my most admired person……………], ‘what makes something real?’ before I fly off a table and into the air of every possible thing.
And to quiet the noise to witness the inner knowings, we begin to wonder ‘what does “perfect” feel like?’ Will I know it when it arrives? Will it make me giggle? And in longing to make sense of the stars inside us, we don’t always see that we’ve moved to the homes of our (as yet) most awake selves. But when the world spins violently, we can better understand the truth of what we are and, in discovering the life nestling within, can look around in admiration, gasping ever anew from the wonder of what we’ve seen.