In flight (redux)

(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.
 
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1/5/2020
 
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.
 
*************
 
 
 
 
 
 
4/2020:  Pandemic.
 
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.
 
**************
 
12/16/2020
 
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.

Come see me, Sophie (poem and essay)

Come see me, Sophie, as you’re walking the blue twilight between worlds.

Come see me, in that dream land, when the pain disappears and the body absorbs into stars, and we can behold the sun as it rises on this first new day.

Come see me,
From your world beyond breath, when the boldness of your heart finds itself again, and in the unburdening from flesh you can see the magic of who you are.

Come see me, Sophie, watching the tears of a Sophie-less morning,
Then scamper off to the world you now belong to,
catching joy like butterflies,
looking back to see me (one more time)
Quietly calm in the salty stream
Daring the world to make me forget

For as on the lawn that day with my hand stretched out was forever and when you reached back to me through Time, painted me into wholeness with vibrant splashes of your self making my heart thump with happiness, and your eyes became the wonder of the blue sky and in the deep green of our moment the clouds watched and danced across the sun.

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IMG_3247

Sophie was an old girl I cared for for several years. She’d had been adopted as a senior dog—when I met her dad and his three dogs, he wasn’t even living with his future-wife yet—from a post off a FB rescue page, and joining sled dogs Greta and Tala, was a huge personality that liked all the attention and used her expressive face and “talking” to get it. I once looked back on one of our (by then) easy level walks adapted to her weak back legs and saw her ambling along with a “rope” hanging out of her mouth, trying to chew. The “rope” was a rat tail and the only way I got her to drop it (I worried it had been poisoned) was to briskly walk until she could either open her mouth to breathe/keep living and drop the rat or not get enough air. I’m happy to say she chose the former. She could hardly walk without a wobble but “hell yes; let me bend/stoop then chew this enormous dead poison while trying to walk without stumbling because I’m so fucking bored right now.”

Sophie went downhill very suddenly when I was caring for her in July 2017. She wouldn’t eat the pre-cooked steaks or chicken her family had left—she was in decline but they thought it was okay to go on a hasty honeymoon to Montana—and when I cradled her back end with my sweatshirt and steadied her front with her leash to get her out to sit in the side yard—a long-favorite activity—she laid under the tree where I set her and, as Greta and Tala played, looked in that way of a sadness impenetrable by anything else.
And I’ve cared for many animals now who went on to pass, and have been asked by families to help them gauge the question of “when?” Because they don’t want the animals to suffer for their own selfish desire to keep them alive yet it’s hard to even think clearly through the hazy intentional-contemplation of making something they love not-alive.

And there are deep questions asked. For instance: how much suffering is too much? Some people who have a hard time with emotional experiences and/or active grieving won’t be able to tolerate much suffering at all. The first time their rabid-eater doesn’t finish their supper they might start believing their pet is not enjoying life enough anymore; it’s possible their own anxiety about grief might be trying to make the process more manageable by controlling it as best they can or that they don’t want to feel they’re betraying their stewardship of their pet by not listening to the “signs.” In contrast, some people who have seen grief and feel comfortable navigating it can endure more for longer. Often way too long. And then there are those—most of us—who don’t know enough about it to be well-informed, and live with the agony of not knowing what to do. Is THIS the sign? About which, who could say? A vet will offer clinical data, offering to do a dental on a 16 year old cat just to give some hope.

For me, Sophie’s sadness is often the metric. The “sign.” Senior animals do bounce back from not eating and do have bad days—often really bad days—but when the eyes begin to look like they’ve never experienced happiness, it’s time to begin the process of saying goodbye.

So I did. That night, 7/11/2017, on the evening visit. Her parents (doctors) were rushing back from their trip—driving all night—to themselves begin the process and on that last visit, I sat with Sophie on the dirty concrete of her parents back patio, stroking her head.
And they got back and the morning of 7/12/2017 were able to see her off in purposeful-dignity but before I knew they had, I got woken up very early that morning by something “saying” this poem.

For the night before, sitting with her on that concrete—her sisters doing their own thing—I felt the Sophie she’d been for me. The lively fun of conversation and expressiveness in a story where a homeless senior dog gets to go on to light up a world. And knew (I mean, I did hope her doc fam would know some trick to keep her going but deep down, I knew) she’d be going where I couldn’t be part of it anymore, couldn’t see her; that this was my last chance. So sitting there, I told her I’d miss her, and asked her to come see me when she got to wherever it was that she was going.

A few months passed and I was asked to come sit for the family’s other two dogs, and it was weird because sometimes at dusk—when her sisters and I would be sitting in the yard (like all four of us used to do)—I swear I’d see Sophie. The first time it scared me because we’re trained to indulge only the “logic” of our left brain. Having things be utterly predictable is such a great comfort to humanity.

But such it is that in the known universe of which humans understand very little beyond non-quantum, not everything has to make sense to our left brain. And, in fact, it’s almost an irrational idea that it ever would, and after the passing of Sophie and many others—facing the deep questions, many with no clear answer—I’ve since made peace with the wisdom of believing in the vastness of what we don’t know and in playing the part of an active observer of that which is as yet undefined.

 

Sitars and Wood

And somehow in the ins and outs of synchronicity, the day before Livy’s birthday—November 30th—I somehow begin melding with The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” Again.
 
Year after year, sometime before the last day of November, returning to the ballad where John sings that he once had that girl but wait, no: she’s the one who had him. 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017,….my space becoming the quiet solitude of an evening around the warmth of a fire and a girl who just landed in my life.
 
And I remember that day of holding Livy. Knowing in an instant (instinct) that gathered into my arms was now the potential for every single bit of love and agony possible to have within one life.
 
For I’d even worried I wouldn’t love her as I did Julia; that was a real thing for me. Julia was early, born 7 weeks before she was ready then hooked to IVs—“she might die; be blind, deaf; have disabilities”—and before I left the hospital, I’d managed to move the mountain called “should I let my heart fully know her lest she die?” Because that’s what people do; they stand guard over their potential devastation, trying to sweet talk it. Yet I’d found it in me to love her with a passion that conquered the saddest parts of myself and floated through sterile, hushed corridors like magic, with air under my feet like a fairy. Like a rainbow. Like an angel.
 
Julia was to love beyond words and platitudes, in a way I couldn’t see what I’d even been before. Julia was a Now moment of revelation, my best self, my biggest heart. I didn’t see a “me” capable of being better.
But Life moves us into the more beautiful homes of ourselves. Sitting in rooms of rugs and warmth is the uncertainty of it all, ever pushing us to surrender to vulnerability in order to write melodies with sitars and wood.
 
And on November 30th, 2000, Olivia Grace Plimpton was born at LDS Hospital. Three weeks early. My mom and 2 year old Julia at the hospital for the entire labor—Julia carrying her stuffed Cat in the Hat, me coloring with her through the pain—and James rushing in from a business trip seconds before Livy’s birth. The hospital staff having told him to park in the loading zone and run upstairs or he’d miss it.
 
And I held her, my baby, my second girl, and like the song’s first line, she had me.
 
For of course, I loved her—them—in full knowledge at that point of the attempted deceit of my own heart. And at the core of my self discovered that they were not mine but rather I was theirs, with a certainty that had already invited doubt to have a seat in a warm room belonging to a bird that would fly away.


Sunset on an old self

I’m in my car, sweaty after a day of working hard, and surrounded by a bunch of shit like a mobile hoarder with a windshield so cracked it’s a Rorschach blot. And it’s the night I start reclaiming my ankles from the bloat shit-eating (from lack of time) has attacked me with so I’m headed to some fruits and veggies to begin the process.

And as I pull into the Sugar House Whole Foods shopping center, Led Zeppelin talks to me of sex and texting that guy later and navigating my car around the corner of the parking lot, I see a family outside of Jamba Juice. Mom, dad, two kids, at a table, drinking their frozen juice together as the sun sets.

And I’m 13 years out from my divorce—my kids can’t even imagine I was ever married to their dad—yet while the two little Jamba Juice kids float around dad in his white shirt and crossed legs, leaning back in the chair as if owning all things, there we are. James and I. Taking part in this ritual of “quality time.” Going to Costco on the weekend, buying stuff we didn’t need, pretending we weren’t pretending, making every stupid little thing an event like we were just killing time. Enforcing planned interactions as if we’d forgotten how to be alive and normalizing incremental toxicity‘s—me sympathetically listening, wearing kid snot and no sleep, as he complains about his business dinner in France, etcetc—until I’m overweight and crying in the living room at 1 a.m., giving everything to smother emotional holes for the sake of some labels. “Husband”, “wife”, “married.” For the sake of a romantic dream some boring asshole made up as if it’s a holy symbol of stability to commit to 60 fucking years of trying to be the same.

And when you’re handed a bunch of shit from parents and magazines and TV, your loneliness feels like a personal flaw. Your fear is you not being brave enough.” Every unfulfilled need you speak up about is you being “too sensitive.” And blonde-haired blue-eyed good looks in white shirts have this world to themselves; charming the outside world because they know that shit sells. A dad as coiffed and overconfident as the patriarchy—unapologetically sucking oxygen out of a universe he doesn’t have to share—while mom long-steeped in her gender role as pacifist revolves around him like a planet dressed in clothes and calling him “honey.”

Thirteen years. Not long enough to forget that Mr. Coiffed then goes home to criticize every little thing that disturbs the sanctity of himself. Which ends up being the fish almondine I make for dinner and the girls’ happy squeals which are apparently way too loud for him to hear his Xbox.

And as I pass this family outside Jamba Juice, I see the past. I see the pain, the effort, how I never would’ve walked away and am so thankful he cheated and left.
For you don’t know life’s set up for salesmanship and brutality until you’re outside of what you bought. Until your stable family life, income, and sense of self-worth no longer rests upon making excuses for cruelty and narcissism.

Because marriage itself isn’t the sanctity of anything; the sanctity rests with the ideal to be better, more alive people because of it.

And as I sit in my car making my list, the sun looks like it’s resting. Like having Journeyed across our lives its holding position for one last look. Catching sight as it does of a 52 year old women who works too hard and sleeps too little—whose self-care is akin to a shot of whiskey while crying softly in a bathroom—in a filthy car with bloated ankles, blasting Led Zeppelin and 100% Life, and Panning out from a Jamba Juice scene to view a former self with a search light of the soul.

Realizing as she does that marriage doesn’t always make you more alive while you’re inside it; sometimes it makes you more alive in the parking lot of Whole Foods on a June evening long after. 

Rainbows

Last night at the theater watching Mamma Mia again, my youngest, Livy, reached over the seat in a poignant part to grab my hand and in the dark I looked to her and her mouth moved in words of gratitude, telling me that, as a mother, I’d always been there for her. And as the screen splashed fiction, we sat there and held hands, sharing our real story, and her eyes were misty and so were mine.

It hasn’t always been wonderful for my girls. One of the most painful memories from my life is after my divorce in 2007. Their dad had moved to VA (to live with Sarah and her young son) and the sudden revocation made both girls insane with anxiety—petrified that I’d somehow just vanish into thin air—until at one point Livy, then 6, wasn’t able to go to school without sobbing for me until she was gagging.

So I started sitting outside her classes to help her ease into stability and she was starting to feel more confident until, one random day, her first grade class were playing a game for P.E. when suddenly Livy broke off from the group, ran over to me—falling into my arms—and in the broken gasps of uncontrollable feelings, barely got out through her hyperventilating, “I (sob)…miss…my (sob)…daddy.” And in the seconds after, her little body convulsed with all the grief I’d lived to protect her from and somehow became embedded in my own, as if forcing me to learn about pain in a way I couldn’t ever understand otherwise.

And some moments stay with you forever. Are designed to. For at that time, on that day, in that gym, patting my baby’s back, telling her “I know you do baby. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry”—my own heart broken—I would have done anything to deliver her from that pain. Because I know the doubts that creep in to hurt us when the lights are out and my heart that day descended with her into all those nights. Into The Great Loss, where we become bound to an event simply because our hearts are too injured to allow expectance of anything better. Into the experiences which don’t leave, even when you ask them nicely, and are a good and “perfect” little girl. When fear shines like a search light, Discovering all the little pockets of emptiness, all the wounds, and tells that story over and over of running to mama because we can’t do this; there’s too much pain.

But There are secrets to life that the intervening years told the truth about.

Because that same child sat next to me in the theater last night, whole, intact, emotionally available— even at only 18 years old—and feeling and expressing realizations and resolutions, while not wasting any time living her authentic self and the consistent nurturance she has for this world. And that these two memories exist within the same life experience—within the same 12 year span—reveals that there are stories which resonate more deeply than The Great Loss.

For in the shadows of heartbreak, doubt, abandonment and running to mama, there lives “help me” and someone rubbing your back, until the colors of this existence are shades of rainbows and fall leaves that in the contrast creates the entire more-beautiful experience. Where Life waves at us as if from the shore and we calibrate to protect ourselves until blindly against rocks we’re hurled and from the chaos—stretching out and towards our love for one another—we get to rise Into and then out of the great loss into another story.

And I did not know that then but it’s been a magical unveiling I can see the irony of once wanting freedom from.

For from spontaneous unwritten moments and the shine of a movie screen, pain and heartbreak now can illuminate the story of deep love and empathy. The story where Livy and I hold hands in the potency of misty-eyed remembrance then, after, normal life continues, and as we drive home, we hum the same song in the breath of a summers night.

 

Rewire

Woke up singing Morning Dew by the Grateful Dead. First minute of it can be beautiful with an aura of tangible bittersweetness reflecting the subject matter of the lyrics, post-nuclear winter. For those not privy to this history, America’s nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union meant nuclear annihilation was on the table (google “mutually-assured destruction” for more heartwarming Americana; we were told to crouch under our classroom desk which —for sure—was an effort to trick us into not panicking during our last moments). I once watched a documentary that told of Jerry Garcia crying softly at a concert while performing Morning Dew; the subject of the song for him being the cliff that humanity always pushes itself to. War, power, greed, distraction, denial, ego: how does humanity not make different choices at some point? Like THAT is the true grief. The circular nature of the human condition, where we mindlessly end up back to some version of square one. I heard this research/quote one time on NPR: “The desire to avoid losses is wired more strongly into our brain than the desire to achieve gains” Which offers one potential explanation of why we keep repeating the same patterns.

And here I’m 52 and alive during the crashing of national-and-planetary ship onto jagged rocks. Where we’re all about to embrace (once again) the permanence of impermanence for our hardwiring and I guess my space right now is that whatever happens I want to be different now because of it. We pulled ourselves out of things before and we shall again but maybe if enough of us cry softly onstage we can forever change the former-inevitability of the cliff needing to come so close.

I’m currently trying to pull together a book I don’t intend to ever publish at another IG account The creative endeavor no one else will see is solely dedicated to stopping the machine and jump starting the rewire. I might get sick of it after a month in which case I’ve changed and that’s equally as good.

If you get in a shit way the next few months, message “SOS”‬ and I’ll send you the 10th pic/video I’ve got in my “favorites” folder along with a short caption/story about the selection. No questions asked. No response needed.

By way of example, the pic of Ginger and I here is my current 10th. The caption on that could read: “I look kind of old in this, and it makes me squeamish when dogs lick my face, plus no one would ever even know if this was my actual 10th photo so I could just send another one BUT to hardwire my brain for a different experience for all means I’ve got to walk the walk and be real, and anyways formerly-abused Ginger was brought from extreme trauma response to being an absolute diva two days into our first sit and if she can rewire her brain like that then so can the rest of us and that is a picture worth sharing.”

[cries softly onstage]

From my “Me” page

I once read that “Om” is the sound that was made at the inception of the universe. That when the entirety of all things was somehow formed out of a void, Om was the vibrational emanation that erupted when the energy transferred from one state to another.

And “Om” is deceptive, for when said clearly, it’s actually three sounds, “A”, “U” and “M” and it’s in our haste to utter it as a cohesive unit that it often comes out–incorrectly–as only two.

And of course, to believe the universe made a sound at it’s “birth” is a story right there. The “big bang” is the current working theory explaining the universe’s known physical properties and it’s hard to imagine such a bang not making a sound but because the emptiness of space doesn’t carry “sound” (current science: except for gravitational waves) we would actually have to redefine sound in order to understand it. What can something say if it can’t be heard? Begging the question of the deep existential unknowings, asking who is the observer in this? Who is the one who hears? Is there a consciousness humans don’t have that experiences energy and light as it explodes into being? Questions which probe our growth, bringing us back to “Om” and the communion of heart. Where cross-legged on the floor we make space for the quiet, and in so doing, come to chant those three emanations from our voice box which no matter what the science or philosophy reveals is actually and truly the universe creating the sounds of itself.

The site title “Aimless” is a moniker I received from my AP Economics teacher Mr. Rosen at Aptos High School (CA) in front of a class of my peers–who didn’t know me except as the shy, new girl whose face turned red when she had to speak. The moniker which hit an emotional target that’s taken me over 30 years to fully understand. Because I was someone born looking for the deeper meaning. I read spiritual books at an early age, took religious studies courses as my “fun classes”, and purposely-geared my University of California, Davis psychology degree into the “pseudo-science” of what consciousness was, simply because I respected science enough to see that the full arc of its story is that science is ALWAYS in its infancy. So the description of being “Aimless” was not only an insult but a fear. For to be “Aimless” was like saying I’d never find the enlightenment the Buddha described, or walk the earth in love with humanity like Jesus. “Aimless” was someone ambling purposelessly along a road of meaninglessness, the glancing blows of love and experience barely reaching into the deepest significance of who I was and what I thought was possible. But now at 52 years old, I see things more clearly.

Because over the course of my life, I did feel aimless. I’ve lived in four states–moved in and out of towns and cities, and relationships. Became a single parent in 2007 after a savage divorce, went back to school for a masters degree in teaching and started a pet sitting business to supplement my income then graduated in 2011 into Life’s cosmic sense of humor where I didn’t get a job, experienced unemployment, financial hardship, the traumas of my beloved daughters, irreparable rifts with the unkind judgment of those I thought were family, and all the other full catastrophes (grief, fear, isolation, desperation) until I began to question the validity of a life which could deliver such experiences. Who cares about deeper meaning when things are so hard and why do I even want to be here for this cruel social experiment known as “humanity”?

But one night while sitting on the stairs of my former home–the wreckage of my life hitting with an incomparable loneliness–I somehow reached a stillness. And from that stillness I rose knowing that within the external circumstances of my life—within the hardship I was still actively engaged in— rests the opportunity to see the profound purity of the love I’ve offered this world. And that it is in fact the ego-less love any of us offer this world that is our only true possession–the only thing we ever get to keep– and is what turns back to speak to us on the carpeted back stairs of 1531 Garfield Avenue during the depths of our dark night of the soul.

And it wasn’t magic. It wasn’t some voice from the sky. It was my self, and my muscles, and one moment free of ego, showing me/us that love is bigger than Amy and her family, and her goals and her loneliness.

I currently live in Salt Lake City, UT (no; I’m not Mormon), was 52 on 10/1/2020, am a single parent of two girls (Julia, 22 and Livy, 20), a business owner/pet sitter, an animal lover, a teacher, a writer finding her voice, a devoted believer in the emotional freedom that comes with complete authenticity, and an aimless soul intent on expanding into the ever-changing self of a single second.

Because the search for a deeper meaning to life is actually an unsolvable logic puzzle unless we can find a way to not “be” anything. For you can’t be anything or go anywhere or see any truth until you find a way to be alive inside the peace and unity of just one moment. For that is the only meaning we ever truly are.

And such it is that all these years later, I bow to the wisdom of Mr. Rosen, the painful clarity of emotional targets, and the dark nights of the soul that forced me to explore the deeper significance of no thing and no self.

Beyond this site, I’m scattered around and nowhere. But here’s some more pics of my life. Thanks for coming by.

Aimless/Amy Palleson. (Permanently: TBD).

Bug book #1

This is the book I made for Julia’s birthday in May (2020) about her dog, Lady, who we often call Bug; Julia adopted Bug from Rescue Rovers in March of 2019.
 
I don’t think I could ever thank @rescuerovers enough for bringing this little girl in from the harsh unsafety of the streets (of New Mexico) last year. I wouldn’t even know how to say it, because the words would fail to complete the idea. She’s just a new and beautiful world.
 
Julia’s beau gave us all the gift of getting Lady’s DNA done so we’d know more about her breed. We knew this: she seemed to definitely have herder blood in there but was also very chatty—we thought maybe husky or hound?—and was VERY expressive, using her face, paws and interactions very intentionally to this purpose. Plus she was smart, attentive/adaptive, and fantastic with cats.
 
Fast forward to where we get the results and realize that Lady is, in percentages:
 
American bulldog 20
Australian cattle dog 18.4
Rottweiler 13
German Shepherd 11
Husky 9.3
Chow chow 8.5
America Staffordshire Terrier 6.7
Supermutt 12.8
 
Yes. Every “aggressive” breed you can think of packed into a salami-stealing, cat-loving, family-focused snuggler that tips the balance every single day (for many people) into a better life.
 
FYI, I Used Walgreen‘s platform to make this and I would highly recommend it; It’s so easy to use. I’ve written another Bug book but I’ve got 45,000 pics on my phone so am perpetually lost when I go to find anything, to include appropriate Bug opps.
 
 

Yellowstone

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 our asses off, we were whipped into submission by the frigid ocean wind, and—guided by no plan— moved east, north, then back toward the coast in a zig zag of unrepentant spontaneity. Landing once in a campground a few miles off I-5 that was so dusty it’s dirt never heard of rain and still yet was such a small fare to pay Life in order to feel free and unencumbered.

And the original Yellowstone vacation had to be scrapped because of a June blizzard, but somehow the girls, mom and I are there and it’s morning—June 15 2008 (Fathers Day)—when we’re stopped at the side of the road watching the grizzly bear eat the baby elk. The snow had melted into the pasture and the bears grey fur blew in imperceptible breeze, and as the tiny carcass (certainly still warm) became the backdrop for our first trip after daddy moved, Livy cried softly—“I bet the mommy elk is looking for her baby right now!”—in the tender, knowing way that would become her trademark.

Because on that day, my daughters and I bore the mark of unresolved grief. Where their dad cheated then moved to the opposite coast to live with his girlfriend and her young son, leaving myself, our two daughters, our pets, our life, threatening with lawyers if I contested our decree then bringing his girlfriend back to town a few months later—to hotel rooms they’d share with our girls—asking them, “why can’t you stop being selfish and just be happy for me?” They were 9 and 6. But he had his new family and the urgent need to justify his actions.

And I’d withstood the tears of my self and my girls from rejection that cuts the soul and had come face to face with truths we weren’t ready to handle, and watching that field, my little girls and I felt rooted to those truths. Stuck by the still-knife of temporal events which repeatedly wound us until we remain inside them, as if walking beside the ghost shadow of ourselves.

So on that day—on that slight hill, next to at least a hundred other spectators—I briefly joined Livy in wondering about that mama elk. About the world that Mama and I live in. Wondering how she can see and carry this. Wondering about the inherent indifference of it all and how we can find the strength to survive this world.

**************

[One of the great mysteries of existence rests with the moment of the “big bang.” If that event had obeyed the currently-accepted laws of our physical universe, the Big Bang would have created matter and anti-matter in equal amounts, a circumstance which should’ve been so condensed that matter and anti-matter would have annihilated one another, leaving only energy. But that’s not what happened.

And given enough time, it’s hard not to make everything the domain of the bittersweet. Impossible, really. I was walking through the grocery store writing this, thinking about how the struggle for my girls didn’t stop after that Yellowstone day or for years after yet ours is still such a beautiful story, now making the seemingly-disparate aspects of it connected as two conjoined truths.

For that there are tangible experiences of predation—bears eating babies, daddies creating emotional wounds—is the easy-reader version of a story. But the stars we look upon glow as matter conceived via a known improbability, and in so doing, pass on to us legends about who we are and the poignancy resting inside every tangible experience, as one aspect of truth forever looking for its other].

*********

The 1988 fires of Yellowstone twenty years before had made scars that settled into the landscape. In that 1988 summer, thirty-six percent of the park had burned, and trees fell like sticks on each other, resting now in 2008 as in permanent homage to the dignity of their past.

That fire year, new aspen groves—waning in the park before the fires—sprouted up miles from their burnt foremothers. The seeds for the shoots had been carried on wind and water and popped up only days after the fires, so to now—on our hasty sojourn through Yellowstone—they could grow proudly beside their ancestors like a lesson. As if Time is a benevolent gift which purposely withholds wisdom for a reason.

Standing near me, my mom—a pragmatist—lifted Julia in her arms to look at the bear. In 2000, the year Livy was born she’d told me that God never gives us more than we can handle. Julia—born in ‘98–had been challenging; hadn’t slept longer than two hours in her life, was colicky, every arriving tooth making her wail and sleepless, and James was constantly gone either physically or mentally, and I feared for what the second child could bring. Mom isn’t religious and neither am I, but in those simple times, “God never gives you more than you can handle” was enough. Yet now I stood with the knowing that it wasn’t enough, and never had been. Such words are inert— placeholders passing for lore–and shaped by hope into a feeling just good enough to persevere.

The park rangers were directing traffic overlooking the meadow, and I held Livy in my arms. I wanted everything for my babies. To feel loved and safe. Free, unencumbered. Wanted them whipped by ocean winds daring it to make them cold. Wanted their only miseries to be courtesy of choice and adventure.

And the 1988 aspen groves that had burned were direct clones of groves mammoths and camels had probably grazed on, And it reminded me of something I once read: that the pull of gravity from the sun is precisely what’s needed to keep our planet from flinging itself into the abyss. That for billions of years beyond placeholders, the sun has anchored us to the safety of our Earth as we eternally balance, falling always into the sun but forever missing.

And in the bright sunshine of a June day in 2008 that bear’s fur blew in the breeze, floating in air I didn’t even know was moving. Perhaps whispering to me about mysteries of Nature as Julia comforted Livy—“Maybe that bear also has babies it needs to feed”—among RVs and tripods and foreign languages.

And maybe there are moments that stand still on one point, as if Time can pivot and catch. When you’re standing on the earth in the sunshine with your daughters and also falling into the sun and forever missing.

Because in the absence of a deeper knowing, the power of our love must be taken on faith but when we shield one another from the emotional brutality of our darkest truths, we bear witness to pain as an infinite-love seeking the comfort of itself.

And so it was that my soft-hearted seven-year-old child–Livy, her eyes red from love for that elk family—was in my arms comforting her stuffed panda, and her older sister—Julia, then ten, surveying the adventure, calling us back into stronger selves —comforted us both.

And inside a tangible scene, we welcomed ourselves home to the surety of our deepest safety, growing from and into each other—free and unencumbered in our devotion—our love filling in the incompleteness of a burned landscape with groves of trees now in full bloom.

Dreamer

Perusing a dusty Post Card Row fixer upper I could never afford, she arrived first and sat in a chair across from me, looking around expectantly. As my iPad told me the story of 714 Steiner in fifty-seven pictures on realtor.com, she kept checking her phone, sitting on the front of her chair, head craned.

Within half-hour he was there and they’d hit it off. Period ceiling medallions got almost a million over asking,…I’m scrolling through pics at Alchemy Coffee in Salt Lake City, the three of us separate/together, the six low-seated upholstered chairs surrounding a communal coffee table, and they laugh at first in tentative agreement—retaining their personal space—then succumb, leaning in, voices getting lower, private, secluded.

And I sold all my tools but 3.5 million dollars of dusty floors built in 1900 calls seductively, and my iPad flips dreams while their fingers touch, slowly outlining the hand of the other. Pointer poised, up his finger, and back down, and he moves over to whisper something into her ear, and there’s a soft laugh. Some of the molding is original, but thrashed, painted purple and red, and in spots, mold has taken over walls and bathrooms, mirrored tiles from the 1970’s reflecting only haze, and they speak sex into the air between us with quivering coffee shop etiquette.

And a song I haltingly-recognize makes words alive again, and I pause.

Take a dream on a Sunday, Take a life, take a holiday,

Take a lie, take a dreamer

Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream along

Dreamer, by Supertramp.

***And the antique stove sits on buckled linoleum floors, and in another section, hardwoods stretch East to west, edged by bay windows and Alamo Square Park, calling into the afternoon sun about long days and smudged architectural sketches, and Fingers. Fingers to the knee, up the thigh, fingers tiptoeing, flipping, scrolling, 2D digital pics coming to make a life inside me, on this Mid-February (2020) day, across from this coffee date not remembering why I myself ever gave them up (my fingers onto buttons, brushing lips to necks, faces flushed, trousers on the floor of bedrooms…)

And when the couple get up to go, my eyes follow, and I rally for us dreamers, calling out to the belligerence of desiring something out of this world.

Then as the door closes behind them, I go about my own business, and sitting cross-legged in the western sun of a fixer, trace myself slowly, up and down, into the magical history of dusty floors.