Tuesday, March 31, 2009
It was bizarre - and lovely - to walk out of the funeral into the perfection of yesterday. The sky was sparkling blue, the cherries were at maximum pouf, the birds were singing. It was so poignant. Wow. You can not plan for events like yesterday so when they come around, it's only respectful to pay attention.
I felt like Bud Cort at the end of Harold and Maude. I even thought I should maybe learn to play the banjo, though by the time I got back to my neighborhood, I'd put that thought away.
Here I've been winge-ing about middle age, for heaven's sake. Though true that it's weird (middle age), on a gorgeous day like yesterday, particularly right after attending a funeral, it's hard to be critical of anything. My client's death really helped me remember to just be here now, enjoy, not worry and fuss and think so much.
Tomorrow the cherries at the Tidal Basin will be at their peak. I'm going to sneak down early before the masses of tourists decend so I can have a little private time with those amazing beings.
Life is good and I am grateful. L'chaim, ya'all.
Monday, March 30, 2009
What happens after you die? None of us still living know for sure, a fact that doesn't stop almost everyone from forming an opinion.
My client was one of those rare people who had never really given the topic much thought. She was an uber-achiever who had never stopped long enough in her busy career and busy life to think about the beyond, until her first cancer diagnosis.
She was angry when she heard the news, furious even. She met the challenge in the same way she met all of life's challenges, by devising a strategy, making a to-do list, and then jousting with the challenge head on. She did western medicine and eastern medicine, she came to me for bodywork, did bio-feedback, saw a counselor. As a result of the therapy, she decided to launch into a relationship with God for the first time. Though she had never connected with the life of the spirit, her prayer practice was quite passionate and ongoing. She let God know in no uncertain terms that she would not go gentle into the good night. She negotiated her treatment with God in the same way that she negotiated deals in her working life. It was an amazing process to witness. She had balls. She did.
After she finished treatment, she went back to her full-bore life, which meant I didn't see nearly as much of her for awhile. When she received her second diagnosis, she returned to her schedule of bodywork and other modalities immediately. I was surprised to notice a certain softness about her when she returned. It was the last thing I ever expected! She joined a meditation group, started doing yoga. She slowed down a little bit, began spending more time with her family, more time outdoors. Even her relationship with God softened. Hers was an amazing metamorphosis from hard-assed and bitchy to compassionate, open hearted.
For the last couple of years, her life has been all about the cancer, forget the career, forget the uber-achievements. The cancer spread here, then there, and finally spread everywhere. The last time I talked to her (on the phone, she was in the hospital) she said, "You know how, after someone dies, they say that person has gone to a 'better' place?" She said, "I've been given a glimpse, Reya, and you will not believe how beautiful it is. You would not believe it." There was music in her voice when she said that, a music I had never heard in all the years we've worked together.
Cancer, for her, was a situation that polished her spirit and opened her heart, and helped her evolve into one of the kindest people I've ever known. She died in a state of calm, in a state of grace. I would never have imagined such a scene when I first met her. Wow.
May she rest in peace in that beautiful place she got a glimpse of. May we all find beauty at the end of life! So may it be!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The cherries have popped, always a cheerful spring moment in Washington DC. I tried yesterday to capture some festive images, but unfortunately, gray skies blend so perfectly with the creamy grayish Pepto pink of the blossoms that I had to pump up the contrast just to find the cherries in these pics. Who knows? Maybe they didn't want to have their pictures taken.
We needed the rain so I'm not complaining. Maybe later this week, Brother Sun will make an appearance. Cherry blossoms against bright blue sky are a revelation, they really are. I'm convinced the color combo has a direct effect on my cortical function.
In the meantime, here are a couple of glimpses. Even against gray skies, aren't they beautiful?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
"Always" and "never" are words I use less and less as I advance through middle age, a Very Good Thing, I think. Both words, especially when said vociferously (and really how else would you ever use them except with great passion?) point to a very fragile thought form. There's something about "always" and "never" that seems like it would create stability, safety, I wonder where that comes from? Because both of those ideas create the narrowest mental pathway imaginable. There's no wiggle room in "always" or "never." That way of thinking is a precipice, land's end, a dead end.
Cultivating certain qualities, like trust and compassion, opening to faith, wrestling with tendencies such as the habit of being afraid all the time, helps to ease the choke hold of a mind that wants "always" and "never."
It's not like I haven't worked to expand my capacity for trust and faith, but in some way, the lessening of my need for absolutes is something that has organically developed over time.
I feel lucky this morning for the rewards of having spent fifty-six years on the planet. Life is good, even if that face in the mirror looks much older than I think it should, and I am grateful. Happy weekend, ya'all.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Why don't eye?
If you live close to DC but have never been to the American Visionary Arts Museum next to the harbor in Baltimore, you must - you simply must go. You must. It's a revelation, it's inspirational. Funny, quirky, beautiful. Even on the most dreary rainy day, like yesterday, Baltimore is fun, especially if AVAM is on your list of scheduled stops.
After the museum, my friend and I drove to the Hampden district where we had lunch at Cafe Hon, then shopped at Ma Petit Shoe, a store that sells chocolate and shoes. Baltimore city is gearing up for their annual kinetic sculpture race. One year a flamenco dance company "recreated" the great Baltimore fire by placing dancers at locations where the fire was most severe. Isn't that cool?
Every time I'm in Baltimore I ask myself why I don't live there. I would certainly fit in to Baltimore culture far better than DC culture. People always say, "But Reya, DC needs you," or as my friend said yesterday, "Yeah, you would fit in here ... but ... you can't leave DC."
I love living in DC, even though I'm a stranger in a strange land here. Why I landed here has been the subject of many long and lumbering self-contemplations. I like it here; maybe that's reason enough to be a weirdo in a land of braniac achievers.
Still, it sure is fun to get way out of the neighborhood sometimes. It surely is!
The hallway leading to the exhibits at AVAM. "We are made of stars" was the theme.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Middle age is weird, it is. Ask anyone who is middle aged - they'll tell you the same thing. One of the weirdest things about it is that no one knows what middle age is. When does it begin and when does it end? I don't have a clue. Do you?
For the generation prior to mine, I think it might have started as early as 35, but for sure at age 40. I think of Jack Benny joking that he was always 39. Now "50 is the new 40" so maybe that means for my generation middle age starts at age 50. When does one become old? People tell me that any age plus twenty years is old, so does that mean I'll become officially old at age 76? Seems a bit late to me, but what do I know?
Infants, babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults are easy to identify by age. After 30, things get a little more dicey, probably because we live in a culture that is so age-phobic and so terribly age-ist. The kinds of jokes people make about old people would never be publicly acceptable if that same joke was made about a black person or a gay person or someone of a particular nationality or ethnic background, oh no. But it's ok to say, for instance, that a flooded basement "smells like old people." It's no wonder we middle aged people try so hard to pretend we aren't middle aged.
Part of it is pretending. The other piece of it is that as someone wise recently said, the mind does not age. I remember my mother saying how strange it was to look in the mirror and see an old lady staring back at her in shock. When I look in the mirror what I see isn't an old lady, but she sure as hell isn't young anymore either. It is kind of a shock. I'm not the first or the last human to have that experience. If you're younger than 40, please know that if you live long enough, you'll have this experience, too. If you're my age then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Yep. Middle age? It's so weird. Believe me!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I never "settled" all the years I lived on the west coast. Even after fifteen years in the Golden State, I still couldn't find a way to make myself feel at home there. California is so gorgeous, you would think anyone would love it. I tried so hard but was unsuccessful. The land wasn't right for me, obviously. I was unnerved by the earthquakes, the morning fogs and that sharp afternoon wind in San Francisco. I disliked the reality that I always had to have a sweatshirt or jacket because in San Francisco, it's never warm enough to go out in a teeshirt. Well, maybe three days of the year it is. I was perpetually cold in San Francisco. Also no fun was that I had no stamina for other weather conditions - visiting any place outside of California during real winters but especially during real summers, almost killed me. San Francisco turned me into a weather wimp. Isn't that sad?
I know there are seasonal shifts in California, but they were too subtle for me; I like four seriously dramatic seasons. Springtime in February always felt as wrong as the freezing cold summers in San Francisco, or the balmy days that inevitably accompanied the Christmas season. I loved California but it just didn't fit. Living there was like owning a beautiful pair of shoes you can't wear because they hurt your feet.
People who don't live here laugh at me when I say I love the weather in DC. It's not for everyone, I agree. But it would be hard to find anyone who could argue that spring in DC is anything but absolutely gorgeous.
Just this week, the pouffery has begun. Yesterday I saw so many cherry trees in bloom downtown. Mostly here on the Hill it's the pears and tulip magnolias that are pouffing, but the cherries will soon join the silly fluffy springtime fun. I'll be collecting images in the coming days and weeks that I'll publish here, documenting the breathtaking beauty of spring in this powerful, wounded, fascinating city I call home.
Happy spring, and L'chaim. Oh yeah!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This isn't the view from the window. Gorgeous, though, isn't it?
It's a busy day here in Reya's inner sanctum at the house on Tennessee Avenue. My new windows have been installed, and they are beautiful! I don't always notice details like doors or windows, so I'm surprised, and frankly thrilled, to see how much better my room looks with the new portals. The trees, the beautiful architecture, and in particular the sparkling blue sky, is framed so much more beautifully by these new windows. Wow.
In celebration I am in the midst of a serious cleaning frenzy (the installation process left behind a thick layer of dust on everything in my room). I've also decided to re-arrange all my furniture so as to showcase the new windows and door.
I still need to paint the framing, then I'll post pics of the deluxe new casement windows. Once the warmer days arrive, it will be such a pleasure to open my new windows and let the breezes blow through. Oh yeah.
Monday, March 23, 2009
That saying, Those who can, do, those who can't, teach, never made sense to me because teaching is so hard.
Have you ever tried teaching? I have, many a time. Sometimes I'm good, sometimes not so much. I think it's such a complicated art. To be a good teacher requires a whole lot more than mastery of the topic at hand. You can know everything there is to know about something, but without the secret mojo, as a teacher you will be useless.
Teaching is not about passing information on to others, though looked at superficially it might seem that's all there is to it. If it were only a matter of giving or sharing, why wouldn't we all just learn from books? I believe charisma is a big part of good teaching, but charisma without out all the other components is just embarrassing, especially for the students. I think of Gilderoy Lockhart from the Harry Potter series, so in love with himself, but clueless as a teacher. I've had many teachers who loved to talk about themselves. I never learned a thing from them.
There's a way in which studying with really great teachers invokes curiosity and passion in the student, no matter what the subject. I had a biology teacher who actually created in me an interest in dissection. The passion did not last after the class ended, but wow! That was a good teacher! Great teachers make learning feel good. It's an art, it is.
I'm lucky to have had so many truly great teachers, (sprinkled into the mix of mediocre and really bad teachers, of course). I think this is why I am so in love with learning, because of all those amazing teachers. Currently I am learning from our president who is, I believe, a GREAT, patient and generous teacher.
I'll miss learning from Sylvia Sumter's sermon titles. (Her church, just around the corner, is moving to downtown DC at the end of March.) She has provoked me, made me think hard, introduced me to new ways of looking at the world for many years, just by virtue of her talent for naming her sermons. Now that's some teacher, yes? Oh yeah I have never heard her speak, and yet still I've learned so much from her. Sylvia? I see that you are preparing your congregation for the big move. In so doing, you're reminding me of a very important "truth," that letting go is necessary, organic and healthy. Hail and farewell from Capitol Hill, and THANK YOU!
GRATITUDE TO OLD TEACHERS
When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?
Water that once could take no human weight-
We were students then-holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Blogging is a teaching community, a mind opening community. It's my morning routine, drinking tea and reading blogs. I wish I had time to read more blogs, I do. I love the unvarnished, unedited thoughts of my fellow bloggers. I love the global aspect of blogging and am thrilled with blogfellows who live as far away from Washington DC as is possible without leaving the planet. I love being reminded that it's fall equinox as well as spring equinox, that there are places where a person can forget about Easter but remember all the Muslim holidays.
OK I'm gushing this morning but if you read the comments on the post I published yesterday, you'll see why. The intelligence, thoughtfulness, compassion and humanity of the people commenting is such a gift! Wow.
Thank you everyone who commented, everyone who didn't, but who thinks about the why's and what's of life. Because of bloggers and blogging, I'm just a little bit smarter than I used to be, a little bit more compassionate, open minded, and willing to expand and reshape my world view. All of you reading this? Take the friendship award on the left side of this page and pass it on. All of us bloggers help each other so so smuch. Thank you thank you thank you! I mean it.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
According to the cosmology of Reya, the multiverse is an intensely complicated fabric in which everything is interconnected, and in which everything is necessary, even if I don't understand why. In other words, I don't believe in superfluousness.
When I'm feeling generous, there's a place at my table for everything, including what's painful and troubling. I see clients every day at work who are dealing with awful diseases or working through unimaginable issues, yet somehow they are benefiting from these experiences, becoming wiser, more compassionate, more self accepting. It is because of these amazing people that I've had to adjust my cosmology of trouble. Without their problems, would they be as luminous, humane? How else could they accumulate such incredible wisdom? Does wisdom ever accumulate through ease?
I believe that life is a precious existence, as the Buddhists say. I believe we work through so much karma while we inhabit our beautiful bodies. This morning I'm thinking that learning things "the hard way" is part of what we're supposed to do. Trouble is a part of our destiny.
As you can see, I'm feeling generous today. One disclaimer: I am not in favor of trouble or pain. I'm not thinking we need to get out there and look for trouble, oh no. Plenty of trouble comes our way organically. And I'm not happy to see anyone suffer, not EVER.
But maybe there's a reason for all our suffering. Maybe it serves a purpose. It has for my clients, at least. And it is at the center of the stories of Passover and Easter. Maybe suffering is redemptive. Do you think?
Friday, March 20, 2009
That's the statue in front of the Rayburn building. The flowering tree is on the Capitol grounds.
One of my favorite spring activities is a brisk walk down to the Capitol midday during the work week. All is beautiful and serene - well, at least the environment is serene. I'm talking about the sweetness and light of daffodils and the pink clouds of tree blossoms, soft air and sunlight. In the midst of this pastoral setting though, is a furious mob of dark suits, ID cards hanging around necks (like balls and chains), furrowed brows, eyes focussed on the Blackberrys in hand. The mob is rushing around, this way and that way, oblivious to the gentle beauty all around. It's kind of hilarious.
Please do not misunderstand - I'm not making fun of the people who work in the legislative branch of U.S. government. They are the hardest working people I've ever known - by a long chalk. It's just funny to see them in spring.
This scene (even more extreme right now because of the AIG scandal) is a perfect mirror of the paradox of spring equinox. Spring is anything but balanced here in DC. It is tumultuous, veering leeward and windward from pleasant balmy days of sunlight and gentle breezes to dark, raw, windy days of bitter rain. The barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind are all over the place. It's hard to know how to dress for every possibility. You might be freezing, you might be sweating, who knows?
Spring is the craziest season, which might be why it's legendary for creating moodiness in our species. We humans are cheerful and optimistic one day, lethargic the next, then restless, impatient, argumentative. But an hour later we're calm and replete - no problem! Then we're giggling, then crying. Our spring holidays also reflect the paradox, being as they are about terrible suffering followed by redemption.
In the midst of all the spring sturm und drang there is one moment when day and night are balanced. That's today, Spring Equinox. It's the only moment of balance in spring, so I guess I'm going to embrace the moment if possible, yes? I'll try.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
You're taking a ski lesson, you're on the bunny slope, you fall. No different than anyone learning to ski, right? You get up from the fall, you seem fine, but nevertheless the ski people insist on taking you back to your hotel. But then you start feeling funny. Within twenty four hours, you're dead.
Was that bad luck for Natasha Richardson? Fate? Was it "her time?" I'm not sure why but I feel so sad to hear this news.
I remember the day when an old friend in San Francisco, hardly moving at all on his bike, and wearing a helmet, fell gently onto the ground. His partner was with him. When my friend fell, his partner began immediately to make fun of his clumsiness. There wasn't a scratch on my friend's body; it was a gentle fall. But one of his cervical vertebrae cracked because his head tucked at the moment of impact which caused his neck hit the ground at just the wrong angle. He didn't die, but his arms were paralyzed in the accident. Just like that, he lost the use of his arms forever. IF he had fallen at a slightly different angle, IF he had decided not to go biking that day, IF IF IF IF IF.
There are so many intersections of time/space that involve timing, luck, fate, and most of all, mystery. Natasha coincided with one of these intersections on Tuesday. Her time/space interaction was not so fortunate as the happy confluences in which people fall in love all of a sudden. There are tragic intersections, too. There are. Who knows how many of us avoid these dark confluences every day because we answer one more email before leaving work, or decide not to have a second drink, drive home by a different route than usual, or sleep in - or not!
All I know for sure is, life is short. You're here today but you could be gone tomorrow, no matter how careful, how mindful, how present you are. Don't count on your bike helmet to save you. It won't! On the other hand, hiding indoors, not taking chances, hoping to stay "safe" doesn't work either. Get out there and live fully, people. Do not waste one more second. I'll try not to either. OK? Okay!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Unlike a lot of people, I'm actually not furious with AIG about the decision to go ahead and pay its executives hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses - after the company received hundreds of BILLIONS in bailout money.
No, I am not furious. Astonished? Oh my - yes. Curious? YES. I try to imagine the meeting that took place amongst the top echelon of AIG execs, I try to imagine the moment when they decided to go ahead with the bonuses, how they justified it to themselves, to their Director of Public Relations who must certainly have begged them not to. In spite of my powerful imagination, I cannot visualize this meeting. I can't get inside the heads of the people who thought it would be a good idea, or "right." I do not understand in any way their version of the "truth." Do you?
After a hideous eight years under an evil puppet as president, when the rich got a lot richer and the poor got a lot poorer, here we are, not surprisingly in intense financial crisis and class wars, too. Who would have thought that in the U.S. there could ever be a class war? In spite of all the headaches and heartaches, this is definitely an interesting moment in American history.
Off with their heads? I wouldn't wheel out the guillotine if it were up to me, but I would definitely get these dudes into some serious psychotherapeutic counseling, asap - because a reality check is badly needed. Wow. Or do that thing they did in the film Trading Places, switch out the AIG execs with some poor people, freeze their bank accounts, etc. Show them how the other half lives.
Will Congress be able to convince these guys to forego their million dollar bonuses? We shall see.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Connecticut Avenue NW, just above Dupont Circle, along the western "wall" of the Masonic pyramid.
St. Patrick's Day was my least favorite day of the year when I was a bartender. I would trade for the lowliest shift imaginable so as to avoid contending with the inevitable glazed eyes, foul behavior and sloppiness that accompanies any American celebration of this day.
God knows, the Irish have had an unhappy history; drinking to excess during any number of horrible periods of time would have made sense to me, too. But here in the U.S., for most white people, life has been pretty easy. Not for everyone, but certainly for the dudes who can afford to pound down the green beers until they can't stand up, it's hard to imagine circumstances that could justify the quest to get completely wasted - except for the "truth" that those dudes love getting wasted. Any excuse will do. It seems disrespectful, but what do I know? I'm not Irish.
At least that's what I used to think about on the unfortunate occasions when I had no choice except to tend bar on St. Patrick's Day. Thank goodness my bartending days are long past. Today I'm going to make an Irish stew to celebrate. I'm hoping the stew will turn out to be colorful, warm and aromatic enough to combat the unrelenting gloom that has settled over Washington DC. Here in the house on Tennessee Avenue, we'll have a couple of beers, some stew, and of course I'll remember to leave a small glass of Irish whiskey out on the table for the Leprecauns. It will be, as usual, a low-key celebration after which we'll turn in early. Oh yeah!
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Redbuds washed out of the trees over the weekend.
I sit around, or walk around, and think. My brain twitches, my brows knit, I wonder about truth. I contemplate the idea of a pervasive divine truth underlying all my human stories but I'm not sure whether that, too, is a construct of my storytelling. I pull a face. Passersby steer a wide path around me. Sometimes I'm like a German expressionist movie.
Don't get me wrong - I love all my intellectual exertions, but really, for heaven's sake.
One of my core "truths", should say core stories, is that the multiverse has a sublime sense of humor. When I opened the netflix packet last night after work, to my total delight, the movie inside was the amazing Kurosawa film Roshomon. The movie is the story of a murder told by three people. Three distinct truths, three different stories. Everyone is confused, you never figure out what "really" happened. Oh yeah.
If you've never seen the film, by all means put it on your netflix list. Warning: there are no car chases, nothing blows up, no naked women, in fact, no babes at all in the movie (except the young, raw and beautiful Toshiro Mifune as the "notorious bandit everyone talks about.") Actually, there is one babe, but she's behind a veil. The pacing is slow compared to American action films. Akira let you take it all in, which is spectacular in so many ways. Roshomon is the perfect after-work entertainment for She Who Frets About Truth. Thanks to all the gods of synchronicity. Thank you so much!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Looks like the daffodil on the right is whispering a secret to the one on the left.
Yesterday during a walk in the rain, it came to me that the idea of truth (always something I struggle with, at least the idea of an absolute, irrefutable truth) is perhaps never useful. I'm contemplating the idea that every one of my truths is nothing more than a story I've told myself so often, I can't imagine any other scenario. The groove of a story, told and retold, becomes engraved in my neural network. Next thing you know? I'm calling my story "the truth." I think this is one of the foundational strategies in advertising.
It's not unusual for my "truths" - even those that I've told myself a million times - to become completely "untrue," sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, sometimes in the blink of an eye. In the midst of a heated discussion, a good friend will say just the perfect thing, articulated just so. That exchange sparks a revolution among my synapses that peels away a layer of world view, revealing a previously unseen "reality." Has that ever happened to you?
At other times my truths are undone by study and reading. Sometimes all I have to do is get really quiet and listen to the small voice of wisdom I don't usually hear in the midst my noisy, busy, distracting life. The value of a long walk in the rain can not be overstated.
In an instant, a new vision of the world can arise. If there is such a thing as "the truth," how can it be unwound so quickly, so completely? I've always thought of truth as being some kind of eternal reality. But that's just a story, too.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The weather gods are feeling mighty dull. It's chilly and damp here at sea level in the midatlantic. Overhead is a dark, thick, gray overcast that feels energetically like peanut butter or some other heavy sticky mass. I, for one, feel burdened by the peanut butter sky.
How cool that the trees and daffodils are undaunted by all the bitter gray. It is time for them to unfold, and so they will, even if it feels like midwinter to we humans.
The first tree to come fully into bloom on this side of Capitol Hill is always the one on the north side of Constitution between 8th and 9th Streets. That one particular tree jumps in before all the others. Every year I wonder why. There are other trees up and down that block that wait to bloom until later, so it can't be the soil. There's no sunlight coaxing the tree this week, so it can't be about that. Maybe it's just the disposition of that particular tree to bloom early. Who knows?
It's a cheerful sight, the pink puffs underneath the gray sky, a beacon of spring in the midst of this meterological blah-ness. Thanks Mr. Tree!
Friday, March 13, 2009
For some reason it looks to me like Jake is wearing shades in this pic. Also I love the tiny me in the doorhandle.
It's not just we humans who wear persona costumes. My dog, for instance, (in his youth) wore a mask of aggression to hide the fact that he was afraid of everything. Chameleons are famous for their quick costume changes and for their marvelous ability to blend in with the surrounding environment. Lots of insects are great camouflagers, too. Walking sticks don't change outfits, but they sure look more like sticks then bugs, don't they?
The landscape changes outfits along with the seasons and weather conditions. Over periods of time too long for our species to imagine, the land radically changes appearance, including its "accessories" - the living things that adorn it.
How about the sky? Does it ever look the same way twice? The sky is a super model of costume change.
So - is there really anything wrong with the fact that we humans wear costumes? Is there anything wrong with trying on various personas, even if they don't fit? I wore the I'm Cool outfit because I thought it would be a lot more fun to be cool than nerdy. The High Priestess outfit is what all of us in Reclaiming tradition aimed for, whether it fit or not. We were allegedly egalitarian, so we all had to try, even if (as in my case) we didn't much want to.
In order to successfully live in civil society, all of us have to wear some kind of costume. During the past few years I've tossed out lots of old, ill-fitting persona outfits. The problem is that I haven't replenished, so my persona wardrobe is about as skeletal as my clothing wardrobe. No wonder I feel so boring these days!
How should I go about choosing new, appropriate, well tailored persona outfits? What are the rules? I don't have a clue, but I'm thinking about it. Wouldn't it be great if there were a Stacy and Clinton of persona costumery? Well, wouldn't it??
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I've worn - and later on discarded - a lot of ill fitting costumes in my time. I'm talking about persona costumes, like the High Priestess outfit I wore through most of the 1990's. Both literally and metaphorically I was so uncomfortable in that outfit. Am I psychic? Yes. Am I a mystic? Yes. But standing in the center of a circle of celebrants, leading ritual? It never fit. That costume gave me spiritual wedgies every time I tried wearing it.
Gone, too, is the I'm Cool costume. I tried, most of my adult life, to wear that one, never successfully. I have never loved staying up past eleven o'clock and would rather sit on my couch reading books about the brain than hang out at the hippest bar in town. For heaven's sake, I am so NOT cool. Into the trash bin with that one.
I've recently discarded a mental outfit I thought of as Loyalty. When I had a good hard look at it, though, it turned out to be Co-dependence, Wearing the Mask of Loyalty. Don't want that one any longer!
About the only costume I'm willing to keep is the Mama-Gaia-Reya outfit I wear when I'm working. As a healer, I have to be a mountain for my clients. I need to sit, and listen, and be there for them. As soon as I leave work I remove that outfit immediately. I have boundaries around it, but it serves a purpose. It's worth keeping.
I've been thinking about costumes because the trees, who have all been standing around naked since Thanksgiving, are just starting to put on their poufy little pink and white spring costumes. I can't wait to see them all decked out and gorgeous. Can't wait!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The impact of the "economic downturn" (don't you love that euphemism?) has finally arrived here in the house on Tennessee Avenue. Almost everyone at the architectural firm where my roommate works has been laid off. Not my roommate, at least not yet. Listening to his story is tremendously sobering and scary, too. The environment for those who remain at the architectural firm sounds toxic with gloom. Yikes.
I'm saying repeated prayers of thanks because as of this moment, I've felt no impact in my profession. All my clients work for the government, or are lobbyists or in fields in which their jobs are not endangered. They are, for the most part, quite comfortable monetarily, so they might not take their Caribbean vacation this year, but are unwilling to forgo their bi-weekly massages. Thank you, oh mighty Universe, for sending these people to my massage table. I mean that sincerely.
It also helps that I'm used to not having any money. Still, it's freaky to see my roommate so worried. We are living in times of rigorous change here in the U.S. May we all hold steady while this storm passes!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I think Miles Davis was right when he said there's no such thing as a mistake. I mean really what is a mistake? It's regret with a punitive edge, the idea that events could have, should have unfolded in a different order. Right?
Most of the time I don't think in terms of mistakes except with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. But it's not always about the past. I've caught myself in the middle of something, thinking, "This is probably a mistake," like when I pour the third glass of wine, or get into bed with the "wrong" person. Later, when I have a headache or am suffering from inevitable pangs of remorse, it's clear I could have made a happier choice. That I go ahead anyway, with the third glass of wine or whatever, is interesting, isn't it? What am I trying to teach myself? Or am I just looking for an opportunity to self-punish? Or something else?
Do animals feel guilty when they make mistakes? We now know that some animals plan ahead. I wonder if they reflect like we do, try to make sense of what's already happened. I always wonder whether animals try to improve their characters. Do they blame themselves after they make a mistake? Do animals make mistakes?
My question this morning is, does the punitive thought form and subsequent self flagellation after the fact help anything? In other words, is suffering redemptive? I ask that question every year as we close in on the season of Easter and Passover. Both holidays center around ultra dramatic stories in which suffering is proved to be redemptive. Suffering can be redemptive, but so can bliss, mindfulness, compassion and many other states of being. Why is suffering so valuable to our species? Any thoughts?
Monday, March 9, 2009
The upwards surging energy of spring is palpable. I feel it, the dogs feel it, the trees feel it. Yesterday was almost hot, almost. People were out in droves, wearing shorts and sandals, walking past the house on Tennessee Avenue all day long.
I took one short foray out into the gloriousness. I need fresh air every day, even when I have a head cold. The first few blooms are popping on the trees, I saw a couple of daffodils.
Mostly over the head cold, with my energy revived, I feel so restless. Normally I would try to calm myself down but right now I am dancing in shamanic alignment with the change of season. It's OK to be restless right now, it's OK.
Ah, spring. Make me crazy, please, as you always do. You will? Yes!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
If you look carefully on the right side of the pic, you'll see the White House in the background.
I feel as gnarly as this old tree in Lafayette Park.
The shock of the sad news about my old dear one has, of course, manifested itself in the physical realm. It was almost instantaneous, too. Impossible to miss the synchronicity.
Fortunately this is only a head cold. According to the cosmology of Reya, what that means is that the effect of the bad news centers around the way I think. It's not in my lungs, so I'm not grieving terribly, or even down my throat, which would keep me from expressing my feelings about it. Also, because it isn't a big terrible virus, it will soon pass.
I can't go to work and drip on my clients, but I'm not too sick to continue work on my monumental canvas that includes Annapurna and the Three Fates, so the day is not totally lost. It could be so much worse, yes? Oh yeah.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
My brainstem is a powerful player, regulating all my survival functions like breathing and heartbeat. It is within my brainstem that my sense of abiding deep self resides, it is where I "go" when I meditate - to the landscape of homeostasis, a place of rhythm, minus plotlines.
It's incredible to think of how steady and predictable conditions are inside the body. A few degrees change in internal temperature, for instance, can mean life or death. The heart beats always, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but always. The breath, how marvelous, comes and goes no matter what. All that steadiness is separated by a few layers of skin cells from the exterior environment, a place of dynamic and never-ending change. That we can stay so consistent inside, while living in such a unpredictable world, is amazing, isn't it?
What I'm wondering this morning is what happens to people who decide to commit suicide. Is it a cortical function that overwhelms the common sense of the brainstem? In the cerebral hemispheres, are stories created that convince people that the steady foundation provided by the brainstem is worthless or no longer desirable?
I'm wondering because I received the news yesterday that someone no longer near but still dear attempted suicide this past week. Wanting to die I get, totally. Wanting to kill someone else? It's conceivable. But wanting to kill myself? I don't get it, never have. I've been lucky, haven't I, to have never contemplated it?
My cerebral cortex is twitching and sparking, flopping around, trying - unsuccessfully - to understand. Meanwhile, my brainstem is holding steady, as it always has, as it always will until the day I meet my maker. I am so grateful for my fabulous brainstem! L'chaim!
Friday, March 6, 2009
The White House from Lafayette Park.
We'll never know exactly what it was that the Masons had in mind when they designed the city of Washington. We do know that they wanted the pattern of the city to convey power and invincibility. We know that George Washington, Pierre L'Enfant and all those other apron wearing magicians worshiped The Great Architect, hence all the architectural magic that went into the making of this city.
They were so precise that they didn't trust the accuracy of compasses when they laid out the pattern. Instead they used the stars to make sure that, for instance, the four quarters of the city that come together in the center of the Capitol rotunda are spot on. North Capitol Street is exactly aligned north-south. East Capitol Street? Exactly east-west. The Masons were extremely careful, which is why I don't believe the Satanist conspiracy people when they say that part of the Masonic pattern is an inverted pentacle with the White House at the top. One look at a map reveals that the supposed inverted pentacle is not perfect. It's too wide. The Masons would never have created such a sloppy shape.
The symmetry of the Masonic pyramid, however, is perfection. At the top is the White House. Logan Circle and Dupont Circle are the feet. The circle where 16th Street, Mass Avenue and Rhode Island Ave. come together provides a beautiful, architectural pattern of ballast for the pyramid. I'm sure it's no accident that Rhode Island Ave. is part of the ballast, as it is one of the oldest Indian paths in this area.
I have "climbed" the pyramid (up Connecticut, down Vermont), walked "in" it and outside of it, trying to intuit its powers, all without a single satisfactory insight. One thing though, is that I really enjoy being "inside" the pyramid. It's a landscape of good vibes.
It was only yesterday that I realized my new office space is inside the pyramid, and that the top of the pyramid, once inhabited by an evil puppet, is now the home of dear President Obama and his fantastic family. No wonder I had such a great day of work yesterday! My clients loved it and I loved it. I have such a good feeling about this new venture, oh yeah!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This morning I'm flipping the switch on the time machine from Lost Loves to March 5, 2009, setting my intention to arrive in the present moment no later than 9:45 a.m. since today is my first day in the office on Farragut Square.
I'll be busy with clients, but not so busy that I won't have some time to walk around, get acquainted with the neighborhood. I'm very excited. For those who don't know, Farragut Square is as downtown as you can get in Washington DC. The building in which I'll be working is on K Street, the infamous location of countless richly appointed offices in which lobbyists and other power mongers do their mongering. Is that a verb? In terms of atmosphere, it couldn't be less like the vibe on Capitol Hill, my small, friendly village. Cool, eh? I think so.
Reflecting on the past is a good thing, absolutely necessary in order to heal, and always lots of fun, too. As much fun, at least for me, is bringing all of myself into the here and now, in order to find out what's unfolding right in front of my face. Onwards & upwards? Oh yeah!
See the moon? Why is it blue?