Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Happy Beltaine! (sound of deflating balloon ... pfffffffffffffft).
A friend says that considering the energy of this moment, it's important - crucial even - to celebrate the incredible fertility and possibility of Beltaine. Here in the midatlantic, today and tomorrow mark the highest gloriousness of spring. Oh the blooms! Oh the greenery. Everything is super saturated, overblown. Everything is in serious heat. Tomorrow will be clear with temps around 70 F. It will be absolute perfection.
We humans, in order to dance in shamanic alignment with the energy, should be flirtatious, we should be all come hither, just like the trees and flowers. But after getting punched in the gut (Boston Marathon bombings, blowup in West Texas, for instance), it's a little bit hard to par-tay.
And too there's this bloody eclipse energy, all Saturnian and Scorpionic. It's rather hard to trip the light fantastic in the midst of the intensity. I have a feeling it would be a struggle even if I were 25. But who knows?
No matter the heavy energy of the moment, I'm smiling today. I put down a hefty deposit on a condo lakeside at Canadaigua Lake. I'll rent a kayak, cook, watch movies on a screen larger than my ipad. I'll visit wineries and charming little towns, go for a massage of course - but mostly I'll be in the condo, decompressing. Oh man.
I hope to get a couple of friends to come with me. But even if I go alone, it will be glorious.
A panoramic view of the lake, a kayak in which to explore the watery realm, stars at night, and wi-fi on one of the finger lakes in New York state. Oh yeah. I'll have to take a sweatshirt, and long pants. It's so good to have this to look forward to, a break at the end of a sweltering DC summer.
I'm not exactly reveling in Beltaine this year, hey? OK, fine. Mama said there'd be days like this. And I have something wonderful to look forward to. Que sera sera.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
From this article about the history of flowers:
"Before flowering plants appeared," says Dale Russell, a paleontologist with North Carolina State University and the State Museum of Natural Sciences, "the world was like a Japanese garden: peaceful, somber, green; inhabited by fish, turtles, and dragonflies. After flowering plants, the world became like an English garden, full of bright color and variety, visited by butterflies and honeybees. Flowers of all shapes and colors bloomed among the greenery."
It took awhile of course, way back in the Cretaceous period, for flowers to arise, but they surely did. We would not be if not for them, and the world would no doubt be less colorful, though of course I have a quibble with the person who decided the earth was somber prior to flowers. How does he know?
The citizens of the District tend to always be somber, even when everything is in bloom - though - at this moment in the season, it's a pretty hard to stay somber if you're outside in the colorful riot of cheer that marks our midatlantic spring.
No one know exactly how - or why - the green world began wrapping its seeds in fruit, but it did, thank goodness! Complain as I sometimes do about being overwhelmed by all the colors and shapes, because seriously it is overwhelming, I am enchanted, drawn in, and every year freshly amazed at the beauty that pops up then spirals open here in this fertile swamp.
Bless the flowers, bless the bees, bless the trees. Cheers!
Friday, April 26, 2013
In the midst of a long walk through yesterday's splendid weather, I popped into the National Gallery to see the Albrecht Dürer show again. I needed a break from the over-satured pollen orgy ongoing outdoors in DC right now. After winter's characteristic monochromatic palette, spring can be a shock. It certainly has been this year.
Anyway, gazing again at A's spectacular drawings, watercolors and woodcuts, I marveled at the way he was able to take his time. Albrecht knew that life is long even though five hundred years ago, life was definitely not long in the way it is now. I bet life expectancy at that time was about forty. He lived at the end of the mini Ice Age in Europe. It was cold, there was plague, diseases of malnourishment. When you got an infection, save a bloody miracle, you died. You don't even want to think about what childbirth was like. Life was harsh. Life was short.
But for him, life was long. He was not in a rush to make his art, he took his time. How did he know to do that?
The first time I saw the show it was with a friend who is a painter. She said, "As you leave the exhibit, avert your eyes from the modern stuff - it'll just piss you off." So true! I retraced my steps through the show and ran from the building with one arm over my eyes.
Not really. I did retrace my steps so as to avoid the modern stuff, but afterwards I stared fixedly at the white marble floor of the east wing for about 15 minutes, to allow the beauty of the show to settle into my visual cortex. Wow. Just - wow.
Here's a great review of the show.
In the modern world, life is short, even though we live longer chronologically than ever - much longer, in fact. Why the rush? Why the sturm und drag? It's interesting to think about.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I was given a gift last night, an idea that has helped me once again take a step backwards into the center of my energy (something I have frequently needed since turning sixty). The idea is simple: Life is long.
Life is long.
I had a drink with a friend whose sons (in their mid 20s) are going through mid-20s stuff. Instead of telling them what to do or trying to lecture, what he tells them is: Life is long. He tells them that they're going to go through so much in their long, long lives. He encourages them to look at the big picture. What a gift! Perspective. Wow.
I can hardly remember being in my 20s. One thing I can say for sure about that decade, which began in 1972, is that I was not happy. How I would have loved hearing someone say that life is long, oh my. Something to hang on to during the storms of early adulthood would have been great. At age sixty it's also great. My life has been long and full - and - I'm not dead yet! There are conceivably many adventures ahead. Life is long.
I've been thinking about it all day today which was, by the way, a beautiful spring day. Pollen and stuff that was part of the trees leafing out was fluttering down, the result of a sweet warm breeze. The fluttering was ongoing all day. It looked like snow, but it did not feel like snow. I took a short walk, didn't dare stay out too long as I'm now coming into my worst allergy time, when the oaks and grass pollinate. The meds I've been taking are spectacular, but there's no need to push it. After going into anaphylactic shock a few years ago, I'm wary. It's only a couple of weeks anyway. Onwards and upwards.
This week is a big improvement from last week on every level. I've heard a few peeps about how the Boston Marathon bombers aren't white - so weird - they're from Caucasus, possibly the whitest white in the world. But mostly I'm hearing stories about the way Boston is grieving and healing, West, Texas too.
Our species, for all our flaws - and there are many - is so resilient! We bounce back. All day I've been thinking that this is the secret to our success as a species, more than our gigantic brains combined with opposable thumbs. We are hopeful, we are confident. We carry on. And, too, life is long.
|See the bumblebee inside the peony?|
Monday, April 22, 2013
Ritchie Havens died today. He was some kind of bodhisattva, an angel, something like that. Ritchie Havens was not of this planet, but I'm glad he came to visit. I loved his music, his voice, the way he played guitar - everything. What a passionate guy. His cover of All Along the Watchtowers is one of my all time favorite pieces of music. It is such a powerful rendition. May Ritchie fly high!
One thing that's crazy about early old age is the beginning of the end of the generational cycle into which we're born. It's not only about the deaths of contemporaries - so many more than earlier in life - but the deaths of icons who were part of the generational soul. We baby boomers have a powerful generational soul, believe me. Our archetypes are starting to die off. It's alarming.
I'm no romantic when it comes to that period of time, when I came of age. It was exciting, true. Just like now, there were upheavals in society, rapid changes in terms of the cultural norm. Society opened up during the 60s, everything changed. It was powerful, but unnerving, at least to me. Letting it all hang out? Never my best thing, but especially when coming of age. I was a nervous wreck.
Not only was I not at Woodstock, but I would have been miserable there. Too many people, too much chaos. I know someone who literally lost her mind at Woodstock. She was institutionalized afterwards for awhile. Someone else was there but has no memories whatsoever of any of the music. Another friend, when I asked about the experience, said, "What I remember is standing ankle deep in mud with the worst hangover of my life."
Oy. I know there were those who had an ecstatic experience at Woodstock. Something happened there, it was a big magic as I once would have said, requiring a lot of horsepower to work the generational spell. It required humans - lots of them. I am very grateful I was not among them.
After the bombings in Boston, the explosion in West, Texas, etc. what came up for me was how scary the early sixties were. Our president was assassinated, his brother, too, and then Martin Luther King who was kind of the Dalai Lama of that era. We watched the Vietnam war on television. We were still influenced by the cold war, that is: paranoid as hell.
Oh yeah, this period in history right now? It feels like the sixties, people. Like I've been saying.
I miss the sex.
I miss the drugs.
I miss the rock and roll.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Cardioplegia, also known as intentional cardiac arrest, is a very creepy surgical technique that ensures a "still and bloodless field" in which to cut and sew. I'm thinking about it because the way Boston was shut down yesterday, from the vantage point of my shamanic vision, amounted to a metaphorical version of cardioplegia. The city soul was put into cardiac arrest when they asked people to stay indoors and not answer the door or go out for any reason. Amtrak was stopped, public transportation was stopped, flights were curtailed. Friends who live there told me the empty streets were eerie.
They got the city moving again, but the energy will be weak and uneven for awhile. Also I would expect the energy to be wobbly, like a patient recovering from open heart surgery. And there will be residual fear, post traumatic stress, and grief spiraling through the city soul. How could there not be?
My prayers include the hope that the citizens of that venerable city find ways to be gentle with themselves for the next little while. Knowing what I do about the city, I'm dubious this idea will even occur to most Bostonians, nor catch on in any overarching way. But even if there are pockets of gentleness, it will help the city recover more quickly and fully than if everyone tries to pretend everything is back to normal.
Even worse would be if the citizens came together to demand that all Chechens be exported or that we should invade and bomb Chechnya. After 9/11, we declared war on Iraq, just because we had to drop a bomb on somebody. That didn't do anyone any good, did it? I really hope angry mob mentality does not take hold, in Boston or elsewhere in the U.S. That's all we need.
It's worth praying for.
Shalom. Salaam. Peace.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
|I never notice cars, but this one was very cool, very. The heroine of my spy novel, Vega, would have looked just right driving this around.|
During weeks like this one, the energy is complicated enough that I try to dial back everything so as to do my shamanic duties, dance with the energy. I'm trying to simultaneously dance with Boston, Waco, the snowy midwest and the defeat, seven blocks away, of a very benign gun control law. If you could see me trying to do these dances, all at the same time, it might make you smile or even laugh out loud. Energetically I look a little crazy, like a puppet being yanked this way and that.
My great teachers always said, find the most beneficial wave in the chaos, ride it for awhile, but stop so as to enjoy a long, deep night's sleep, because in the dream world, certain facets of complicated energy reflect light. Those are the facets that bear examination, that merit attention.
So far this week, I feel as if I'm in a room with severe fluorescent lighting, windows closed, blinds drawn, with several radios and tvs on, tuned to different stations, the volume turned up to eleven on every one of them. It's bewildering.
I loved the wave of public sentiment following the explosions. In different ways, people expressed appreciation for the people who ran towards the carnage after the Boston Marathon bombings. There were many posts on FB about how good people outweigh the bad. That wave has subsided since the Senate failure. I seek the next best wave but so far have been unable to locate it. I keep trying.
Fortunately I'm not in a rush. My focus this week is on the basics: breathing, drinking water, connecting with the force of gravity holding me securely to the madly spinning planet on which we live and have our being. There will be plenty of time to sort through these events once the energy settles a little bit.
For the moment, it's a bit much, yes? I say yes.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I can't think of anything helpful to say about what happened in Boston yesterday, but someone posted the following on Facebook, written by comedian Patton Oswalt. Beautiful words, and true.
Boston. Fucking horrible.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
Sunday, April 14, 2013
In the Oz books - after the first in the series - the way Dorothy travels from Kansas to Oz is fairly straightahead, nothing like having to wait for a tornado. She goes to her room at 4:00 pm where she uses a secret hand signal she learned from Ozma to open a portal between the two realities. She makes the gesture, tumbles and spins, and finds herself in her room in the palace in the Emerald City, just like that. Snap.
I mention this because I felt yesterday, seeing the star light up on the Statue of Freedom's crown, that if only I knew the secret mudra, I could be whisked off into an alternate reality. There's something about the sight of Freedom's lit up stars that feels like a signal. Or maybe when the stars light up, that unlocks a gateway between the worlds. If only I knew the mudra!
But maybe the point of that vision has nothing to do with travelling across time/space. Maybe the gateway is a portal through which goodness enters our reality.
As you can see, I'm intrigued. The second sighting was very different from the first, but felt equally powerful. As a scientist, I don't know what to say about it and I can't explain my fascination, but as a mystic, I feel blessed by these visions. There's never anything wrong with starlight, right? How could there be?
Why I've never noticed the phenomena before is interesting, but more interesting is why and how it is that now I can see the vision while previously I was blind to it. It's the timing of this thing that fascinates me. Context is everything.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Well I will be damned.
I shouldn't curse myself, but whoa. Or maybe the right word is wow.
Today at the last second a client realized he was too sick to come for massage, hence I had the late afternoon unexpectedly to myself. Of course I put my camera in my pocket and set out.
I watch the Statue of Freedom these days. I pay attention. It's not like I've been trying to coincide with a time/space during which the statue's crown of nine stars reflects sunlight. I tried so hard after the initial vision, but to no avail. A friend said, to have seen it once: deyanu. I took his point. After that I became humble, I let go of trying, I relinquished the idea that the experience could be repeated on purpose. No. I realized at last that seeing the illuminated stars is less about scientific accuracy, more about serendipity, in the category of you can't make this stuff up. I let go.
Nevertheless, I've kept a close eye on the statue ever since. There I sat today, as usual on the steps facing the National Mall. As often happens during tourist season, I was in awe, yet simultaneously appalled, by the number of people and vehicles out there between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Yikes.
I don't blame people for wanting to visit this beautiful, powerful, wounded city, but as I often say, it's hard to share the nation's capital with the rest of the nation. It is, believe me.
There I was, staring out at the mall, horrified and intrigued when, at some point - for reasons I can't explain - I stood up and turned around. I never do that as I really don't like looking at the Capitol from the west. There are too many stairs, too much building, not enough dome. I love the east side, the Capitol Hill side, of the building. But today I turned around and looked - et voila!
|Eyes in the back of her head, I kept thinking.|
In all honesty, I'm glad it isn't extremely rare to see one of the Statue's stars reflecting sunlight. I'm glad those stars light up on a regular basis, whether or not anyone notices. The headdress of the Statue of Freedom sparkles, in slow motion, on sunny days. That can't help but be a good thing, don't you think?
Even better, I'm now aware of the possibility of this rare, but not too rare, occurrence. If I remember to look up when I walk past, it's possible I'll see this again and again. What a beautiful possibility!
As if I didn't already love the Capitol dome beyond all reason, I now have a brand new reason to be enchanted.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I have things that I say, phrases mostly. I say them often, perhaps too often for some people who have known me over time and heard it all many times before. I call these my Reyphorisms.
Of course the Buddhists, especially Zen Buddhists, have the best aphorisms ever. Let go or be dragged is one of my favorites, but there are many fabulous Buddhist aphorisms. Working with aphorisms is a practice in Buddhism. One is meant to repeat them, to contemplate deeply, peel away layers of meaning so as to penetrate into the essence of the idea, then spiral around, return to the idea to go deeper.
In the past, I would have characterized Reyphorisms as either self scolding or encouragement (depending on my mood). The way I saw it, Reyphorisms were motivational tools. But if the Buddhists can repeat ideas over and over, if contemplating the layers of meaning is a path to deepening and an opportunity to gain wisdom, why can't Rephorisms serve the same purpose?
I should give an example. Here's my Plan to Stay Sane, a text central to my cosmology, and full of Reyphorisms. I say this every morning, without fail.
Plan to Stay Sane
You must meditate, every day. You must, so do not argue.
Breathe, and drink water.
Whatever is happening now will not last forever.
Spend time outside today even if it's too hotcoldwindyrainycloudywhatever.
Sleep is everything.
Eat real food.
Practice creative expression.
Practice aggressive self care.
You can not grasp the river.
At the end of the day, have a laugh. Life is hilarious.
You're doing the best you can.
Sometimes I think of the Plan as a prayer, alternatively as an affirmation, but I haven't considered meditating on it the way I would if I were a Buddhist. It's interesting to think about.
I went to see the cherries yesterday. It was rather anticlimactic. As you can see from the pics here, it was - as always - spectacularly beautiful. But the bloom lacked its usual oomph. There was no feeling of surprise, no big energy of opening. Instead the trees seemed relieved and exhausted. I think they were in a cold stasis for so long they couldn't hold the energy. It was a bit sad.
I enjoyed my walk - I am not complaining. Afterwards I went to Macy's and bought a MAC pink lipstick. That experience turned out to be more joyful than the walk at the Tidal Basin. Go figure.
Monday, April 8, 2013
OK, it's here. Spring has sprung. They say it will be almost too warm for the rest of the week. I say bring it on.
I'm confident our walk at the Tidal Basin Wednesday morning will be spectacular. In the meantime, the trees are popping, the tulips are rising and everything that can, is blooming. If I could settle down sufficiently to take notice, I bet I'd be able to perceive the opening of the blossoms in real time. But I'm too excited to slow down today. Maybe tomorrow.
I bought some pretty flowering plants this morning, geraniums and some others whose names I've already forgotten, put them in pots, got organic potting soil under my fingernails. It felt so good. Then I took out the storm door, put in the screen door. Beautiful, clean, spring air is circulating through the chateau.
The birds are going nuts, too. The decibel level of chirping this morning was impressive. When I opened the windows at the chateau, it was even louder of course. Fantastic!
Every bit of my birthday malaise has evaporated. Maybe I was blaming my birthday when I should have been pointing my finger at the weather. I am one with the weather. On days like today, this union is blissful.
Welcome spring! Yeah!!
Saturday, April 6, 2013
I've worked in recent years to turn down the oven dial of my curiosity, from broil to around 350 F. I'm not referring here to the kind of curiosity that opens the mind, I mean the kind that's one false move away from obsession.
I love learning probably more than any other activity. I'll latch on to something - a topic, a person, a community - after which I dive in headfirst, curious to learn every last little thing about it or them. Those who read my old blog will remember my fascination with Ghengis Khan a number of years ago. A new biography had just been published. After I read that I couldn't stop. I read everything I could find about Ghengis Khan. I watched the movie. I hoped sincerely that some piece of his DNA lives on within me. I made a video (maybe I can find it) in which Sam and Dave are singing "Soul Man' as the soundtrack while I wave whatever Ghengis Khan book I was reading in front of the camera. It got a little weird.
Before Ghengis, I was curious about the Civil War. It was soon after I moved to DC that I plunged into the energy field of that black hole. The Civil War is still unwinding.
That burning curiosity about the Civil War was, in a way, more dangerous since there are at least a billion published books about the war, not to mention films and documentaries. I devoured thousands of pages. I even watched Ken Burns' documentary in its entirety which was a challenge because he used the same song over and over and over again. That sort of thing gets on my nerves but I hung in with the documentary because I was curious. Greedy might be a better word.
There are several Civil War battlefields within a couple hour drive from DC. I visited most of them during that period, stumbled around, cried my eyes out, had past life memories and generally behaved like a nut case. It took me a number of days to recover from those battlefield visits. And yet, I kept doing it. I wanted to understand.
They say that curiosity killed the cat. There's something to that, if what we're talking about when we say curiosity includes the kind of behavior described above, hey?
I'm thinking about this because as I ponder the vision, the star shining from Freedom's crown, I want to be careful not to tip over into obsession. I worked today but could have walked down there between clients, seeking starlight. I was tempted, but restrained myself, wisely I think. Now is a good time to open my mind, become curious in a spacious way as opposed to acquisitive curiosity. The Voice in the Shower today said I should let the vision "settle."
It goes against my grain, but I am trying. Shalom.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Ever since I saw the shining star on the Freedom Statue's crown, as bright as a headlamp - I swear it was - I've experienced more than several revelations. Is it a coincidence? I'm a skeptical mystic, always second guessing that which any self respecting shaman would immediately understand as profound. I can't help it. I'm as much a scientist as mystic. It can be a problem.
Wherever they came from, I'm grateful for the revelations. For instance just today I understood all of a sudden why romance has never been my best thing. Not my best thing is a gentle way to explain my romantic history, believe me.
It's ironic to figure it out at this point in life, but I'm glad to have the answer. It's like finding a $20 bill tucked into a pocket where I didn't expect to find anything more than a few coins and a lot of lint. Good to know!
There's a picture of the Statue of Freedom on the Architect of the Capitol's site in which one of the stars is reflecting sunshine. That means it isn't just me and Walt Whitman bearing witness to this vision.
I wonder if the photographer experienced profound insights in the wake of taking that picture, or if, after viewing the "curious" sight, Walt went straight home and wrote something wonderful. Maybe?
Today when I walked past the Statue, I bowed low in thanks for the vision. I didn't try to position myself in the right place at the right time, no. I've given up on trying to repeat the experience. I wish I had looked at the time when I caught sight of it, but I was too enthralled. Probably that is exactly as it should be. A friend said, to be have seen it once: dayenu. Hell yeah.
I seem to have passed through the birthday malaise, thank God. Onwards and upwards.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
|That's my friend on the right, and her two kids, and devices. Fun.|
I have never been the nostalgic type because (I think) the trajectory of my life's experiences has consistently arced towards the better. It's funny, now that I'm sixty, to find myself getting misty while remembering certain eras. It's a sweet surprise.
It's on my mind because I spent the day with an old friend, someone I haven't seen since my days at the San Francisco Symphony during the late 1980s and early 90s. We fell in together today as if it had only been a matter of a year or two since we sat down, as we used to, for Bombay Sapphire martinis, cheeseburgers and hot fudge sundaes.
We humans get so close to each other, we let each other in. Sometimes, even when we don't mean to, our hearts open and there we are, as tight as peas in a pod. This is one of my favorite things about human beings; we are devout!
I cherish my heart connections with nears and dears, also with far-flungs. I cherish the durability of some of those connections, the resilience therein. Love is really powerful!
Recently I learned it's not only possible to stay closely related over long periods of time, but it's also possible to become strangers again, even in the aftermath of having shared the metaphorical pea pod of closeness. That last bit is as encouraging as the knowledge that some people will be my friends to my dying day.
It's still cold in DC. The cherries are nowhere close to peak. It might sleet tonight, or even snow. OK. Seriously, I'm OK with it because spending the day with my old buddy and her kids warmed my heart. It was a wonderful day.
|At the Natural History Museum. It was mayhem in there with the crowds. But we had fun.|
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I've felt better ever since I posted yesterday. Sometimes it's good to speak plainly. Sometimes it's good to be open. I've been thinking that in old age, why not be completely honest? I mean - unless it would hurt someone's feelings - in which case honesty is not the best policy, not at any age.
Anyway, after I posted yesterday, I had a great night's sleep during which I dreamed an old crony had mistakenly stepped on my glasses and cracked the lenses. The dream lifted my spirits. I know why but can't explain it. When I woke up, nothing hurt and I wasn't dead. So see? There are no absolutes, I said to myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth.
One of my friends posted a meme today about how she doesn't want to be seen as a sweet old lady. She'd rather have people thinking, "Oh god, here she comes. I wonder what she's up to now?" when they see her.
I've thought about it all day, Ellen - thank you. I've also been thinking about what another friend said, that in spite of everything she imagined, she has become a contemplative in early old age. Pam: thank you!
I'm wondering if I should abandon the hearty, red-cheeked, laughing old lady archetype and head in the direction of these ideas. A cantankerous old lady who is also a thinker ... this is an archetype I've not encountered yet, but definitely something to aspire to.
During a session today at work, it came to me that I don't have to work so hard at being an old lady. I could simply let it happen. Why not? It's a tendency to tilt into everything, but maybe I don't have to be so focused. I'm wondering about it.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
When I turned fifty, I started planning for old age. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to pretend to be younger, then all of a sudden realize I was old. I wanted a gradual process. I wanted to practice being old before I had to take it on.
That was the year I began the time consuming, expensive process of letting my gray hair grow in (I colored my hair all my adult life until then.) The process was labor intensive. Every six weeks I had to go in for highlights, lowlights and toners. There were washes of color, there were deep heat conditioning treatments. I swear I spent more time at the hair salon that year than ever before in my life. It was rather grueling.
When my hair guy cut the last of the color out of my hair, it was a shock. Even his jaw dropped. But I was glad I did it almost immediately. Since then, when I see a woman with dyed hair and silver roots, I think, How tacky. But that was me, before the intensive process of letting it grow in.
I started looking at old women. I sought an archetype to which I could aspire. For sure I didn't want to be one of those bitter, angry old women, always complaining about everything. You know the type, right? Likewise I didn't want to be one of those vague old ladies, all doped up, confused, nor did I want to be a frightened old lady, scared of everything.
What I wanted was to be hearty, happy, red cheeked and healthy. I wanted to be an old lady who laughed at everything, one of those who doesn't sweat the small stuff. I didn't see a lot of that archetype, but I knew they were out there somewhere.
I practiced diligently throughout the decade of my fifties. I called it the happy hour of life. I had lots of fun, so much so that I was able to, for the most part, ignore the way in which the aging process picked up speed.
At age sixty, I have a far better grasp on why there are so many bitter, vague and fearful old women because on my birthday, every illusion I had about old age evaporated. Old age is hard. For instance, there are aches and pains that are the result of aging. Even if we do everything right, something is going to hurt. I have a friend of my age who says, "When you're sixty, if you wake up and nothing hurts, you're dead."
There's some truth to that. Given how devoted I am to aggressive self care, I have been kind of shocked to notice how many times my knees (for instance) hurt - not because I've done anything wrong, just because I'm drying up. It happens! On high pain days, I entertain the idea of happy pills as I think the vague old lady archetype is preferable to the bitter, angry old lady archetype.
And the fear - oh my goodness, I deal with it every day now. I've taken good care of myself - I'm likely to outlive many of my friends, my tribe. I do not look forward to grieving for so many people. And what will happen when I'm too old to take care of myself? I have no children, partner or money. I'm screwed! But maybe I'll die before that happens, I tell myself, as if that will soothe my rattled nerves.
For heaven's sake!
Today I was thinking about how harshly I used to judge the unattractive old lady archetypes. Ten years ago, I really didn't get it.
That said, my determination to embody the hearty, happy, laughing old lady archetype is more intense than ever before. I do not want to squander the time I have left in my body by bitching, doping and/or hiding. I want to live fully and wholeheartedly.
I can do it. I will prevail.
Monday, April 1, 2013
I went down to the Capitol again today. It was bright and sunny. My plan was to replicate my experience of the other day when a star on the crown of the Statue of Freedom caught the sun and shone so brightly, I thought they had installed a headlamp on the statue's forehead.
It was bright.
Though I was standing in the same spot, at the same time of day, in bright sunlight, I could not reproduce the experience. The statue reflected sunlight, but the stars on her crown remained invisible, in the shadows, dark.
I stayed for about an hour. I moved around, I squinted up at the sun, I thought about the geometry. I tried to figure out where the sun would have to be to strike the star, and where I would have to be to see the reflected light. It was like playing pool in a way, interesting to contemplate.
As a scientist, I was frustrated. The angle of the sun has not changed significantly since the vision, and too, I kept moving backwards and forwards, from side to side, trying to find the perfect place to view the shining star.
As an experiment, it was a wash. However, as a mystic, I'm intrigued. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe that shining star wasn't for me. I wonder if it was some kind of ... transmission ... - does that sound weird? - taking place for a purpose I will likely never know. Maybe it was coincidence that I stopped in my tracks at the perfect moment. Maybe I wasn't supposed to see it, but somehow, (because I've practiced my shamanic arts so diligently for such a long time?) I happened upon something meant for something other than my personal edification. This, too, I will never know for sure.
As a scientist, I loathe the uncertainty, but as as mystic, I'm in awe.
A big part of my training in the art had to do with training the body. I took many classes in sensate intuition. The body never lies. As for my mind, well, it may never know what happened that day. It was a genuine vision in that case, meant to provoke and mystify.
That said of course I'm going to continue trying to replicate the experience. Because this is what scientists do, and as much as I'm a mystic, I'm a scientist.
Happy April. Shalom.