The past week has been incredibly intense, and in the most gentle yet hardcore, full yet emptying, expansive yet grounded way imaginable. I don't know how to write about it. Or talk about it. Not yet. But I will.
I won't need to have to come out the other side in order to begin writing about it, but some sort of shift needs to happen. It's too delicate right now.
And beyond everything else, what is number one, above and beyond wants or desires or feelings or thoughts or the internets or posting is this: the truth resonates, vibrates inside of me, and I give my energy to it, and do what it shows me is the right way.
It does in you, too.
And so I leave you with another link, another pulsation of Yes via the net. This one is going to probably be a bit hard to stick with. She has a flat affect, much like elder Native Americans do, and in our dramatic western culture, it reads oddly in the beginning. But she's the real deal. Look at her eyes. Watch her eyes. And listen for the truth. Better yet, listen to the vibration inside of you. Not the judging mind, not the inner weasel that cringes. Listen from the truth inside of you.
My sister took us out to the movies and for dinner afterwards. The restaurant we wanted to go to hadn't opened for dinner service yet and we had an hour to kill. She pointed to a store nearby and said: how about we go do a little shopping? I answered: how about you just take this ballpoint pen and stab me in the head with it over and over?
Really. Not even being dramatic. I hate shopping. For so many reasons. Now I've got backup from Johann Hari
I am utterly, madly in love.
Before the world shattered into pieces six years ago, I saw the world through similarly magic tinted eyes. But I never created the amazing "fairy-chic" coats. Or traveled the world.
Two days ago, I saw that it's time to drop the shield of negativity and judgment, to let more of the shards of the world fall away. And now Life brings me this reminder of the magic, the shower of Yes that opens up when we relax into the chaos.
I don't know if I'll ever be as cool and hilarious and light-hearted as Kat. I'm just grateful to listen to her language, let the energy of her radiate off the screen and into my current programming, let a few neurons of No slip off the grid.
I've been working on a revamp of the blog for a few months now. Adding things, taking things away, redoing sections. The goal is to merge the shamanic/work blog into the personal blog. Part of it is just to simplify things, but mostly it's so there's more transparency, so that the link between what I do in the world and how I live in my head/heart/spirit is more clear. Hiding is so passe, so last millenium, you know. . .
One of the main pieces of breaking it all down has been around content, with this blog, and also the holistic work I do. I've been obsessed with asking over and over: what do I have to offer people? is what I do valid? is it useful? And all of the changes I've made with the holistic work and the nature and content of what I post has been in response to these questions, with what comes through the most strongly, with what I see land and bloom in the folks I work with.
I know that maybe it looks as if I just kind of toss posts together and throw them up here, and there's a lot of truth in that I often post what pushes forward most strongly in the moment. But I do a lot of drafts, put a lot of thought and energy into whether what I'm writing or linking to is what I want to release into the world. I ask myself if I'm giving you something helpful. I ask myself: am I offering you something you can use?
And the most hilarious thing is that since I've been doing this the past couple of years, I've seen the number of readers go way way way down. But I'm grateful for it, because you folks that remain, or are new and have stuck around, get what I'm doing on some basic level of Yes, resonate in some enmeshed, intimate way. And what it means is that I feel a deep freedom around posting, that I don't post to be liked or admired or linked to. I ask myself: what is true for you in this moment?, but also is what I'm posting potentially useful for these folks? And the combo of the two means that this blog, however small or fringe it is, continues to be what feels like my life's work.
And so in the spirit of that, and in service to the continuing merge of work and personal, of body, mind, spirit, and heart, I'm asking for your input. I've come up with a little survey, just five questions, to see what brings you here, what resonates with you, and whatever else you feel to put. It'll only take a couple of minutes, unless you get all up in the essay stuff and share your manifesto with me, which is cool with me, but definitely your call :)
Of course it'll be private. I won't share it with anyone (unless Malcolm hijacks my iBook in a dastardly takeover). And where it says "email confirmation" you can just put a fake one. I really hope you'll click through because even as I feel you, and post for you, I'd really, really like to know your side of all this . . . what you think . . . feel . . . are moved around . . .
Not sure how many of you guys know Robert Anton Wilson, aka RAW. Philosopher, author, genius guerrila ontologist, contemporary of Timothy Leary.
Back in the mid-eighties, I went to the Open Center in NYC to hear him give a lecture. I'd read his books. The Illuminati Trilogy. The Cosmic Trigger. There were less than a dozen people present, which blew all our minds, like showing up to the New Age version of a U2 concert to find that it was just you and seven other people.
After the talk, I brought up my copy of Cosmic Trigger for him to autograph. He just sat there, pen in one hand, book in the other, staring at me. Finally he said "You look like someone, I can't recall their name." He stared at me in silence, everyone in the room quiet, waiting for him to sign their books, too. He just stared and stared as I squirmed, long long minutes, then he shook his head, and signed my book, and asked if any of us would like to go to lunch. Our eyes all bugged and after he signed all the books, we set off. To have lunch. With Robert Anton Wilson.
He actually was very quiet at lunch. He drank a martini, straight up, and smoked these impossibly long cigarettes. His eyes were like luminous orbs, watching all of us chatter about yoga and meditation, space aliens and LSD, health food and government mind control. Keep in mind that this was the 80's, way back before it was hip to be New Age. We were all phreaks and spies and pioneers and fringe dwellers. And we were having lunch with RAW. But without the sense to shut our traps and just let the genius talk, though when he did talk at that lunch, the whole table went totally silent, not a fork to a plate, not a peep.
I still have my copy of Cosmic Trigger. It's tattered and held together with a silver hair band.
Sure, it's a reality tv show, and therefor stoked for conflict and drama and WooHooHoo.
Yeah, he's a millionaire chef/entertainer looking to create successful product.
But dude is also genuinely a driving force behind publicizing and educating the utter f*ckstorm that is our food supply. He's all up in people's faces, his crazy warped faux-hawk morphing in all directions, calling all the women "sweetheart" and all the men "brother", and challenging them again and again and again to see that the food they consider normal and healthy is actually poisoned and making friends, neighbors, family sick and die early, painful, undignified deaths.
Some of my favorite bits:
He goes head to head with the school district's director of nutrition, refusing to back down when they keep allowing their elementary school kids (such tiny, trusting little five and six year olds) to have access to strawberry and chocolate milk by saying that it's the kids' choice if they prefer it over white milk. He keeps saying over and over "these flavored milks have more sugar in them than soda pop", and it's all you can do not to scream victory when the milk company comes and removes every single last falvored milk from the school.
He squares off with a sadistic lunch lady over dozens of things - but my favorite is when she gets up in his grill and snarls: I have a problem with you touching the food with your bare hands. And he retorts: well, I have a problem with you touching the food with those plastic gloves.
When Katrina hit, I didn't send money to the Red Cross or any of those organizations. I gave money to the Humane Society for their rescue efforts of the pets left behind. And with the devastation in Haiti, same thing. Because when the people are struggling, our furry guys, already many levels down on humankind's consciousness scale of worth and importance, seriously need some help.
All of you know at least a dozen folks who've lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and most of their identity. And shacking up with the mother in law or in a week-to-week hotel usually means no pets allowed. And so you can just imagine how animal shelters all over are desperately trying to keep these guys fed and sheltered until homes can be found. And the furry guys in Haiti? They are in desperate, desperate need . . .
If you want to do a good deed this week, please let it be this one. Even $10 will help.
Adopt an Angel (where Baby Malcolm and dainty flower Emmaline were liberated from) email@example.com
Spread the love, spread the love . . . we have so much, we are so fortunate . . . share the love . . .
A couple of things struck me and struck me hard when I watch this video. The first is a dream I had back in early 2005. The dream has stayed with me in the years since. I remember the dog, the shamans, the journey to the "center of the earth". I remember the amethyst and pearl necklace, and I remember the pain, the sacrifice. I remember acknowledging that huge shifts were coming, and that my job was to collect some of the things we needed to bring forward with us.
I know without a doubt that the dream was real. And I also wonder if this makes me delusional and arrogant, one of those garden variety loonies who believe themselves to be All That and the next jesus. I know I'm just a person, a fringe dwelling loner with two decades of holistic practice and a master's degree in public health, spending weekdays 8-5 as a social worker, and weekends showing folks how to navigate shamanic reality, a 44-year old woman currently navigating anxiety related health problems (diagnosis on Wednesday was ulcers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, both of which fabulously translate as "crazy in the colon").
But I also know that I am something much much larger than this, not as in Faboo, but as in behind all this life-describing stuff lies a Great Vast Nothing, shimmering with dark and silence and Yes, that causes the kitties to all climb on top of me and purr, and the leaves on the trees outside the window to seemingly reach out and vibrate Yes, and my life to fall away, and I neither miss it nor long for it's return, just watch and engage as the remainders begin to smoke from impending flames.
Another thing that hit me was how the healer in the video was adamant about no publicity, taking no personal credit for what he did, and how when he crossed this, he had dreams of intense admonishment. In the past couple of years, I've gotten so incredibly clear that I'm merely facilitating something, that I'm a sort of extension cord for folks who don't quite have the reach yet. Just like the western meds are buying me some time and energy to right what is imbalanced, I offer folks a big dose of Yes to help them kickstart their own. Faux humility is one of the most arrogant masks of ego, and I use to live in that faux humility. The past few years adroitly beat that out of me. And if I step even a single toe into either pride or faux humility, Life helpfully punches me, hard, and I yet again discover that being kicked to the ground is wonderful grounding.
And as I watched this video, I also got that there are thousands of us, thousands and thousands of us, that are connected in, off on these deep solo paths, who have cut away from the pack, still running alongside, but soon, soon, if we're very lucky, will get to head off over the cliff, ghost wolves flying in the midnight sky.
But enough gum flapping. Here's the video. It's a doozy . . .
Not sure how many of you out there are Cary Tennis of Salon.com fans, but he's been dealing with cancer, writing about it, a sort of reversal of his usual advice column duties. The latest update is that Blue Shield is refusing him radiation therapy.
Back in November, I was lucky enough that my own round with those rapidly growing little viral cells was cut short with the swipe of a burning wire. Although four months later, I'm still fighting back and forth with one of the insurance companies to take care of the claim. And them folks ain't nice. They ain't nice at all. They did everything except tell me to go frak myself, and then when I still wouldn't go away they proceeded to inundate me with forms and authorizations and fact hunting missions and dozens of calls that they refuse to return.
But Cary? He's still in the middle of the storm. So if you know him and his writing, or even if you don't, go over and show him some love. He's a standing member of the Tribe of Yes and one heck of a lovely dude.
About once or twice a month I get an email from someone who essentially says: "it's so awesome that you and I are both enlightened, aren't we awesome in our awesomeness?" I always reply that I am absolutely, most definitely not enlightened, and that by the very tone and words they use in their introductory email, or on their website, or their blog, they absolutely, most definitely aren't either. This tends to piss them off in one way or another, which incites me to laugh, as it certainly seems proof that yep, neither of us is anywhere near the Land of Done.
It is so incredibly hip these days to say that you are Awake. There are lots and lots of folks cruising around claiming Awake. I met a few of them at the retreat I went to last month, though who knows if they really were. Mostly I just listen to the person claiming to be Awake, observe as they gumflap, knowing that I have no way of knowing if they are really Awake or not, but quickly moving away as the stench of ego finally is just too freakin much to bear.
It's been puzzling to me how these emails stir up such righteous indignation inside of me. Because really, who cares? What does it matter that a bunch of silly kids are running around saying they are the King of The Yes?
And as I asked myself these two questions again and again (because in this skin bag called Kate, whatever shakes the ego-jello is about deconstructing my own inner landscape of No) I got that I get ticked off by the bullsh*tters. Because most spiritual seekers believe their load of hooey, and get sidelined and bushwacked and locked up and sunk. And even as I get a big part of this waking up stuff is about seeing through both bullsh*t and bullsh*tters, I absolutely, most definitely want no part of it. I ain't Full-On Awake and that is absolutely, most definitely dang skippy fine.
Sure, Further and all that, and also, in this moment: Yes.
I Yam what I Yam, and I'm merely grateful that this portion of my program comes with kitties and computers and kombucha in the mornings . . .
Brother Tom says it so well, in much gentler language than I ever use with you kind folks: To Be Half Awake and Half Asleep
My spider sister died today.
A month or so ago, she moved her web from right outside my door, to along another wall. I put on gloves and moved her store of wrapped insects over for her. Maybe she didn't care, or didn't need them, but I did it just in case. And by the next day, I saw that she was adding fresh additions to what I liked to call her Party Pack.
I stopped to watch her this morning as I left for work. I usually did. Just to see what she was up to. One time I saw her mating. Many times I saw her wrapping her latest food, a carpenter bee, a dragonfly, lots of regular flies and small moths. Once I saw her spinning web.
This morning I said something to her. I don't remember exactly what, just that I respected her, and was so grateful to be watching her for so long. Since she first showed up sometime last spring, I'd always felt wary of her. Part if it was that I didn't want to get too close to her and harsh her groove, or spook her. But this morning I got up close, and once again tried to look inside her. I looked at her, she looked at me. But that empath thing I do with humans and kitties I couldn't do with her. And then I went to work.
When I came home, she was swaying in the breeze, curled into herself, one leg still attached to her web, gone. But I wondered if she was doing some spider hibernation thing, and thought it'd be best to leave her be, check back later.
But later she was missing from her web. I took a flashlight and searched the porch. My landlord saw me and lifted her kitchen window to say she'd taken the body and was going to mail it to her niece in Virginia. I must have looked shocked. She offered to let me have it. I said thank you and brought her into my apartment where the kitties went a little nuts.
She's sitting in a small tin with the lid on tight. Kitty proof. But also for me. I'm a little afraid she will come back to life.
Even as I have watched her all these months, and protected her from the landlords, and the guys who moved my new old couch in, I've been afraid of her. But I loved her too. I don't know why I felt such love and fierce protection for her, but I did.
She was a Golden Orb Spider, nephila clavipes. She was gorgeous . . .
I came home early from the retreat. It was a three-day thing, and I was there for about twenty-four hours. It just didn't make sense to stay.
I met David and heard him speak about his waking up, heard Bruce speak about trying to get spiritual films made in Hollywood. I had conversations with both of them, got a sense of who they were. I also got to meet and hang a bit with Chuck, who lives in NC too, who reads this blog, who I've exchanged two and three line emails with for the past few months, and who is in a very similar period of withdrawing from the world.
It was an amazing retreat. 65 people in a lodge in the woods. Plenty of delicious food, available all thru the day, including gluten-free (which touched my heart more than you can possibly imagine - that these folks I'd never met took such good care of we four or five gluten-intolerant individuals). The whole vibe of the thing was so elevated, and I don't mean plush and catered and high-end. It was very rustic, very scaled down. The cost for the entire weekend, Friday 4pm to Monday 9:30am, meals and lodging included, was $52. Bunkbeds dorm style in rooms. 2 bathrooms shared by all 65 (though probably half the folks stayed in area hotels to sleep). The food was good, and simple. Lots of fresh veg and fruit, cold cuts, chili, snack foods, such an incredible abundance of nourishing foods, lots of interesting things that people brought to add to the stockpile - Ethiopian coffee, clementines, almond milk - I even brought a coop-baked gluten-free cake with the words "Open Your Eyes" written in icing as a little semi-private joke for Chuck and I. Signs for everything from bathrooms to food labels to which doors to use were written with a sharpie on torn out notebook paper, fastened with scotch tape. The lodge was well-used and smelled faintly of many adolescent campers come and gone. The bunks were thin mattresses on wooden boards. It was perfect.
All of the speakers flew in on their own dime, and for no speaking fee. There were at least four fully awake beings present, and a half dozen or more people who appeared really really close to it. There was no "teaching", no selling of method or tool or viewpoint. Folks stood up in front of the group for an hour and a half and offered something up. They talked about how they had woken up, what led to it, the flavor of it, what they believed contributed to it. They spoke about other enlightened people, people they'd lived and worked closely with for many years. They were all hilarious and warm and intelligent and present.
The people in attendance were all grown ups. Cheerfully waiting their turn for the bathroom, being incredibly respectful and quiet in the co-ed bunkrooms. These were the sort of folks who regularly turned to people they didn't know and smiled and said Hi, my name is - - - and shook your hand gently. At no time did I see trash left behind either outside, in the bathrooms, or in the meeting rooms. The dishes were always done, trash emptied, spills cleaned up. Everyone had a styrofoam cup that they wrote their name on with a sharpie and then reused. Everyone also reused their water bottles, filling them up with from the Brita filter. No one hogged the Q & A portions of the talks, or took the floor to tell stories about themselves. There were no big emotional scenes or catharting.
And the folks who headed up the weekend, who facilitated the food and organization of things, were utterly, completely chilled, relaxed, and cheerful. There was no anxious running around, no pushing for time, no resistance to anything, just a smiling, gentle, laughing flow from one thing to the next.
So why in the world did I leave? Why, after years spent in a companionship desert would I walk away early from such a gathering of fine fellows?
Several things occurred to show me what the my deal was. And what I needed to do.
The first was meeting David. A few years ago, back when I was in my last semester of grad school up in New York, he invited me to come down with a dozen other people to spend the weekend with him, hear about what it was like for him to live life fully awakened. At that very time, I was going thru an intense portion of waking up, or shedding, or realization, or whatever you want to call it. In hindsight, it was most likely what is called The Dark Night of the Senses, but the label doesn't matter. What counts is that after several years of slow, methodical sloughing, the remaining bulk of "spiritual" stuff still present inside of me was being jettisoned in a stark, harsh relentless manner. There was anxiety and depression, despair, hopelessness, and suicidal darkness, but there was also rage. An incredible amount of rage.
I now understand that the rage was a kind of emotional rocket fuel, what was needed in order to finally break free of the bullshit and waste and delusion that was my spiritual search. (You know how guys wake up with morning wood? I woke up for four years with morning rage, which wasn't nearly as fun as wood appears to be, but is a lot more productive, kinda :)
And so David's invitation came as I was deep in the midst of raging she-devil rejection of any and all spiritual teachers trying to get me to learn their method, adopt their perspective, give them guru props via my energy, time, and cash. The trajectory I was on was driving me deep inside, to a level where the only council sought was Life, the only teaching, thru the living. So I essentially told David to stick it up his God hole, and I went back to burning my house down. He emailed me hundreds of pages of his writing, and I didn't even bother to read it, just dumped it in the trash. He sent a few polite, straightforward emails. I blew it off.
Until about a year ago, when I became weirdly obsessed with him. Not in any real way, stalking his website or sending him emails or such, but in my mind. Over and over I'd see a mental image of him. It went on for a week or two, til it finally hit me that gmail saved all emails, and I went and retrieved the documents he sent. And read them. And reread them. Then sent him an email. And he responded. Then another. And another. Nothing lengthy, nothing intricate, but what they opened up in me was the sad, sad story, that emotionally charged save-me dynamic that I'd always had with my teachers. But instead of buying in, he leveled one last email at me, then essentially disappeared.
The email wasn't such a big deal, by all outward appearances, but in it was one line, and that line leaped off the screen, and bore a hole right through my head, where for the last year, the ego has been draining out of. It was the line in bold that did it:
You are simply trying to control things WAY too much - c'mon. That's the first lesson out of all of this. Finally, for chrissakes, will you just give up your illusion of control once and for all? Anything can and will happen. That is what is scaring the shit out of you and keeping you from proceeding. Anything. At all. Especially THE thing - whatever it may be - that frightens you the most and got this whole ball of personality building/dismantleing seeking started in the first place. You can't control anything. You still are acting as if you can. Let the possibility of the 'worst' coming about out of your grip and sit with the fact that YOU HAVE NO SAY IN ANY OF THIS AT ALL, and never have, and never will.
So the f*ck what.
I haven't really had contact with him since, except for a brief exchange of emails where I was in horrible pain and begged him on several occasions to speak with me on the phone. But he said he was going out of town, or was too tired after teaching an evening class, or wanted to watch American Idol. After the last one, getting that on his food chain, my "problems" were less immediate than the latest episode of AI, I began laughing hysterically, laughing and laughing until I too was more interested in directing my attention and energy toward tv than to my "problems" after which all of my "problems" disappeared as I finally realized that there are no such things as problems, only the changing of the angle in which issues of a living are looked at. (Please take a moment to let this sink in. You have no problems. There doesn't exist such a thing. There is only an issue arising that must be dealt with in some manner, and how to deal with it, Life shows you very clearly.)
And so back to the retreat - meeting David was the reason I signed up for it, why I went. I haven't been to a spiritual meeting in almost four years, and the idea of hanging out with spiritual seekers gave me a head cramp, but I felt strongly driven to meet this guy, the guy who helpfully shot off part of my head, and then ignored the bleeding, all of which assisted in me seeing there was no head, and therefor no blood either.
And so I met him. I sat down beside him, introduced myself, said hi, and we chatted for about ten minutes. Ten long, uncomfortable, weird minutes. He barely made eye contact, and the conversation consisted of a sort of small talk - surface chat about kitties and his retreat I hadn't attended, even about the diagnosis I received a couple of weeks ago, no depth to the talking, just sentences skittering by. The couple of times he did make eye contact, his eyes were luminous, full of humor and love. I wanted to spend more time with him, but it just didn't click, and so other than "hi" a few times when our paths crossed in the small lodge, we didn't speak again.
I hung out with Chuck, and it too was a sort of brief truncated connection. There really wasn't anything to talk about so we just sat next to each other a few times, spoke a few sentences here or there. I was simply grateful for his presence. My brother. The look in his eyes alternating between crazy joy and clawing desperation. That look I know so well, but usually from the inside looking out. When we parted ways - he was leaving early too - we hugged one another, two drowning people in the middle of the ocean, surrendered to what is coming, scared here and there, the fear coming and receding in waves, but no longer panicked, and often deep inside tunnels of gorgeous wonder, awe, pointless joy.
Mid-Saturday, one of Richard Rose's intimate students stood to speak about his time with Rose, and to read some of Rose's poetry. I cried during his whole talk. Partly because the poetry carved at my heart with it's images of the horrible luscious truth and beauty of the world. But mostly because as I listened to this gorgeous wreck of a man, in his late fifties, and in so much obvious pain in his living, I got how much he loved Rose, with all of his heart, and how much Rose loved him too, how dedicated Rose was to meeting him where he stood, how he never shut him out, or turned him away. And I got: Rose was as Awake as a person can get, and this broken man tried as hard as anyone possibly could, and if these two things didn't produce enlightenment, then what hope do I have with any of these teachers, these awake beings that roam this earth?
You're on your own, is what I heard. And I felt it too. I got that there was nothing any of these teachers could offer me, not really, not anything that I can't get on my own.
And then the final nail in the coffin of the retreat for me: a conversation with Bruce Rubin, this amazing dude who wrote and continues to write deep, insightful movies, and whose eyes were so kind and bright and intelligent and gentle. We talked about his different movies, themes of love and waking up, death and opening your eyes. I didn't mention that I wrote, but did say that for a few years I'd been an actress, but that I was too sensitive for the business end of it, that even the art of it wasn't worth what the business of it cost, and that I'd made spirituality the main focus of my living. And he looked at me and said: I made a decision early on that I wanted all of it - the money, the career, the art, the wife, and the spirituality - mostly people use the search for spirituality as a way to avoid having a full life - but until you have an absolutely full life, when you get that none of it really satisfies you, you don't face that moment that is unlike anything else - and there's a huge difference between having it all and setting it down, and letting go of something you've never really had in the first place. And with that he drifted off, and I stood there with a weird feeling in my heart, a feeling that grew into a realization when he mentioned it again during his talk: it's a cop out not to live the achievement-filled, successful, full life.
And then I remembered another deep reason why I've pulled so intensely away from the world of spiritual seekers. Why I don't get the whole Enlightenment scene anymore. The popular belief is that enlightenment is a sort of cherry on the top of a successful life. Wealthy, married, surrounded by all the Yes objects of modern living, yet still not happy, and so finally, enlightenment is turned toward. All of which is absolutely radiant. And yet it isn't the only way.
For this life, this living that "I" sit in, the turning was away from success in the world, the belief that any of it would make me happy, the letting go of the pursuit of soulmate and cash and career and even the concept of happiness. I have failed at every single thing I've attempted in this life. There has been nothing but the most brief of successes, of flows of money, of connections with soulmates, of seeing hard work and faith and inspiration and drive pay off. For this life, the turning was about giving up hope, about refusing to spend one more hour believing that a full, ripe fruit falling from a tree was any better than a dried, shriveled fruit slowly blowing away on the wind. But popular culture, especially the hardcore spiritual seeker set don't agree.
And at this retreat, where every single speaker was male, where the audience was comprised of not more than 15 women in a crowd of 65, I, as a 43 year old fat chick, single, working a 31K social work job, surrounded by kitties, no longer interested in pursuing a Big Life as determined by modern ideas of success, understood: you will not find what you need here. And I looked around at all of the beautiful, gorgeous folks around me, their keen awareness and intelligence and depth, the group of them the likes of which I'll most likely never again encounter in this lifetime. And I went to my bunk, packed my things, walked to my car, and began the two and a half hour drive home.
Because my ashram is now whatever is around me. I don't need to go anywhere. My teachers are everyone. I don't need to find a special one, even an enlightened one, as if some of their Awake would rub itself into my skin. I don't need to seek out the company of fine fellows. The felines I find myself with are so very, very fine. There is nothing that I need that I don't have. The enlightenment will be found inside the living, where it always has been, and always will, no matter who comes for it, no matter who it chooses.
I'm so grateful to have met so very many tall, tall folks this weekend, so very many highly evolved beings, perched on the very edge of what it means to be human and to know you are One. And I'm grateful for the folks I'll be with again come Tuesday morning, the humans who live on the sharpest edge of survival, whose energy and motivation and lifeforce is spent daily on finding food, shelter, meaning. I'm grateful for the kitties, Emmaline and Malcolm and Jacinta and Wallace who keep me simple and pure and light and awake to each moment as they play and lick and eat and poop and stretch and purrrrp and race about the house on flying paws. I'm glad for the people still taking care of me, in the small ways I can take in, who accept with open hearts the tiny crumbs of companionship I have to offer anyone anymore - my sister, Kelly, my coworker in HiveWorld, Sean, Chuck, my landlords, you lovely readers.
There is so very much ego left to burn in this living I'm in. And I may or may not become fully awakened in this life. But it doesn't matter to me anymore. Whatever slivers of wanting it that were still embedded in my brain have been pushed out. All that's left is the living, the waking up each morning and doing the next thing to be done, whether it's writing or getting a PhD or having sex or eating cake or having my cervix removed.
Enlightenment never was and never will be up to me, in my control, or even something I can fail at. There is only the continuing surrender into life, into the Yes that removes all of the hard edges of a living, turns even cancer into the sweetest, most precious, loving act of kindness.
And it's that way for everyone. God doesn't care if you have an Oscar, or have found your soulmate, or are admired by your peers, unless these are stones that you absolutely feel to turn over, and peer under. All Life cares about is you coming home, realizing that you and Life are one and the same, and that you are already home.
Because it's all precious. Every grain of rice. Every bent nail. Every cherry blossom. Every piece of fruit. It's all perfect. All of it . . .
Yes, I'm posting from HiveWorld. I have on girl shoes, my hair is styled, and I'm wearing cute clothes. I'm drinking ginger lemon tea, though the caffeine buzz from this morning's mugs of Newman's Own caramel and vanilla coffee are still singing arias in my CNS.
Life is good.
How good is it?
I'm up every morning at 5:30 am, as I have been for several weeks now, writing. Not because I have to. Because I want to. Because if I have a spiritual practice at all anymore it is writing. And dang it's luscious to be banging away on my laptop as the sky lightens, the first bird of the day says hola, and kitties purr electromagnetic rumblings from their snuggles on my lap, on my desk, and the couch two feet away.
I went back to the 8-year grad school to get the official diagnosis. I'd had an ultrasound of my nether regions and as he perused the pics he said: you have such beautiful organs! Which was so nice to hear. Then we chatted a little about cancer (I don't like to call it cancer, I prefer to call it pre-cancer, he said), and the surgery, where he tried to upsell (while I'm in there, would you like a D&C or a tubal ligation with that removal of your cervix?). When I expressed my indecision to let him up my HooHah with a torching device, he began his flattering song and dance, but I cut him off and said you'll be much more effective with me if you get right to the hard science of it, show me exactly what you'll be doing, and why. He looked down at his desk for a moment and I wondered if he was even listening. Then he stood and began to ransack his office. Several minutes later he produced a brochure from a medical device company that showed in bright digital color the cancer covered cervix, the cutting tool, the cutting of the cervix, the cervix post-cut, and the happy pink puffy partial cervix six months post-cut. Sold! (well, not entirely as I haven't scheduled the surgery yet as you know, gotta wait for the Knowing . . .) On my way out the door he said to me: two months, I give you two months tops, then I want to see you on my operating table. So Life, you're on notice, you have a deadline . . .
Baby Wallace, the enormous fire puma behemoth that he is, and ever the petri dish, has developed an abscess in his left paw. The vet shot him up with all sorts of Pharmaceutical Whatnot, but it'll take a few days to kick in. In the meantime he holds his paw up like feng shui prosperity kitty. Thanks Baby Wallace!
Baby Malcolm has decided that there is great refuge to be found on my head. While I sleep, he rides my head like a horse, and if I'm lucky, he gives me one nostril as a blowhole for oxygen. Baby Emmaline still greets the day by sticking her tongue up my nose, though she has also discovered that the corner of my eyes and my open mouth are also great ways to say I Love You with a scratchy tongue. Jacinta growls, and purrs, and growls, and prrps, and growls, and blissfully naps. It's awesome. I love it all. I wouldn't change a thing.
The "spiritual retreat" is this weekend (when you follow the link, scroll down for presenters and pics). And after a couple of months of waffling, I'm almost positive I'm going. Dare I say I actually feel excitement? Good vibes? Echoes of future hilarity careening my way? I'm not sure what I'm more swerved about: meeting David Scoma (who helpfully dropped a bomb in my bulls*t this last go round of Open Your Eyes), meeting Bruce Rubin (screenwriter for Ghost, Jacob's Ladder, and The Time Traveler's Wife), or the fact that the retreat hosts have agreed to have gluten free food at Every Single Meal.
Seriously. Life is dang skippy flippin good . . .
PS - Nathan, dear Nathan, we were Feeding the Birds back in 1986 up at SUNY Purchase, and then in NYC. It's awesome that you wish to spread the goodness, yet you must give props to its roots. . . I hold my hand up, fingers dangling, in Yes and Howdy to you as you surf the lovely wave of Yessssssss your Twitter account is generating . . . :)
Subject: Death and decisions
Date: September 27, 2009 3:56:34 AM EDT
I don't want you to die. Seems like there's a good chance that the reason you have health insurance at this very moment is exactly so you can get your Hoohah burnt and walk around in pain oozing stuff for a while.
Sure, I realize my preference for you remaining alive is all about me and how I fear losing other people. That's something David S. recognized a long time ago - that the main fear I had to face and surrender to was the fear of the loss of other - specific people, civilization, the environment, etc. Right now that fear is manifesting as a strong negative reaction to losing Katherine.
When I told S. about your cancer, she immediately suggested I tell you about my uncle's friend R. who took the natural route to curing his prostate cancer and ended up dying this year. He was a good guy - an Australian who loved to tell stores and take apart and reassemble airplanes. I said there was no way I would ever suggest that you do anything. I'm quite aware that you have an intimate connection with life that precludes taking advice from anyone else but your own deepest understanding of what the next step is.
Still, life does involve other people, and I have no clue about how various patterns influence the decision-making that are happening within you. So this is the best attempt by the collective patterns that make me up to influence you to make a serious effort to keep Katherine alive.
While I'm aware of the powerlessness I have over your decision-making, I'm also aware of the stupidity and arrogance in suggesting anything. Thinking that I can read one blog post, understand the situation, and make a judgment about what decision is best? Ridiculous. Even if I could make all of the cold calculations with the available facts and they pointed to "burning the Hoohah" as the correct path, no one can predict the outcome. Maybe there would be a complication in surgery and you would die right there on the operating table. Maybe a granola-head treatment will work and cure some of your other issues. Maybe on you do end up dying and that process helps me wake up (now there's a fucked up, ironically selfish thought).
Anyway, deep down I know that whatever happens will be right, and whatever you action you take will be the correct one, and somehow, Katherine having cancer is exactly what is supposed to be happening right now. But that knowledge still doesn't remove the preference for wanting you to stay alive a while longer.
Subject: Re: Death and decisions
Date: September 27, 2009 8:45:39 AM EDT
Sean . . . It's funny because I really wanted to hear from you, because for whatever it is that you think about yourself and where you are on the map, you and I seem to be at similar places. Have been for a while. Hearing from you feels like echos and reflections and I always end up clearer. I'm glad you wrote. I'm always glad when you write - emails, posts, all of it . . .
Every single thing that you said in your email, all of the points you make, are the exact same ones going through my mind the past few days. The mainstream insurance, the odds of staying alive with differing treatments. I think about that woman in Jed's book, the one with the broken neck who refused treatment at the scene of her car wreck, and it changed her life, how her quest to stay alive, but on her own terms, made her a powerful healer. And Brett and her cancer and her treks around her pond. And then I think about Christian Scientists and Amish, dying of simple bacterial infections or appendicitis.
I think that what is happening with my body is more than just the cancer, it's the lock down with my spine, the incredible back and neck pain I've been living with every day, that keeps me from sleeping, has my days be filled with so many blocks - where I can go, what I can do, how long I can do it. It's the digestive issues, not being able to digest food any denser than whole grain rice, and not being able to face my food addiction enough to only eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and so having to take dozens and dozens and dozens of digestive enzymes a day just to stay out of too much systemic pain. And then dealing with the pregnant belly, the weight gain of a body trying to figure out how to cope.
But the digestive issues, and the back pain, are actually beginning to get better. After trying dozens of different treatments and practitioners and exercises, I've found a guy with a machine they use in Germany and Russia, that pulses differing electrical vibrations into cells, one of those things that sound like pseudo science and very well might be. But it's working. For the past two weeks, it's been steadily getting better, and for the past five or six days, I've been sleeping and waking up pain free for the first time in many months. Of course I had to go through a whole other set of garbages in my head to be able to be treated by him, and I'm sure I'll post about it at some point, but the real point is that I'm better, that up to the place where I heard the word 'cancer' I saw that there might be a path through the pain and blocks to more movement and mobility.
Mostly though, it gets down to how this is mostly still a mental exercise, that the debate is still going on in my mind: should I go for the 90% cure mainstream savagery or should I opt for the alternative treatment that means serious diet and supplement changes? But a beauty of what is going on is that the cancer growing in me is in situ, and can take many years to become invasive, so I have time to come to the place where it's not about thinking, but about knowing.
And I've suspected, but reading your email triggered it deeper: this whole cancer thing isn't about fear of dying, but how much I desire to die, how painful I've found being alive, how much it hurts. I have been in so much pain - physical, emotional, mental - all of my life - and I've prayed, begged for death thousands of times. In the past few months, as I've wound my way through the pain I've been dealing with, I wake up again and again in varying states of mental anguish, anguish that is gone from my days. But at night, it shows itself, comes rising out of my sleep.
It's the physical pain that wakes me, but it's the emotional and mental pain that has been shocking to witness. I wake up afraid and alone and scared. I wake up crying. I wake up with the knowledge that I am dying and there is nothing I can do. I wake up and walk around the house, knowing that at this moment, people are being murdered, raped, people are dying in alone and in pain, animals are caged, being tortured. I can feel them. Feel their pain. Feel the hopelessness. The fear running through me in those moments is a reaction away from the world. I can literally feel my cells, my muscles, my being, pulling away from the world or horrors, into itself, to collapse inwardly, like a black hole. I don't like it here, in this world, in this placed of horrors. I want out. I see the world, I feel it, and I want out. I have for a long, long time.
And so now I've been given a diagnosis. I've finally been given an out. And now I have to face: do I want to take it?
Maybe I have no choice here. Maybe the choice itself is illusion. Maybe the cancer isn't meant to grow deeper. Maybe it's on its way on a tour through my body and there isn't anything I can do about it. But it seems to me in this moment that the real fork in the road is: do I want to live? Or maybe it's even deeper: do I want to truly open myself to Life? Because the thing I've been doing with my back and my stomach and my mind is about curling in as I prepare to die. Of course I'm going to die, but when?
I'm getting pretty practiced at this whole Human Torch thing, and so I'm going to do the things I've discovered reveal the next things: keep watching - Life and my mind and body and heart. Because more will be revealed. And at some point I'll know which way to go, not because I'm afraid or because I hope, but because I'll know, because the way is clear . . .
Your pal :)
Subject: Re: Death and decisions
Date: September 29, 2009 7:00:23 PM EDT
I'm glad for your clarity and grateful for these interactions. I may respond with more later after some time processing what you've written.
Wish I had something useful to offer that could make the dream better on your end. Too bad the stories of never-ending bliss aren't true.
Subject: Re: Death and decisions
Date: September 30, 2009 6:49:17 AM EDT
. . . i read the last sentences of your email and thought: dude, all is well, no need to feel badly. the stories of never-ending bliss *are* true, and the whole point is to look at the things that we think, believe aren't blissful and keep looking until we see they are. and when it's done right, done true, with an unflinching gaze, it always turns up blissful. or maybe blissful isn't a word i'd choose to use for it . . . more like quietly, humorously joyful . . . the dream i'm having is fine, it's perfect . . . more will be revealed . . . what better thing to do with a life than to find the joy that lies on the other side of cancer, of death? or at least our feelings and beliefs about them . . .
My favorite rock god, Stuart Davis, launched a new site: Sex, God, Rock'nRoll
More Really Good Stuff from Richard Rose:
"If he really was a son of God--in other words, if he really had transcended the illusion--then yes, anything is possible. Once you visit Reality, you know that miracles are nothing more than tinkering with the fiction we think is real life."
"Does a person have to be enlightened to do what Christ is supposed to have done?"
"Not necessarily. Some people have a way of maintaining that state of mindlessness that proves to be creative. Somehow they stumble on a condition of high indifference, and from there you dream it--you will it--then you forget it."
"But there must be limits," I said. "You never read about anything really incredible."
Rose paused a moment as if thinking how to phrase his words so that even I might understand. "Once a person has the formula," he said finally, "anything can be changed, even the future. Through determination, a man can discover how to completely change his destiny. There’s thoughts--which are not yours, but come from elsewhere--and there gaps between thoughts. When you get into that gap between thoughts, you have the opportunity to completely reshuffle you life. This may sound impossible to you now, but try not to let your ignorance get in the way of understanding. I have just told you something of priceless value."
- From After the Absolute, the Inner Teachings of Richard Rose
by Dave Gold
available to read online for free at On Zen
Obama using all manner of salty language. Makes me feel so very joyful to know that my president can out curse me, okay, maybe not out curse me, but certainly give my pottymouth a run for its $$$: