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The Case for Walking

Nowhere can you see the realness and the history of where you live better than by foot. You may drive a place every day but until your feet touch its soil, until your eyes stop looking straight ahead but off to the side where a wide set of steps rise like an upside down waterfall leading to a young man with an old school ‘fro texting his girl on the night before his college graduation- will you begin to know a place.

Until you notice just how many people plant rows and rows of lavender along the strip of land after their yard but before the street on the other side of the sidewalk- you won’t understand the generosity of your neighbors and the glory of bees on a summer day.

I passed the cemetery and for the first time realized that a leafy tree stands as a sentinel at the end of even rows of each line of headstones. The grass is exactly even but not mechanized like a modern place, it is still different shades of green from dark to light with some dried grass, yellow and stiff. The rows are more like paths inviting me to follow them and get to know the people who came before.

I found families, a husband who died twenty years before his wife. I kneeled before three headstones of three brothers who all died in different wars. Those people once also walked these streets.

Rounding through town I was stopped by a gaggle of young and lively guys with long dreadlocks and short little songs they busted out in bursts for me. “We’re the rainbow, join us!” I stayed awhile, talked about the Rainbow Gathering coming to Oregon, we talked about their dog and one guy told me I was beautiful. It was generous given that he was a lovely young guy with eyes as blue as any I’d seen.

Walking can boost your morale substantially.

I walked past bus stops and old homes. I saw some trash left by the steps of a stately old place which bragged of its 1888 lineage and I picked it up thinking, it  must be hard to see everything change around you.

I visited with a guy roughly my age carrying a backpack and sleeping bag. He looked clean and was sorting some food as he tucked it away. “It was a good day,” he said smiling. “I see that and I’m glad,” I tipped my head and smiled back. He was about to offer me some of his food but I walked on waving as I passed.

Strangers can be kind for no reason.

I also fell in love with an assorted group of dogs who ran to greet me like their long lost friend. Tails wagging, some singing sorrowful songs urging me to come back and I walked on and I remembered the joy of a good dog. I saw a woman cradling her little black and white dog coming from the vet and kissing the top of her furry head.

Love is so present in the world if you look.

I exchanged dozens of smiles with strangers, witnessed countless acts of awe among children seeing birds and flowers and I never once wished I was in a car despite the sweat which pooled at the back of my neck.

The best moment was in passing a girl, maybe seven or eight, wearing a crisp blue and white dress, a ribbon in her dark wavy hair and the smile on her innocent illuminated face that made years roll backwards to my second grade year. She stood at the top of the stairs outside her home while her grandmother sat smiling that same way on her porch. The girl began waving at strangers and smiling, for no particular reason. She ate an orange popsicle. As I approached the popsicle slipped off its stick into the grass. She observed but didn’t react choosing to continue her waving campaign.

Everything about her gave me hope. I asked if I could capture her picture and I did. I did not ask her a million questions like I might normally do. Frankly I didn’t want to know more than what I could see–the perfect mixture of light and love, innocence and care, playfulness and childish boredom.

If you walk enough you will get bored. Boredom is such a relief. Boredom doesn’t have technology attached or success or failure. It is expansive and allows you to fill it or feel it just as it is. I love boredom.

The case for walking is great. It is good for every part of you except your oh so busy schedule. So here’s the best case for it beyond all others–walk because you do not have time to do it. Break free of your calendar and make the room for walking and seeing and loving and speaking to strangers, and flirting and being bored.

 

 

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Traveling Like Crazy; a short story

Slab City, California, USA.

This is the place where people go who have nowhere else, who’s future and past collide into a present tense of impossibility. It looks like it sounds. The sun cooks up the ground into untidy cracks but it doesn’t cook it enough to erase the smell or evaporate the trash from hundreds, sometimes thousands of people living entirely off grid.

The Slabs is roughly a 90 minute drive from Palm Springs in the Imperial Desert, 65 miles north of Calexico and a few minutes from East Jesus-literally.

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E.J. is an impromptu art installation on the road to Slab City. Artists use the trash from the Slab to make eccentric, politically challenging and quirky art amidst the nothingness of dirt and garbage and loneliness. East Jesus looks at you daring you to be anxious. If you don’t do it–if you stay calm and let yourself smile at the giant tray of spoons–you will be changed. It’s hard to say exactly how, but you feel it in the way that a certain song makes you cry. A nerve is touched and now it has sensation and memory of sensation and it’s own life outside you.

That is the East Jesus affect.

The entire drive through sand past the glimmering yet deeply foul Salton Sea, past abandoned shacks and mis-placed businesses slammed between date groves is sensation on salted wound. A road from nothing to nowhere.

The Slabs are left over from a military installation which pulled up stakes more than 40 years ago and today is occupied by people who show up in RV’s and cars, who sleep in tents, hammocks and home-made homes. It’s a self governing, free to squat  place with a dash of Hunter S. Thompson thrown in for the art of living oddly.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it post apocalyptic wild west side show of people who run out of money, will, ability or patience with “normal” society.

There are 200 in August when the temperatures hit 124 and 2,000 in January when Canadians in mansions on wheels show up to soak up the weirdness and freeness of the desert. While the demographics and bank accounts shift with the seasons, old timers like George who runs a mis-matched trailer encampment which he rents out year round says it’s all the same kind of folks. Those who want to save money and don’t want to be bothered by the politeness of others. Essentially the draw at The Slabs is being left the hell alone. At least some of the time.

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There’s no electricity, running water-hot or cold-and no flush toilets. There’s dirt and some concrete slabs. That covers all the amenities.

There’s open mic night at The Range which looks like a scene from a twenty-somethings coming of age film with crooked and leaning stage, old couches with foam flying in all directions and a bar made of scrap wood hammered together by a blind or drunken man. They come there to sing to each other and recite poetry once per week, normally on Fridays. When asked if the performances are good most say, “Not really.”

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Somewhere in the miles of nothing is also a library and down the “road” an internet cafe which feels like a university student union. People hunker down and rifle their phones  within range of wi-fi. Politics is spoken but rarely argued. Drop outs and loan dodgers, disabled people, senior citizens and anarchist travelers tour each other’s states of mind about nearly any subject where most all conversations begin and end with a funny line and a snicker. Leaving is done one way, a wave of a peace sign over the shoulder and sometimes, “one love, one love.”

Just outside the internet cafe resides a man who calls himself Spyder and he’s the apparent rock star, mayor, Zen Master and builder of Slab City. He has half a manufactured home, a trailer, a truck and an RV. His RV has a rare thing, a hot running shower and radio. He has scrounged parts and created a solar panel and pump system to make it work.

His half of a home is in repair mode. The walls and floor are filled in, the kitchen is nearly functional with another solar rig and pump, his two kids have their own bedrooms. The bathroom in the half house doesn’t work but the RV is next door so the “Kids can shower before school. That’s important.”

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Soon Spyder’s place will have another comfort. He’s hand digging and lining a septic system so the family can use a flush toilet. He trucks in huge drums of water weekly.

“I couldn’t really make it out there. I was abandoned as a baby by my mother and put in the foster system where I was given to a family who didn’t just beat me-they tortured me. My back is wrecked, I never really learned to read or write and I’ve got a bunch of other scars.  I tried working out there doing handy jobs and anything I could get but I still kept winding up homeless–then I heard about this place. You can be what you want to be out here and if you work hard you get to keep the result of your labor. I can’t see ever going back.”

He stands in the sun looking around, sweat is dripping down his shirtless chest and he wipes his face and says it’s time he get back to work.

There’s an agricultural canal which runs behind The Slabs about half a mile or so from Spyder’s place. People speak of swimming and bathing in it especially in the fall when it’s hot and the water is still high due to water releases for late crops. They say it’s a beach, an inland paradise when it gets really hot.  But it’s actually a long, shallow edged and deep centered waterway which smells of farm waste and chemicals. It’s an odd shade of green but it’s moving water in the desert. That’s as good as it gets.

This is not a place for the germaphobe or picky person.

Slab City has its joiners and loners, cool folk and angry outliers, all of them cheap skates and free loaders who have an aversion to loans and taxes and working all week to pay for a house that owns them and demands more upgrades. For the most part the dwellers of The Slab aren’t keen on government or cities or much to do with the world outside. However, it would not be accurate to say they’re lazy and don’t want to work.

Showing up with a tent in the white hot center of a huge desert with zero water or power does not allow anyone here to be lazy. Surviving is an entry level position and living with handmade upgrades like a roof and floor is the corner office. Nothing along the chain here is achieved without sun up to sun down work and innovation.

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Learning how to innovate is a daily occupation. Inventions will be born at Slab City.

Within two days of chumming around The Slabs, I find I’m eyeballing spots near roads but away from others. I’m evaluating sun angles and looking for smooth slabs and proximity to a decent path in and out. I’m creating a gear list: rope, tarps, big jugs for water, car batteries, propane tanks, camp stoves and lights. Shovels-one for digging large holes and one for a bathroom. I get hung up on the bathroom part but keep mumbling, ‘I really think I could do this and enjoy it.’

It’s not realistic. Yet……

When traveling like crazy, be prepared to be crazy. Meeting people in their odd smells, off grid pre-occupations, eccentricities and realities does not allow ambivalence. The mammalian response is to respond–to blend and join. The Slab City joiner/non joiner is a flag flying proudly for a country not yet invented. It’s the pirate ship or tropical island where mis-fits fit.

Nothing could be more pleasing.

Driving back in the pink sunset of the desert toward alleged civilization an isolation draped itself around my car.  I powered on through worlds, picked up a hitch hiker who refused to give her name and stopped for dinner where I was the only woman in a crowded restaurant and eventually found myself at the bizarre and magical Miracle Baths Hotel where a suite near the massage closet was available.

Floating under a dark sky in a pool filled with bath water listening to the conversation in Russian nearby and recalling an earlier one about why they don’t want us to know about aliens, the thought came in clearly that traveling like crazy is among the best ways to stay sane.

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The Day I Worked out a golf Swing Among the “Forgotten People”

“Awful! You sliced it low and left. What did you get— 65 yards?”

img_1417That’s how I met JR. Those were the first words between us. JR is a homeless man living among the 400 or so tents off highway 57 in Santa Ana, California. He had his golf balls, mostly cheap Wilsons, lined up on tees made of sand and rock whacking away and landing in the ironically named Santa Ana River which had not a drop of water in it on this November day.

“You know so much about golf—come show me something!” JR yelled back at me.

I was there looking for a story. I’d been embedding in homeless camps on and off for the past year to learn about the bottom one percent virtually no one is talking about except in statistical terms. Homelessness is declared a crisis in every major West Coast city and Los Angeles is seriously considering a 100 million dollar outlay to “solve” it.

For the working poor who spend half their income on shelter, some 11 million according to the latest Housing and Urban Development numbers, it doesn’t take much to fall into homelessness.

If there are “Forgotten People” as president-elect Donald Trump claims, then these are those people. The unhoused who’s numbers are rising by 15 and 20% along the West Coast since 2014. They come from the South, Mid-west and rural Northern towns hoping to make a break for themselves. Instead they often find themselves priced out and locked out.

img_1350This camp, one of Southern California’s largest, is post apocalyptic. It’s locked behind a slapdash fence between a long and steady crawl of traffic and the riverbed. Nothing but dirt, gravel and tents, no electricity or bathrooms, but tents for more than a mile.

“First is your stance. Your shoulders aren’t squared over the ball, your hips are turned and you’ve got a happy foot sliding on the right. It’ll never work. Plus, why are you trying to drive with a five iron?” I say to him smiling and pretending to scold.

He lowers his camouflage hat over his eyes surrounded by smile lines and chuckles. “You see a spot for me to set a full bag around here? He points to his camp site set up tucked against the cyclone fencing. “This is my sleeping tent and my food tent. You may not have noticed this isn’t a country club.”

He is smiling. His teeth are hit and miss, his breath smells like a white jug wine and he is charming the flip flops off me. At 61, he stands shirtless in the ruthlessness of a Southern California sun.

“I’m JR from Michigan. Not a bad body for an old guy, don’t you think?” He gives a model like pose and stares out toward the river bed like a general surveying his battle field. He giggles, fondles his beard and asks, “You’re a sight. What are you doing here?”

“Looking for a photo op. and a story. But I can see my real purpose is a golf lesson. Okay, show me your best stance. JR, what the hell is up with your grip?” His hands are tight and he’s choked up on the club.

“Okay. What’s wrong with my grip?”

I pry his hands away and tell him, “Hold it like a bird. Don’t let it fly away but don’t crush it.”

img_1366He works on it. Shifts his feet. I position his shoulders and knees above the ball. “Okay, you’re set up. Keep your eye on where you want the ball to go. Let the club hit the ball. It’s not force but feel. Go!”

JR whiffs it. The ball barely dribbles twenty yards. “You’re wrecking what little game I have!”

I assure him it takes a bucket of balls to get comfortable. But his stance and grip are improved if he stays with it. We both know there are limits to how far he can go with one club and a handful of banged up Wilson seconds.

 

We both know why it’s unique to see a guy working on his game out here. Surviving day to day, finding food, water and a job are the normal pre-occupations.

He shows me around. We meet artists who sing, make rock sculptures and write poetry. We meet edgy, young guys who have dogs on ropes and a few tweakers toward the back of the camp who mostly day sleep.

“We got all kinds in here. I just talk to everyone and feed them if they’re hungry. It’s us making the best of it. It’s not that bad.”

JR is constant motion running me through the homeless village like a tourist, waving and smiling like I’m the new kid in summer camp. He moves through the groups introducing me to his people. “Julie is a journalist reporting on homelessness . She’s writing about us.” Some people want to talk to me, will let me take a picture, most aren’t too impressed. They’ve seen the reporters come and go. They are still here either way.

JR hit the road five years ago. He only wants to tell me he prays with people and uses what money he has to feed the hungry. He says he’s on foot but that’s the only detail he’ll fill in.

He stops and leans in to tell me something.

“These are the people this country doesn’t work for and more and more are coming every day. When I got here a few months ago there were twenty of us—now it’s four hundred and still growing.”

I ask him why he thinks it’s happening. “ Nine dollar hour jobs land you here. There’s not enough left over for rent and rents are too high anyway. How you going to pay rent when it’s 15 hundred a month and you don’t even make that?”

He says if one thing goes wrong, you get sick or have a car break down then you can’t recover, although people try.

“Why work and still live here? Although lots of people do. I see them getting up early and heading to work. I couldn’t do it.”

JR had been in the military and construction at one point. “This is hard but it’s nothing to compared to what I’ve seen. I’m okay. I do feel sad for the young ones out here. I don’t know how they ever get out of here. There’s really no way.

We make our way back to his tent and driving range. We go back to our golf lesson.
“Okay JR, settle in. Let’s see you breathe into the shot. Hands, shoulders, feet. All good. Okay, give it a whack.”

He winds up, swings easy. The ball pops up straight and lands about 150 yards away. He smiles. I clap.

The sun is going down. “Better get you out of here missy. I’ll walk you to the gate.”

As I leave there is a young family setting up a small outdoor grill. The dog is tied to a stake in the ground and the kids look hungry.

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American Buddha-prequel

When I first saw him he was walking past my entrance to Southern Oregon University. He had a head scarf over white boy dreads, a tall walking stick and a noticeable hitch in his walk. He moved quickly through a crowd, his head above the rest. He had to be about six foot two.

He had this smile. Sanguine. Serene. I muttered to myself as I clicked the turn signal to pull into campus, “that kid has a Buddha smile.”

I had not seen him before. Then I saw him again. Once in the library, another time outside Stevenson Union, another time sitting on a small concrete wall. He was often working, writing in a small book.

But always that smile with calm, very light eyes. He wore the same jeans, too big and tied with a rope, also rolled up along the bottom to reveal the cause of his hitch–a metal leg.

Each time I saw him he made his way quickly through the crowds. Every now and then he would stop and bow in acknowledgement to a person who approached him but I never saw him speaking with another person. He was always alone and often tucked in where he could stay that way.

It’s like when you buy a certain car and then realize how many others there are. Once you notice something, you see it everywhere. Once I noticed him I saw him everywhere on campus and even some other places in town.

I assumed he was a student at the small liberal arts school at the southern tip of Oregon. I taught a few classes there and it wasn’t long before I knew quite a few students. Teaching journalism, I looked for the writers. I encouraged students to try writing for the campus paper. Vowing to ask him about his major, I planned to approach him next time he popped into view.

Over spring break my chance came. He passed my window and walked under the Southern Oregon University arch across a baseball field sized lawn, past Churchill, one of the oldest and storied buildings on campus said to contain ghosts, past a cute Japanese Maple and out of sight.

“Go! Now!” I thought as I threw on my jacket and kept a brisk pace down the “Comm. Hall”, out through the big glass doors with clanky handles, past the smoking benches and up the hill toward the library. It was open, I figured he was going there. But instead I saw him sitting in a small Zen Garden just behind Churchill.

I had no idea what I’d say to him. But I knew I’d say something. I ducked under a tree branch and stood at the other end of the bench where he sat….

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July 27, 2016 · 7:43 am

The Secret-Life is Meaningless and that’s Great!

I have good news: Life is meaningless and then you die.

There will be moments where you feel you have discovered your purpose and feel important-even special. There will be moments when life feels so long you just want to lay down and let go. Both are part of this long schlog to no particular finish line.

We are not special. We were not “put here” to do a particular thing.

And here is the very good news: You have permission to do want you want. Here’s the even better news: for most people that means being healthy, happy and helpful.

Almost no one when given the chance to do what they actually want prefers to be a selfish jerk. That’s reserved for trapped people who are not happy.

Do as you wish, make yourself happy, create your own meaning. You have no God given authority or specialness and no debt to repay. You are alive–so do that–live and be happy. Not all the time because that would be boring and shallow–but be happy as much as you can.

Then we get to the hours of study, the volumes of self help books and psychology 101 classes, the years spent in devotion on a church pew or meditation hall to answer the question of how one becomes happy.

I have the answer. You ready?

Be brave, be bold and do what you actually want to do. Don’t make up excuses about duty or obligation or some set of rules which you claim confine you when you are just afraid. Just like me. I sat at a desk for three extra years hunkered down loathing myself out of terror.

Don’t get me wrong-you will make sacrifices for this freedom and happiness. You won’t have the piles of stuff, you may not buy new things, replace your technology every year, live in a giant house or have the kind of job that makes someone else think your cool. In exchange you’ll have just what you need, you won’t throw things away to sit in a garbage dump in someone’s country which doesn’t belong to you and instead of having a job someone thinks sounds cool, you’ll do work you think is cool.

With your extra time of not hanging around pretending to be busy for 9 hours per day doing nonsense that not even your boss cares about, you’ll be able to actually be of service to another person. You will find yourself feeding hungry people, holding babies and cleaning up the environment. You will have less stress because you will be running and hiking and swimming. You will be fit, so caring your older neighbors groceries in the house and staying for tea will be easy and enjoyable. You will stop and actually look and listen to people and discover that unvarnished reality is so much better than you imagined.

You will teach whenever you can, you will nurture relationships, you will stop and smell the flowers and notice the bees on them. You will discover you’re funny and the best part of your day will be doing someone else a favor. You will have time and energy and gratitude.

If you are inspired by a person who broke free and is living the kind of life you want–then go have that life. Be willing to spend the sleepless nights and work a little harder, be willing to hustle up the extra work when all you have is one nice suit and some confidence. Challenge yourself.

Whatever that thing is that you’ve been wanting to do–do it. Be kind, respectful, responsible and humble. Challenge your assumptions and treat your ideas like strangers–question them early and often. If you are supporting a family and think you need a lot of money to support them–make sure that’s what they also want. Children do not need a back yard pool, they need a happy, engaged parent.

So get out there and jump into this beautiful, unwieldy and uncontrollable life and love it up until it’s gone. Love everyone around you and love yourself.

If you’re scared. It’s okay. We all are. We’re all hanging by a thread and hoping. Sometimes it just feels better to let go of that thread and fall into reality.

 

 

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Vast Love Served Cold

Flannery O’Connor once said, “I don’t know how I feel until I write it.”  I’m that same way. So don’t hold me to it if what I’m saying makes no sense right away. Give me time, we’ll get there.

So today I saw it in a brief glance of a little girl as she noticed me over her shoulder.

She had long, dark hair and wore her prettiest outfit. A sweater with large round buttons and ruffles, a skirt also with a ruffle of another color around the hem..a grey fringe on a chocolate brown skirt. Her hair pulled back into a bow on top of her head under which she wore a shy smile. She walked so closely to her mother that she looked as if she wanted to fit in her pocket.

The little girl, with hunching shoulders and an impossibly slow and careful walk not wanting to be more than a half step from her mom appeared to be maybe seven. In the few minutes I saw her she told her mother no less than three times that she loved her. Her mother said nothing.

The mother did not seem to notice the urgent pleading of her little girl as she walked her into her father’s house or her fancy outfit or her, really, at all. I saw the little girls desperation in the tentative steps, in the need to be touching her mother, in her soft voice proclaiming her unanswered call.

I felt her future longing and the singular question without an answer, “I love you?”  It sits in the shared air as a permanent bidding which waits in the limbo of not knowing.

I saw my own question still hanging in the air unanswered.

I can remember days when I wore my best dress, where I said the right things, where I walked so close to my mother  I could fit in her pocket. I remember the times when I was not the lesser chore between sweeping and mopping, when I spoke and she was not pained by my chatter but smiled and considered my little theories on life. I don’t know how those days hung in the balance to the others when there was no time. We never really know the truth of such things, of our own lives.

I know that finally when I did not race home to show my English paper with a star or a report card with good grades, when I no longer picked wildflowers for a bouquet or wrote her poems my mom became unfettered and interested. I still wanted her. I always wanted my mom. But by then I could not bear to ask, “I love you?” I could not turn around being certain I would turn to a pillar of salt. I continued in my independence. I had to push forward, there was no back. The path had vanished. I figured she had not understood the temperature of my love and it was beyond explaining. I had to let her go.

It’s been said for a daughter to live she must write her mother’s obituary. The bond is so strong that to become her own person she must in a figurative way kill her mother, she must bury what makes her similar so that she no longer thinks of herself in relation to her mother. It’s possible my mother knew this and braced for it as her mother had done before her. Maybe she knew I would only love her and leave her. Maybe the thought was too painful. I could understand that. I chose instead to drown in my sorrow of an empty nest. Perhaps there is more than one way. Perhaps, too, my mother answered I love you with her hand sewn dresses and warm cookies after school. I knew words. Maybe she spoke in other languages.

Now so many years later my mother has dementia. She can not remember her right mind, she can not recall times or dates or locations but somehow in all that confusion she can remember me. When her mind left, her heart re-opened like the tender child I could imagine her being and the name she speaks is mine. Sometimes when I see her she picks me wildflowers or shows me something she has dreamed up, a key to a secret box or a story of an imagined friend.

She tells everyone, “My Julia Anne is coming to see me.” But I cannot. I cannot want to fit in her pocket, to wear my pretty dress to ask that question again. I had to banish myself as that girl with the pleading eyes and the echo on her lips in so many dreams it chased me like a ghost. I still cannot not go back fully. But maybe one day I will.

I told myself it had all ended. I filled myself up until there was no room to ponder such things. Then today the little neighbor girl of a friend whispered over and over craving a response that wouldn’t come. I saw then that in some way everyone was my mother to me. That the man I was falling for had become her, that I was asking the question of him, “I love you?” I saw myself hunching at the shoulders and trying to climb in his pocket. I saw that such hurts cannot heal themselves until examined and the only one who can really answer my question is me.

So as O’Connor said, I didn’t know what I felt until I wrote it. Now I see. I see that my busy mother really did not have time for a fourth child but somehow got through it. I see that my capacity to love is vast and sometimes demanding. I see that, “I love you” is not a question which needs answering. Love may be its own answer. I see that it was never the question I suspected it was because when all else has fallen away from my mother’s mind and lips she says my name. I see that that is my answer. That vast love can be returned vastly but perhaps in its own time and way. We mostly all do our best, sometimes we are more aware than others.

I see that I have always been loved. I have experienced the generosity of my daughter’s laughter and my son’s hug and now my grand daughter’s closeness. She walks next to me, very closely, sometimes and says, “I love you.” I answer her that I have loved her for a thousand years and I’ll love her for a thousand more. I hope that she hears me and knows that if I could fit her in my pocket I would. I hope she knows that I experience her vast love and return it as it comes to me.

I hope that finally I have had my question answered. I hope to go home soon and see my mother and tell her that most certainly I love her. She walks slowly and I walk next to her in no hurry….this is what I see now.

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Stardust and Unicorns–sure–why not?

Say what you want. Attraction is shallow. One should seek equals at all levels, one should strive for compatibility and take the one hundred asset test to determine how one might spend the years of their lives entwined with another. We should give up on old fashioned ideas like love at first sight and romantic attraction–plug it into a dating database and call it real.

That’s the thinking, right?

Right. Right up until you meet someone who breathes with you, who sends sparks from his finger tips and every word is profound. Right–right up until you experience the inexpressible.

But that doesn’t really happen. We’ve given up on that nonsense so we mush all of our stuff in a tiresome program and it pops out a match and we show up pretending not to have a heart or soul but only a hard drive. We comb our hair, find our best shirt and face the formula. But we secretly are hoping for something which defies a quiz, we hope for the most ethereal and inexplicable thing as close to fairy dust as possible–we hope for love. We fear looking foolish which may be the worst fate in all of humanity so we leave it to computers. They’re so anonymous and neutral. Who doesn’t love that?

There is a program for everything. It’s so much more predictable and limits risk.

But why? Why do we do this?

I’m raising my hand. Pick me– I know. What is–we are scared to death– for 200 Alex. We are afraid of our potential because it is so powerful and authentic.

We are humans, mammals in fact, desperate for connection pretending to be driven by logic. I picture Hindu gods laughing at us–oh silly little humans–thinking things makes sense.

We are all just little packets of DNA and Consciousness floating around in our stardust bodies. We are magic in the flesh. Why not just own that? Logic is for the simple who cannot wrap their head around the vastness of the true reality.

Can we just cut through the crap?This isn’t Sci-Fi but real life where we actually fall in love, every day, all the time with all kinds of people as in..’I don’t know what’s going on but this person is all I can think about..I dream him when I’m awake..I only want his happiness..’ Giving your heart away is part of the natural condition of the fearless humans we are meant to be.

Logic has nothing to do with it. When I stand under a black sky and look up at the stars I feel a deep sense of gratitude. None of that is about programming or logic. That sky, those stars, that moon are not about preferences but instead they are about awe and reverence, they are about connection to something greater than me which reminds me that I am a part of a beautiful, magical place where really, scientifically, anything is actually possible. That’s not the Disney version. If you’ve read any of the great thinkers delving into Cosmology you know what I am saying here is not romance but fact. Love is like that too. It’s a miracle.

Embrace that.

We pick our friends through weird coincidence..we show up at the same coffee shop or we speak the same kind of colloquial language or see each other in the Tofu section and start talking. We fall for our children when we hear a heart beat the first time. They are not even formed people, yet we love them. And if we’re really, really lucky we meet someone who steals our heart and we don’t know or care why…we just know how we feel. It’s not calculated or logical and it’s not meant to be. It’s the  the way the sun hits the grass in February as it unfurls in front of a weathered barn and something about it makes us cry with its simple and complex beauty, it’s me walking home from town under the comfort of my night sky past the Shiva tree and saying under my breath, “thankyou,thankyou,thankyou.”

Life is not a formula. It is unpredictable. It will break you apart and put you back together. It will pull your heart out and restructure it while you sleep. You will suffer and you will grow but through it all- if you’re paying close attention- you will notice that all around you is love and the hands to hold you so that even when you’re falling it’s never too far.

Chances are just when you are content with everything as it is, change will show up knocking at your door. If I had a dollar for every time I told a friend, “I love my life. I don’t want one thing to change” I would be wealthy. Of course that meant change would surely come. And guess what? It followed no formula and showed up unexpected in one way– and like a dream I harbored for years in secret– in another. Because, we do manifest our deepest desires.

So here I am the cynic making a case for unexpected and unexplained love. I am making the case for prayer and intention, for magic and the unexplainable. I am urging you to dive right in without weighing the cost.

I am suggesting you throw out the play book, the rule book, the list of ‘should’ and shouldn’t’ and go with your gut and heart. Do no harm, walk sweetly with good intention and really know that you are loved in a million different ways. Turn every corner with a smile on your face and your arms open wide to what may arrive.

You have nothing to lose but your fear.

Mi Querida, you are so cherished. Trust that lovely soul. Dance under the night sky and know that the world awaits you.

You are so needed just as you are, in your dreams living under the warmth of your smile. Forget logic and follow love.

It’s all true. Every dream, every hope–all real. Your job is to only to say, Thank you.

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