Monthly Archives: August 2012

I Knew You When

I knew you when
The air was still
When Red met Purple
When the glow of the sun
Melted comfortably
Into the dusk of the night
When you were your fullest self
And you let me love you
The way a bird accepts the breeze

Now we meet again
My battered friend
I try and tell you that
Your arm is gone
But you are unperturbed
Or maybe just unaware
That the last time I saw you
You had wings
God damn wings

I catch myself confusing you
with who I know you to be
I yell at you.

Because you can’t fly
Because you don’t remember me
Because my leg is gone
Because I too am bound

I remind myself that
There is a reason why
You have one arm
And I have a limp
We have chosen these wounds
To walk this ground
And meet ourselves again

So I will keep my memories
In the bright space
Behind my eyes
Where you can find them
Where they flash
Like a Brilliant stone
Catching the light

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Brutal Beautiful Honesty

Run away from me, baby, run away
Run away from me, baby, run away
It’s about to get crazy, why can’t she just, run away?
Baby, I got a plan, run away fast as you can
Kanye West, Runaway

‎As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others –what and whom we can work with, and how — becomes wider.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Today I did four really difficult things.

I let myself see and acknowledge that I had been acting selfishly, and that I was not being who I want to be.  

I forgave myself.   

I admitted to the person involved that I was acting selfishly.  

I expressed a deep and unconditional love for that person. 

Right now, I feel at peace and also very vulnerable.   In retrospect, it amazes me how I managed to avoid seeing how I was acting before.  There is so much about ourselves that we don’t want to admit because we are not ready yet to grow.

Or maybe it is not that crazy.  Until we are ready to face up to ourselves, there are many ways to avoid inner honesty.  Maybe some of these sound familiar to you.  You can project your problems onto the other person (“If only they would . . . “)  You can fall into self-pity (“I am a bad person.”)  You can lie to yourself about who you are and your motivations.  (“I am the nice person.”)  You can pretend that you do not know what you are doing.  (“Why does this always happen to me.”)  You can stay shallow and cut your feelings and intuition short with distractions.  (Friends, TV, alcohol, books, gym, rinse, repeat.)

I have done many of these things.  And I am sure that I will do them again in my life.  But gradually, I am learning to practice honesty.  I am committing to watching myself and how I act.  I am trying to communicate with people in a genuine fashion, and owning up to things I do.

Being honest does not mean that I have any idea what to do about my imperfections.  Real honesty goes beyond a one-time, “I am sorry that will never happen again,” type thing.  It means that I am willing to dig deep and admit my deepest motivations and engrained patterns, the stuff I really do not want anyone to see.  Sometimes there are no solutions to being human.

That’s why I love Kanye’s song Runaway . . . it is so brutally candid.  He offers himself as he is.  He gets it, he sees himself, and he is willing to own up to it.  He has no answers.

But the funny thing is that at the end of the song, after he admits to being a workaholic asshole who is afraid of intimacy, he naturally shifts into a different place.  He is finally able to admit to this girl that he is singing to that he does not know what he will do without her if she leaves.  When he lets himself be vulnerable and real about who he is, he can open his heart to love.  I always feel closer to him as an artist and person after I listen to that song.

I felt that opening today too.  Once I cleared the way by owning up to my actions, and forgiving myself, I felt this deep love well up and pour out of me.  It was really beautiful to feel and express.  I am learning that true intimacy–with family, friends, lovers–requires owning up, again and again, to who we are, and letting that be okay.

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The Beauty and Grace of Connection

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”— Rumi

This past week has been very full . . . an amazing retreat with my dear Tantra community, an electrifying intuitive reading from the powerful and caring Nicole Cody, a body and soul nourishing dinner with a close friend who just returned home after a long trip abroad.

Yet the experience I keep on coming back to–the one that makes my heart crack open each time I take it out from my memory–was just a few minutes long, with a stranger.

It was last Thursday night.  I went to a restaurant called Opaque in Los Angeles with the Tantra group before our retreat.  The concept  was dining in the dark.  Not just a dark dark, but a pitch, absolutely impenetrable, black.   You could open or shut your eyes, squint, or look around.  It made no difference.  It was all the same.   You had lost your sight.

The absolute genius of the restaurant was that there were blind waiters.  Something that might be a liability in the daily world was an advantage in this dark cocoon.  From the moment you entered the dining room you were in their territory.

Our waiter was named Michael.  My very first impression of him was one of gentleness.  But not the gentleness of a timid person.  He had weight and bulk, a hearty laugh, and a full booming voice.  His gentleness was more like a lion feeding its cub.  We were under his care.

He began by lining us up, hands on each other shoulders, to enter the dark.  He slowly led us to our seats, making sure we were absolutely sure where they were before we sat down.  He took our clumsy hands and led them to our silverware, our water, and our food.  Throughout the night, he guided our hands to do what he had already figured out–to learn to recognize objects by touch, and find out where they were by reference to other things.   Stripped of our sight, his large and warm voice shone like a foglight, guiding us through the space.   He laughed at us as we spilled our water, lost our silverware, and joked about all the completely inappropriate things we were doing in the dark.  We were loud and awkward and having so much fun.

We played several games: identify the mystery food, guess the objects in the bag.  So when Michael suddenly asked for a risk-taking single female, I figured it was another game–which the group happily volunteered me for.  Michael came around and carefully helped me out of my seat, and led me to a clear space in center of the dining room.  And suddenly, he hugged me close, in a 1950’s dance embrace, like we were in our own private living room.  No one could see us.  And he began to sing.

I forget now what the lyrics of the song were.  All I know is that it was was a classic love song, one that belonged to moonlit nights and porches, and that he sang it straight from his heart.  As he sang, we danced in our intimate little world.  He held me close in his soft and large arms, and I stopped thinking about anything except sharing that moment with him.

As I listened to him, I understood that everything that had been gentle and light and fun about him was just a way to make us comfortable.  A polite service.  For those few minutes as he sang, he was–without apology–magnificent.  And so I laid my head on his large chest, and cried, and wondered how many people he was able to pull into his world so that they could see him as he truly was.  How many people just saw an accommodating waiter? a blind man?

And  I cried because all of us are, on some level, moving through the dark, reaching out our hands, trying to find a way to  communicate everything we carry inside.   When one of us finds a way, with grace and power and humility, to express our full presence to another, the message is always the same.   I am here, and I am infinite and vast.  My beauty is yours.  You are not alone.